CQWW CW KQ2M SOSB/20 HP
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Sun Jan 4 20:24:59 EST 2009
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW
Class: SOSB/20 HP
Operating Time (hrs): 30
Band QSOs Zones Countries
20: 2059 37 139
Total: 2059 37 139 Total Score = 1,039,104
Club: Frankford Radio Club
**NEW UNASSISTED US 20 METER HP RECORD" (before UBN)
In November I made a post to this reflector about how to use
work and other "real-life" activities to help prepare for the contest
This new claimed US record is a direct result of that approach.
Over the years I have repeatedly had major inner ear problems which have
seriously restricted my ability to fly (and thus no Caribbean DXpeditions
for me). In February 2007 I developed a much more complex and serious nerve
related problem and I had not flown since that time. To be safe, I made a
decision to only fly to a vacation location that I could drive back from -
just in case. So my family and I flew down to Miami for a Caribbean cruise
and all was well until day 5 when a recurrence of the problem eliminated any
chance of flying back. After the cruise I rented an SUV in Miami and drove
back the 1347 miles to Connecticut in 26 hours.
To make a great contest score you need to maximize your "BIC" (Butt in
chair) hours and focus on maximizing rate. A little physical and mental
preparation go a long way to improving results and I knew that to get home
as fast as possible, I would need to drive in a way that I could maximize my
rate without getting speeding tickets or having to stop. I prepared to
drive at a constant speed without tiring myself too much and focus on a
minute by minute and hour by hour strategy to pile up the hours/miles. At
70+ mph, if you can keep going with only infrequent and brief stops, you can
drive a long way pretty quickly. I started at 2PM in Boca Raton, FL and
took off-time at 3:15 AM in southern VA, 902 miles later after driving 12
of 13 hours. The next day I made it home by 4:30 PM, with only one stop,
just like in the contests!
In the CQWWCW contest at the bottom of the cycle, with ZERO sunspots and 1
hour and 15 minutes less daylight than in CQWWSSB, I knew that I would have
to be machine-like in run efficiency and maximize every minute of operation
in order to have any chance at the record. I knew that I would have to run
hour after hour with no breaks; to pileup the q's and with such low muf, I
would have to be perfect in finding the brief openings, if any, to Asia,
and the Pacific. I would also have to work every PY/LU and VE
station and to cq endlessly on a dead band, "just-in-case" someone heard me
and called in.
Sure enough, CQWWCW started with a marginal opening to South America, and
after working the 20 audible stations, I proceeded to tune with the Top
antenna South to find a long path VK6, 3X5A (like a beacon all night long!)
and 3 ZM stations. Yes, even the New Zealand stations were peaking to the
SOUTH! Over the next 2 hours, I snagged 2 LP JA's, 9G5ZZ and a few SW Eu
stations - they each had a 5-10 minute opening and were gone. At 0317z
after calling cq for a long time, 3B8/SM6GOR called me for a double mult!
and then I found CT9L, TO3R and VK6HG followed by 2 more VK's. It was SLOW!
At the end of the 04z hour, there was a brief opening to Africa and I worked
9J3A, ZS6C, CU3HQ, ZS4TX, Z29KN and C4N. 5H3EE and 4X2M were S5 but they
could not hear me. Although I continued to hear JA's long path on and off
all until 06z, it was not possible to work them. I went to sleep with only
in 20 zones and 32 countries.
At 10z 20 was open and it was already wall-to-wall with super weak Eu
stations. They were not runnable but 1 out of 3 could hear me and I S & P'd
a bunch of mults until just before 11z when my run started. My frequency
EXPLODED in a roar of Eu and Russian stations, at first 15-20 at a time and
then almost 50 deep! I had to pinch myself to remind myself that I was
operating in Connecticut, NOT in the Caribbean!
The pileup was so big that it hurt my rate as I struggled to pull out 1 or 2
calls at a time. Over the next 5 hours, my rates were 150, 157, 193, 177
and 165, with my first ever 200+ hour on 20 from my qth (205)! WOW!!!
I had to tune at the upper and lower ends of the pileup to get enough of a
callsign but very few stations were listening to my strategy and continued
call on top of each other. I had hoped to listen for any Asian stations
calling over the pole, but their was no chance in the EU ROAR! I could only
pull out Zone 14, 15 and 16 stations with the occasional zone 20. If
anything else was calling, it was being drowned out. The qsb was fast and
stations often disappeared between the first and last characters of their
call. This was HARD WORK and the rate was suffering. I kept plugging away
and finally the pileups diminished to the point where the rate actually
began to INCREASE! I was surprised at how few mults I had. At 1630z I had
about 1025q's with only 25 zones and 81 countries. Finally my luck began to
change as El2DX, 5X1NH and KH6FI all called in for 5 quick mults followed
shortly thereafter by several more TF stations (amazing activity from
there!) and VY1EI for zone 1. Then as the rate dropped, I began to use the
2nd FT1000MP VFO in between cq's and picked 17 mults in the next hour by
using the South pointing dipole at 40'! It was a pain though as the dipole
was on a separate antenna switch, so in the 3 seconds between cq's, I had to
manually push the VFO B button and turn the antenna switch, listen for 1-2
seconds, and then manually switch the 2 position Daiwa switch back and push
the VFO A button. This split second work repeated hundreds of times, was
Europe was completely gone by 18z and the next two hours were constant cq's
with an occasional VE or African or SA station calling in. J28JA, J39BS and
EA6ZS called me and then I found VP5W, 4L0A and YN2Z, each of whom I worked
while they were unsuccessfully calling other mults. The SA pileups were
intense and the African pileups were completely insane. Over the next 2
hours I worked 40 more stations, mostly S & P with a scattering of SA/NA and
African mults mixed in with the occasional VE and VK callers. At 2118 the
band opened marginally to KL7 and the Pacific and I worked KL7AC, KL2R and
KG6DX for a double mult. At 2135z, right at Connecticut Sunset, I went S &
to work every JA as well as 5K0T, AH2R, AH0BT. The JA
opening was 45 minutes shortpath and then disappeared with the rest of 20.
At 2345z I couldn't even hear any PY or LU stations. YE1ZAT was about S5
longpath with a lot of flutter and I gave up after 15 minutes of calling
him. I went upstairs to
watch TV and be with my family. I came back down at 0045z and worked YE1ZAT
at 0059 for a double mult. I was hearing the occasional JA and China
station longpath now, but they could not hear me. From time to time I also
heard VK6DXI and VK6HD longpath but I had already worked them.
Since I could not work any of the longpath JA and Chinese stations that I
was hearing (from S3 - S7), I took another break. My totals at 01z were
1278 q's 24 zones and 120 countries and I had a shot at the US record if 20
opened to Asia and the Pacific on Sunday. For some perspective, after 25
hours of the contest, I had only worked 7 countries in Asia and 4 in the
At 0230z I came back to the shack to hear about 10 different long path JA's
and three different Chinese stations. I called all of them over the next
two hours and only worked three of the JA's and NONE of the Chinese
stations. One China station was S7 and still could not hear me! There was
no African sunrise opening, however, 3X5A was a beacon for most of the
peaking at an amazing s9+10!! The only Pacific station that I heard was a
weak ZM1A who was peaking at 165 degrees instead of the usual 245! There
were no audible Eu or Middle Eastern stations. I went to sleep at 0630z and
awoke at 0930z ready to S & P Eu and African stations.
Unfortunately, 20 was DEAD at 0930z. At 1015z I finally heard a weak EA8
station but could not hear any of the EU calling him. This was a BAD sign!
At 1019z I heard and worked S50K followed by a few more EU over the next 25
minutes - all Eu stations were peaking 120 - 135 degrees with the few
Russians that I could hear peaking at 150 - 175 degrees! With the MUF this
low, I could not run anyone and with the loudest stations only S3 - S5, the
short-skip in Eu was drowning me out when I called. I continued to S & P
picking up mults TK5EP and RZ9OZO in zone 18 with an occasional Northern Eu
station. Most did not hear me, including EX2X who I never did work. I was
unable to run and now unable to work stations S & P! At 1130z Eu was STILL
coming in Skewpath! I realized that I would never be heard down low in the
band so I went all the way up in nosebleed territory where NO ONE was even
near me, hoping for the weak Eu and qrp stations to call me. At 1142 Eu
started coming in shortpath and I began a decent run on 14114! The rate was
slow but it was steady. More importantly, I was being heard in zones 21 and
22 and 4K4K, 4L3Y and VU2NKS called in along with and OH0 and GD4EIP follwed
by VU2PTT, and 7Z1SJ. Only TWO zone 17 stations heard me and nothing from
Zones 18, 19, 24 and 26. I heard EX2X come back to VO1HP but EX2X never
Although I had a good freq., the rate was lower than it should have been and
the RTTY stations were tearing up 14100 and above. I s & p'd 8Q7DV and
called a few other mults including 7X0RY but they could not hear me through
the relentless and FEROCIOUS Eu pileups. I started a run at 14033 and had a
few more hours of good rate, but it was clear that the band was open only to
EU and Africa. With only the top antenna rotatable and the signals being
mostly low angle, I was unable to split my signal
in the directions that I needed it. At 1645z I pointed the top antenna at
Africa and was rewarded with V51YJ and a few zone 33 stations. I began to
use the 2nd FT1000MP vfo again in between cq's and found TT8JT at 14122! and
some incredibly large African pileups with stations who refused to ID. I
wrote down the frequencies and checked them every so often. By 1730z Eu was
just about gone and every station had a massive pileup. I cq'ed constantly
and tuned with the second vfo and rotated the top antenna endlessly. I
found a good freq. at 14011 and worked the trickle of zone 14 stations with
the occasional zone 33 and zone 40. 9Q1EK called in (I had been chasing him
days!) along with a few VK's. At 1950z I stopped cqing and tuned
only needing to concentrate on the few African stations that I had not
You know that you are desperate for q's when you have to fight through the
pileup of 9J2BO just for the three points! At 1959z I caught a break when
5Z4/RW1AU, simply overwhelmed by his pileup, decided to go split and listen
up 1. Only I heard him say "qsx up 1" through the endless callers following
the "scorched earth" policy of calling him endlessly so that no one
else could hear him. I worked him first call "up 1" for country #137 and
spent the next hour working a few weak PY's/KL7's and VE's. I had just
broken the US record (1.007 Meg) with 1.011 Meg but the extra 4,000 points
would never hold up after UBN.
At 2129 sharp, Connecticut sunrise coincided with JA sunset and over the
next THREE minutes I had my JA run of THREE stations. I worked a few more
VE's and 2 JA's over the next 15 minutes and then the band died. It opened
briefly at 2215 for another 10 minutes and then died again. Not even a PY
or LU was heard! The contest was over. I came upstairs and drank some
coffee hoping for "one more shot" at an opening before the end of the
contest. At 2315z I came downstairs and heard a weak JA peaking at 155
degrees, and THEN the band started to open back up at 2320z! I worked a
weak NH7O and then nabbed a very fluttery skewpath YB3MM at 2329z.
At 2331z I worked VK6HZ over the South Pole for VK6 number 5! and
tuned for Asia. At 2340z I found a surprisingly loud skewpath BU2AI who I
called for TEN MINUTES before he got was able to confirm my call. In that
time he had not worked anyone else and apparently no one else had heard him!
I was very lucky that no one called him and that he was also very
persistent! I was thrilled to FINALLY work double mult Zone 24 Taiwan and
thought how ironic it was to work Taiwan after hearing China all weekend but
not being able to
Two minutes later I found B4B and at 2357z he got my call and I had China
and country #139! The band was now open decently skewpath/longpath and
I frantically looked for the DU/9M2/9M6 and other stations that I had heard
earlier. I could not find anyone except JA3OOK who was my last qso at
With the three mults I got in the last 10 minutes of the contest, my final
2059 q's 37 zones 139 countries 1,039,104.
Good enough to break the US record by 3.2%. Hopefully it will hold up after
During the contest the mults I heard but did not work were: JW1CCA,
DU3NXE, 9M6XRO. CE0Y/SP6, EX2X. I never heard zones 23, 26 or 34.
The contest was split between run hours and "struggle to work anyone" hours.
The band did not close or open gradually, it was like a light switch - on or
off. I operated 30 hours and had:
1511 q's in 11 hours
1691 q's in 14 hours
1863 q's in 19 hours
I worked only
196 q's in the other 11 hours - mostly US and VE stations and about 15 LP
Here are the one minute rates:
3 per minute 221 !
4 per minute 96 !!
5 per minute 16 !!!
6 per minute 1
The best hourly rate was 205 - the first time I have done that on 20 from my
It was frustrating to struggle for Asian and Pacific q's and mults, knowing
that I missed almost everything that was on. But this is THE bottom of the
cycle and with ZERO sunspots all weekend I surpassed even my expectations
for what was possible.
When I broke the US 20 Meter CW record back in 1993? from KM1H I had done so
just after the peak of the cycle. The European activity has grown immensely
since that time which bodes well for cw contesting in the future. When you
can challenge and break a high-band CW record at the bottom of the cycle,
you know that the future of contesting is very bright!
One observation... I notice more and more stations refusing to give their
callsign, even after being asked! This is poor operating practice that
increases the number of callers and dupes, and wastes everyone's time,
INCLUDING the DX station. Even when I was running at 200+ per hour, I never
worked more than 5 stations without IDing, which was at maximum about 90
seconds. There is simply no good reason why all DX stations can't do this.
When a DX station is working guys at 5 - 6 minute, I don't mind waiting a
minute or so - but when the rate drops and people call endlessly, the DX
stations needs to ID MORE often, not less often!
I agree with the poster who noted that most of the best ops, with the
highest scores, tended to give their call very often, if not after almost
every qso. The best ops do not find IDing a burden - but look at it as an
operating efficiency. Only poorly skilled ops refuse to give their
In reading the contest writeups I was absolutely blown away by the large
number of EU stations that had 2000+ q's on 80 with 125+ countries! Even
though the 40 meter numbers were immense as well, this was the first cw
contest that I could ever recall where MANY EU and US stations had higher
qso totals on 80 than 40! AMAZING!
What a great contest this was filled with all kinds of surprises and
challenges. Just the way that I like it! Thanks to every one for the qso's
and especially to all the Dxpeditions for all the planning, traveling
and expenses incurred just to put on a new mult for the rest of us!
73 and Happy New Year!
kq2m at earthlink.net
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