[CQ-Contest] N3BB IARU CW (Very Long)

Jim George n3bb at mindspring.com
Wed Jul 14 18:40:09 EDT 2004

The IARU contest has all the ingredients for a great contest.  We in Texas 
who are far from both EU and JA can work other USA stations, and get 3 
points for the east coast and west coast zones to boot!  The famous 20 
meter midnight polar opening is exciting as the Asian and EU stations pound 
in for a change as sunlight sweeps from Japan and Asiatic Russia all the 
way to the UK.  The JAs on 40 meter pound in as our path to Japan misses 
the auroral magnetic zone.  If we are very lucky, and we were not this 
year, we will get a JA opening on 15 meters.  In fact, the only way to even 
come close to the EU-fest the east and Midwest enjoy is to have all three, 
and also to have some of the skip go long and reach here and over the 

  Personally, I was tired in advance as my wife and I had returned from a 
family reunion in PA at our daughter's, and drove back to Austin with two 
grand daughters.  Even with hand held DVD players and lots of books and 
puzzles, the trip is a long one for an eleven and a seven year old.  We got 
back to Austin several days before the IARU, and it took a while to mow the 
grass (several acres) and sort out all the mail and newspapers, etc.  I was 
not able to sleep well Friday night, and literally awoke every hour on the 
hour.  Finally, at 6 AM, I got up, took a shower, ate some cereal, and 
staggered to the radio room.  I had set up the station and the TR-Log 
config file Friday afternoon, and all the antennas worked OK, so the 
station was ready to go.  I had practiced some "virtual QSOs" and practiced 
my "move" procedures to ask mults to QSY to other bands.  So at about 6:50, 
I walked into the shack, turned on the stuff, and brought a few bottled 
waters to the operating desk.  I had made a note to delete the DAT file and 
set the time on the PC, and these were done and I was ready to go by 
6:58!  That cut it close, but all was set.

  From here, the IARU starts on 40 meters as there are JAs and good Asian 
mults to work for the first 30 minutes at least.  I bought an atomic clock, 
and I like it a lot.  They are inexpensive, and it always has the correct 
WWV time.  So exactly at 12:00:00 I called the first "test N3BB N3BB" and 
was off to the races on the low end of 40 meter CW.   K0MT called right 
away.  Oops, what was going on?  My practice QSOs were still in the 
log.  Aha!  I had failed to tell TR to put the last five "virtual QSOs" 
into the permanent log, so when I started up TR Saturday morning, there 
were five still left in my new log, and K0MT was QSO #6.  That meant there 
would be some dupes and mults already in the log.  But I made a note and 
would fix these later, and work the "dupes" again.  OK, now the coast was 
clear, and my mind was racing.  I made 19 "real"QSOs in the first ten 
minutes, a pretty good start for typically slow starting me.  Nothing very 
exotic, but KH6NF called on 40 and I moved him to 20.  Nice signal on 
20.  Sometimes, KH6s are hard to get on 20 from here, so that one was in 
the log early.  I stayed primarily on 40 with the 2R on 20 only until 
12:12, as 40 was running out of gas, and 20 was hot. Asian mults on 40 
included Zones 44 and 59 in addition to JA.  The priority shifted to 20 as 
the CQ band, with 40 as the 2R S&P band.  20 had some EU, but mainly was NA 
with 3 pointers.  W5ZR in Louisiana called on 20 and we moved to 40 and 80 
and tried 160, but no go there.  I had decided to move some loud locals and 
nearby buddies for quickfive and six banders.  I'm not sure that's smart 
as they were 1 pointers.  But it was fun, and the movement of local Austin 
stations was intended to enliven the CTDXCC gang a bit and get them ready 
to QSY quickly.  In the first hour, there were 106 QSOs in the log, with 
two thirds on 20 and the rest mostly on 40.  The second hour was the same, 
but 20 was the main CQ band and 15 became the main 2R band.  There were 115 
Qs the second hour, and they included a six band QSY-fest with W5GAI in 
Austin.  Whew, a lotta work for six points!  The period from 14Z until 16Z 
shifted to running on 15 and 2Ring on 20 and 10.  I had one harasser at 
13:47Z who tried to send ASS over and over, but he sent A55.  That was a 
little humorous, but for the most part I could work through and around 
him.  A second harasser joined him at 13:51Z.  They finally went away, and 
I never was bothered again.  The contacts were mostly NA until EU started 
calling at 16Z on 15 meters.  The EU stations were pee weak, 519, for a 
while.  They slowly got stronger, and were better by 18Z.  20 was 
interesting as Asian stations were workable on the 2R and B4HQ was still 
569 at 17:30Z.  18:00Z brought another quick local six-bander with Derek, 
AA5BT, at N5XU, the UT radio club station.  That was followed by yet 
another sixer with AC5AA at 18:20.  Whew!  Lotsa QSYing.  I'm not sure it's 
worth it for 6 points in two or three minutes, but it's fun and it 
rejuvenates me.  I hope the local gang enjoys it.  By 19Z, seven hours into 
the contest, I had 704 QSOs.  The rate was pretty good, but the mults were 
anemic.  It was clear I would have to find more mults.

  15 meters pooped out about 19:15Z and the Euros got too weak to run any 
longer.  So I switched to 20 meters as the run band.  The rates on 20 were 
58, 78, 55, and 61 the next four hours, with 15 being the 2R S&P band until 
40 started to open here at 23Z.  I ran at 32 WPM for the most part.  The 
rate seemed to go down at 35 WPM.  I would listen to N9RV running at 35-38 
WPM and the faster he sent, the more stations seemed to call Pat!  But I am 
a lot further west, and it didn't work for me.  I made a note to use "TU 
5NN7" rather than "5NN7" in my S&P exchange based on VA3XRZ and 
others.  It's a nice little touch.  One cool little quirk occurred at 
21:10Z when SP9PLD and SP9PL answered my CQs consecutively.  Wonder what 
the probability of that happening again is?  Another cool thing happened at 
21:28Z when W0RW/PM answered a CW on 20.  I asked him what "/PM" meant, and 
he said it meant "pedestrian mobile."   I asked him if he were walking, and 
he said (all at a nice 30 WPM and a clear 569) that he was using a KX1 and 
a backpack whip.  Cool!  I know that this took a minute and probably cost 
me one or two QSOs, but what the heck!   At 21:41, I made a note of a very 
bad key clicker on 20 meters.  I'll send him a private email.  It made me 
glad I had made the W8JI mod to both my MPs.  Fortunately, most of the 
serious stations now are clix-clean.  Thanks!  A note in the log said that 
14010 was a good frequency at 22Z.  W5JAW checked in with a local fiver 
(Jim has no 160 antenna) at 11:15.  Thanks to the locals for the Qs and the 
moves.  Hey-there's a nerd jingle.

  EL2DX called in at 22:30 on 20.  He always calls in contests.  I don't 
know who he is.  Once, in the middle of the recent Liberian civil war 
unrest, he called and I asked (all on CW) if he was OK and safe.  He said 
he was.  I recall this little human moment from time to time.

  At 23:20, I heard K5YA on 21034.4 and made a note of it that Dennis had 
been there for hours!  It's weird as no one was answering him, and it's 
clear from interruptions he was working on another band as well.  His 
station took a lightning hit and I was surprised to hear him on.  He has a 
very good station and is a good operator capable of being tough competition 
within the CTDXCC.  His signal is strong and crisp-sounds good.

  By 00Z the conditions are transitioning into the start of dusk.  40 
meters was starting to be active although the sunshine still was 
bright.  20 is still *the* band, if 60-70 an hour is *the* rate!  UN8GV and 
UN7CE called in sequentially with different ITU zones.  Is that 
right?  Yeah, the sheet shows that UN has several zones!  UA0QNV called in 
with zone 23.  That's a good one, but I know that later, during the night 
polar run on 20, I'll get most of the deep Asian zones.

  By 02Z, 40 meters has become the place to be, with 20 and 80 the main 2R 
bands.  I had an 84 hour on 40 with a bunch of loud EU HQ stations, but 
mostly 3 pointer Zone 8s from the east coast.  EU got better and I could 
run EU on 40 (which is hard from TX) by 02:45Z.  Lots of juicy 5 pointers 
now!  Wish this were WPX and the double counters!  I hit 80 hard at 03:40Z 
and worked a few HQ stations and GI0KOW, but I made an error waiting so 
long.  It's well into EU daytime now and only far western EU was still 
workable on 80.  I have blown the chance for a lot of central and eastern 
EU HQ mults.  Bad error!  Why didn't I hear them when I was tuning 80 on 
the 2R earlier?  Get your mind in the game, Jim!  This error and the 10 
meter miss earlier will come back to haunt me.

  I started to worry about 160, and got W1AW/0 and WA6VGI in Zone 6 at 
around 04Z.  Zone 6 can be hard to work in the summer.  W1AW/0 must be 
close to here as they were s9++ on 160, but I never was able to hear NU1AW 
at all on 160, even when later I asked them on another band.  Nary a peep here!

  Still eight hours to go at 04Z, and my mults are terrible.  I might not 
even get to 180 at this rate.  I was tired, and got a cup of hot 
tea.  Terrific!  I perked right up and had an "up" hour.  I trolled the low 
bands, hunting mults and watching 20 meters for the important polar 
opening.  20 was open, but the rates were not there yet.  I worked 80 
meters hard at 04:50-05Z and nabbed VE7RAC but not much else but a lot of 1 
and 3 point US contacts.  VE6BF has a good station on the LF bands and he 
and I made a successful move from 40 to 80 at 04:34.  He was just a murmer 
on 80 and then the band took an up tick and there he was 469!  Terrific.

  At 05:11Z I moved to 20 and called CQ.  Boom!  The door opened and the 
boys in Asia and EU were there.  Maybe I was late to the band.  I worked 30 
stations (all 5 pointers) from 15:11 to 15:30.  The rates were good, but 
not great like in previous years, and I made 64, 46, and 55 20 meter 
contacts in the next three hours from 05Z until 08Z.  I was working 40 and 
80 hard as well, and racked up hourly totals of 71, 58, and 73 total 
contacts in this time frame.  A pleasant surprise was hearing PS2T coming 
in on 80 for zone 15.  There were very few South Americans in this 
contest.  I worked only 25 in the entire contest, and probably missed a 
bunch of SA mults.

  I needed a Zone 4 on 160.  I heard a loud VE3AT on 40 CQing, called him 
and QSOed, boldly asking him to try 160 meters.  He hesitated, then said 
OK.  We moved to 160 and he's loud!  Thanks a lot OM!

  I was tired again, and got a second cup of hot black tea.  It worked 
again, and I became rejuvenated.  I worked NU1AW on 40 and asked about 
160.  He told me their frequency, but absolutely nada here at 
all!  Frustrating.  Now I was on 20 meters working loud JAs there.  Somehow 
I must survive until the JAs start up on 40 meters.  That's one of the 
contest high points here.  With my large Telrex 3 element 40M36 yagi at 120 
feet on a hill with a good drop-off to JA, I can run 500 JAs on 40 CW in a 
winter contest, but in the middle of the summer, it's a much shorter 
opening.  However the JAs still have good signals, and we can work quite a 
few at an otherwise low point in the night.  At 08:40, I started CQing on 
40 to test the waters.  ZL6CL came back with a zone 60, and JA4FGD/1 
followed.  Ok, let's go!  Then I got flummoxed with a QRMed "YB2XX" which I 
couldn't understand because Indonesia was still way in the sunshine.  How 
can this be possible?  He was patient and sent "Fiji" over and over, so I 
got the 3D2 prefix and thanked him for zone 56.  For some reason, at 09:30Z 
we got a bad stretch of atmospheric QRN about this time, and it was hard to 
copy the JAs etc, for thirty minutes.  It didn't rain, but something was 
going on out there in the dark.

  At 10:01Z VE6BF dropped by my 40 meter CQ frequency and suggested we try 
160 again.  What makes this one really sweet for me is that I had asked him 
to move to 160 earlier, and I messed up the move by forgetting to switch to 
the NW beverage.  I had the transmit antenna on the whole 
time.  Oops.  He's 459 and we make it this time!  Terrific zone 2 mult for 
me.  Thanks Bill!  B4HQ was a good 599 for a 40 meter mult.  At 10:29 RU0LL 
called in on the 40 meter CQ frequency.  He's a good LF operator, and I 
asked him to try 80 meters.  I probably will find him later on 80 at my 
sunrise, but why not try now?  He's a murmer on 80, but he's there and he's 
in the log!   Moves are fun!  AL7B called on 40, and we tried a move to 
80.  KL7 QSOs are unpredictable.  He said his 80 meter antenna is not good, 
but we gave it a shot and he's a clear 449 on 80 meters for a zone 1 
mult.  K1ZZ called in at 10:48Z with an AC mult on 40.  I was tired and 
asked Dave to QSY to 80, and when he said the sun had been up there in CT 
"for hours, " I could see from my Geochron that my request was dopey.  So 
to embarrass myself further, in my stupor, I then asked him to try 
160!  Duh.  Sorry for the lid actions.  9V1YC called on 40 for zone 54, but 
I didn't ask James to try 80 as its only barely semi-dusk there and it 
would be too early.  I was working stations on 40 and watching for new 
zones to move to 80.  I'm 2Ring on 80 and 160, and neither band has much on 
it.  Oh, there's JA2ZJW calling CQ on 80!  K5GN and WX0B were working 
him.  I stood by, and called him.  He came right back.  Good-a zone 45 now 
in the books, the only one I heard the entire contest on 80 meters.  Many 
HLs say they have no antenna on 80, but HL2CFY called in on my 40 meter CQ 
frequency, said he'll try at a move to 80 at 11:14. We made the QSO when he 
stuck with it and came up out of the noise.  This was fun now!

  I could start to see the faint outline of the trees outside now, as very 
first light started to peek over the eastern horizon.  To quote N5KO, I was 
watching the earth turn and listening to it too!  That's what makes 
contesting fun, and it's hard to explain it to those who haven't 
experienced it.  If Muggles don't get Harry Potter style magic, 
perhaps  "Ruggles" fail to see the radio magic!  Only 45 minutes to go, and 
I was tired but wired now.  I heard a signal on 80 at 11:27Z.  It's a 
pretty strong 8N4HQ!  One call.  JARL on 80!  The JA HQ stations all were 
strong and the operators were good.  The last 30 minutes were routine.  I 
called endless CQs on 40, and listened as hard as I could on 80 and 
20.  But nothing really exciting happened, and I plowed through about 30 
QSOs, mostly JAs along, with YB0DPO and YC3VK and some hardy Ws and the 
contest ground to a halt at 12Z.

It's over!  The equipment has worked well, although the fan on the Alpha 
87A is squeaking a little.  Must remember to oil that.  At 196 mults, I 
think I am down on mults, as K5GN had about 230 last year.  Maybe the 
difference was on 20 and somehow I am OK.  I think my QSO total is good, at 
least I have that feeling as I was able to run pretty well most of the time.

Of course, I later learned that, in fact, my mults were indeed down 10-15%, 
and that was a killer for me against K5GN and others.  I don't hope to 
compete with Zone 8 stations and their location advantage to EU, but I 
still try to win zone 7 and that pesky K5GN is there most of the time!  Hi 
Hi  If I'm going to lose, then Dave is a great operator and a tough 
competitor.  Maybe next year!

                                    04IARU Rate

HOUR  160CW    80CW    40CW    20CW    15CW    10CW    TOTAL   ACCUM
----  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------   -----   -----
12       0       1      33      61       9       2     106     106
13       1       1       1      84      26       2     115     221
14       0       0       0      72      28       3     103     324
15       0       0       0      10      77      21     108     432
16       0       0       0      15      91       0     106     538
17       0       0       0       2      69       2      73     611
18       2       2       2      10      72       5      93     704
19       0       0       0      35      27       0      62     766
20       0       0       0      58      11       0      69     835
21       0       0       0      78       6       0      84     919
22       0       1       1      55       5       1      63     982
23       0       0       6      61       1       0      68    1050
0       0       0       5      57       0       0      62    1112
1       0       0      36      38       0       0      74    1186
2       0       0      84       0       0       0      84    1270
3       2      18      30      16       0       0      66    1336
4       0      18      62       3       0       0      83    1419
5       4       3       0      64       0       0      71    1490
6       2      10       0      46       0       0      58    1548
7       2       2      14      55       0       0      73    1621
8       0       8      19      28       0       0      55    1676
9       1       4      42       0       0       0      47    1723
10       1      10      57       0       0       0      68    1791
11       1       2      50       0       0       0      53    1844

TOTAL    16      80     442     848     422      36

Continent List

                    160    80    40    20    15    10    30    17    12    ALL

                    ---    --    --    --    --    --    --    --    --    ---

USA calls   =     13    59   211   418   239    26     0     0     0    966
VE calls    =      2     7    31    43    25     3     0     0     0    111
N.A. calls  =      1     2     7    14     5     3     0     0     0     32
S.A. calls  =      0     4     7     6     4     4     0     0     0     25
Euro calls  =      0     3    79   222   137     0     0     0     0    441
Afrc calls  =      0     0     1     6     3     0     0     0     0     10
Asia calls  =      0     2    11    38     2     0     0     0     0     53
JA calls    =      0     2    86    94     2     0     0     0     0    184
Ocen calls  =      0     1     9     7     5     0     0     0     0     22
Unknowns    =      0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0      0

   Total calls =     16    80   442   848   422    36     0     0     0   1844


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