ARRLDX CW KQ2M SOAB HP
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Sun Mar 14 15:03:01 EST 2004
ARRL DX Contest, CW
Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 30
Band QSOs Mults
160: 48 37
80: 455 64
40: 540 79
20: 739 85
15: 1122 88
10: 414 74
Total: 3318 427 Total Score = 4,250,358
Club: Frankford Radio Club
A series of family medical crises beginning two weeks before this contest made
it impossible to focus on the contest or do the necessary antenna repair work.
By the time Friday came around, I was too preoccupied and exhausted to care
My XYL, Barbara, urged me to get on and have fun. That and my committment to
make points for my club, FRC, ultimately convinced me to get on.
Conditions were pretty good at the start, but with 15 and 20 largely dead, and
only having a wire 4-square on 40 (the wire beam was still caught in the tree
with the driven element vertical!), it was an exercise in futility. I tried
calling cq about 7060 and had a brief run but the 4-square just didn't cut it.
Normally it is about 2 s-units down from the wire beam, but since the signals on
the wire beam were WEAKER than on the 4-square, I knew that I was really
pitifully weak. After about an hour, it was time to go to 80, but my 80
4-square was broken in two places so 80 was out. Likewise on 160, one of the
phased Inv L's was also caught in a tree and not usable. I took the rest of the
night off (from 0215z on) to be with my family, and vowed to get an early start
I got on 20 a bit late (1107z) and it played okay but nothing exciting. 15 was
decent and allowed a 202 hour at 1200z. Then 10 opened for a while with weak
skewpath signals, but fortunately the EU stations had no place to beam but the
US, so that made it more fun. Frankly I was surprised to see ANY EU opening on
10 and the 269 q's and 47 mults that it provided in 5 hours, were most
I plugged away on 10 & 15 for the next 5 hours and then hit 20 hard. But I knew
that I still had to deal with 40 and 80. At 2012z, when I should have been on
20 running, I took 2 1/2 hours off to deal with 40 and 80. First I had to
repair two legs of the 80 meter 4 square and then put the 4 square back
together. It was tricky on my hill with 6" of slush, but the wind was light and
temps were in the 30's - about as pleasant a winter day as you will see in
Connecticut in mid-February :-). Then it was time to slingshot a few ropes
through the tops of trees for the ropes to pull the 4 square back up. Very
tedious and time consuming but successful. Then it was onto the 40 meter
The 40 meter wire beam was just pitiful. The director was in one tree out of
reach with the element describing a 135 degree angle in the horizontal plane. I
won't even talk about what it looked like in the vertical plane! One end of the
driven element was hanging almost vertical, wrapped around another tree branch
about 20' feet up. It had gotten this way in a huge windstorm in October and I
operated with it this way in CQWWCW - but it wasn't much good!
Out of desperation and frustration I wracked my brain to find a solution to
getting this antenna out of the tree. Pulling with all my might did nothing. I
was thinking of using a comealong to pull it out, but there was nothing to
anchor the comealong against. Then it hit me... I would make a polesaw like
the tree surgeons use!
I got a spare 15'long antenna element and taped (with Scotch 88 electrician's
tape) a large wood saw, 3/4 of the way up. I then got a 12' ladder and leaned
it against a tree, and, holding the element at a 45 degree angle from my body, I
sawed with my right hand and held onto the ladder for dear life with my left
hand. I had to climb 8' up the ladder and then hold this element near the end
and above my shoulder to cut the rope. It was a very precarious and horribly
slow process since each time I made a cut with the "polesaw", I had to pysically
lift it and put it in place again at the far side of the sawblade. It was a
VERY painful and exhausting process! Finally, after 20 minutes of this torture,
I pulled against the rope with all my weight and the frayed rope broke. I then
pulled on the coax to pull down the antenna, grabbed the end of the driven and
attached a new rope the other end of which was already in the tree (but far too
close to the end of the director). At this point, I didn't care that the
wirebeam was the ugliest non-beam looking antenna that I ever saw, in the shape
of a lopsided "x". At least I could get on 40 and work guys.
And at 2237z, I got on and ran on 7019 for the next 90 minutes (at least I was
10 db louder than the night before!) and then went to 80 for a great EU run.
I made all my 455 q's and 64 mults in 5.3 hours of operating on 80 on Saturday
night! I knew that cndx were fabulous and that it was likely many records would
I operated until almost 09z and packed it in. In the morning I ignored the low
bands and got on 20 at 1130z (very late) to run EU. I "bobbed and weaved" on
10, 15 and 20 for the next few hours until 19z. The it was back to reality.
Time to do medical research on the internet and see what we were facing.
I spent the next hour researching medical conditions, prognoses, treatments and
surgical procedures. The articles and details were truly frightening. I lost
all interest in operating.
My XYL and daughter came back at 21z and urged me to go downstairs and have fun.
I operated for another 90 minutes and quit at 2232 after 30 hours in the
My heart just wasn't in this contest. When "real-life" hits hard you realize
how insignificant contesting is in the scheme of things, and yet, what a welcome
and fun diversion ham radio and contesting is. I did essentially no mult
passing and almost no two radio work. Just a "barebones effort" with only one
night on the lowbands and missing many key hours on the highbands. Under the
circumstances, I was very pleased with the qso's, mults and overall 4.25 meg
score for 30 hours.
Congratulations to Scott, W4PA who has apparently broken my US record and for
Andy, N2NT for doing a great job from his NJ station. I wish things had been
different for myself and my family this weekend and I could have made my ususal
serious effort. It would have been a GREAT 3-WAY competition! Maybe next
One thing that really stood out.... It was WEIRD but VERY COOL, to hear W6's
and W7's and VE's running lots of EU on all the bands! It took me a while to
get used to it, it has been so long since I remember that happening. I'm sure
that it was a blast for the guys on the West Coast and in Western Canada. I
hope that we all get to experience equally good cndx next year!
I am very glad that I got on. This has always been one of my favorite contests
and I really enjoy saying hi to my friends all over the world.
Thanks to all the DX stations and DXpeditions that made this event possible!
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