1998 IARU Radiosport

K5ZD, Single Operator CW Only

By Randy Thompson

Summary Sheet

          IARU HF Championship -- 1998

Call: K5ZD                Country:  United States, WMA
                         Category: Single Operator, CW Only, High Power


 160      31      63     2.03     10      6   1/4-wave GP
  80     141     399     2.83     19     17   Inv vee @ 95', 1/4-wave GP
  40     480    1788     3.72     29     24   40-2CD @ 110'
  20     816    3478     4.26     30     25   Stacked 205CA @ 100'/50'
  15     755    3281     4.35     36     24   Stacked 5-el @ 70'/35'
  10      34      78     2.29      6      5   TH7DXX @ 90'
Totals  2257    9087     4.02    130    101  => 2,099,097 points

Radio 1 - IC-765 + Alpha 76
Radio 2 - TS-930S + L-4B

The Story

It has been awhile since I did a contest for real (SS CW last year!). Aborted efforts in CQ WW CW and WPX CW plus a multi-op in ARRL CW and a guest op for ARRL Phone left me itching to see if I could still do a competitive effort. With its 24 hour format and funny summer time conditions, IARU looked like it would be fun. I decided to do CW only so that I wouldn’t have to worry about microphone and keyer switching, and it would be much quieter for other members of the household.

I searched my files and the Internet but found little info on what the strategy for this contest should be. W2SC had a big score two years ago with 1900+ QSOs and 165 mults. I figured this would be a worthy goal. I also suspected W4AN and some of the other CW only types would be trying hard as well.

Woke up Saturday morning just like going to work. Took the dog for a walk, ate breakfast, then got the station ready. The contest starts at 8 AM local time so it was just like sitting down at my desk for a day at the office.

Tuned the bands in the hour leading up to the start. It was too late for 40m. Twenty sounded strangely empty. When I heard S59AA at 599+20db on 15m, I knew where to start.

Set up on 21024 and it was off to the races. I got blown off my frequency about 14 minutes into the contest and searched frantically for another. Two minutes later 21001 sounded clear and I was running again. Literally! I have never experienced such rate to start a contest. The first four hours on the run frequency were 169-134-113-123. Almost all European and Asian stations.

I managed to sneak in a few second radio QSOs on 20m just because I didn’t want to miss any multipliers. It was obvious all the activity was on 15m because there was hardly anything on the other bands.

Some of the more interesting callers on 15m in the first two hours included RA9YN in zone 31, a bunch of zone 30 stations, PU1KDR, H20A (who I thought was S20A every time he called me), SV1SV (a surprise HQ mult), VR98BG (wow!), and LU1VZ.

About 14Z I started hearing a few stations on 10m. I spent about 15 minutes calling CQ on 10m while I tuned around with the second radio on 15m. Nothing really interesting called on 10m (bunch of zone 8 stations) but I did manage to snag a zone 7 and zone 6 (the only time I heard anything out west). The mult hunting on 15m was productive as well.

I got back into running on 15m up around 21046 and was rewarded with instant rate again. Plus UA9KJ in zone 21 followed by YB0ECT! Like VR98BG, the YB0 was watery, but easy to copy and just as big of a surprise. I was amazed at the amount of activity from Eastern Europe and Russia. Worked lots of zone 29 stations. PA0LOU called in to give me my only ‘special’ multiplier of the weekend. A second YB called in more than one hour after the first.

About 15Z I recaptured 21001 and kept running. Somewhere about this time the bands started to develop a bad sound. The northern Europeans who had been booming in began to show some hollowness and the auroral buzz came up on the backscatter signals. Even so, the rate continued to be excellent and I kept working the second radio for mults and QSOs on 20m.

The first LU showed up on 10m about 1630Z. I also was amazed when YU0HQ heard me on skew path. I heard CT1BOH work P40HQ, but I never got a shot at working Jose.

At 1700Z I made the jump to 20 meters expecting some big rates as I rework all the activity from 15m. It didn’t happen. The band just didn’t sound that good. The rate felt slow, but that was probably just due to the return to more ‘normal’ levels after the excitement of 15m!

While CQing on 20m I fell out of the chair when I heard JA6ZLI on 15m at 1711Z. He was the only JA I could hear but easy to work. That’s something like 2AM in Japan! I found TF3IRA on 15m about 30 minutes later for another interesting mult. At 1833Z I found EP2MKO at the very bottom of 15m. I would later work him on 20m as well. XE1RGL was another second radio catch on 15m (and my only XE of the weekend).

Meanwhile, I kept running on 14004. Around 19Z I caught 8P0V and W1AW/0 on 10m for two nice multipliers. I revisited CQing on 15m about 1915Z and found a few straggling
Europeans, 7Q7EH, and ES9A. The rate was slow, but the Europeans were quite loud well past 2000Z when I returned to 20m. I made QSO #1000 at 8:10 into the contest.

TU2XZ called in for another interesting African multiplier. When you figure the competition is going to work the same common zones and HQ stations that you do, those rare African and Asian zones are doubly precious! As are those HQ stations that call you, such as SV1SV for a second band. TL5A had a roaring pile-up on 15m but was listening up 1 kHz which made him easy to work. PY7OJ called in on 20m to give me my only zone 13.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about a 24 hour DX contest is the feeling that you can’t let any opening get away. This is really clear when you realize that from W1 we only share one hour of darkness with zone 29 and three hours with zone 27!

I made my first excursion to 40m at 2149Z and worked YU0HQ and W1AW/0. Then I heard TU2XZ calling someone on what sounded like a sked or a pass. I called him and he gave me a moral boosting multiplier. Still daylight outside! I was hoping that was one that W4AN wouldn’t find. I returned to 20m after a few minutes as it was obvious the band wasn’t really ready yet.

I finally made the move to 40m at 2249Z by CQing on 7004. I was getting answers but the rate wasn’t that great. After 15 minutes, I took a walk up the band and captured goodies like TL5A, R3HQ/6, ER7A, RN1AM (19), RZ9SWR, and YW5LB before going back to 20m at 2330Z.

The Europeans were more runnable on 20m, but it was obvious the time was getting rather late over there and activity was beginning to drop. RW0A gave me a thrill and zone 32. I found WL7KY and KL7Y both booming in on 15m about 2350Z. This gave me some hope for a JA opening. I managed to work 3 JAs between 2353 and 2357 and the opening was over. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Back to 20m for more CQing.

Local sunset is around 0030Z. I went to 80m about 0012Z and was surprised to find the band very quiet (i.e. no QRN) and a number of good European signals. I was able to work RW3XW for zone 29 and OH2AQ for zone 18. Plus R3HQ/6 and some of the other big HQ guns. I couldn’t get any answers to CQs, but I could be heard if I was patient and kept calling. My first 30 minutes on the band resulted in 14 multipliers.

At 0042Z I went to 160 just to see if I could hear anything. VE1ZZ gave me zone 9 and I tried calling a number of Europeans. Only DL1IAO (who had a good signal) was able to copy me. After 10 minutes of frustration, I took a scan across 40m and worked a number of QSOs and multipliers. I felt the next 2 hours were critical from a multiplier standpoint and I didn’t want to miss anything. I tried to constantly keep moving. At 0103Z I found a weak, watery, and very lonely TF3IRA calling CQ on 7026. That felt like a good one and kept me pushing.

I finally got a run started up at 7033 kHz. The rate was good but with few multipliers. JY9QJ gave me zone 39. Not wanting to miss anything, I broke off a clear frequency and 100+/hr rate to check 160m again. More fruitless and frustrating calling of European alligators! Then back for a spin across 80m.

At 0203Z I finally cracked the European barrier on 160m by working OL8HQ, PA6HQ, DA0HQ, and YU0HQ (six bands!). The increasing number of HQ stations is definitely tilting the multiplier advantage in favor of the East Coast.

Back to 40m for more CQing. There were some excellent signals on 20m, but I didn’t want to give up the possibility of low band rate and multipliers so stayed put. EM5HQ and ES9A called in to give me two new ones.

I tried 160m again at 0245Z but signals were going down. The peak of the opening was well before Eu sunrise. I scanned across 80m and captured a few more HQ stations. My inverted vee works well enough that I can call stations, but not well enough to allow me to CQ successfully on this band. Even so, one brief run did get EA4URE and LZ98HQ to call in. One more listen to 160m at 0319Z (nothing happening) and it was back to 40m.

I snagged HC8A through a big pile-up, then found KP4Y and IY2ARI for new ones. I finally squeezed in at 7019 about 0330Z and set up shop. The rate was excellent and I marveled at how loud the Europeans were as much as 2.5 hours past their sunrise. It sounded more like November than July! About 0345Z I realized I was missing zone 27 on 80m, so I put the second rig there and started looking. Luckily found G8G within 2 minutes and got him for the mult without missing a beat on the 40m run frequency.

I was still running on 7019 at 0513Z when EA8ASJ called in to give me a new zone. CT1BOH called me there at 0534Z and I noticed that it was right at his sunrise. I asked him to try 160m and we made it! Unfortunately he then went back to 40m and moved my competition W4AN to 160m also…

With 40m all but gone to Europe, I spent the next several hours tuning across all of the bands and chasing multipliers. KH7R and LT1F responded to two of my few CQs on 80m. I moved WB0O from 80 to 160m so I could get zone 7 (really!). R1ANL (where is that guy located?!) called me on 40 for a rare zone. I worked PA6HQ on 40m at 0624Z and he was still well over S9 – wow!

I was amazed to work K6XX on 160m at 0630Z. I moved 8P0V from 20 to 160m for a multiplier – thanks Dennis. Found 20m was mostly gone to Europe, but there were still some QSOs to be found. Turned the beam North and was surprised to find a few loud JAs. Worked JA7DLE for a new mult on 20m at 0646Z. At 0700Z I was able to call CQ on 40m and have a few more Europeans answer. I moved VX4YU from 40m to 160m for a new mult (he was my only zone 3 but got him on 5 bands – thanks OM!).

Last Eu on 40m was ON4ASW at 0719Z. That’s only 4 hours 20 minutes past his sunrise!Got a little bit of a run going on 20m around 0745Z. It kept me from falling asleep and allowed me to keep looking for low band multipliers on the second radio. TF3IRA called me at 0830Z for a new one on 20m.

At 0857Z I lucked out and was able to work JH7XGN on 40m. Not sure he would have gotten the call except that someone called me and he was able to figure it out. The flutter was pretty bad and signal levels were low. KH8/N5OLS had a great signal on 40m and thought about trying to move him to 80m but he seemed kind of busy at the time. At 0903Z was happy to get through to XK7SZ on 160m for a new mult. Then worked EA8ASJ on 15m at 0910Z (first signal I heard on the band). Called CQ on 80m at 0915Z and had ZL1AIZ answer. Not a bad 30 minutes in the multiplier and propagation department!

The bands just didn’t want to open with the sunrise. I had noticed the same on Saturday, but it was even worse this morning. GB5HQ and IY2ARI helped the score. Ran on 14018 from 0936Z to 1036Z. R1ANL called in for another multiplier. Found P40HQ on 40m with the second radio well after my sunrise.

At 1100Z I made the jump to 15m hoping to repeat the magic of the day before. The band was just barely open and it took a lot of CQs to get each QSO. OM8HQ called me (I thought I already had him). I took advantage of the slow rate to also tune 20m on the second rig. Called and worked RT3A and then had OZ7D call me for a final HQ mult.

Final Comments

For those of you still reading…

24 hours is a great length for a DX contest. The strategy decisions and pressure not to miss an opening really keep the excitement level high. Plus it doesn’t hurt so bad the next day.

Propagation was unusually unusual. We expect funny high band openings in the summer when the North pole is always seeing the sun, but who would ever expect the low band conditions we got. It was better than many winter nights!

I logged the contest using WriteLog for Windows by W5XD (http://www.writelog.com). I also used it for WPX CW. WriteLog performed flawlessly for both logging and scoring and it is nice to be able to stay in the Windows 98 environment for logging and access to Geoclock. I did convert the log to CT so I could present the breakdowns in familiar format.

This contest was fun! Any CW contest where you can work 2250+ QSOs in 24 hours is a winner in my book. I was in the chair for all but 5 minutes and never went more than 8 minutes without a QSO.

I tried to concentrate on 5 point QSOs and multipliers with multipliers being more important. The good conditions and growth of HQ stations shows up when you compare W2SC’s 165 mults of two years ago and my 231 this year.

Is this a new record? I think it breaks the USA record. It also breaks the highest world CW only score that I could find in the last 8 years (ZY1RL 2.05M). I expected 8P0V to be ahead of me and didn’t realize that LT1F and C40A were also CW only. Great competition and scoring all around! Thanks for the QSOs and see all of you again next year.

73 — Randy, K5ZD

Continental Breakdown

                    160   80   40   20   15   10  ALL   percent

North America   CW   25   77  173  167  133   23  598    26.4
South America   CW    0    3   11    7    9   10   40     1.8
Europe          CW    6   57  282  609  575    1 1530    67.5
Asia            CW    0    1    5   25   34    0   65     2.9
Africa          CW    0    1    4    5    4    0   14     0.6
Oceania         CW    0    2    5    6    7    0   20     0.9


HOUR     160      80       40       20       15       10    HR TOT  CUM TOT  

  12    .....    .....    .....    10/5    169/14    .....   179/19  179/19 
  13      .        .        .      11/7    134/9      2/2    147/18  326/37 
  14      .        .        .       6/3    113/10    16/2    135/15  461/52 
  15      .        .        .       5/0    123/6       .     128/6   589/58 
  16      .        .        .      20/6     64/1      6/3     90/10  679/68 
  17      .        .        .      81/3     15/3      3/1     99/7   778/75 
  18      .        .        .     105/3     10/5      4/2    119/10  897/85 
  19      .        .        .      43/5     39/3      3/1     85/9   982/94 
  20    .....    .....    .....   121/4      6/1     .....   127/5  1109/99 
  21      .        .       5/5     94/3      2/1       .     101/9  1210/108
  22      .        .       8/5     70/6      6/3       .      84/14 1294/122
  23      .        .      31/13    32/1      8/2       .      71/16 1365/138
  00     6/4     20/14    21/4     13/0      2/0       .      62/22 1427/160
  01     2/2     23/4     62/4      1/0       .        .      88/10 1515/170
  02     9/4     16/7     49/4      3/0       .        .      77/15 1592/185
  03     2/0     30/3     78/4      7/0       .        .     117/7  1709/192
  04    .....     3/0     98/1      8/1     .....    .....   109/2  1818/194
  05     4/2     23/6     56/3     13/0       .        .      96/11 1914/205
  06     4/2       .      22/3     17/3       .        .      43/8  1957/213
  07     3/1      5/1     27/3     18/0       .        .      53/5  2010/218
  08      .       9/0     14/3     40/1       .        .      63/4  2073/222
  09     1/1     10/1      5/0     38/3      4/1       .      58/6  2131/228
  10      .       2/0      4/1     44/0      6/0       .      56/1  2187/229
  11      .        .        .      16/1     54/1       .      70/2  2257/231

 TOT    31/16   141/36   480/53   816/55   755/60    34/11      .   2257/231


1236:    5 per minute     (300/hr)
1238:   36 per 10 minutes (216/hr)
1259:  179 per hour