[CQ-Contest] ARRL CW DX Contest 1998 - comments

Fred Laun K3ZO aalaun at ibm.net
Sat Feb 28 08:30:09 EST 1998

Well here goes -- a little late this time because my old friend K4YT has
been around here this week between assignments in Germany and Israel, so
there has been a lot of local ragchewing in the shack, plus XYL Somporn is
getting ready to go off to Thailand next week to visit her family for a
month, so that means shopping for the in-laws, money changing etc.  Anyhow:

W3MC was over here just prior to the contest and swapped out the T2X rotor
on the W6PU quad, re-strung a 20 meter quad element and repaired a broken
relay control line on the 3-el 80 meter beam.  We were unable to find the
cause of an arc which caused the SWR on the 80 meter beam to rise to
infinity as soon as more than 200 watts was applied to that antenna, so I
had to transmit on the 80 meter half-sloper which is the emergency fallback
antenna on that band and still works pretty well.  I could still use the 80
meter Yagi for receiving.  Other than that, everything was working OK
though the Titan 425 that I used appears to be having the beginnings of a
relay problem -- occasionally when I was S&P after not having transmitted
for a while there would be a "crackling" sound on transmit and the
occasional character would be transmitted at well below full power.  This
really only caused problems when I was trying to work S58A on the bent path
on 10 meters so it was a minor nuisance.  Unfortunately the backup Titan
425 is on the bench right now undergoing major repairs so was not available
as a substitute.

I realized when I began looking at the results on the packet after the
contest was over that I had made errors in strategy when I saw that Chas,
K3WW, had beaten my QSO total on every band except 10 meters even though he
operated the "single-operator distracted" class.  Guess I was spoiled by
the way 10 meters had opened during the CQWW CW and spent a lot of time up
there waiting for the great opening that never happened while 15 and 20
were producing gobs of QSOs for others.  Chas had wisely used the band
sparingly, knocking off the easily available mults while concentrating his
daytime efforts on 15 and 20.  

I can hear the voices out there saying: "See! If you'd just had a second
radio set up to look at 10 meters you wouldn't have wasted time there!"
You know... you're right about that.  


I thought maybe I had solved my receiving problems on 160 by using the 80
meter beam on receive -- it seemed to hear very well.  But since everyone
is saying 160 was in great shape, guess I'll have to go through a few more
contests before I can say that for sure.  At any rate, it sure was nice for
a change to hear a number of Europeans calling CQ and to be the only caller
responding, not having to fight through a rolling pileup to figure out who
they came back to.  I agree, 160 was quite OK this time around!

I was hampered by not having the 80 meter beam to transmit on, and my QSO
total was way down from last year on that band, but I was reasonably
successful when running them and probably should have done more of it than
I did.  I think I got everyone I called except for the ZL's that were
calling "CQ FD".  I take it that Field Day "down under" also took place
this weekend.  Conditions on 80 seemed OK also, but the QRN was a bit high
the second night, and I had thoughts of going to 80 for the last half hour
of the contest but one listen convinced me that 15 meters into Asia was the
preferable alternative.  The storms that spawned the tornadoes in Florida
were also doing a good job of trashing 80 meters up here Sunday night.

I think I fell down on the job on 40 meters.  I started the contest there
but when everyone in Frankford-land was 90 db over 9 on 40 at the beginning
of the contest I did some S&P and beat a hasty retreat to 20 where the band
was nicely open to JA.  Though I was hampered somewhat all weekend with
line noise on 15 and 20 toward JA which kept me from hearing the 10 watters
with indoor dipoles, in retrospect I should have done a better job of
looking at all the bands before the contest instead of just assuming that
40 was "it".  The new sunspot cycle is beginning to be felt and the easy
assumptions based on the past few years of conditions will have to be
At any rate I probably ended up spending too little time on 40 over the
weekend though I did catch the European sunrise opening both days but
should have spent more time on 40 in the late afternoon before the opening
to Asia on 20 materialized.  By the way, if you haven't seen it, read
K1AR's article in the Contest column in the latest CQ about his
record-breaking single-op effort in the CQWW CW last November.  His method
of sharing the late afternoon openings between 40 and 20 was instructive to

Fifteen was good to Europe and got progressively better to Asia as the
weekend went on.  During the last half hour of the contest the JA's had no
flutter on them at all.  I should have spent more time here also instead of
waiting for the big opening on 10 that never came.

I gave 10 a lot of my time and only ended up with 61/33 there.  While this
was better than most of the SOAB gang did, I sacrificed rate in so doing.
Only a couple Europeans were worked, and I had to beam 150 degrees to get
them.  I was pleased to see KH8/N5OLS and the Hawaiians in there direct
path, and of course the Caribbean and South Americans were in there for
hours at a time, though I had to work the C6A's out of the west and VP5FXB
off Africa -- they were not skipping in here directly.

Anyhow, it was fun.  As I write this I see that the JA's are in on 20
meters during the 1200-1400 GMT time frame, so maybe the ARRL SSB DX
Contest will be even more interesting propagation wise.

73, Fred, K3ZO    


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