1996 CQ WW CW Contest

K5ZD, Single Op All Band, High Power

By Randy Thompson, K5ZD

Summary Sheet

              CQ WORLD WIDE DX CONTEST -- 1996

  Call: K5ZD                     Country:  United States
  Mode: CW                       Category: Single Operator
                                           High Power


      160      174      488     2.80     16      57
       80      343      961     2.80     22      81
       40      744     2170     2.92     33     112
       20     1138     3358     2.95     34     109
       15      725     2141     2.95     27      95
       10       25       59     2.36     12      16

     Totals   3149     9177     2.91    144     470  =>  5,634,678

Station Description

  • Radio 1 – Icom IC-765 + Alpha 76CA (connected to either tower 1 or 2)
  • Radio 2 – Kenwood TS-930S + Drake L-4B (connected only to tower 2)

Tower 1 – 100′ Rohn 45G

  • 40-2CD @ 110′
  • 205CA @ 100′ / 50′
  • 5-el 15 @70′ on rotary sidemount
  • 6-el 10 @75′ fixed south
  • 80m Inv Vee with top at 95′
  • 160m 1/4-wave GP with 4 elevated radials

Tower 2 – 90′ Rohn 25G

  • TH7DXX at 90′
  • 40m 1/2-wave sloper to west
  • 80m 1/4-wave elevated GP with 4 radials
  • 160m Inv Vee with top at 88′

The Story

I have a routine that I try to follow in preparing for a major single op effort in a DX contest. It includes getting plenty of rest during the week leading up to the contest, taking a 3 hour nap just before the contest, and having the station tuned and ready well in advance. I didn’t get to do any of these this time!

My company shipped our very first production product on Friday afternoon. Not without lots of last minute details and corrections of course. I arrived home in a rush at 2315Z and flipped on the equipment. A quick change of clothes, grabbed a sandwich, and I was in the shack writing down the amp tuning settings at 2345Z. Got the clock and computer set with just minutes to spare.

Started the contest on 40m because that is always the place to start. Almost couldn’t find a frequency and ended up at 7042. It was a strange beginning. The band was open, but not really. The big Eu stations were very loud, but it must have been so noisy and crowded that the little guys just couldn’t get through. I was tuning an almost dead 20m band on the second radio and caught some garden variety stuff. It was so slow calling CQ that I actually did some S&P for the last 20 minutes of the hour [thus violating the single op rule that says if you are not calling CQ during a rate period you are losing!].

40 was so bad I headed for 160 at 0100Z. First station I heard was OH1NOR with a good signal (he would be much louder later). Spent 10 minutes and worked a few other Eu before heading to 80m.

I was really feeling tired at this point and wondered how I would ever get through the full weekend. Experience told me that I would get over this feeling as I got more into the contest… I did, but not until sunrise!

80 CW is not my best band. My antenna, which seems to do fine on Phone, just doesn’t cut it on CW. I would get a little run going and then some European would sit down next to me and it was over. Very frustrating and resulted in lots of S&P work on 80. My first spin up the band went all the way up to 3578!

Back to 160 during the 02Z hour. Got a small run going on 1841 from 0220 to 0234Z. Nothing rare, but it got my confidence back. Went to 40 when I found ZD8DEZ while tuning on the second radio. Couldn’t find a frequency to call CQ on, so just tuned up the band for some high speed S&P. Worked multipliers all the way up to 7061!

At 03Z it was back to 80m for more tuning. Actually got a very small run at 3560 but then lost the frequency. Again I chased stations all the way up to 3579. If you haven’t been tuning up this high, there are lots of second level Europeans up here who like to call CQ.

I pushed 160 pretty hard during the 04Z hour. The band was filled with Eu signals but they were not hearing me as well as I was hearing them. No doubt due to the high QRM levels. Best catch was 4X4NJ at 0412Z. Had to wait for Riki to work a few Europeans first, but he eventually heard me. Never heard him again all weekend. Then I found RU6LWZ for another double mult.

At 0445Z it was back to 80m. I needed some QSOs so tried to call CQ as much as possible. Got 3506 for a few minutes and had WH6R call in (this is good since I usually miss KH6 on this band for some reason). Finally found a home at 3529 which was good for 30 QSOs or so. UA9FGR in zone 17 called in at 0507 and he was loud (well over S9)! That surprise was followed by LU4FD which was a nice double.

I spent the rest of the evening bouncing between 80 and 160. Anything for a QSO! The second rig was on 40m (using a sloper to the west) chasing Caribbean stations. I could tell the MUF was below 7 MHz so I invested my time on the LF bands.

Since I had not operated the contest last year (KM3T used my station) I didn’t really know what to expect. I had downloaded the K1AR multi-single and W1KM single op rate sheets from the contesting on-line web site. These gave me something to chase and I was falling behind on QSOs, but doing very well for multipliers. It seemed that everywhere I went I found more and more mults. Even still, it is amazing to see the scores on the 3830 reflector and realize how much stuff I missed!

Conditions to northern Eu were very good on 80 and 160. I have never worked so many OZ, LA, OH and SM stations!

At 0830, I finally found a good frequency to call CQ on 40m (7007). In the midst of the Europeans I was called by a weak and very fluttery VS6BG. A few minutes later I found JA1YXP with a very good signal.

The 09Z hour was very slow, but filled with lots of multipliers. Even at 10Z, the Eu big guns were still coming through on 40m. RZ9UA/0 in zone 18 was extremely loud (as he was all weekend!). At 1024Z I heard what sounded like a JA calling CQ on 80m. I dropped my call in just for grins and was amazed to have him come back with the complete call immediately. I had to ask JK1OPL for his call 3 times so he was hearing lots better than I was. That is the earliest and easiest I have worked JA on 80. That gave me a needed shot of adrenaline.

At 1040Z the Europeans started to come through on 20. I called a few of them but most were beaming east and couldn’t hear me. I was surprised to catch VK9NS on 80m at 1055Z. To celebrate, I stood up for the first time and made a 10 minute potty and food break. I came back to find N5OLS/KH8 and TX8FU on 40m for new ones.

At 1115Z I got to 20m to start the morning’s business. I got one of my favorite spots, 14026, and the rate was immediate. I worked 272 QSOs in just 94 minutes! All during the run, the receiver sounded intermittent. It was annoying, but the signals were loud enough that I could still copy even when it cut out. I finally decided something had failed in the 20m stack as I had not noticed the problem before.

At 1254Z I moved up 7 MHz exactly from 14026 to 21026. The rate was stayed in the incredible range with 273 contacts in 118 minutes. The receiver was still cutting out and it was driving me crazy. I took a few minutes to try and solve the problem by wiggling coaxes and removing the watt meter from the line but it quickly returned.

Just as happened in the phone contest, the rate went from high to low in just a short period. It seems that I have a 15m band opening only antenna. The rate slowed so much that I went back to 20m at 1520Z to get something going. It was almost impossible to find a frequency to CQ on. The fluttery backscatter signals were all very wide making it even more difficult to squeeze in. I finally found a crack at 14037 and stayed there from 1526 until 1803Z. I caught a few multipliers on 15m using the second rig.

During this run I had continued to try to figure out the receive problem. I finally realized that the amp relay had to be the problem. At one point during the night, while listening on the Beverage, I had transmitted into an open relay position. This probably burned the relay contacts. It took only minutes to pop the cover of the Alpha 76 and buff the contacts with some sand paper. Problem solved! That’s the first in-contest equipment failure here in a long time (knock on wood).

At 1809Z I decided I had better check 10m. First signal heard was W6NL for a zone 3 multiplier. K1KI was next and that was it. No other signals on the band!

Since I had spent so much time on 20m, I knew I really needed to hit 15 before it closed. It was almost too late for Europe, but there was still plenty of multipliers ranging from EA6IB to ZD8DEZ to AH8N to HC8N to D44BC.

At 1910Z I went back to 10m and caught P40W, a very weak 3E1DX, and some LUs. That was it for 10m on Saturday.

I got 14003 and started a small run. Looking at the previous year’s rate sheets, it looked like 40m was where I should be so I moved on down. At 1924Z I captured 7013. This was home for the next 2 hours and 140 QSOs. Best call in was TF50IRA for a nice double! The second radio was active on 20 catching goodies like 9U5DX and 3C5A. OX3SA called in a bit later to complete the zone 40 ‘run’.

At 2215Z, I realized that 20m was open to JA. Since the rate on 40 was going down, I decided to give it a try. This is the one place my K5 call is a disadvantage — the JAs are so busy chasing the W1/W2/W3 guys that they seem to ignore a less rare K5! After a nice run of 20 JAs it was over. The band was still open, but no one was calling.

I went to 15 for a quick multiplier scan. I was beaming west after just working VK2AYD when I heard JA5DQH on scatter. He was right at the noise level but I dropped my call in just in case. I didn’t think he had come back to me until I heard “Hi Randy”! I just about fell out of the chair. I worked ZM2K for my third double mult and then back to 20m to finish out the hour chasing multipliers.

The 23Z hour was all on 40 in a mix of S&P plus CQing. The only spot I could get in was 7039. Even there, it was tough to hold a spot. I have never seen 40m so crowded. It was impossible to get a frequency below 7020.

At 2336Z my wife informed me that dinner was ready if I wanted it. It sounded better than beating my head against a wall so I took my second real break of the contest. Just 13 minutes later I am back in the chair.

At the 24 hour mark, I had 1821/118/373 for about 2.58M. My ‘formula’ for determining my final score goal is to double this and add 10%. That would be around 5.6 Million which seemed rather incredible at the time. Most interesting to me was that I had 99 countries on 40m and only 81 on 20m.

My goal for the second night was to chase multipliers. During the 00Z hour I found TK5EP and T9DX on 160m, then ES6DO, VP5EA, and YO4WP on 80m. I was searching for 5V7A since I knew they had to be somewhere on the band. I finally found them on 3557 of all places, and the pile-up was big enough that they were listening up 1 kHz! The op was really good since he got me on the first call (isn’t that how you define someone as being a good op?)!

At 01Z I realized that 20m was open to JA again. Not runnable, but I spent some time chasing the ones that were calling CQ. The opening was rather narrow as I didn’t hear anything other than JA and some zone 19 UA0s.

When I returned to 40m I found ZS8IR working at a slow but steady pace. Amazingly, that is an all time new country for me! A few minutes later I am trying to establish a CQ frequency on 7034 when I hear 7Q7EH come on and call CQ. Another good catch in the log. Then I find YL3IZ/MM in zone 34 for a nice one. I finally end up with a small run on 7061.

At 0224Z its back to 160m. I am relying on 160m to get the extra multipliers I will need to make up for W1KM’s big 80m totals. I find CT8T, UU5J, OI0MEP, LZ9A, and LA8SDA for new ones. At this point I am up to 53 countries on 160 but I have heard lots of stuff that I didn’t work. Things like GD4UOL and 7Z5OO.

During the 03Z hour I end up with a slow run up at 3572 of all places! No multipliers up there but some much needed QSOs.

At 0417Z I start CQing on 1838. I finally break through the European QRM and get something going. The next 26 minutes has 21 QSOs including TF50IRA for a great double mult. When that runs out, I tune around and find GW, HB9, D44, and CT3.

About this point my head is dropping toward the keyboard every 5 minutes or so. I try operating standing up, while jogging in place, you name it. The only thing that keeps me going is the thought that W1KM won’t sleep — so I can’t either! I have also promised my 6 year old son that I won’t do any more contests this season so I decide that I had better do this one right.

About 0546 I get a good run going on 7006. Best call is from UA9KM who gives me the zone 17 multiplier. UN9LW calls in at 0604Z for a new country. At 0648Z CX9AU gives me a real unexpected surprise multiplier. This run of 92 contacts from 0546 to 0709Z keeps my attitude up and gives me a welcome break from the constant tuning. Although, in some ways it is much more difficult to run stations when you are tired than to tune around. I hate it when I fall asleep in the middle of a QSO and can’t remember what I am supposed to do next (do I push F1 or F3 or ‘+’???)!

This run probably decided the contest. Comparing with W1KM after the contest, Greg slept during this period and gave away these QSOs and multipliers! That’s why you can never doubt your goal or give up your motivation…

The next 90 minutes are just slow. On a quiet 20m band, KC4AAA in Antarctica gives me zone 39 which is a new one. ES5Q and GU3HFN are new ones on 40m. I unsuccessfully waste about 10 minutes in the V47KP and YV5JDP pileups on 160m. As well as my antenna works to Europe, it works inversely bad to the south!

I want to work zone 3 on 160m. I hear several of them but can’t get their attention. Find W6BA calling CQ but he can’t hear me. I then decide to call CQ W6 and hope for the best. Five minutes later W6DAO responds and gives me zone 3.

At 0836 I am feeling pretty good but decide that I should go to sleep so I will be fresh for the high bands. It appears that 40m is not going to do anything so the prospects for more QSOs are not too good. I have more multipliers on 40-160 than I expected so there is little more to be gained. I sleep from 0845 to 1020Z. I wake up without the normal sleep disorientation, have a bite to eat and get back on the radio.

I quickly scan the LF bands and am on 20m by 1100Z. It is all S&P (I catch 3V8BB, ED9EA, and C31LJ) until 1133Z when I get 14043 and start running. It’s a good spot worth 163 QSOs in 87 minutes. I break off the run when HC8N starts up about .5 kHz above me. I work him for a multiplier and then head to 15m.

The first open spot is 21010 which is just above W1KM. I spend the next 3 hours here and work 362 contacts. Mults that call in include GI3OQR, ZS8IR (double), GM0DJI/Shetlands, EK4JJ, VP5EA, HB0MX, ER1OA, and others.

Conditions sound so good that I keep an ear on 10m. At 1505Z J39A pops through followed immediately by 9Y4H. PY0FF is weak but comes right back. At 1525Z I find 3DA0NX working Europeans and USA. I get through on the first call which was a surprise and allowed me to keep the rate going on 15m. The next station I heard was G4BUO. I swung the beam and he kept getting louder. By the time our QSO was over, he was already getting weaker. Direct path Europe on 10m but only for a VERY short period! At 1841Z some sporadic E began and I worked K8AZ for zone 4. I also heard a VE3 but couldn’t get through the pile-up. At 1552Z I had RK9JWZ call in on 15m for a double mult. At 1600Z TI1C showed up with a big signal on 10m. Minutes later I found 5V7A for another double mult. I don’t think the op at 5V7A could believe it as it took several overs to confirm everything.

At this point the rate is slowing on 15m and I have to turn my full attention back to it. I make the jump to 20m to keep the rate up. Once again it is incredibly difficult to find a clear frequency. I have to tune the entire band twice. Then I find a wide open spot at 14031. Some real loud European must have just left because it was a very clear frequency. I spend the next 2-1/2 hours here for another 170 QSOs.

The second radio is busy on 10m and 15m. I know I am way behind on 15m multipliers so I push hard looking for new ones. I am chasing easy stuff like J6DX and J87GU on 15m and 8P9Z on 10m. Around 1840Z I take a quick spin across 15m while searching 20m for mults. I find 6W1AE on 20m. Then, while calling someone 20m I am called by A71CW! This is the only time I hear Chris all weekend. Was amazed to find afterwards how active he was in the contest. The CQ WW is so big that it is impossible for a single op to find and work even the most active multipliers.

I stay on the frequency where I worked A71CW and return to CQing. The band sounds like the sunspot maximum with strong European signals still coming in. I find JW5NM on the second radio with a huge signal on 15m. Then OD5NJ calls in on 20m. A few minutes later ZM2K calls in on 20m LP for a double multiplier. Then OH0JJS gives me another one.

I try to get something going on 40m around 1930Z. It doesn’t seem to be as good as the previous day so I give up after about 20 minutes. I go back to CQing on 14001 to work the last of the Europeans. They just keep coming!

I break off the run to chase FO5PI on 15m. Then I find JW5NM on 20m for another double, followed by J8, KP2 and HP4 for new countries. I go to 40m at 20Z and break a wild pile-up to 7X2RO who is as close to 7.000 as you can get. A few minutes later I get through to J45T (a pretty amazing feat in itself). I wedge in just above N6BV on 7019 and try to get a run going. I am getting answers but some kind of QRM makes copy difficult. 9K2/YO9HP gives me a smile.

At 2200Z I realize the JAs on 20m are the best I have heard all weekend. I can’t get them to call me, but they all come back on the first call. I search every kHz looking for rare stuff. I find W4NXE/DU3 underneath HC8N (sorry Trey). Then I work BV/JJ1TBB under VE7CA. Both are welcome double mults.

The rate is too slow and the band seems to be fading. I go back to 40m at 2245Z. I start CQing at 7061 (the only frequency I can find) and get a few answers. I finally give up and start searching down the band. At 2315Z I stumble across 7035 which sounds half clear. I call CQ and have the pleasure of a run that just keeps going faster and faster right up to the end of the contest. OD5NJ and T77WI give the score a final boost.

I get excited as I get close to my personal record of 5.57M set from K3TUP. I actually dig out the CQ Magazine records to see that the USA record of KM9P is out of reach at 5.8M. Never expected to be this close or might have given up the 2 hours of sleep! Maybe next year…

What a great contest. The competition from W1KM really kept me going and provides an extra satisfaction in winning.

Misc Notes:
I learn new things each contest. Looking back, I can say that it took me 5 years to really know how to correctly operate a DX contest. The value of experience and station maturity can not be overstated.

It actually seems to be getting easier to stay awake for the whole contest than I remember in the past. Do I need less sleep as I get older? Or am I just getting better at making sure I am more rested before the contest. I used to get so excited I could hardly sleep the night before a major contest. Now I can lay down and take a nap Friday afternoon without hardly trying!

CW is lots better than phone! It’s still hard to get a frequency, but the tempers aren’t quite as sharp and the pile-ups seem to be better behaved. I didn’t hear anyone going by call areas for example and the packet pile-ups weren’t quite as noticeable.
Yes, I really promised my son that I wouldn’t do any more contests this season (that includes next Spring). Station available!


Randy Thompson, K5ZD

Continent Statistics

                    160   80   40   20   15   10  ALL   percent

North America   CW   26   51   56   51   32   10  226     7.2
South America   CW    2    8   16   26   28   12   92     2.9
Europe          CW  141  273  627  961  646    1 2649    83.9
Asia            CW    1    3   19   79    6    0  108     3.4
Africa          CW    3    6   18   20    9    2   58     1.8
Oceania         CW    2    3   10    5    5    0   25     0.8

Rate Sheet

HOUR      160      80       40       20       15       10    HR TOT  CUM TOT  

   0    .....     2/2     77/29     3/3     .....    .....    82/34   82/34 
   1     8/8     57/27     4/4      5/2       .        .      74/41  156/75 
   2    25/12     9/4     33/22      .        .        .      67/38  223/113
   3    12/3     44/9      1/0      1/0       .        .      58/12  281/125
   4    36/8     20/4      3/3       .        .        .      59/15  340/140
   5    18/1     39/4      3/3       .        .        .      60/8   400/148
   6     1/1     38/7     27/9       .        .        .      66/17  466/165
   7     9/6      6/3     15/3       .        .        .      30/12  496/177
   8    .....    16/8     21/6     .....    .....    .....    37/14  533/191
   9     5/5      6/4      4/3       .        .        .      15/12  548/203
  10     2/2      4/3      9/1      7/7       .        .      22/13  570/216
  11      .        .       3/2    119/22      .        .     122/24  692/240
  12      .        .        .     155/10    19/11      .     174/21  866/261
  13      .        .        .        .     158/22      .     158/22 1024/283
  14      .        .        .       6/3    102/7       .     108/10 1132/293
  15      .        .        .      62/3     19/1       .      81/4  1213/297
  16    .....    .....    .....   114/7      5/2     .....   119/9  1332/306
  17      .        .        .     115/5      6/6       .     121/11 1453/317
  18      .        .        .      14/5     31/22     2/2     47/29 1500/346
  19      .        .      51/2     12/1      3/2      6/3     72/8  1572/354
  20      .        .      88/3      7/5       .        .      95/8  1667/362
  21      .        .      72/7      4/4       .        .      76/11 1743/373
  22      .        .      11/0     29/6      3/3       .      43/9  1786/382
  23      .        .      35/3       .        .        .      35/3  1821/385
   0     6/2     30/4     .....    .....    .....    .....    36/6  1857/391
   1      .        .       6/2     28/1       .        .      34/3  1891/394
   2    15/5      1/0     18/2       .        .        .      34/7  1925/401
   3      .      41/0       .        .        .        .      41/0  1966/401
   4    28/4      7/0       .       2/1       .        .      37/5  2003/406
   5     4/2     16/5     23/1      1/0       .        .      44/8  2047/414
   6      .        .      61/2       .        .        .      61/2  2108/416
   7      .       5/0     16/2      3/1       .        .      24/3  2132/419
   8     4/1      1/0     10/1     .....    .....    .....    15/2  2147/421
   9      .        .        .        .        .        .        .   2147/421
  10     1/0      1/0      1/0      1/1       .        .       4/1  2151/422
  11      .        .       2/1     70/5      2/1       .      74/7  2225/429
  12      .        .        .     108/0      2/2       .     110/2  2335/431
  13      .        .        .       3/2    128/4       .     131/6  2466/437
  14      .        .        .       2/0    130/6       .     132/6  2598/443
  15      .        .        .        .      87/2      7/7     94/9  2692/452
  16    .....    .....    .....    76/3      6/0      4/3     86/6  2778/458
  17      .        .        .      53/0      5/0      5/3     63/3  2841/461
  18      .        .        .      35/4     11/3       .      46/7  2887/468
  19      .        .      14/1     31/3      6/3      1/0     52/7  2939/475
  20      .        .        .      46/4      2/1       .      48/5  2987/480
  21      .        .      46/3      3/1       .        .      49/4  3036/484
  22      .        .      17/0     21/3       .        .      38/3  3074/487
  23      .        .      73/2      2/0       .        .      75/2  3149/489
DAY1   116/46   241/75  457/100   653/83   346/76     8/5     ..... 1821/385
DAY2    58/14   102/9    287/17   485/29   379/22    17/13      .   1328/104
TOT    174/60   343/84  744/117 1138/112   725/98    25/18      .   3149/489


DAY1   2.7/43   3.9/62   7.2/64   5.8/112  3.4/102  0.1/55    .....  23.1/79 
DAY2   2.2/26   2.7/38   5.3/54   7.4/66   3.5/108  0.3/65      .    21.4/62 
TOT    4.9/35   6.6/52  12.5/60  13.2/86   6.9/105  0.4/62      .    44.5/71