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July 2021: OP0HQ and my first USA on 6m

OP0HQ in the IARU contest

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the first OP0HQ participation in the IARU contest. At that time I was the HF manager for the UBA and it seemed like a good idea. I managed to put together an All Star team with the biggest and best Belgium had to offer. I myself was hosted by ON4UN for 40m CW.

ON5ZO in ON4UN’s shack as OP0HQ on 40m CW in July 2006

This year, once again, I manned the 20m CW slot. For this purpose, once again, I put up my mobile antenna support and installed a dipole for 20m. This simple antenna at about 12m above ground performs remarkably well. I use my stackmatch to divide RF power between the yagi and this dipole. That way I can still access the far east while running USA.

Luckily the thunderstorms stayed away but during the first hours, I few nasty showers caused terrible QRN. I was surprised by the number of stations worked on 10m and 15m, which may have led some people away from my 20m band.

I had hoped for more contacts and sustained high rates but it wasn’t to be. I squeezed out 1900 contacts. The only thing that can improve this number from here is better propagation.

RRTC

The weekend after was RRTC, the Russian Radio Team Championship.

Always fun to hand out some points to our Russian friends in their tents. Nothing spectacular and not my best score (not that it matters in this one). Participating is more important than winning. Yes that’s what I always say because I never can win…

First USA on 6m

Something on my retirement bucket list: get a decent 6m antenna and work my first USA there. I am not active on 6m and I have zero interest in that band. But since I discovered that my WARC wire dipole, or now the 30/40m dipole offers a low SWR on 50 MHz, I occasionally listen there. I have no clue what the radiation pattern looks like and it probably has a poor efficiency but due to the low SWR I can pump some RF power into it. Sounds like a dummy load doesn’t it?

I worked a new one: HB9. One night I was going to bed but I had to shut down the shack. I was looking for weird and unexpected late night things so why not listen on 6m? There were a few stations on CW (my only interest) and some cluster spot mentioned ‘Es’. So I called CQ. After a few CQ’s I checked the Reverse Beacon Network. I got an adrenaline shot: only one skimmer picked up my signal: KD7YZ (in KY?). A few other spots popped up. I heard some pings from KU8E, but he faded away or didn’t call CQ anymore. So I decided to call some more CQ.

For the first time (to my knowloedge), my 6m signal is heard in the USA by a skimmer.

Then at 2129utc K2ZD called me, I gave him 559 RST. Then W1AIM, one minute later – yay! WU1ITU was calling CQ but he didn’t hear me. A while later his call popped back up in the bandmap from the RBN. Logged at 2152utc. Sweet!

At 2213utc I logged a nice 10m ragchew QSO with N3RS. We both were glad having a chat instead of the short contest exchange we had over 200 times since I got trapped into the contesting habit. Especially noteworthy was that 28 MHz conveyed strong signals this late. Can’t wait for a sizzling hot Ten!

Bonus:

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CQ WPX CW 2021

Long overdue and mainly for the archives.

This is from 3830:

I beat my own Belgian SOAB HP record from last year – never believed I could do it until the last hour. I don’t know if the margin is big enough to stand after log checking.

It was hard work but rewarding. Lots of people to work and many stations with big numbers. CW contests are the place to get your kicks.

Small tower, small tribander, 40m dipole, GP for 80/160. Two early K3 radios and 1200W (run) & 500W (S&P) amps. I qualify as TB-wires but I made use of 2 RX loops so I’m just ‘plain vanilla’.

73 de OQ5M

*NOT* OZ5M OM5M OY5M OX5M WQ5M… Djeez!

And here’s the rate sheet and the score:

I haven’t made a single QSO in almost six weeks now. Lots of work to do and many thunderstorms in the last few weeks. I really need some shack time…

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From the ON5ZO Instagram account

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Contests in April 2021

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.

3) CQMM

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.

   Band     QSOs    Pts    Pfx    Cty    Pt/Q
    3,5     180     972     6      4      5,4
      7     429    2343    38     18      5,5
     14     412    1645    51     62      4,0
     21      77     356    37      8      4,6
     28       2       4     0      0      2,0
  Total    1100    5320   132     92      4,8 

I am now on a self-imposed ham radio break until WPX CW.

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RDXC 2021

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.

https://www.solarham.net/

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.