ON5ZO – OQ5M

Today is the first day of my autumn break (1 week) and the day before CQ WW SSB. I slept almost 3 hours longer than on a working day, I needed it. I’m having mixed feelings about tomorows’s contest. The good thing is that’s it’s a contest and it has been over two and a half months since my last contest – but that wasn’t really a success. I really need to get away from it all. More precise: get away from work and empty the head. So what better than a contest?
The bad thing is that it’s SSB. Not my prefered mode, to say the least! And though I really like SOAB, I decided to go SB20. Here’s why.

  • SSB for 48 hours? No way!
  • SSB on the low bands? No way!
  • Retune my 80m antenna from CW to the SSB subband? No way!
  • Any other SSB-friendly band that supports DX propagation right now? No way! With 15m being very spotty and 10m a total wasteland…

So here’s the deal for today: clean up the shack and operating desk, hook up the headset for phone operation, do some work around the house, crank up the tower, take a shower, (try to) make some QSOs and hopefully won’t be disappointed when the band is (seemingly) dead.

BTW: my 3830 score from 2006 is this weekend’s target. I doubt I’ll pull this off…
More after the weekend, 73 / CU as OQ5M on 20m.

Yesterday the shack PC gave a bunch of XP errors. I could not fix it and with the contests coming up, I decided to do a format C and then a clean install. Everything is working OK now in all 3 modes, even the MK2R+ and the USB device router were configured quickly.

20m seemed quite dead this evening (1800z), not too many stations and those who were there sounded pretty weak. Yesterday however 17m was ok (1500z) but then XP acted up… I hope 20m at least will have some propagation in a few days!

I decided to play some radio this weekend and entered the JARTS RTTY contest. A part time very casual entry. I am by no means an RTTY lover but any radio activity beats no activity and I remembered from last year that it was fun. RTTY people use LotW a lot which is good for my RTTY DXCC / WAS. Not that I work towards these but along the way we might get there.
Much to my surprise 15m produced good results to JA and the USA. Maybe the earlier pessimistic solar forecast was wrong? Let’s hope!

The JARTS exchange is the operator’s age. I think the average (RTTY) contester is way over 60 with roughly estimated 150 W QSO, 25 JA and the rest DX+EU for a total of approx. 300 QSO. Youngest age reported was 30, the oldest 89. The 99 numbers are for multi-op but I can’t exclude the occasional 99 year old RTTY operator.

Working this RTTY contest gave me lots of time to think about the upcoming CQ WW SSB. It’ll be SB20 HP. I hope that WX will cooperate and let me crank up the tower and that conditions are reasonable. As I type this it’s 18.30utc and while there are still US stations calling in with fair signals, I don’t know wether the band is already closing or that there is just not too many activity anymore?

That’s all for now. I’m going QRT and process the log. 73!

I’ve been counting down to cycle 24. I want sunspots, I want propagation, I want bands to open up and stay open. I want to be on 10m again!
Then K1TTT posts a message on the CQ Contest reflector with a link to this bad solar news. Say it ain’t so indeed! Two cycles gone to waste? That means I’ll be retired (retarded?) by the next decent cycle…

Various:
By coincidence I ended up on the website of the hamfest I visited a few weeks ago and saw myself with ON7WZ and someone handing out flyers. It seems that I sneak in there each year.

Last night K7GK called me on the phone to say that 20m was wide open. We tried a QSO but I immediately knew it would be a mission (almost) impossible with the tower cranked down. East coast would work, West coast with the current solar activity? Nope, phone didn’t work and CW only barely. That brings me back to the topic of this posting…

Other than this, nothing to report. QRU ES QRT

This AM, I worked 5 ZL stations in a row at my sunrise – on 80m! Plus a bunch of VK/ZL on 40m, and a loud ZL7. My verticals really do play. Each vertical has 2 (tuned) elevated radials, and I think it is the simplest and cheapest antenna to work DX.

I spent an enjoyable Saturday in the company of a visiting US ham and let him use my station in the EU Sprint CW. I think he enjoyed it and made the most of my setup. What a great hobby we have!

73 before we jump into the working week…