Just for the archives a/k/a my long term memory. I participated in a few smaller contests, just for fun and for supporting the Ham Radio HF contest scene.
1) JIDX CW
I had the tower only up two third. This means no low band wires, the tribander at 15m and the 40m dipole at 17m high. Propagation was poor and it wasn’t easy to work JA. I worked 40 in total: 30 on 20m and 10 on 40m. Weak signals mostly. But JA is JA and DX is DX. Used the small 500W amp only and no RX antennas.
2) Gagarin Cup
Just like last year I limited myself to SB40 with the tower 2/3rd up and the small 500W amp and no RX antennas. I only worked 379 stations.
I decided to crank up the tower fully for this one. After all: well worth it in terms of DX and then I could use the 80m wire to its fullest. Propagation was only so-so. Ten meters a wasteland again and 15m was marginal Es-level. Even the 21MHz path to PY, usually a source of stronger signals even with poor conditions, was disappointing this year. Participation was quite OK and many obscure South-American stations on the air. Where are they in the other DX contents? I hope to be back next year is this very enjoyable event.
A bit overdue and not much to say about this contest. At least: not something that hasn’t been said over and over again about running a contest. The contests themselves remain fun, but write-ups become a bit repetitive.
The contest started with a K index of 6. That’s a killer. Propagation has been awful for the last couple of contests.
The rates were OK but certainly not spectacular. Participation was more than OK but it wasn’t easy under the current propagation.
I started the contest very tired and I had a short black out in the chair at the keyboard. I was very tired after the contest too.
Not my record score but at least I made over 2000 QSO in 24h.
It was now and here I decided to skip the CQ WPX SSB contest the weekend after. SSB under these conditions? No, I’d rather spend the weekend outside than on a splatter infested 20m band. Not to mention 40m SSB.
SSB contesting is not my thing, but then again it is a contest. With lots of DX. USA nonetheless. My kind of thing. I didn’t plan to be on for hours, but a few bursts of high rate and a total of 1000 QSO would be nice.
I slept the first night which seemed a sane thing to do. I got up early but I was not in a hurry. Read some mails. Read the headlines online. Had breakfast. Then into the shack. Cold shower: very weak signals. Once again 80m seemed the best place and I worked 45 stations or so in an hour. None of them were strong, none of them came from deep into the USA as seen short path from here. The band died pretty early and I had a snack with the family who had their breakfast. Then I thought: “ Forty will be good now!”. But forty was an absolute DISASTER. I only worked a weak W3LPL. If the Biggest of the Biggest powerhouse is only S4 or so, you know you’re in for a boring and unproductive grind. I decided not to waste a beautiful day outside and quit. Nah!
BTW nothing worked on 160. One or two weak ones just CQed in the proverbial face.
If you see this kind of weather and you’re not doing anything usefull in the shack, why then not go out for a good walk? That’s how I spent Saturday. There’s always Sunday…
Same routine for day 2: sleep and get up early. 0400 utc was my first contact on 80m (75m?) again. I worked a few more and went to explore 160m. VY2ZM was my only logged QSO on Top Band with an average signal: S6 or so, maybe less. I’ve worked him S9+20 on 160 in the past. Then 80/75m ran dry and I managed to squeeze a dozen contacts out of 40m. Like the last pea sized drop of toothpaste squeezed out of a completely empty tube.
QSO count was pathetic and motivation was accordingly but there I was in the shack again, determined to conquer 20. I kept stacking disappointments: I only got a modest burst of rate after a cluster spot. No spot made for ten minutes between QSO. Best rate wasn’t even 60 Q/hr and not even sustained longer than half an hour. Boring. I would definitely go to bed early and not return after sunset.
But then WW4LL said he hoped to work me on 40 later on. And Randy K5ZD said the same because he still needed Belgium on 40m for the multiplier. That triggered my sense of duty. I just had to return to 40m. And so I did.
Pretty early for 40m but I really wanted Randy to find me early so I could quit and go to bed. Twenty meters was still open but I had worked most there and I couldn’t care less anymore. After a cluster spot things more or less exploded, at least relative to the rest of the weekend. I worked about 80 stations on 40 in the last hour and a half. One of them was Randy K5ZD who thanked me for the multiplier. Also KU2M told me I was a multiplier on 40. In the last hours of a major contest, on 40m, I had to be the multiplier…
It was not easy because I was surrounded by S9+++ EU blasting into my dipole’s rear lobe, with no F/B and USA still weak in the front lobe. I turned down the volume of the dipole RX and listened with the 2nd receiver on the RX loop favoring USA. That helped to attenuate EU and increase S/N for USA. Since only USA mattered this weekend, I had fed a Loop on Ground (LoG) into the RX stackmatch. While the terminated standing loop was always slightly better, the LoG did a good job too. It’s just a piece of enameled wire on the lawn. We can’t all have 300m long beverages every 30°. But most of us can put a square on the ground with 4m or 5m per side. I feed it with a 9:1 transformer. Try it! You’ll be surprised how well it works. Any antenna beats no antenna, that also holds true for the RX side of things.
At times it almost seemed like it was OM-Power model OM-4000 demo day. Add to that obnoxiously wide signals by many, worst noted: YU1EXY, LZ9W, SO9I, SP8K and RG2A. I didn’t write it down but some of these could be heard more than 10kHz on either side. That’s 20kHz wide. Would make a nice waterfall/spectrum impression. One more reason why CW is just so much better for people like me.
Finally back for this one after a streak of storms kept me off the air last year. I usually do only 12h in this one (Belgians get to pick 6/12/24h). But not this year. I decided not to keep track of QRV / breaks but just go all out during the whole period. I knew I could probably sleep a while at night anyway.
I decided to put up the 20/15m vertical for SO2R. In retrospect this was quite useless as 15m was very dead and operating on both bands at once was useless. Furthermore propagation was bad enough so using a vertical on 20m was not really productive. I feel sorry for those using a vertical antenna with little or no radials above 10 MHz under this kind of propagation. It’s bad enough as it is with a tribander at 20m high.
No more preparation was needed as everything was still up after last week’s ARRL DX CW contest. I just inserted the stub into the 40m antenna. It’s a shorted quarter wave on 40m made of 75Ω CATV hardline, which acts as an open line (high impedance) on 40m but a dead short on 14 MHz, to filter out the 20m harmonic. Works just fine.
A side note about Belgians in this contest:
I often read comments like ‘Where are all the Belgians?’. Well, you worked all the Belgians there is to work in a CW contest. There are not many Belgians active on HF. Only a small slice of that does contests. The intersection of this collection with guys who can do CW is even smaller. Then you have to fish in the pond of stations who have the antennas to reach you under very poor propagation. To get at least these guys active, the UBA decided to let them play in 6h or 12h categories too, apart from the 24h class. So there you go…
No need to start the contest on 15m this time. Let alone 28 MHz which is just dead-deader-deadest. Rates on 20m were good and it doesn’t matter if I work Russians or Americans. As long as I work outside of the European Union, I get max pt/QSO. All the rest is fine for multipliers. However it seemed the alleged money band 14 MHz was short of cash. I found myself on 40m pretty early. Good thing the rates were high there. I did not have to wonder when to stop to plan a break, I could just keep on going. I think for CW I will stick to 24h.
At 2300 utc, midnight local time I got called by ON6SI, my club’s station operated by OR5T. He proposed to QSY to 15m. We both had zero QSO there so the mult was welcomed. Once there I asked for 28 MHz which would be our one and only QSO there. My initial plan was to look for someone on Sunday morning to move there but actually it was a good idea to do it then because propagation on 15 and 10 was absent on Sunday.
I got in the shack just before 5AM utc and did 50/50 between 40 and 80. Then it was splitting time between 40m and 20m. There was little to no life on 15m and ten meters was quiet – nothing heard. The good thing was I could just go on and on without needing to plan or calculate off times. I think with this score in my chosen category, there probably won’t be anyone doing better? It’s not a record by far I guess. When –if? – 15 and 10 will play along again one day… Can’t wait!