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Sun Mar 2 21:02:04 EST 2008

                    ARRL DX Contest, SSB

Call: VA7ST
Operator(s): VA7ST
Station: VA7ST

Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 12

 Band  QSOs  Mults
   80:   18    13
   40:   23    18
   20:  121    44
   15:   44    22
   10:    1     1
Total:  207    98  Total Score = 60,858



* FT-2000 and SB-221 amplifier
* N1MM Logger
* 3-element Mosley CL-33 tribander at 45'
* 40M half-square
* 80M delta loop

I've been contesting on and off since first licensed in 1982, but this is my
first ARRL DX SSB test. Always figured it would not be much fun with
less-then-great antennas. I am still more antenna-challenged than antenna-rich
but now that I'm set up for proper SSB contesting (a footswitch and headset)
decided to leap in and spend at least part of the weekend exploring this big
ol' test. The score is no hell, but the enjoyment quotient was high. Note to
self: it is fun, so do this one again.

SFI=69 | A=19 | K=2

Non-storm conditions don't get worse than this. Don't think solar flux has been
very much lower than 69 during this minimum, and the A-index at 19 all weekend
indicates the rough shape bands were in, at least up here in B.C. Still, I was
surprised to work a little bit of DX -- 52 unique entities. As a non-phone guy,
I think I added a couple dozen new ones to the SSB DXCC tally.

10M -- opened around 1930z very briefly from BC to South America. One QSO
there, with LT1F, who was loud but all alone. 

15M -- far better Saturday than Sunday. 44 Qs and 22 mults. Better than I'd
hoped for, and better than it has been recently.

20M -- the money band, of course. EU is the mother lode for mults, but not a
single EU heard until Sunday morning's opening, which lasted about three hours 
(1700-2000z) and was not very strong at any time. GW4BLE, G4BUO, and EI9HX  were
the strongest signals on the band for most of the opening.

Even though the band opened somewhat, I still only picked up 12 European mults
-- worked in order of France, Wales, Spain, Ireland, Sicily, England, Finland,
Belgium, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and Portugal. Lots of countries not heard at

Heard at the top end of 20M Saturday afternoon: "Sure are a lot of stations on
today. Must be some kind of sweepstakes or sumthin."

40M -- not too bad -- 18 DXCC, almost all SA and Carib., plus a JA and my only
ZL of the contest.

80M -- not too good -- 13 DXCC, all SA and Carib., plus KH6 (wow, you Hawaiian
stations were loud everywhere I heard you this weekend, and lots of you. KH6LC,
KH7X, KH7B, KH6FI, WH6R, NH6HT, KH7T. Great work!).

Top DX counts:
Japan      24 Qs
Brazil     20
Argentina  15
Spain      13
Hawaii     10
Costa Rico 10
Mexico     10

Pressed into service my CW-band trapped tribander. It does not like the SSB
ends of the bands and sure didn't get heard much. Ran the SB221 amp most of the
time, though with SWR floating a bit high I think I was getting about 300W PEP
into the driven element above 14.200 mhz. Murphy struck Saturday afternoon,
popping the Schottky diodes in the AEA AT-3000 tuner (anyone else found this
tuner a bit fragile in the diode department?). Fortunately, I bought spares in
bulk so the fix should be a breeze. 

With 2008 DX SSB in our wake, next year the bands will definitely be much
better with a lot more to work. There's nothing quite like a wide-open 15M band
for awesome fun. I can hardly wait.

On to RSGB Commonwealth (BERU) next weekend for some Qs with the lads from
around the British Empire, a game of leap-frog in NA RTTY Sprint after that,
then the heavy-duty Russia DX (may do both modes, now that I'm such a seasoned
phone op, hi). Then on to BARTG HF RTTY, and the grand-daddy WPX SSB at the end
of the month -- that'll be another rookie outing for me. Better start eating my
Wheaties every day now.

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