webform at b4h.net webform at b4h.net
Tue Feb 26 17:41:31 EST 2008

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: KQ2M
Operator(s): KQ2M
Station: KQ2M

Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 18.9

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  160:   22    19
   80:  355    63
   40:  432    71
   20:  549    77
   15:   89    51
   10:    5     3
Total: 1452   284  Total Score = 1,237,104

Club: Frankford Radio Club


I didn't intend to operate as much as I did, but my expectations were so low
with all the damaged antennas, that I was having too much fun to stop!

Antennas were as follows:
160 Inv L           Low-gain High noise antenna (I am REALLY p.w. on 160!)
80 Wire 4-square -  Damaged with Omnidirectional pattern
40 Wire 4-square - the only properly functioning wire antenna
3L 40 "V" wire beam at 40'. The antenna looks like a V when you look at it from
behind, with one end of the driven element in the shape of a J and caught in a
20 4L Homebrew Cushcraft with blown gamma match and FIXED at 20 degrees
15 4-stack that WORKS WELL - when you can hear guys on 15.  :-)
10 4-stack that WORKS WELL - 

I used one FT1000MP and one Titan.  I had lousy antennas on the "money bands"
and expected rotten cndx and limited operating time, so I was pretty
unmotivated and I did not want to spend Friday afternoon rearranging the
station for 2-radio operation.

This is the most non-functional antenna system that I have ever had at this qth
during a contest.  10 and 15 which are fine, didn't matter much, except for
Sunday AM when I actually had a modest EU run (all S3 or weaker) at 1230z but
then had to stop at 13z to meet with a client.  The other bands had antennas
that were all lightning damaged and will be rebuilt this Spring and Summer.

I didn't operate Friday (turned out that I missed great openings on 40-160),
opting to spend time with my family.  Saturday AM I got up early, and with my
damaged 4L at 50', FIXED at 20 degrees.I parked myself on 14089 and called CQ
to see who could hear me.  Answer:  NO ONE at first!  While the M/M stns were
engaging HUGE pilueps of EU in hand-to-hand combat down below, I, far above the
RTTY, had a clear freq. and no callers.  This was about what I expected.  About
25 minutes later, 20 started to open for me and I had a modest run and then it
got interesting.  Up in the "nosebleed" section of the band, 5H1HD, 7Z1SJ and
JW8AW called me!  A little later, after my modest run had stopped, I found
Champ, E21EIC right next to me, who at the time had a clear freq. with no
callers!  I had to pick my spots to cq as I was too puny weak to have a
consistent run, but I was amazed at what I could work with the damaged antenna
FIXED at 20 degrees.  I could even work most of the South American stations
with a pileup and most of the Africans, but that took a lot of skill and guile,
calling above and below the pileup and occasionally pulling off a perfect tail
end, in the 3 nanoseconds between when the US station gave his 599__ and the dx
station sent QRZ?  This was how I used to operate back in my low power days. 
You could immediately tell who the really smart ops were as rather than try to
pick out one call from 100 calling on top of each other, these guys were tuning
at the "edges" of the pileup trying for the easiest and clearest spot to hear
callers.  This is how ALL stations should operate!  The rate is faster, the
pileup control is better, and you work "little guys" who would otherwise never
be heard.  Also, the smarter US ops will notice where the DX station is
listening and MOVE to those "edges" and that creates a "thinner" pileup which
makes it even easier to pick out calls.

It was especially gratifying to be able to work T32OU, VP6DX, and ZM1A on 20
off the SIDE of the damaged antenna - all of them at s3 or less and ZM1A barely
audible.  WOW!

40 was laughable with the wire beam on Saturday that had one end of the driven
hanging down and touching the ground.  EU was 2 s-units louder on the 
4-square which NEVER happens.  The next day I threw the end of the driven back
up into a tree where it promptly snagged in a "death-grip" and assumed the
shape of a "J", but the sag in the middle was pitiful with the director and
reflector at 50' and the driven at about 30'.  After I did that, the Wire Beam
and the 4-square were equal to EU.  (Normally the 4 square is 1 s-unit louder).
 Once again I went up into nosebleed territory to cq, but I was ignored, so back
down I came finally settling on about 7030 where being "fresh meat" outweighed
how weak I was, and with the help of a few EU spots, I had a pileup and big run
after about 10 minutes.  When the MUF dropped I went to 80, where I discovered
that it didn't matter which direction I pointed the knob to, EU was coming in
equally weak.  A true omindirectional pattern!  Even with the mal-functioning
4-square, which had lost 1/2 of the elevated radials thanks to 2 icestorms in
the previous 5 days, I was still able to have a run, sort-of.  It was spotty,
but it was fun and just to make the point, 2 UA9's and R35NP called in.  It was
weird to realize that I had no gain in any direction, and therefore I must be 1
- 2 s-units weaker than if I had a good pattern.  I then realized how good cndx
must really be!

160 was the usual experience with my high-noise, low-gain 160 inverted L which
I have been too lazy to take down and cut up into small pieces for "payback". 
:-)  If I can hear and work someone on that antenna, through all the qrn, fence
noise and birdies, I KNOW that the band is WIDE OPEN!  Even the garden variety
modest stations had 40+ countries on that band!

I hit a bunch of the "good" hours and a bunch of the "bad" ones, operating
based on convenience rather than looking to maximize score.  This was a good
weekend for 2 radios since the band openings were spotty, and if you were cqing
on one radio and not tuning on another, you missed some band openings -
especially on 10 and 15.

4U1UN, who I normally do not hear, was kind enough to qsy to 10 and 15 for me. 
Thanks! ZD7X and TF3CW and TF3DC were kind enough to answer my cq's.

All in all I did far better with such poor antennas and had a lot more fun than
I ever could have imagined at what truly is the bottom of the cycle.
After the contest, and in looking at the scores, it confirmed my suspicions
during the contest that the cndx somewhat favored 3 land stations and those in
coastal New England.  This is pretty typical of bottom of the cycle when things
get marginal and the MUF drops rapidly at night.  You want to be as close to the
salt water of coastal of New England as possible (ALWAYS a good place to be! :-)
or farther South where the MUF is slightly higher.
For Eastern stations that were complaining about how bad cndx were that are
newer to contesting, or have a short memory, here is a little perspective. 
Back in 1987 I WON SOABHP in this contest with about (if memory serves me) 2500
q's and a 300 mult, using 2 radios.  That contest had BETTER cndx and I was at a
decent station with better antennas (KM1H).  So, to be able to make 1450 q's and
284 mult in 19 hours with ONE radio and mostly broken antennas, tells you just
how much BETTER the activity level and availability of mults are TODAY, than 2
cycles ago!  One other thing... it was only in the last cycle that the biggest,
baddest M/M stations began to APPROACH
95+ countries on 80.  DXCC on 160 was simply a fantasy.  Now, DXCC on 80 is an
EXPECTATION and DXCC on 160 is POSSIBLE in CQWW.  Things have changed A LOT and
the DX contests are far more fun NOW with lousy cndx, than they were 1, 2 and 3
cycles ago with BETTER cndx!

Thanks for all the q's and congrats to all the stations who operated and had
fun.  Special thanks to the great ops at VP6DX who made it easy to work them 
and to all the other DX ops who give us the q's and mults in every contest!

Bob KQ2M   kq2m at earthlink.net

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