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Mon Nov 26 10:23:29 EST 2012

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Call: ND0C
Operator(s): ND0C
Station: ND0C

Operating Time (hrs): 35.75

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
  160:    2     2        1
   80:   33     8       12
   40:   72    17       40
   20:   90    23       51
   15:  168    25       60
   10:  158    27       65
Total:  523   102      229  Total Score = 464,393

Club: Minnesota Wireless Association


This one was a grueling slog - uphill all the way.  So-so propagation, combined
with poor decision-making on my part, a mediocre receiver, modest antennas, and
running 5 watts - not a good combination!  My rate was really poor, even by QRP
standards.  I spent nearly 50% more time operating than last year and got the
same number of Qs.  I did have a lot more mults than last year so that helped. 
But I should have had a lot more Qs and countries - I just didn't get enough of
the normally easy EU countries.     
Conditions were definitely not as good as last year or during the SSB contest
last month. It was especially challenging on Saturday AM.  In fact I spent abI
finally was having some success on 15 - but not great.  Then I made the
brilliant decision to move to 10 in case the expected geomagnetic storm wiped
it out later in the weekend.  (I violated one of my basic operating rules: if
it's working, keep doing it!)  10 was not good on Saturday.  Fortunately things
were better Sunday AM, but I wasn't hearing anY Russians or Scandanavians, and
heard very few eastern EU stations. 

I really felt like QRP in this one - most of the time it felt like 40 meters
(i.e. tough going) regardless of what band I was on!  

Band-by-band observations from here (with QRP):
- 10 meters - poor on Saturday, OK on Sunday (but not great)
- 15 meters - OK both days - should have spent more time there
- 20 meters - OK in general - not so great to EU - tough going, especially for
- 40 meters - OK, especially Saturday evening and late Sunday afternoon into
EU.  (OK for QRP from here means I actually worked some EU!)  - Heard very
little out of South America - several lost mults there.  As usual it was very
noisy but the EU have an amazing ability to pull me through.  But I was pleased
with 40 countries. 
- 80 meters - about normal - very few EU heard - nobody worked on the
continent.  But I did score a couple JAs - that's always cool!
- 160 - running 5 watts to a low dipole - seriously?   I couldn't even work a

I did stumble across some nice multipliers when I had some multiplier gaps to
fill.  But I wasted some time in the last hour looking for more mults when I
should have been just working JAs.  - Another strategic error!

My rig has served me well and I will always remain QRP - but the receiver
really makes it tough in crowded band conditions.  It is almost masochistic to
use it for contesting.  I'm in the market for something else - maybe a K3 or
KX3, or new Yaesu to run at 5 watts.

So... this was definitely not one to fondly remember. I may have gotten one or
two new band countries - haven't checked yet.  But otherwise it was a pretty
poor performance.  
Checklist of things to work on: 
  - antennas (higher and bigger would be good!) 
  - improved high-speed  CW copying (new operator?) 
  - new rig with roofing filters! 
  - resist temptation to change bands when things are working OK (duh!)

Once again, I owe thanks to all the very talented operators out there who
pulled me through the splatter, noise and QSB.  You are the real heroes when it
cames to completing a QRP QSO under challenging conditions.  I appreciate your
patience and persistence.  

ND0C "super-station":
  Yaesu FT-897D running 5 watts
  Wilson SY-3 three element tribander Yagi at 15 meters 
  Inverted vee with apex at 14 meters fed with ladderline
  Logging software: N3FJP - very straightforward and works for me

Randy, ND0C

As always: "You don't have to be crazy to run QRP while contesting ... but it

Or, as Dirty Harry said: "A man's got to know his limitations."

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