ARRL DX Contest, CW - 2019
Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 27.8
Band QSOs Mults
160: 0 0
80: 282 59
40: 870 78
20: 1391 97
15: 577 81
10: 0 0
Total: 3120 315 Total Score = 2,948,400
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
This was a part-time 4 band operation. Antennas used on low bands in this
160 No Antenna
80 4-square antenna on ground crushed under broken large tree
40 left side of director wrapped around right side of director 3L wire beam
4-square destroyed and not usable
Without a doubt this is one of the strangest and most wonderful contest weekends
that I have experienced in a VERY long time!
The January 21st ice storm with 1 inch of radial ice, 50 MPH wind gusts and
overnight –10 F temps mostly destroyed all of my low band wires. Further
adding insult to injury was the fact that an 85’ tree – which was
responsible for two of the four 80 Meter 4-square elements – snapped at the
20’ level, and, creating the shape of the hypotenuse of a right triangle,
crushed part of the 4-square, leaving most of the elevated radials on the
ground. The injury was the L4/L5 vertebrae in my lower back – in response to
spending two hours chopping ice off the cars and driveway and shoveling the snow
underneath. The Xray appeared to show a herniated disk with some “slippage”
and some narrowing between L4 and L5. So there was to be no fixing of
antennas before the contest. The 40 M 4-square was unusable as was the 160 Inv
L (dead). The 3 L 40 meter wire beam had a torn off left side of the director
with the torn end sloppily wrapped around the right end. It sure looked like a
single band 20 meter contest.
My professional work doesn’t like contests. I am usually most exhausted on
Friday afternoons just before the contest starts – kind of like running a
5-day marathon and then only having time for a brief meal before starting your
next marathon. Without low band antennas that made decision easy – spend
Friday evening relaxing with my XYL and go to sleep and get up early and set up
the station and then start on 20.
So no operation Friday night at all.
I set the alarm for 11Z (6 AM) – woke up at 5:30 AM and made my way downstairs
to set up the foods/meds for the day. I got on ~ 11:15z – signals were
already loud (UH – OH!). I found a spot called cq and BOOM! ROARING PILEUP
with first caller ZR2A! NON-STOP calling! Whether or not I came back to a
station was irrelevant – the callers continued calling. After a few minutes
of this madness I just accepted it. It was the first time that I ever had to
accept that my pileup was continuous and it simply did not matter whether I was
transmitting or not! The q’s were about 1/4 Russian – a good sign and by
1245z they were about 1/3 Russian – even better. The rates were very high
pushing 220/hr with last ten as high as 270+ – I really wanted to see how fast
I could go but the callers would simply not stop – qrming each other and
slowing everything down. So I cranked the keyer to over 40 WPM – something
that I never do – but it didn’t stop the continuous calling. Even though
the rate is great I was relieved to qsy to 15 @ 1307z – which was barely open
and experiencing mostly spotlight propagation with rapid qsb. I would have an
inexplicably strong station like RL3DX followed by super weak IB9A and IR3C –
normally both very loud. And that really was the story of the weekend. But
hey, what can you expect with an SSN of 0?
The first (non-clock) hour was the best (on 20) – 217 q’s with a decent
first hour on 15 of 155 – but 15 never really opened well – it was a
struggle with the rapid qsb and spotlight propagation. So the daytime was
pounding away in the madness that was 20 just focusing on rate and then a qsy to
40. Here is where it got REALLY interesting......
I had started the contest at 1117z on Saturday morning so I figured that even
with my mangled wire beam I ought to be able to run something if I got there
early enough. Having taken off time on 20 several times during late morning, I
was ready for 40 and I qsyed there at 1904z. I found a quiet spot and called
cq, expecting not much of anything. BOOM!!! LOUD Northern EU stations –
already! Calling ME! Surely this was just the few loud multis and then it
would peter out? NOPE! Three rip-roaring hours of run 19z 155 q’s, 20z 152
q’s and 21z 147 q’s! UNBELIEVABLE!
The rate and signal strengths started to drop ~ 22z as I used the 2nd radio to S
& P on 20 with 22z 104 q’s and 23z 83 q’s, ending the first day with
1733 q’s and 180 mults in 11.8 hours. By now 40 was almost gone except for a
handful of really loud stations. It was either take off-time or go to 80.
So I decided to listen to 80 with, not a BOG but a 4SOG (4-square on ground)
;-) I heard some really loud EU stations but there was almost no directivity
of the 4-square which made sense because that is what usually happens when it is
on the ground. But hey, they were LOUD! So what is there to do but call cq!
And at 0029z I began to run EU with my 4SOG! I actually had a PILEUP! The
Russians were even louder than the other EU stations. I had mixed feelings now
– I was THRILLED that I could actually run guys on 80 and I felt like an idiot
now for missing the first night on 40/80 when I would have been able to run even
more stations on 40/80 than on Saturday night. To illustrate my point, using
the 2nd radio a bit on 40, I had a 100 hour @ 00z and 68 q’s in the 01z hour
including UN6LN calling in at 0126z and HB0A at 0229!!! I knew now that cndx
must have been outstanding on the low bands and dearly wished that I had an
impaired but usable 160. But alas I did not.
After my CQWWCW 160 EU run, I knew that 160 would be outrageous with all of EU
having to work us this weekend. But that would be for other stations. I knew
that if I stayed on 80 and 40 for the next 6 hours – right through EU sunrise
and the 2 hours past then, I could probably make another 400 – 500 low band
q’s. But then I would be exhausted and would miss the 20/15 opening. So at
0315z – in the dead hours before the MUF rises again – I qrt’d.
I knew that 20 would open earlier on Sunday since even though the SSN = 0, the A
had fallen to 3 and the K had stayed at 0!!! You just can’t ask for more than
that! I got up before 11z, made the foods/meds (takes about 30 minutes at the
fastest) for the day and went down. This time I ran 20 and s & p ’d on 40
and picked up 8 mults while posting a 140 hour @ 11z followed by 144 and 134 in
the 12z and 13z hours – mostly on 15 which was not very cooperative. Even
more spotlight propagation than on Saturday – first, two I stations would
call, then 2 ES stations then 2 or 3 really weak DL stations, all taking turns
in some random pattern that I could not understand. Then finally the signals
got LOUD but there was NO volume! You would think with the absolute wall to
wall madness of 20 that stations would be dying to get off 20 and qsy to 15 ?
NO ! Unless they were all there but with the super spotlight propagation we
just couldn’t hear them ? Regardless of the reason the effect on the rate was
the same. Back to 20, which was clearly holding back. I did manage a 119 hour
@ 15z but it was a struggle and it was hard to defend my turf from the non-stop
freq. poachers. I kept plugging away with some brief bouts of 2BSIQ between the
bands but then the first big fade came at 1815z and it was off to 40.
Having 637 q’s on the second night on 40 ( my first night of operating there )
I figured that I could get an early start and maybe put another 400 – 500 in
the log. WRONG! 40 meter signals on Sunday were watery and weaker than the
strong solid signals of Saturday evening. No great rates – just plodding
along between 40 meter run and s & p on 15 and 20 to maintain 60 – 70 per
hour. I laughed at the din of the HQ9X pileup on 20 and figured that he must
have been spotted and I laughed even harder when I tuned on both sides of HQ9X
and found totally neglected mults DS4EOI and DU3LA! NO ONE was calling them
while what sounded like 50 guys were calling HQ9X. YAY FOR TUNING ! I ran a
few JA’s which were fairly strong but I knew that there were not many mults
that would call me and that the opening would not last long with an SSN = 0 !
40 was fairly quiet as the MUF was falling like a stone, which meant that it was
off to 80. I qsy ’ d there at 2247z for a modest run, but there were some
real thrills in that final 73 minutes and 92 qso ’ s to the end of the contest
(65 in the final hour). New mult callers were RW2F, LX7I, V26M, ES7A, 7Z1SJ,
a SUPER LOUD EA6FO, OY9JD, a 599 +10 RI1ANL ! , P40E and my last caller at 2359z
was GU3HFN ! WOW !!! What a finish !
This is what I love about contesting. You just never know what is going to
happen ! If I were going to write a book and put this stuff in it no one would
believe me. It was too implausible given the antennas that I was using and who
was actually calling me!
I want to given personal shout outs to the following callers S01WS ( 40 ), 4K9W,
ES7A, HB0A, OY9JD, OY1CT, TF3W, TF3SG, UA9BA, V51YJ ( 2 bands ), 7Z1SJ ( 3 bands
!), HQ9X, HH2AA, 5B/RN3QO, ZR2A, RI1ANL ( 3 Bands ), and 4 Band callers CU4DX,
EA6FO, LX7I, PJ4A, ZF1A, 4O/E73A and 4U1ITU ( thanks Dave, K1ZZ !!). There were
many other 2, 3 and 4 band callers of course – too many to list – these were
just the ones that stuck in my mind the most.
What a weekend !
The four biggest takeaways from this weekend :
1) Never ever think that you know it all. I have been operating contests for 45
years and there are ALWAYS new surprises in store for me. I would never have
imagined that I could RUN the stations that I did with the badly damaged wire
antennas that I was using. Make 3120 q ’s with 315 mults NON-assisted in
27.8 hours at the bottom of the sunspot cycle without 10 and 160 and damaged
antennas on 40 and 80? PREPOSTEROUS !
2) Propagation is KING ! Had the the A index been 22 with K = 4 like it was
earlier in the week and I probably make 1000 q ’ s less with maybe 1/2 of the
40 and 80 meter qso ’ s. When cndx are excellent almost any antenna will work
! In retrospect I should have gotten on on Friday night but I really did not
think it would be possible to be able to do much of anything. I was dead wrong
3) These DX contests NEVER get old ! What a thrill to work all of the rare and
semi-rare mults and run these great pileups with all the DX looking for US
4) Mother nature rules. We had another ice storm that started right after the
contest. Had it come one night earlier the bands would have had high qrn and
the antennas would likely have been almost useless. What good luck I had this
Now to heal my back ( physical therapy ) and then deal with the big tree removal
and then there are lots of antennas to fix.
Thanks for all of the qso ’ s and mults !
Hope to see you in WPXSSB if I can finish the tree work and fix the antennas in
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