IARU HF World Championship
Class: SO SSB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 24
Band CW Qs Ph Qs Mults
160: 0 13 5
80: 0 54 14
40: 0 224 36
20: 0 1393 60
15: 0 38 10
10: 0 2 1
Total: 0 1724 126 Total Score = 644,616
160 - Inverted V @ 145'
80 - Sloping dipoles - NE, NW from 150', SE from 135'
40 - Cushcraft 40-2CD @ 150', rotatable
Cushcraft 40-2CD @ 70', fixed NE
20 - Hy-Gain 204BA @ 157', rotatable
Hy-Gain 204BA @ 105', fixed NE
Hy-Gain 204BA @ 53', fixed NE
15 - Hy-Gain 155CA @ 135', rotatable
Hy-Gain 155CA @ 90', fixed NE
Hy-Gain 155CA @ 45', fixed NE
10 - Hy-Gain 105CA @ 140', rotatable
Hy-Gain 105CA @ 100', fixed NE
Hy-Gain 105CA @ 60', fixed NE
Hy-Gain 105CA @ 30', fixed NE
Radio 1: Kenwood TS-850SAT, Ameritron AL-1500
Radio 2: Kenwood TS-850SAT, Centron Clipperton L
Headset: Heil Proset
DVK: W9XT Contest Card
Software: TR Log 6.79
Other: WX0B SixPak and StackMatches, Ameritron RCS-8V switches,
ICE bandpass filters, Top Ten Devices Band Decoders, Top
Ten Devices DXDoubler
I wasn't sure I was going to be able to operate in this contest.
I had neglected to secure a station in my local area for a
guest operation before I discovered that the contest was so
popular that all of the usual contest stations were already
claimed. About a week before the contest I found out that I'd
be able to operate at W5KFT after all, as K5OT had to cancel.
The W5KFT station is mostly the same as it was the last time I
operated a phone contest from there. Some of the Ameritron
AL-1500 amplifiers were on the blink, though, so one of the
radios was hooked up to K5OT's Dentron Clipperton L amplifier.
Larry was generous enough to leave the amplifier there for me
I arrived at the station Friday night, and had plenty of time
to set up the software, adjust the 80M sloping dipoles to phone
length, and tune up both amplifiers on all the bands. I was
actually asleep by 10PM and got a full eight hours of rest before
This is the first HF operating I've done since the ARRL
International DX Contest, Phone, back in March. I don't have
much of a station at home yet, and I rarely get on the air from
home, so I had no real idea what band conditions would be like
approaching the bottom of the cycle in the middle of summer.
My operating guides were really my rate sheet from IARU 2003
(my previous personal best in the contest) and K5TR's rate
sheet from 2004 (when he won W/VE and was #10 world.) I was
hoping to do much, much better than 2003, and looked upon K5TR's
2004 performance as my stretch goal.
Starting the contest, I put the left Kenwood TS-850 (with the
Ameritron AL-1500) on 20 meters, and the right Kenwood TS-850
(with the Dentron Clipperton L) on 15 meters. I don't know that
I even consciously thought about my choice, but the AL-1500 is a
louder amplifier, and the left-hand radio is slightly less
convenient to tune, so I guess it made sense to use that radio
on the run band where slightly more power might make more sense
and where I wouldn't be tuning a lot. This decision would really
affect my score.
When the contest started, I couldn't hear anything at all on
15 or 10 meters, which didn't really surprise me - after all,
it was just past dawn and it's summer and it's near the bottom
of the solar cycle. I figured things would pick up, and in the
meanwhile concentrated on my run on 20 meters. I only began
hearing a few stations on 15 meters in the 1300 UTC hour,
and even though I had no trouble working them at all, they
were weak and few and far between. Again, not having been on
the air for four months, and not really knowing any better, I
figured 15 meters was just dead. So, I was working 20 meters
as hard as I could.
After the contest, when we compared our numbers on 3765 kHz,
K5TR diagnosed the situation for me. The right-hand radio is
deaf on the high bands. It otherwise performs normally, and
I made a lot of QSOs with it on 40, 80, and 160, but on 10 and
15 it couldn't hear anything but the very loudest stations.
George had this happen to him once with a Kenwood TS-850 at
HC8, and from what he described of his experience, I'm confident
that the exact same thing happened to my radio this weekend.
I wish I had thought about that possibility during the contest,
but the left-hand radio (which does work just fine on 15 and 10
as far as I know) was on 20 meters for the first 18 hours of
the contest, so there was no way I would discover the problem
by happenstance. And, aside from the fact that it couldn't
hear well on 15 and 10, absolutely everything else about the
radio was working normally.
So, the end result is that I have fewer than 40 QSOs on 15
meters, only a few of which were from my mostly unproductive
attempts at calling CQ. In retrospect, I feel terrible about
the CQs, as I almost certainly stepped on someone I couldn't
hear when I fired up on a frequency I thought for certain
was empty. I only worked two stations all contest on 10
meters, both local guys. If I wasn't so dense, I could have
switched radios and my score would have been very different,
but I honestly didn't think at the time that there was anything
wrong (aside from poor conditions.) I know that sounds lame,
but what else can I say? I worked 20 meters really hard.
I am very pleased with my final QSO total - I had set that as
a specific goal for this year, as my QSO totals in past years
have been too low. The TR Log rate meter peaked at 192 in
the 1200 UTC hour, and later peaked at 168 during a short
burst in the 2300 UTC hour, but my best rate was in the 0200 UTC
hour when the rate meter peaked at 216. I'm sure I've never
had that kind of rate in the IARU contest before. If I hadn't
"lost" two bands, I'm sure my final QSO total would have been
100 QSOs higher, or maybe more, than it was. I am especially
happy that I had better QSO totals than K5TR in three of the
last six hours of the contest. I still have too many hours
with rates in the 50s and 60s that I need to turn into 70s and
80s, but it's much better than it was two years ago when the
2003 IARU was one of my first single operator contest efforts.
I really need to improve my multiplier performance, though.
Even on the bands where I didn't have equipment problems, my
multiplier totals are well below my local competition. I know
that I'm still missing out on some things by not being on the
right band at the right times - I didn't work any Europeans
on 80 meters, for example, because I think I got there too late.
I'm also clearly not hitting the Caribbean and South America
as well as I could be.
One thing that was frustrating was around 1455 UTC when VR2HK
fired up right on my 20 meter frequency, totally destroying my
run, but then couldn't hear me call them at all. They were a
serious alligator, and were calling CQ a lot despite many,
many stateside callers. I never did get that multiplier.
I worked a lot of dupes - almost 100 - and they were almost all
on 20 meters. Two stations worked me four times each, and four
stations worked me three times each.
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