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!
This was intended to be a casual fun effort. I started the contest calling JAs on 15m rather than running on 40. Once I did get to the low bands and started running, I was blown away by the rates.
Got to 160 at 0305z and called CQ. Could not believe how loud the Europeans were. It was a continuous run for the next 40 mins.
40 did its usual thing of staying open to Europe well past Eu sunrise. As a result, I stayed awake too long. So only got 90 minutes of sleep before I was up again. A quick sweep of the low bands and then arrived at a wide-open 20m at 1109z. Three straight hours over 200!
I was watching the scoreboard and keeping tabs on AA1K and K1ZZ along with AA3B. I seemed to be keeping up with them so that doubled my motivation. I had intended to stop around 1700z but had such a pileup on 20 that I couldn’t leave. Then was going to stop at 2000 QSOs, but still, guys were calling. Finally, took a break at 1849z with over 2300 QSOs. I guess you could call contesting an addiction for me…
Cooked dinner and had intended to go for a walk, but a snow squall came through. Looked nasty outside so got back on the radio. (Of course!) CQing on 20 with a steady rate and finally some time to use the second radio to tune for mults.
It is frustrating to tune around because no one seems to send their call anymore. It is just a steady stream of stations sending “TU”. Not a problem when operating with the cluster/RBN, but definitely a challenge without. I would work stations and try to get them to send their call. Sometimes I would have to wait several minutes to figure out who I had worked. Argh. (I have to confess that there were times when I had big pileups that I just sent TU at the end. It is a time-saver, but once rates slow down there really is no advantage.)
I was looking forward to getting going on 40, but another snow squall was generating so much static that I couldn’t hear anything. Spent 20 minutes watching the Olympics while waiting for it to end.
Was feeling pretty tired since I had not really planned my life around a full-out effort. Took a 3-hour break at 0200z. Came back on at 0500z to find 160 again in very good shape. Gave me another good run of stations including a lot of 100W guys and even a few QRP. 80 was good late with some Eu stations calling in almost an hour after their sunrise. 40m seemed a bit muffled, but still had stations to work until I finally stopped at 0830z.
Another short sleep and back on at 1030z. Worked two JA on 80 straight away. That woke me up! Got to 20m at 1043z and it was already packed with signals. By this point, I was looking competitive on the scoreboard so I focused on running as much as possible. 20m was open deep into Asia. Made the jump to 15m at 1224z and it was off to the races again.
10m had been open on Saturday morning. Mostly for calling the few south Europeans that showed up. Sunday seemed a little better. EF7N was loud and calling lots of unanswered CQs. I tried CQing with the second radio but not much luck. Did have HB0A call in so that was a good one. Since it didn’t seem like it was going to produce any rate, I turned my focus to running on 15 and 20.
Took a break at 1815z to make lunch and go for a walk. Nothing clears the cobwebs like 4 miles in 30-degree weather! Back on at 1955z to chase mults and eek out a slow run on 20m. One last break at 2130z and then it was a push to the end.
40m started out well, but then I just ran out of stations to work. Many unanswered CQs. Not much going on 80 either. Discovered the JAs were loud on 15m so used the second radio to chase them.
What had started out as a part-time effort with a goal of maybe 3000 QSOs ended up a pretty intense effort with over 4200! Much of it is thanks to the incredible activity from Europe. Especially the high number of QRP (5W) callers. And the ability to track the competition on https://contestonlinescore.com/
Bud AA3B has proven he can whip me in any RTTY contest so I was looking to try something different this year. With the improving solar cycle, I was hoping the high bands would be good enough to support some fun operating as low power. Unfortunately, they weren’t that good.
Started 30 minutes late. The contest was a grind from the beginning. Very few sustained runs all weekend. Spent a lot of time calling people. Lots of guys CQed in my face. Meant to stop before the end to watch the Super Bowl pre-game, but did that while operating. Some good mults called in during the last hour on 40m.
It felt like activity was down, but you wouldn’t know it from the QRM on 20m. I know my station is very loud on 20m. I couldn’t make a dent. Band was loaded from 14078 to 14150. Skip was short so the Europeans were having their own contest. I tried CQing high and low with no real success. Ended up calling a lot of guys.
Best part of the weekend was the openings to Japan. 15 meters was great both Sat and Sun evening. Even better on 15 than on 20.
As always, it was fun and motivating to watch the online scoreboard. The scores in WPX go up exponentially so when you get behind, it is hard to catch up!
Kudos and respect to all you guys that do RTTY contesting with 100 watts. I don’t think I have the patience for it. 🙂
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW - 2021
Class: SO(A)AB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 41.8
Band QSOs Zones Countries
160: 124 16 58
80: 564 25 87
40: 1323 32 112
20: 1426 32 113
15: 1115 29 115
10: 77 19 38
Total: 4629 153 523 Total Score = 9,082,736
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
Another amazing CQ WW CW! So much activity from so many interesting places.
In the days leading up to the contest, I was not sure which category I wanted to enter. I considered SO, and SOA, even QRP. In the end, I decided that having fun was the most important so Single Op All Band Assisted was the way to go.
The bands did not sound good at the start. I actually began the contest doing S&P on 80m, then on 40m. I finally landed on 3535 as a run frequency while making second radio QSOs on 40.
I got to 160 at the end of the second hour and found plenty of European signals. As usual, they were mostly working each other, but I got lucky with a few. At 0230 I finally made my first QSOs on 20 – with South Americans – before returning to 80m.
I just kept cycling through the bands. Trying to call CQ as much as possible while also chasing multipliers that were spotted. 160 continued to provide QSOs. I heard the other single ops CQing on 80 and figured I was probably losing out, but just didn’t seem to be able to get much going there. Besides, the goal was to have fun and working mults was fun!
The 05z hour was great on 40m working Europeans. This continued until about 0630z when the rate really slowed down. I managed to stay in the chair until 0840z when I decided it was now or never for grabbing some sleep. I have learned that taking a 90-minute nap during these slow pre-sunrise hours pays off during the high rate times as the high bands are opening.
I came back on a little earlier than I had intended at 1035z. 40m was still open to northern Europe! Worked two JAs on 80 ( a rare treat)! Got to 20m around 1100z and it was open, but not great. Tuned up the band calling stations for 20 minutes until I found a hole at 14037. Then it was off to the races! The pileup was incredible. I barely had time to chase a few multiplier spots on the second radio.
20 just kept going deeper and deeper with European and Asiatic Russians calling in. It really helps the scores when we get access to all the Russian activity.
I was able to squeeze in some second radio QSOs and mults on 15 meters during the 12 and 13 Zulu hours. This is where the second radio really pays off because I could know the band was open, but not quite enough to abandon 20. I finally made the jump at 1334z and enjoyed another great pileup. I tried a few minutes of CQing on both 20 and 15, but the pileups were too much (and my skills too limited) to pull it off.
The rate was so good, and there were so many mults on 20, that I didn’t even think of listening to 10m until 1449z where I heard CR6K and some other southern Europeans. It wasn’t great, but spent some time with the second radio since I wasn’t sure 10 would open again on Sunday. In the meantime, 15m just kept producing QSOs.
I finally got back to running on 20m around 1719z. Lots of Europeans went in the log while I also chased cluster spots on 15m.
By 19z I was worn out and hungry. Took a break to grab some food and stretch my legs. On returning, I tried a few CQs on 40 meters and was rewarded with a nice run of Europeans. This is a great time to be a W1 as we seem to have the band to ourselves while the rest of the USA is still on the higher bands.
By 2120z I hit my usual dilemma of having 20 and 40 on the same mast and rotator. Do I stay with 40m to Europe, or turn the beam toward Japan and go to 20. Again, with fun in mind, I took the choice to go to 20 and see what kind of Asian QSOs I could find. With the low beam to Europe and the top antenna to Japan, it resulted in a nice mix of QSOs. Plus the odd VK/ZL on LP calling in.
By 2300z things had slowed down and I was back to 40m. That didn’t produce so was forced down to 80. The contest halfway mark is always a low point. The rate slows down, you are tired, and you face the realization that there are still 24 more hours to go! Ugh. Time for some dinner.
The rates are slow and packet spots are starting to get a bit unruly. I decided some sleep would be good so took a nap during the 03z hour. It costs a few QSOs, but is well worth it in the mental health department. I came back on at 0400z and chased what I could find on the low bands.
I like to watch the contestonlinescores.com scoreboard during the contest. It has a mode where you can mix the SO and SOA scores together. Gives me more people to chase. I selected K1ZZ as the guy I wanted to use as my standard. I could see I was doing well, but not sure it was enough to win. Back to focusing on fun! Luckily, 80 and 40m kept producing some rate. 40m was amazingly good with Russians calling in well after their sunrise (sometimes 2.5-3 hours after). After a long run on 7022, I finally called it quits at 0745z to get some sleep.
Back on at 1105z my first contact was LA1MFA on 80m. Whoa. That was followed by VR2KW on 40m long path. He seemed to be the only one that could hear me in that direction. Then found ZM4T on 160. Great ears on his end. Those 3 QSOs are the way to wake up and get back in the game!
20m seemed a bit slower to open than it had on Saturday. Got a good run going around 1130z. Lots of Russians again. Second radio mult chasing on 15m during the 12z hour. I often like to stay on 20 a bit longer Sunday morning. Gives a chance to work more deep Russians while the QRM is down with most of Western Eu headed to 15m. I made the jump to run on 15m at 1303z. Big pileup!
10 meters opened earlier and better on Sunday morning. No rate, but different big guns from each country would show up and go in the log. All while still running on 15m. This continued until 1550z when I made the jump back down to 20m. The rate was excellent and gave me some time to “relax” a bit. <F1>, type call, <insert>, <+>. Repeat.
Around 1800z 20m started to lose its mojo. Band was open, but you run out of people to work. This provided lots of time to engage in some hard-core cluster pileups on Africans, South Americans, and the Caribbean. It’s like being locked in a cage match with the same dozen hyper-aggressive guys pileup after pileup.
After grinding it out for a few hours, it was time for one last push on 40m. The band produced more QSOs than expected and I was able to run almost to the end of the contest. One of the things I like about using the cluster is seeing JW7QIA spotted on 160m at 2300z and being able to work him! Then a few minutes later GM3POI for another 160 mult.
It is always fun to race to the end of the contest and see what the final score will be. My goal in the morning had been to get to 8 million. I then raised that to 8.5, By the end, I was pushing to see if I could clear the 9 million mark. And I did it! Amazing how quickly you forget all the pain and suffering of the early morning hours when you reach the end of the contest.
The CQWW is always an amazing experience. The activity levels and variety of DX are unmatched. Thanks to all that traveled to activate countries and improve all of our scores.
Class: Single Op HP
Operating Time (hrs): 23.2
Total: 1236 Sections = 84 Total Score = 207,648
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
Exceeded my goal of 1000 QSOs. 45th consecutive year of doing so…
First 8 hours was truly fun. The last 8 hours was not fun at all.
Lost my motivation on Sunday morning when it was so slow. No matter what I tried, N2NT and AA3B kept getting 1-3 more QSOs per hour. There was no off-time strategy. Took breaks when I couldn’t take it anymore.
Felt like I had more dupes than usual. Lots of guys must have busted my call the first or second time. I worked all who called.
This contest puts a premium on good copy. Almost hated to work some guys when they were weak knowing they would be loud on another band later. I was looking for KL7SB on 40 when he called me on 80. That is not a band where you want to try to copy the exchange of a new/rate multiplier. I called him later on 15m for insurance and he said worked before. The same thing happened with VY1AAA.
First QSO was very marginal. Second time I could hear him much better and he would not work me again. Would hurt to “work” a guy twice and lose the mult if I missed the number. Such is the game.
Great contest. Nothing needs fixing except the activity level. We just aren’t making CW traffic handlers like we used to.
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB - 2021
Class: SO(A)AB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 31
Band QSOs Zones Countries
160: 63 9 31
80: 240 14 61
40: 305 21 75
20: 1574 35 109
15: 1171 31 102
10: 493 18 75
Total: 3846 128 453 Total Score = 6,415,983
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
True classic entry. One radio and no DX spots. Classic overlay score around 5M.
What happened to the predicted solar storm? Seemed like conditions were good and just kept getting better! The climax was having 10m bust wide open Sunday morning.
Was focused on optimizing my Classic score so not the best strategy for optimizing the traditional category score. Took time off on Friday night plus some sleep. Then almost no operating on Sat night. Once I got the 24 hours in I was running for fun or being a DXer.
Doing a contest with only one radio definitely limits your awareness of what is happening on other bands. Have to rely a lot more on intuition and the “sound” of the band to know when it is time to move.
Fun watching the scoreboard. Had to look at the assisted guys because there weren’t many SO that were posting.
Thanks to all for the QSOs. And special thanks to all those who traveled to activate more DX for the rest of us.
Needed a contest fix and this one is always fun. Conditions were even better than expected which was a nice bonus.
SO2R is the way to go for RTTY. Especially if you can handle CQing on two bands. The rhythm is easy to match and it keeps things interesting.
The first night was ok, but nothing special. Fun chasing AA3B on the scoreboard as he ran away from me.
Saturday morning I went to 20m a bit early and the band was already rocking. Signals up to 14140. I found a spot and got a great run going. Band was open deep with UA9 calling in. In high sunspot years that is a sign to check 15m. Sure enough, there were some loud Eu there. Called CQ and it was off to the races.
15m was good both days. The band was long and it was clear the Europeans were not hearing each other. That means less QRM. Signals levels were great from F to LA to UA3. Loud signals from 21080 to 21150.
Was getting a bit bored and discouraged as time wore on. Was doing great on the online scoreboard, but didn’t think I had the mental energy to get through the full contest. Took a break to cook lunch and go for a 3 mile walk. That helped my mood a lot and I was re-energized to get back into the fray.
The JA opening on 20 was very good. When that happens, it reveals a weakness in my station. The 20 and 40m are on the same mast so if I beam Japan, it is not good for 40 to Europe. Working Asia is more fun so focused on that while tuning around on 40.
Decided to take a nap from 0220z to 0400z while the Europeans were asleep. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but looks like I gave up 170 QSOs to AA3B during that period. Whoops. Took a second nap during the wee hours. Felt great when I got up. Nice to see 20 was also opening just as it had on Saturday. With 650 QSOs already in the log on that band, the rate was slower. 15m also opened so dual CQing helped keep things interesting.
I had intended to push through to the end of the contest. Was running stations on 20m when I looked up and saw the AL-1200 grid meter was hitting the pin. There was no output from the amp and no HV. That bummed me out so I took some time to cook dinner.
I had a nice score and it seemed a shame to quit when I still had one working radio. Decided to give up on mult chasing and just focus on pressing F1 over and over. Rates held up better than expected and was able to cross over the 3K QSO barrier. Then passed 4 meg. Wow. A new personal best in WW RTTY by far.
Most surprising QSO: Having UA0AGI call in on 15m at 1923z. That seems kind of late, but I thank him for checking the band at that time of night.
Other 15m fun: Lots of YBs calling in. And two HS, plus a VU. And a bunch of UA9.
Weird stuff: Not much USA on 15m. Band was just too long and no one seemed to focus on backscatter.
Studly QSOs: Working JA on 40m. Then calling a loud YD9VE and having him come right back. DU1UGZ was also very loud but could not hear me.
WriteLog is fantastic for RTTY contesting. The integration with the decoders is top notch. I ran with 2Tone as my primary decoder and MMTTY as the clone.
Always fun to see how one decoder will read perfectly while the other just has gibberish. Two decoders were especially helpful when running as it reduced the need for repeats.
A fun way to spend a weekend. Had the Ryder Cup on TV all day Saturday and the NFL on Sunday. https://contestonlinescore.com/ was a big motivator as always. Great to chase AA3B and AC0C.
With the high bands open it was fun to work a lot of new calls. DX contests are so much more fun for everyone when there are good conditions for working DX. And we can spread out on the high bands.
Never heard or worked VT, MT, or ND. Only one QSO with NM. Very few stations from Indiana.
Now on to WW SSB!
Postscript on the amp failure. One of the fuses had blown. The AL-1200 will continue to run with one fuse missing, which is very confusing when you are sleep-deprived. If I had only known, could have fixed it in 2 minutes and been back to full SO2R. The fuse holder had experienced some heat so need to find a replacement.
World Wide Digi DX Contest - 2021
Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 18.8
Band QSOs Mults
160: 34 13
80: 146 33
40: 307 51
20: 342 54
15: 87 24
10: 15 7
Total: 931 182 Total Score = 339,794
Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club
The FT modes were not made for contesting… but, it makes for a challenging slow-motion video game.
Conditions were not the best at the start. Very good at the end.
Even with the good activity, had to spend some time on the FT8 water holes to get some of the multipliers. Frustrating to see so many Asia DX stations that were clear copy, but they could not hear me through the QRM.
Amazing what FT8 enables working on 80 and 160. I even had 3 southern European stations call in on 10 meters!
Started late. Stayed up too late working on a project so I slept in and ran some errands. Didn’t miss much by the sound of the bands. Took another break to do a 5-mile walk. Then took an hour of sleep when things got really slow.
Full SO2R. Nice to be able to have something to occupy the time while waiting for repeats.
How do you get a grid from those VKx4 letter callsigns? Or any long call?
Great job by Bud AA3B. I don’t know he finds the stamina!