[3830] ZL2DX m/op ARRL10, story (long)

Wilbert Knol w.knol at niwa.cri.nz
Tue Dec 16 22:27:12 EST 1997

                     ARRL 10 METER CONTEST -- 1997

      Call: ZL2DX                    Country:  New Zealand
                                     Category: Multi Op


      CW       928     3712       49       49
      SSB      700     1400       48       34

      Totals  1628     5112       97       83  =   920,160

All reports sent were 59(9), unless otherwise noted.

QSL: to ZL2DX via the bureau.

Operator List: ZL2AGY ZL2DX ZL2BSJ
Venue: Barry's Woolshed, Long Ridge.

                              Continent Statistics
      ZL2DX   ARRL 10 METER CONTEST    Multi Single     14 Dec 1997  1659z

                  10   percent

North America   CW   565    34.3
South America   CW     1     0.1
Europe          CW   112     6.8
Asia            CW   230    14.0
Africa          CW     0     0.0
Oceania         CW    34     2.1

North America   SSB  389    23.6
South America   SSB    3     0.2
Europe          SSB   28     1.7
Asia            SSB  230    14.0
Africa          SSB    0     0.0
Oceania         SSB   55     3.3


Propagation was better at the start of the contest, with good signals 
across the Pacific, from JA and from the US during the first 6 
hours of the contest, and good Eu starting in the (local) evening. 
Only a few VE were heard and worked.

The Eu started off with RA0JD early (local) Sa evening, followed by 
RX9's, UR and then I, F etc. Lots of good Eu was worked on a due West 
path from ZL2 until half past midnight local time.

The band opened again at 06:00 local time Su morning as a huge, 
red sun popped up over the Eastern hills from the South Pacific, 
lighting up the inside of the woolshed shack through the 
cobweb-covered windows.

I had been up since 05:00,trying to kick-start the brain with cups of 
instant coffee, killing time by admiring the amazing sunrise views 
from the loading platform and reading tips for multi/singles 
(m/s amateur radio stations that is :-) from CQ Contest magazine.

The run rig I had parked on 28.200 with the beam pointing to the US, 
the spotting radio was scanning 28.400-28.500 with a vertical 
connected to it. The big US contest stations won: the spotting radio 
started spluttering first, well before the W6WX and KH6WO beacons 
were heard.

Once again good rates were run up by Tony ZL2AGY on CW and Chris 
ZL2DX on phone when they turned up soon afterwards. The US was 
very good right up till 1 PM local time. JA was worked in the 
afternoon, but wasn't as fast as the day before.

The second night didn't go so well for us. JA had become very 
faint by Su 05:00 UTC, and the band basically died for a couple of 
hours. The Europeans were back again on the short path, but not 
until 07:30 UTC, 2.5 hours later than the night before, and in 
general signals were pretty weak. By about 10:00 UTC the band once 
again went dead, but my hopes for an early night were dashed when 
it came alive again to Eu an hour later with DL6RAI (outstanding 
sigs), F5PGP, 9A1A and others. G and PA were not heard.

The next morning (Mo local time) I was up at 05:00 (loc.) again. No 
nice sunrise that time, instead the wind had got up overnight 
rattling the roof and sliding door. It was back to reading more M/S 
tips and jolting of the system with caffeine as the 10 m band took a 
little sleep-in. Tony turned up for the early morning shift and had 
to wait an hour for the band to open to the US. 

By now we had cottoned on to what was happening and were becoming 
seriously alarmed over a large number of missing states, in 
particular on SSB, mainly W0 and W1, and most of the VE provinces.

Clearly it was the right time for a Blind Panic. As Tony worked on 
the CW I tried to spot the missing SSB mults and work them from the 
2nd rig. Like headless chickens we ended up abandoning good CW runs 
to pop up on SSB to attack unsuspecting W0 and W1's. It paid off, the 
missing CW mults were worked in the runs, and some of the missing 
SSB states mopped up by QSY-ing.

The signals were initially good but started fading out soon after the 
band opened. Three hours before the end Tony disappeared to go to 
work and the band once again fell flat. SSB had become a write-off, 
too weak to be of any use. I ended up calling CQ on CW, having worked 
every audible signal on the band and finished up at a QSO rate of 
15/hr, unable to move the score over the 1 Meg mark. With Chris and 
Tony gone to work, it was a single op finish and I had to do the 
patting on the back bit myself with a wool shovel, repeatedly saying 
'wel done, well done', in true team building style.

States missed on CW: DC, NM, IA, ND
States missed on SSB: NE, NH, RI, VT, DC, SD

Was DC on at all??

VE was even tougher to work, we only got on CW: PQ, ON, NB and AB
On SSB we worked PQ, ON, BC and AB.

In hindsight we should have chased these mults a bit harder earlier 
on in the piece, or asked for a K4MA-style QSY. Thanks for W7VPN/QRP 
for the Nevada CW mutiplier in the last 60 seconds of the contest.
And to the ARRL for organising an excellent contest.

Wilbert, ZL2BSJ (@ ZL2DX)

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