Since I’m into this contest business I might as well participate in this nice everyone-works-everyone contest. I decided to set up early in the week in order to play with the special event callsign OR0YAL. I had two options: do it on Monday in the rain or on Tuesday with wind. I hate rain so I picked the latter. Tuesday afternoon I was cursing and swearing because all the cables, wires and ropes were swinging and getting entangled. Getting wet seemed not so bad after all.
The wind was strong enough and more wind was predicted later that week. Hence I decided not to raise the low band wires yet. I still had to reconnect the 160m wire at the feedpoint. I guess my last 160m QSO dates from ARRL DX CW in February. Go figure. I put up the ladder next to the pole and went to get a screwdriver and wrench to fasten the cable lug. When I came back half a minute later the ladder had been blown over. It was that kind of weather. But it didn’t rain… The wind blew harder later that week but I decided to man up and leave the tower cranked up. If I cave in every time the wind blows too hard here I might as well knit scarfs or collect stamps.
Saturday afternoon I was ready for the contest. I was on the live score board and had no real expectations. Contest not too popular outside of EU and conditions weren’t inviting. Of course it was mainly a 20m thing at first and I descended to 40m already early on. The 15m band was a bust. I was glad to work K1ZZ for my only American on 21 MHz and what was to be my only (!!!) QSO on 15m on Saturday. The contest has a late start (2PM utc) which means I was on 80m early too. Things were not going spectacular but I was having loads of fun.
Around midnight things got predictably slow so I decided to grab a few hours of sleep. I was not really exhausted but I knew that when things were this slow I would be dead by the time the bands would open up again and activity would ramp up.
From sunrise on it was changing bands between 40m still open, 20m producing rate and Es signals on 15 but each QSO there was a possible multiplier. When ON5JT called me there I knew it was now or never. He agreed to QSO to 10m for my one and only QSO and (more important) multiplier there.
DX: Four ZL (2x 20m and 2x 40m), three VK (40+20+15!!!), eight JA (4x 20m and 4x 40m), 126 Americans, one KL7. Some pseudo-rare stuff not expected in this smaller contest like HI, CO, 3W, EX, KP4, PY.
Once again a fun experience. Enhanced by cqcontest.net. Propagation being what it is, there are still people showing up for the CW contests and there is DX even on the alleged dead bands.
I can copy-paste the first paragraph: not ready to even try 48hr in the chair, two bands lost (10-15), want to sleep in between band openings yada yada yada. So for the third year in a row: SB40(A) HP.
The week leading up to the contest was busy and I was tired. I was afraid I’d get a cold or worse. Luckily all bacteria and viruses either skipped me or I am resistant. Knock on wood. Friday evening: the XYL was out so I put the kids to bed and was in mine around 8.30 PM local time. I already had amp, rig and PC running so I set the alarm to ring at 0030 local time, which translates to thirty minutes to get into the shack. And a good three hours sleep before the start.
Aahh, the start. It’s safe to say it’s the slowest first hour in CQ WW CW in many, MANY years. Only 98 QSO. Since I was late to the party, the interesting real estate was gone. The whole 40m band was jam-packed and I couldn’t squeeze in. So I told myself to stay calm and just S&P before running. I don’t like S&P. But still I did. The second hour I finally could get running and netted 175 QSO. Hour #3 added another 140. That’s more like it. I thought the band was good. Not spectacular, but it could be a lot worse. Not too much noise or QRM and a steady stream of signals from all over the planet. The way it’s supposed to be. I went through the sunrise but then activity dropped. K5ZD says on 3830:
“As good as 80m was at Eu sunrise, what happened to 40m? It was empty even as I worked Europeans on 160 and 80 well past their sunrise.”
Yup – exactly the same from here. Where was the USA? There was the occasional DX but running was unproductive. Bummer. I decided to take a break and some sleep.
I had 1143 QSO and 106 countries after ten hours. During the good first part of day 1 I was #1 on the online score board. That was motivating. Only three others were competitive: I2IFT, IR4K and S57Z.
Back around 1430 UTC. The Italians caught up so I had to pursue. Unexpectedly the band was alive again and full of loud EU wanting to work the Far East. BY, HS, YB, ZL, 9M2, 9M6, 3B, JA: it was all there. Even a dozen long path zone 3 stations called in. On a dipole. And a lost W1 on SP too. So it’s safe to say the band was good. Except for KH6 and KL7. KL7RA was on the bandmap all the time and three KH6 stations but none heard so none worked. Maybe later on… Saturday evening was calm. The sustained rate was about 100/hr. Just before midnight I was very tired and the rate had gotten very low. Lethal combination. So I decided to sleep and come back.
Somewhere along 4O3A had signed in to the real time score system and he was SB40 too. That was after I took the bragging snapshot above. He had such a lead in QSO and points (NOT in mults!) that even the Italians probably couldn’t catch him. So that took the pressure away and from now on it was me against myself.
QRV 0230 UTC. Slow hours. Little multipliers. Not enough three point contacts. And although the band was and stayed open, there was little to be worked. Boring and my only unofficial goal seemed impossible: beat my own ON record set last year. A quick extrapolation told me that I would have to work a lot of 3pt stations to even get there. Since the score didn’t really build, I decided to take a nap and get lunch with the family. I did want to get in the shack again earlier to work the Far East again. Still no KH6 or KL7 heard…
I worked a steady stream of stations in a 9000 km range, quite a few exotic DX and the occasional multiplier. AH2R was weak and had a fierce pile up going. XV9D was happy to greet me. Who is he? QRZ told me: Mats SM6LRR / RM2D. That explains! When would 9V1YC get on? He never did this time but 9V1XX did and I was happy to log the multiplier. Then two D1 stations called me. N1MMLogger flagged these as a mult but they probably aren’t. Politics… Later on I tried AH2R again and managed to work him.
Sunday evening was slow. VERY slow. Every multiplier that showed up had the same DX cluster pile up. With EU in the arena, it soon gets brutal. I went to listen for KL7RA or KH7B or whatever whenever they got into the bandmap but nothing. I heard an EA5 work KL7RA. QRZ shows a picture of a big tower and what looks like a three or even four element yagi. ‘Nuff said.
I was approaching last year’s record. But it felt as if I wouldn’t make it. It was too slow, the band acted weird (rising noise, signals dropping). I was working under 30/hr. Ugh. HQ9M had a rough time with the EU pigs. Yet I outsmarted most powerhouses. ZD7W was surprisingly easy for a double multiplier. And big thanks to 5U9AMO to give the score a final boost. Since running didn’t get me over the line, I decided to move up and down the band looking for three pointers. I found a bunch and finally the total showed more mults, more QSO and more points than last year. My only fear is that this time the margin really is too small to improve my own record.
I won’t be doing much analysis. I worked almost 550 USA stations. Other DX:
BY = 22 PY = 10 VU = 7 VE = 31 VK = 14 VU = 7 YB = 8 ZL = 4
And tons of unique DX multipliers. Thanks to all going places!
BTW: 108 dupes, what’s up with that??? Some guys even called me three times!
It was fun and I think this is the best you can do from Belgium with just a rotatable dipole at 23m high. Both RX loops with diversity RX on the K3 seem a good addition.
Yet another lovely contest and I was there. The plan was to have fun, spend as much time in the chair as possible, and assess the bands to pick a Single Band effort in next week’s CQ WW CW.
Yes it was fun. I even did as much SO2R as possible. I don’t have a second antenna for 10-15-20 anymore. No need for that right now as 28MHz and 21MHz don’t produce much volume and I only have space for a simple second antenna. Style GP or vertical dipole. So SO2R was between 80-40-20. Or run 80-40 and use the yagi on 15m. Anyway my basic SO2R skills still keep me busy in the slow hours. But after 0000utc, it was just too slow and I took a break and got some sleep.
Ten meters? Dead. Just two Belgians for the multiplier.
Fifteen? Spotty. Long haul DX to the east (VK, HS, 9M…) and UA9. On Saturday there was a handful of USA but not much. Closer EU and the target zone (LZ) was very hard to work. Skip too long and my antenna too high? I would not describe the 21 MHz band as open, but it could have been better if people just would try. The Reverse Beacon Network picked me up between 8000km and 14000km but only a handful of real DX found its way into my log.
Twenty meters was OK. I even put fifteen JA in the log. But it is not in great shape. When it’s open, it’s open but it doesn’t last long it seems.
Money band was 40m and that will also be my band of choice in WW CW next week. A few juicy multipliers in the log. KL7RA made me chuckle as I heard his fluttery tones coming back to my CQ. I was working USA with 500W at my local noon, so about 11AM UTC. Let’s hope for the same – or better?
Eighty was not bad either. Noisy and QRN. Africa’s north shore and between Sardinia and Italy over to 9A: thunderstorms. But once again the wire GP with tuned elevated radials turns out to be a very good antenna for its simplicity. The two RX loops help and they are key for low band operation. Diversity RX is king!
I was on the real time score board but the pecking order soon got clear. UP0L works the same stations as me, but he gets three points because he’s in Asia. I get only one point because I’m EU. 9A5Y probably has bigger antennas and a better location for LZ mults and points? Anyway this is what it was for the better part of the contest.
Late in the evening I had a good run on 7019.6. Then UR7GO starts CQing on top of me. His signal is S6-S7. The usual self defense mechanisms kick in but to no avail. He works EU but I hear literally nothing. Not one station he logs. Then it hit me: am I listening to his harmonic? I move the second rig to 3509.8 and there he is. Stunning: 1800km and his 80m harmonic is S6 or stronger on my 40m dipole… I made a video.
The morning was slow, very slow and I used the second rig a lot. I also tried CQing on two bands at once. Actually not at once of course, but interleaved, or dueling CQ or dual CQ or whatever they call it. I don’t seem like too big a lid as long as the calling stations stick to the routine and keep it short and snappy. But most of the times the synchronization gets lost soon and I have to abandon one of the runs. I think that this is very rewarding for me (thrill!!!) and it keeps me busy. But it is intense. By which I mean it wears you out. I don’t practice this in simulation and I don’t do it too often. Also I don’t have the antennas to do this. But it is fun on a modest scale.
DX Brag Section:
Some medium-fast hours and since I was only active for about 17 hours of the available 24, I seem to hit almost 100/hr average.
I had a good time. Contesting is so much fun. I really yearn for a gazillion sunspots and a low K.
My initial plan was to do SB80 for the fifth year in a row. So I installed the second RX loop to the east a week before the contest. Looking at the results, the only time that SB80 effort actually was good, was in 2015.
Since I was looking to maximize the fun parameter in the process, I eventually opted for a SB20 effort.
I thought that 2000 QSO could be possible on 20m. I was wrong. The sun decided to throw a handful of sand in the gears that make ionospheric propagation work.
Dit bericht bekijken op Instagram
RU f’ing kiddin’ me? The day before a major contest and the K index peaks at 6? Six? Oh boy, that’s gonna be tough going… Thanks for nothing, El Sol. Could collecting stamps be a fun replacement hobby? . #hamradio #amateurradio #cqcontest #cqww #solarweather #solarstorm
I set up the shack and cranked up the tower on Friday afternoon. The 20m was just plain dead. Not much signals, not much activity.
In the evening I worked TI7/KL9A who was also checking out things for the contest.
Dit bericht bekijken op Instagram
Look who I ran into. Mr. C, I love it when you call me Mr. F. That thing goes a long way back… For the normal people: this is my radio buddy Chris @chriskl9a who is one of the few guys who can win this weekend’s radio contest. You hear him catch the vibe from Costa Rica (TI7) working other #amateurradio stations. #roadtocqww
I started on Saturday morning and it soon became clear that the fun would have to come from somewhere else than ‘rate’ and ‘DX’. If your idea of fun is QRM, splatter, eardrum piercing adjacent signals and the likes, then you would be in for a treat. But it only makes me look for a towel to throw. I was in and out and off and on. Things were slow and there was not much exotic to be worked on Saturday. Still some nice mults managed to call me and make me happy: HC1/KW8N, HH2AA, 5K0K, VP9I… No KH6 or KL7 or ZL worked and only two VK and two or three JA.
There were less happy situations. Some guys really take up much real estate: UA3KW, RL3A, UW1M, KU2M – it can be done with less guys. Mult hunters in M/x setups are very rude in the packet pile ups. P33W, LZ9W and almost all 2×1 Italian calls: no patience, not listening, just use the brute force attack method to try to work the DX. Too bad it usually works.
Dit bericht bekijken op Instagram
Cockpit view with rare selfie picture-in-picture. I’d love to call it an ‘action pic’ but there is not much action going on. I’m a CW guy, stating the obvious. The 20m band is brutal in SSB. Maybe SB80 would have been better? #couldashouldawoulda Can’t wait for the CW part to unleash the contesting animal in me… #hamradio #amateurradio #cqcontest #cqww #hamradiocontest #hamradiooperator
A fun moment was when SP1NY called me and was amazed to hear me on phone. I replied that I was equally amazed to hear his voice and we decided that we stepped over to The Dark Side for the weekend. I often thought that CW is much more efficient and fun…
Sunday was quite a bit better but no by far what it should be. Two thousand QSO were far out of reach for me. Setup and location… The Belgian record for SB20(A) HP was 342k, set in 1996. I had no intention to break the record because the score was out of reach but a few good hours on Sunday boosted my score and suddenly it became in reach and I had a goal. I passed the 342k point late on Sunday and I hoped to work some more three pointers and multipliers for a safe margin to set the record after log checking. I hope 386k is enough margin.
I don’t know what to think. Would SB80 have been better? Anyway of I can set another Belgian record to my name, there is at least something meta-tangible that came from this weekend…
A bit overdue and just for the archives.
I decided to play in CQ WW RTTY for a change. I’m not a big fan of digital modes but once in a while… Just to support the RY contest scene.
For me, this time the lousy propagation (K index peaking at 5!) seemed the more boring factor compared to the mouse clicking aspect of the RTTY mode. Or was it a lack of participation? I spent too much time in there for only 120 QSO split 56/64 between 40/20m.
I was glad that all RTTY settings on the computer still worked one year after my last RTTY QSO.
Dit bericht bekijken op Instagram
I was trying to have a little fun in #cqwwrtty but even the #20mband was a bust. Maybe the current #solarweather has something to do with it? #geomagneticstorm Either way RTTY gets boring fast. Surprise: Lebanon called in. #hamradio #amateurradio #cqcontest #rtty #instahamradio #solarham