ARRL Phone DX Test at K3ZO; score and comments

De Syam syam at
Tue Mar 5 15:19:54 EST 1996

Here are the numbers:
Single Operator/All Band/High Power/Unassisted (No packet or Net)
   BAND   Raw QSOs   Valid QSOs   Points   Countries   
  160SSB      39          39        117        30 
   80SSB     324         322        966        69 
   40SSB     307         307        921        61 
   20SSB    1253        1253       3759       115 
   15SSB     137         137        411        55 
   10SSB      11          11         33         3 
 Totals     2071        2069       6207       333 
    Final Score = 2,066,931 points.
 Approx. 42 hours of operation.
Equipment:  Kenwood TS-830-S driving Titan 425.
Antennas:  160: Half-slopers off 140' tower to SE and W.
            80: 3-el KLM Yagi at 140'
            40: 3-el Telrex 40M346 Yagi at 94'
            20: 6-el Telrex Yagi at 150'
            20,15,10: 4-el W6PU Quad at 78'
Conditions on 40, 80 and 160 were beautifully quiet both nights of
the contest.  
80 meters particularly was a pleasure to operate this year.  I felt
I could hear just about everything that called me.  Especially on
Friday night, the signals were just beautifully clear.  Saturday
night there was a bit of wind so I had to put up with a little
relay chatter on receive.  Stations that called included A45ZZ,
A22BW, TA2DS and OD5NJ.  OD5NJ advised that he had no remote VFO so
I should give him time to get back on my frequency.  He did the
same thing on 40.  I was happy to oblige by saying his call three
or four times at the beginning of each transmission.  Worth it for
the multiplier!  
There was occasional deliberate QRM on 80, not really bothersome. 
The fellow who put SSTV on 3721 when I was using that frequency to
run them made the mistake of zero-beating the frequency with his
carrier, which had little effect on my being able to copy the
callers.  It was more like the same effect you get when you back
the RF gain down and turn the audio up to compensate.  I suppose
the "good 'ol boys" took a lot of gas this year as Europeans were
using run frequencies all the way from 3810 to 3905 and everything
in between.  During most of my runs I transmitted on 3802.6, which
was where one helpful European said things were clearest.  I would
have thought that I would have been bothered by splatter from loud
Europeans on 3799 (9A1A was there frequently with a monstrous
signal) but I guess not.  Congrats to John, ON4UN, who seemed to be
hearing everyone that called him right on his transmit frequency. 
At least during the brief moments when I tuned across him he was
picking up everyone I heard calling him.
S5/K1ZZ gave me a start when he called.  I didn't know Dave was 
in Europe and I thought it was an S5/K1J-- something at first. 
Dave waited patiently while I took care of OD5NJ (see above) as
they both called me at the same time.  Maybe Dave will have some
interesting stories to tell above how different U.S. signals stack
up with each other over there.  I observed the IARU Region 1 band
plan when running people and did not listen in the European CFZ,
There was a bit of a European sunrise opening this weekend on 40,
but it was not nearly as strong as the period 2130-2330 GMT, when
European signals were enormous.  This was the first time that I
ever got over 300 QSO's on 40 during an SSB contest.  The great
bulk of my QSO's were me running the stations I worked.  I was a
good ham citizen and observed the IARU Region 1 band plan when I
ran stations -- no SSB below 7040 KHz.  As a matter of fact the
best run frequencies that I found were usually higher in the band,
7088 and 7092.  I was surprised at the number of long-path VK's
that called me while I was running Europeans.
Twenty was the money band as others have already noted.  Things
went quite well for me on Saturday, with a bit of line noise but
not really severe.  Toward the latter part of the European opening
I observed a phonomenon which happens occasionally -- from about
1800 GMT onward the Europeans were stronger on my high Yagi when I
beamed 75 degrees instead of 45.  When this condition exists my
high Yagi becomes a really killer antenna.  It also allows me to
completely null out the line noise as the noise peaks at 15
degrees.  Plus I was pointed close to Africa so during this period
I was called by 5X4F, EL2WA, 7Q7SB, 9J2FR, ZS6AW, A22BW, 9G1SB and
5N9KWO.  Eight multipliers that I didn't have to get into pile-ups
Things were not as good on Sunday as the high winds and dry weather
gradually built up the line noise as time went on.  From about 1500
GMT onward I must have been a real alligator although conditions to
Europe were good and many signals were well above the noise.  It
was hard to hear USA backscatter signals through the noise and more
than once I am sure I fired up on "someone else's" run frequency. 
The first clue I had was that people on the frequency were working
someone else, not me.  I am aware of briefly crossing paths with
K1AR, KC1F and N6BV.  Sorry fellers!  Since the lower quad was the
better European antenna on Sunday (10 db stronger according to my
buddy K4YT who was operating at DL5UF), I finally resorted to
pointing the high Yagi at 120 degrees when searching for a run
frequency, to get away from the noise effects.  
Just the reverse of conditions during the CW weekend, fifteen
opened to Europe on Saturday and not on Sunday (as far as I could
tell -- see noise description above).  The Saturday opening did not
go very far north but went pretty far east, as I got welcome calls
from OD, 9K and 4X.  I tried running stations to the South in
Spanish on Sunday, and was getting plenty of calls but had to
ragchew with the callers to get them to give me their power, the
rate meter went down, and I didn't stay with it very long.  I will
have to work on getting a better spiel going for contest purposes
when doing this sort of thing in Spanish.
The spotty openings on 15 meant a lot of rotating the antenna, and
Sunday the winds didn't treat the Tailtwister on the quad very
nicely.  I have installed the brake engagement delay option on the
Tailtwister but maybe it's not the best idea to have it when the
winds are like this -- I was horrified at times to see the antenna
move 30 or 40 degrees from the time I stopped rotation until the
brake engaged -- I was sure the rotator was being torn up inside at
such times but at this writing it is still working OK.
The noise was so bad on 10 that it even bothered me when I was
pointed South, normally a noise-free direction for me.  This meant
that while I could work the LU's, PY's and CX's, there was no way
I could read the backscatter signals out of the Caribbean.  So I
didn't waste much time there.   
All in all, considering the sunspot numbers, not a bad contest!  A
ham friend called me on the LL last night to say that a non-ham
friend of his who lives near me says that a "crazy woman" neighbor
of mine was threatening to call the FCC about me since I was
causing RFI to her telephones, stereo, TV and radio!   But he
wouldn't give her name.  Guess I will just have to wait and see
what happens. 
                                      Very 73,
                                    Fred Laun, K3ZO   

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