CQ WPX RTTY Contest - 2023
Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 28
Total: 2619 Prefixes = 900 Total Score = 6,745,500
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
This is a fun contest. Never intended to do a full effort, but operated more than expected.
The first 8 hours were full-on. Things started slow but picked up as Europe woke up. Could not keep up with AA3B. Bud is amazing at working on 2 bands AND chasing multipliers.
Took some sleep and then continued. Could never really get good runs on 2 bands at the same time. It was almost like the bands were too open. Activity was really spread out.
Did my Sat morning errands. Weather was very nice outside. Got back on the radio, but the nice weather was calling. Took time off Sat afternoon to play 18 holes of golf. Got on for a while and discovered one of the best JA openings on
10 and 15 that I have experienced in a contest. My family called for me to cook dinner. Worked a bit more but was too sleepy to continue late.
Woke up Sunday morning and pushed hard for another 8+ hours. Managed to catch most of the guys who had gotten ahead of me. Was going to stop for the Super Bowl, but just kept going right to the end of the contest.
Mark just received his new call – KW1X – on Friday.
Bands opened to Europe within minutes of sunrise on both mornings. Things got slow in the afternoons when it was all South America and stations in Colorado and Texas. Weird that the opening to the Pacific Northwest never seemed to get very good.
We did well on chasing multipliers. Best QSO of the weekend was having JE1CKA call in on Sunday evening after dark. Another thrill was getting a very weak VY1JA through a huge pileup. With the 6-el, I really have to move it to work JA, KL7, and VY1.
Nice to see the sunspots bringing higher MUFs.
No big monster rates. Just a continuous stream of callers or S&P QSOs.
We used N1MM+ for the weekend at Mark’s request. First real contest I have used it. Definitely some challenges due to keystrokes and software behavior not being like my usual software, but we lived through it.
Very happy with how the 10m array was working all weekend.
6-el @100′ 4-el @63′ 4-el @32′
Spent most of the time running Europe on the lower two antennas.
10M CW 10M PHO Total %
NA 629 606 1235 61.7
OC 11 12 23 1.1
EU 473 165 638 31.9
AF 5 5 10 0.5
AS 4 1 5 0.2
SA 30 60 90 4.5
This was an SO2R operation. The audio is the same as that heard by the operator. When headphones are ‘split’, the left channel is from the left side radio and the right channel is from the right side radio.
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW - 2022
Class: SO(A)AB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 42.2
Band QSOs Zones Countries
160: 88 15 51
80: 504 22 87
40: 1453 32 118
20: 1103 38 127
15: 1115 31 121
10: 759 28 110
Total: 5022 166 614 Total Score = 11,311,560
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
Another amazing CQWW CW. So much more fun with sunspots and a bonus to have the low bands be so quiet and open.
The 40m stack that I worked so hard on all summer had the top antenna fail a few weeks before the contest. With help from KA1YQC I thought we had it fixed last weekend. Nope. That had me a little down, but it is CQWW so decided to get on and see how it all goes.
Wow. The QSOs just kept coming. Always enjoy the tension between multiplier spots and the need to maintain a run frequency and the rate. Managed to stay focused on rate most of the weekend.
Once again I operated more due to the online scoreboard. Something about seeing how other people are doing that fires me up. I was amazed to see K1AR killing me on mults the first day. At one point he was almost 100 ahead. That became a focus to try and catch him. Finally did that and saw K1ZZ climbing the leader board with an even bigger mult. So started trying to reel him in. Keeps my BIC…
The top antenna of the new 40 stack didn’t work, but the bottom one seemed to play well. When I checked it was always better than the old 40. And the new 10m antenna arrangement was also a big improvement over what I had before. So felt much better about all the work after the contest.
Great start. Took 2 hour sleep the first night so I could be fresh for the rate on Sat morning. It worked as I had 3 hours in a row over 200.
10m was slow to open, but once it did there was rate to be had. I tried to always be running on one band and chasing multiplier spots on the other. Conditions were perfect for trying 2BSIQ, but I just don’t seem to have the skills for that.
I have never felt so weak on 160 as I did the first night. I could hear lots of stations, but they could not hear me. It was much better the second night and I was able to rescue the multiplier total.
Not much from JA the first 24 hours, but better the second day. I did get JA3YBK to copy K5 on 80, but then he disappeared so missed my chanced. Only two JA on 40. 20 had great signals to Asia on Sunday evening and was even able to call some BY stations and have them come back to me! Even worked a bunch of JA on 15m.
I took a lunch break with 4 hours to go and figured there was no chance to make it to 5000 QSOs. Got a nice frequency on 40 and was able to S&P across 10, 15, and 20 to keep filling in missing band slots with the expeditions. My first ever CQ WW from home with over 5k QSOs.
Some of the pileups were a mess. 3B9KW was on 80 at his sunrise and had a great signal. In 10 minutes he managed to make 1 QSO because both EU and NA stations would never stop calling. I know split is not ideal in contests, but this was a time it was necessary. 7Q6M was running split on 10m and was cranking out the QSOs, but he would never announce that he was split. So took some time to figure it out.
Nice to have all the bands open so people could spread out. There were still plenty of people asking QRL? just seconds after I would finish a CQ, but there were also long stretches where it felt like I had the frequency all to myself.
Thanks to everyone around the world who gets on the air and helps make CQWW the best. Special thanks to all the travelers who add to the country total.
Special thanks to W2ID for loaning me a K3S so my K3 could go in for repair. Was quite interesting to see how much “quieter” the K3S was than the K3 due to the improved receiver. Can’t wait to try a K4 sometime.
Class: Single Op HP
Operating Time (hrs): 20.4
Total: 1111 Sections = 84 Total Score = 186,648
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
My 46th consecutive year of more than 1000 QSOs in Sweepstakes CW.
After 10,000 QSOs last weekend from V4 (contest + playing around) and late return home on Tue night, I struggled to get motivated for this contest. I reassembled my station on Sat morning and decided I would see how it went.
The first 3 hours were great. Maybe best ever.
Not sure what happened to 40m. 10-20 were great, but 40 was long well before I got there. Retreated to 80 and it was good. The band was quiet and long.
But, by 0300z, I could tell the activity was not high enough to avoid the grind. By 0500z I was dragging so I decided to break early and go for a longer period of sleep than usual. (I remember years ago when you almost had to do the first 12 hours solid to be competitive.)
Rates were not better in the morning. Everyone on the live scoreboard seemed to be locked into a slow-motion rate of about 30 per hour. I decided to go for my goal of making 1000 QSOs and call it good.
Easy clean sweep. Had the hard ones out of the way early. Just needed NL and found VO1BQ on 20m Sunday morning. Always a relief to get that one out of the way. Last California section was LAX. Would never have expected that!
Mission accomplished. I ended on a round number of 1111 QSOs with 2 hours still to go.
Was entertaining to watch the scoreboard as AA3B raced off to a big lead and then N2NC @ N2NT slowly reeled him in. Even when I was pushing at my hardest it seemed that NC would make 1-3 more QSOs per hour than I did.
The contest began a week before on Saturday with a 3am departure from home to make a 5:45 am flight out of Boston. Met up with N2NT in Miami and on to St Kitts. We got right to work and in 3.5 days had fixed some antennas and added new ones. It was warm and humid. We then spent another day getting the shack arranged with new antenna switching automation from Green Heron Engineering. I dropped Andy off at the airport on Thursday at noon so he could fly home and then join the K3LR team for the contest.
I spent the rest of the day fighting software conflicts and peculiarities. Things that seemed simple at home are not the same once you have taken them apart and tried to reassemble them in a new environment. One discovery was that the Green Heron server needed to be started before the Microham router.
I had to use DXLog because it worked with the Green Heron switching. I took a crash course in learning the software the week before I left home. It worked flawlessly. The main issue was the op not being able to type fast enough or falling asleep between QSOs.
I got good sleep during the week but was feeling the effects of the station-building efforts as the contest approached. Decided to power through the first night and then make the decision if I would sleep the second night. In retrospect, I could have skipped two slow hours for a 90-minute nap and made up for it during the high rates on Sat morning. I started to get loopy on Sat evening around 0100z. I kept zoning out in the middle of a QSO. Even so, it looks like I worked more than a hundred QSOs that I don’t really remember.
Bands were slow to open on Sat so got to spend an hour or so on 20, then 15, and then finally to 10m. Kept working between 10 and 15, but probably should have committed to the endless stream of stations on 10m. Sunday was better with 10m open just 30 mins after sunrise.
Rates were incredible. QRM was the biggest limiting factor. Had a great frequency on 10m Sunday morning until TM0DX decided to land about 5 Khz away with his 10 Khz of splatter.
Some line noise had appeared as we were setting up on Wed afternoon. The power company came out Thu (amazingly!) and was able to cut the lines until they found the source. It was down the road, but the noise was radiating the most from the dead-end pole closest to the station. The noise was annoying on all bands except for a period on Sunday morning, but I could usually find an antenna that could hear. This did make me a bit of an alligator on 20m.
Always amazing how many YB stations call in. It seems that path is open across all bands at any time. Even worked one on 75m.
Even though I had two radios, DXLog reported only 120 S&P QSOs. I was almost entirely in run mode and used the second radio to scope out frequencies for band changes.
On Sunday morning I was starting to feel pain in my throat from all the talking. Tried to use the voice keyer more, but still had to say all the callsigns.
Where were the Africans? Mostly worked EA8 stations + CN3A and a 5R. That was it!
One of the new antennas we put up was a Double L for 160m. We had hoped to hang it from an 80′ tower but discovered the top of the tower was too rusted to safely climb. Decided on hanging from 60′. The SWR curve was perfect. We did work two Europeans on Wednesday evening. But, conditions on 160 during the contest were terrible. I worked all multipliers that I heard but did not feel loud. Need another contest to determine if this antenna is a keeper or not.
Hard to complain or make excuses about a contest where you make 9500 QSOs! Even so, sure would like to have made it to 10k. A bit less line noise and it may have been possible. High level contesting is all about hearing the weak guys and it was tough at times.
Thanks to Andy N2NT for allowing me to use the station. He has done an incredible amount of work to build and maintain the place. It is a dream radio location on a 1200′ hill just a mile or so from the ocean with a horizon view from North to East.
The station is very isolated. After the contest, I packed everything up and was ready to come down to town, but the jeep would not start. V44KAI saved the day by driving up and cleaning the corrosion off the battery cables. Whew. Would have been a tough place to get AAA…
Looking forward to seeing other single-op scores from the region to see what I may have missed. Doing 45 hours of running, you get a very small view of the full contest activity and propagation. I had a blast doing the contest and will be very happy with any result. Thanks to everyone that called in.
The full contest was recorded and is available at the link below. You can enjoy my struggles with the QRM and line noise while hearing how your station sounded on my end.
The impact of the 2-point vs 3-point scoring in CQWW is significant. I have access to the CQWW logs and log checking software so I made a few tests to see how the scores compare if we were both on the same continent. It would have been close!
For example, if both of us were in South America
QSOs QPts Zone Cty Mult Score
V47T 9403 27603 137 462 599 16,534,197
PJ4K 9386 27170 153 444 597 16,220,490
I was looking forward to this contest. Conditions are improving as the sunspot numbers rise. And it was a good chance to evaluate the results of 6 months of antenna work (new 2/2 stack on 40m). Very happy with the results – the antenna seems to work better than my old 2-el.
The contest started well. After a nap in the wee hours, woke up to bands that seemed broken. 15m was really a struggle to work anything. Almost quit, but took a break and decided to get back in the game.
Conditions improved dramatically through Sat afternoon. Sunday was very good with even a 30-minute opening on 10m to southern Europe. Nice to work so many loud JA on 20 and 15m.
Spent (wasted) a lot of time calling HS5NMF on 20. Couldn’t get through the European pileup.
I had intended to sleep from 02-04z on Sunday, but when the alarm went off, I decided sleep was more fun than grinding QSOs. I woke up late, worked an hour, then went back to bed. So I felt great on Sunday but gave up some low band points and mults.
Enjoyed watching the scoreboard race between AA3B and K1LZ. I could keep up with them for QSOs, but they just kept getting farther and farther ahead for multipliers. Shows the value of having access to spots.
I was CQing as much as possible. Often on 2 bands when there were two open. That really helped the rate although I never had any giant hours. It is kind of like playing a video game with the occasional mangled callsign to figure out.
My biggest surprise was working a KL7 on 80m. Followed by having VJ5W call in.
The only state that I missed was MT. Never heard one. Thanks to K1AR for moving to 10m to give me NH on that band. Missed CT on 10 and 15.
I continue to be impressed by how RTTY operating is becoming more and more efficient. Except for those loud guys that insist on sending their call 6 times (all of them printing perfectly…).
The Cushcraft 40-2CD and XM-240 use identical loading coils on the driven and reflector elements to help shorten the overall element length. The original design of the loading coils used a sheet metal screw to attach the wire coil to the aluminum element. Even though it is covered by heat shrink tubing, it becomes a point of failure when the sheet metal screw begins to corrode.
I recently rebuilt two 40-2CD antennas and had the need to renew the loading coil connections.
The first step is to remove the screw and clean everything up.
Drill a hole through the element. This will allow use of a stainless steel nut and bolt for a much more secure connection. I used a washer to help hold the wire. Also applied a dab of SS Jet-30 to improve conductivity.
I then used some rubber liner tape to wrap the connection point to make it as waterproof as possible.
I then used some 1.25″ heat shrink tubing to cover the complete loading coil.
Simply repeat this process for each loading coil. This small effort will prevent a common failure point for the 40-2CD antenna.
Sorry I didn’t record all the part sizes that I purchased at the local hardware store, but here they are in a photo.
For reference, here is a loading coil with all of the shrink wrap tubing removed.
This is a continuation of the story of my project to replace one of my ham radio towers. Read part 1 first.
July 23, 2022
I got a great deal on some LDF5-50A 7/8″ hardline. It arrived in two pieces, but as luck would have it, they were both perfect for what I needed. The 240′ run got to the base of the new tower. The 290′ run got to the base of the tower with the TH7, A3WS, and 6m beam.
Needed connectors and found some on e-Bay. Minimal instructions. Finally found a manual from Andrews about installing connectors that filled in some of the gaps. Took me a few tries to figure out the proper way to install them. Hoping the hardline will provide a significant improvement in loss over the previous 75 ohm CATV feedline.
July 24, 2022
I continued working on trying to convert the two and a half used 40-2CD antennas that I had on hand into the making of a new one. The biggest challenge is getting the driven element separated from the insulator (used a hammer), and getting the reflector and boom pieces apart.
Then I washed everything and started reinforcing per the W6QHS article recommendations. Having the extra element pieces was very helpful.
August 13, 2022
Finally got all the bits and pieces together to make a complete 40-2CD with heavy-duty reinforcement. Assembled everything at the 5-foot level on the tower.
Grabbed the AA-54 to check the SWR and was happy to see it look very similar to how the first antenna did when it was at the same mounting height.
August 14, 2022
Mark KA1YQC and John KF1KI arrived on a beautiful Sunday morning to help with the antenna raising. The first order of business was to remove the 4-ele 10 that had been installed at the 70′ level. After several evenings of studying plots using the HFTA Software that comes with the ARRL Antenna Book, I realized that the 40 needed to be at that height. The two 10-meter beams were better off lower on the tower.
You hate to go backwards on a project, but it seemed easier to take this antenna down rather than try to work around it.
The next step was to raise the side mount that would hold the lower 40.
Then it was time to raise the 40-2CD. We thought about using a tram, but it seemed like it might be more trouble to set up than it would save in time. Decided to corkscrew the antenna through the two sets of guys. This was complicated a bit by a close tree that snagged the elements a few times.
John and Mark did a great job of lifting and lowering as needed. And watching for times when the antenna would snag something behind my back.
Happiness is finally getting the antenna onto the side mount. The reflector was clear of guy wires and trees, but the driven element was much closer to the guy wires than I had expected. The use of Phillystran for the guys will prevent any performance issues, but we don’t want the antenna rubbing the guy wires in the wind or under snow load. Might have to raise the antenna couple of feet to get more clearance. Something to keep an eye on.
I was anxious to check the SWR now that the antenna was in position. It dipped exactly where I had hoped!
Nothing like coming down the tower and being able to take that first look back up to see the results.
It was only noon so we moved on to raising the two 4-element 10m beams into position. This was a piece of cake compared to the 40!
With all the antennas installed, we called it a day. I came back out to the tower later that evening to see a beautiful sunset that really highlighted the full antenna compliment.
Worked on making the phasing lines for the 40m stack. Will write a separate blog post on that topic.
The stacking switching is fairly simple and uses just coax phasing lines.
Switching uses an RCS-8V 5-position remote coax switch that I purchased used from W1DXH. The RCS-8V can be easily modified to have any of the switch positions be shorted or open when not selected. Will use some existing rotator cables to get the needed 6 conductors from the box back to the shack.
Mark KA1YQC came over to help me get the cables and relay box installed for the 40m stack. Not a hard job, but nice to have someone on the ground to send the cables up as needed.
Replaced the temporary coax from the top 40 with a piece to get to the switch box.
Installed the switch box.
Installed the phasing lines. For now, they are just coiled up and tied off. Wanted to make sure things were working before tying things off.
I wanted to have equal lengths of feedline for each antenna. And for those lengths to be a multiple of a 1/4-wave. That means the low antenna has about 50′ of extra coax, but it worked out great for getting down from the top antenna.
We wired the control line back to the shack and were prepared to see success. The top position worked. The lower position worked. But not both. Argh. Checked the control voltages and they were correct going up the tower.
Climbed the tower to inspect things. Discovered the t-connector had failed. Argh. It is the one that has 3 female UHF connectors that ties the 3 phasing lines together. A new t-connector is now on order. (I should have known better than to use a cheap one I found in my junk box.)
The good news is that listening to Europeans in the early evening shows the low 40m being the best antenna at times. Will be interesting to see if/how this changes as we get into the contest season and operate the whole opening from our sunset to European sunrise.
Checked the SWR on the two lower 10m beams. The middle one looks ok. The bottom one is resonant way below the band. Could be interaction with the metal guy wires that are within inches of the elements. Will do more work with HFTA to see if that antenna can be moved up or down the tower.
September 4, 2022
While waiting for Amazon to deliver, I went up the tower and refactored all the coaxes around the 40m switch box. With a few days of rain in the forecast, I wanted to get all of the connections secured.
Amazon arrived while I was on the tower, so with the sun just going over the horizon, I made one more trip up the tower to install the new t-connector.
Argh. Still a problem with the both-position on the switch. And to make things worse, the high antenna only wasn’t working either.
September 7-9, 2022
Multiple trips up the tower to try to diagnose the problem. I probably made 6-8 climbs to the 70′ level and was up there for several hours. Just couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing.
When checking the wiring, I discovered that a wire had pulled out of the splice junction at the base of the tower. That fixed the antenna 1 problem.
I got some good advice from W2SC and N2NT on things to try for the phasing lines. Eventually tracked the problem down to a missed solder connection on one of the PL-259 connectors! I usually solder the shield and then wait for the connector to cool before doing the center conductor. Somehow I missed doing this one.
When you test quarter wave coax lines, you look for an open on the analyzer. When I checked the cable from one end it looked fine. But, if I plugged the analyzer into the end with the missing solder, it showed there was no cable. I guess you have to test phasing lines from both ends…
Once I found and fixed that, I was happy to come down to the shack and hear all 3 positions of the stack were working. SWR was good from 7000 to 7250. All positions of the new stack are better than my original 40-2CD on another tower. (It must have a problem?) The stack position seemed to be slightly better most of the time. Spent some time on 40 SSB in the WAE contest and the stack seemed to be a winner compared to the top or bottom antenna alone. Thrilled to finally see success after all this effort.
September 10, 2022
Mark KA1YQC came over on a beautiful Saturday morning to help me work on the 10m stacking.
We moved the lower 10 from 29′ to 32′. This got it out of the guy wires and just above the first set.
Then we installed the WX0B Stackmatch box at the 65′ level. Checked SWR on each antenna as I did so. The bottom 2 antennas are resonant below the band. Is this caused by having Rohn 45G going through the middle of the antenna? Something to investigate.
We connected the control cable and headed back to the shack to check out work. All 3 positions could hear band noise. We listened to PT5J work Europeans in WAE. May need to investigate the wiring or the box as it didn’t seem like the right antenna was being selected as I switched through all the options. But, SWR was good across the band on all 3.
The last task was to raise and reattach the 160m shunt feed. This took no time and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the antenna was resonant around 1800 Khz. I had been afraid that adding 10′ to the tower and the second 40 would change the electrical height of the system. Will wait for dark to see if the antenna works.
Really enjoying having Mark’s help to take advantage of the fantastic early Fall weather to get things done before it gets rainy, cold, and windy in October.
September 21, 2022
On what is sure to be the last perfect day of the summer, Mark KA1YQC came over to help debug the 10m stack. We quickly determined there was a broken wire somewhere in the 250′ of cable between the shack and the base of the tower. It was the line that switched the toroid in the Stackmatch out when feeding a single antenna. No wonder the SWR and antenna selection was so weird. We grabbed a spare wire from the control cable to the 40m switching and things started working better.
The SWR on the low antennas was below 28.o Mhz. They resonated higher when tested at the 6′ level, but the extra height, guy wires, or Rohn 45 going through the middle was having an impact. We shortened the driven element on both antennas so they were resonant around 28.2, which kept the SWR relatively low from CW through 28.5 Mhz. Luckily this just meant rotating the driven element so both ends of the element could be reached from the tower.
Testing from the shack indicated there was something wrong with the low antenna. It sounded quiet and the SWR was height. We know the SWR was good using the antenna analyzer at the feed point, so it has to be in the coax or the Stackmatch. No amount of wiggling or unscrewing seemed to make any difference. So more diagnostic work needs to be done.
We also tried to find the tap point for the 160 shunt feed. We thought we had it, and then realized we did not have a solid connection from the feed point shield to the tower. When we added that, the R value was around 18 ohms. The tap point needs to be raised, but with sunset approaching, we decided to save this for another day.
October 12, 2022
One more very nice weather day. Mark KA1YQC came over and we attacked the 160m shunt feed. After some experimenting, we determined the shunt wire could not go through the 40. We attached it just below the 40 and were able to get it about 5′ out from the tower to get to 42 ohms. SWR is < 2:1 from 1800 to 1880 with a perfect dip at 1830.
The First 160m QSO with the shunt-fed tower was with TO2DL in Guadeloupe (FG). At least now I know it can be heard.
The project is officially done. All new antennas have been installed and the others restored to their previous configuration.
Early results show the 40m stack is much better than my previous 40-2CD on the other tower. The 10m stack also seems to be working well. Finding the broken wire may have been all it needed.
Now the fun part – to get on the air and see how it all plays in the contests.
Thank you all for following the journey to this point. It has been a lot of work, but the kind that I really enjoy. Nothing has more hope than a new antenna system!
A very entertaining contest. Summer conditions always offer a few surprises and this contest had lots of them.
My summer project was to replace one of my towers (see https://k5zd.com/tower-replacement-project/). Things are not completely rebuilt, but I had antennas for all 6 bands. This contest was to be a test of the new 40 and 10m beams. Happy to report they appear to be worth the effort.
The contest started well with 10 and 15m open. It got slow in the mid-day and then just kept getting better as Europe turned its attention to the West.
Our town had its 4th of July fireworks show Saturday evening. I took a break to walk the 1.8 miles to the show and back. Was a perfect evening outside and the walk cleared out the contest fatigue. Lost just over 2 hours of prime low band mult hunting.
15m produced some deep Asians late in the evening and 20m was great all night.
Then 15m really opened the last 2 hours of the contest with the band open deep into UA/UA9!