EP – Iran #299

Just saw that working EP3HF after the 10 m contest on 15 m SSB yesterday provided another new DXCC for me … #299 in the log. :) I’m certainly not going to send $10 + 1 IRC to get a card from him but will wait for the upcoming EP6T expedition instead and try to work them for a safe LoTW confirmation as well as using the great MØURX OQRS service for a paper card then. ;)

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First contest of the year: DARC-10M

Many thanks to Heiko, DG1BHA, for leaving this “contest slot” to me. Normally he’s using our station for this one as it does not make much sense to drive 2 x 700 km for a 2 hour contest. Sure, I’m crazy for contesting but certainly not *that* crazy. ;-) This weekend was different as I was overhere (JO73) anyway as I’m going to visit my grandma at the Baltic Sea who turns 88 tomorrow. Due to some other circumstances, too, I thus had the chance to do the contest.

You need to work lots of German DOKs for mults thus have to rely on good backscatter. Best scatter points are between 80° and 120° this time of the day but we still have some noise into that direction that makes weak signal copy difficult. Besides this I used a frequency that was obviously used by somebody else, too, that I could not hear (there were a number of callers out of sync, ooops). And then the radar set in, too. So I really had a bad start for the first 20 minutes wasting precious time until I finally got going higher in the band. Rate was okay then beaming 230° for the second best backscatter direction without additional noise (despite 2 short phases with static noise of S9 due to heavy rain which made copy difficult, too). Spent the last 15 minutes on CW (after the rate dropped significantly on SSB) and hoped for a nice pileup being fresh meat there but that didn’t happen either. At least a few new mults called in …

I had 2 goals: a.) Doing 200 QSOs and b.) reaching 20k points. I surpassed 20k points with a good margin but was short of QSOs compared to my goal. Well, reasons are above … isn’t it good to have some excuses? :)

Let’s see, if all goes well it should be good enough for a TOP10 spot …

                    DARC 10-Meter Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Mixed HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 2

 Band  QSOs
   CW:   13
  SSB:  166
Total:  179  Mults = 137  Total Score = 24,523
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Aurora this afternoon

Certainly not too good for HF propagation and all the guys doing the ARRL RTTY Roundup this weekend but a nice start into the new year for the VHF fans. ;-)

QSO by DH8BQA on 2 m.
Type of propagation: AUR        Mode: All mode
From 04/01/2015 to 04/01/2015     Distance over: 0 Km.     Page: 1
04/01/2015  16:34  OH2KW         KP2ØIJ   55A 57A   CW        1023
04/01/2015  16:41  LA8AV         JO59CS   57A 59A   CW         772
04/01/2015  16:43  SM4IVE        JO79SD   57A 59A   CW         667
04/01/2015  16:47  LA3BO         JO59CD   57A 59A   CW         707
04/01/2015  16:52  SM4AIQ        JO79BH   59A 59A   CW         681
04/01/2015  16:53  SM4DYQ        JO79MM   59A 59A   CW         706
04/01/2015  16:55  SM5DXR        JO89FO   55A 59A   CW         726
04/01/2015  17:19  LAØBY         JO59FW   57A 55A   CW         784
04/01/2015  17:22  SMØNKZ        JO99IQ   59A 59A   CW         773
04/01/2015  17:33  SM7GVF        JO77GA   57A 56A   CW         427
Number of QSO listed: 10
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A few 2014 statistics

Now that 2014 is history time has come to do some statistical work. ;) As already mentioned before this has been my most “radio active” year so far. I made almost 23.000 QSOs in total: 17.845 as DH8BQA, 2.816 as DM5ØPCK special event station op, 1.758 as NT3S from NJ, plus a bunch more operating DFØFA and DAØHQ during VHF contests where I didn’t keep track of how many QSOs exactly done by myself.

BQA-2014My own activity in Germany resulted in 20.661 QSOs from our station in JO73ce, either locally (13.497 QSOs) or remotely (7.164 QSOs). 237 DXCCs were worked although I didn’t pay any special attention to work as many countries as possible. The band by band breakdown shows a clear preference for “ten”, mainly due to all the contest QSOs but also the “daily DX” was focused on 10 m. Evidence for my addiction to the band as mentioned on this blog before. If it wasn’t 10 m then focus was on 15 m, especially during contests. You simply have to use the good condx in sunspot maximum (although a rather low max this time). The low bands will get some more focus in 2-3 years again. ;) There’s some more potential for the WARC bands, too …

It was a bad year for 6 m. My totals on six are usually a bit higher but it was the worst Sporadic E season I remember. 2 m was a bit down from my yearly average as well. Reason is we activated DAØHQ in July contest which I usually do single op so missed those QSOs last year. On the other hand I was quite active on Meteor Scatter during the Perseids shower at least …

Let’s see what 2015 brings along. Good luck & good DX everybody!

PS: If you wonder why the graph is missing a QSO (you did count them together, didn’t you? :)): I also made my first 9 cm = 3,4 GHz QSO last year (Heiko built up a new microwave station we had to test drive) that’s not in the picture above. ;)

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W1AW portable worked in all states and overseas territories

I’m glad to report I have now worked all W1AW portable states with IA (Iowa) being the last one this week. So my qualification for the “Worked all States with W1AW” award, all the territorial stickers and the plaque is finally finished. :)

HPM-W1AW-logoTo celebrate it’s Centennial ARRL’s (American Radio Relay League) headquarter & Hiram Percy Maxim (ARRL founder, pictured left) Memorial station W1AW was active twice from every of the 50 US states as well as the District of Columbia and most of the US overseas territories like KH0, KH2, KH8, etc. during 2014.

I had missed quite a number of those activations at the beginning of this year so had to hurry to catch the missing states during the second round. The most difficult one has been HI (Hawaii) with W1AW/KH6 last week. Condx were very bad and the path goes directly over the North Pole. With Aurora condx almost every day and running relatively low power (a small KPA500 with 600 watts … compare that to all those Italian amps ;)) it was a real challenge with generally very weak signals and all of Europe calling (and really bad pileup discipline :-(). Furthermore openings were short: 20 m was open between here and Hawaii for just 50 minutes daily and only 20 mins with reasonable signals, i.e. more than s1 or s2. I heard them one day with up to 57 on 20 m SSB for about 10 minutes but no chance at all. But I was lucky enough to catch them on 40 m CW as well as 20 m CW & RTTY. That RTTY QSO also provided my last missing state for the “Triple Play WAS“. :) Calling 1 kHz above the pileup was key on RTTY (they simply could not decode anything with all of Europe calling at once) while on CW I was fortunate to recognize they moved their TX frequency during transmit up 1 kHz to get away from the simplex pileup and start all over with split. Luckily nobody else recognized it that moment so with 2 or 3 callsign repeats (Did I mention weak condx already?) I made it into their log. :)

All in all it was great fun chasing the W1AW portable stations throughout the year. I worked them on over 500 band/mode slots (might provide some more detailed statistics later on). To be honest this activity was the reason to switch on the radio so regularly on my side. Without it I’m sure I would not have been as active as was the case this year. So thanks ARRL and thanks all you great W1AW portable hosts and operators!

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Merry Christmas everybody!

Wishing all of my blog readers a very Merry Christmas and already now a happy New Year! May all your wishes come true and for all of us let’s keep fingers crossed for some more good condx and lots of DX and contest QSOs. ;)


News overhere is I basically finished moving house living in the new location now since one week. Still have to unpack a few moving boxes but that is all less important stuff, i.e. old paperwork, all the hobby electronics like soldering station, project PCBs, PIC programmer, a.s.o., that can certainly wait until January. ;) Drove up to JO73 yesterday evening and was astonished streets were almost empty. Usually 23rd December is one of the worst days on the German highways but it seems I was very lucky this time, not a single traffic jam at all. ;) Looking forward to spend some time with the family as well as friends and maybe having a bit time to do a few more contacts on the radio, too. Also looking forward to our local contest group’s end of year party that traditionally takes place on 27th December and attracts quite a number of our local amateurs. Will certainly have some interesting talks again …

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10M-RTTY & skimmer spots analysis

Moving house is slowly taking over priorities overhere so as sad as it is seeing the still good condx I decided to skip the ARRL-10M next weekend and concentrate on moving things over to the new house. Uwe, DL3BQA, will step in instead. Keeping fingers crossed he can make something out of it, propagation forecasts for next weekend look good. ;)

Not to miss the radio feeling I at least spent some time yesterday in the 10M-RTTY contest. It is quite unique in allowing just 100 watts output max. Sorrily activity in this one is not very high. I did some 70 QSOs using low power first but after lunch decided to go high power, i.e. switch on the KPA500 for about 600 watts output. Thus my log does only qualify for a checklog but running with high power *is* simply more fun. ;) Condx were not as good anymore as last weekend (plus distortion due to Aurora again) but still allowed a reasonable QSO total of 350 RTTY QSOs in a bit more than 8 hours overall operating time.

wz7i-rtty-skimmer-spots-dh8bqa-07.12.2014It’s a pity there are not more RTTY skimmers yet. WZ7I in PA, U.S. east coast, was the only one across the pond spotting me yesterday. Analysis of it’s spots on the reversebeacon.net website (see screenshot left) nicely shows how the band opening evolved. Wesley’s skimmer saw me at 11:52z for the first time with -3 dB. That was the same time I worked my first U.S. station with K5ZD calling in on skewed path beaming the Caribbean for best signal strength. A few more “-” spots followed until 12:22z the first +3 dB spot that can also be seen on the screenshot. That was the time I swung the beam direct path! It took another 10 minutes until the first reasonable signal strength spot with 20 dB. Another 10 minutes later the band was finally well open. The last spot shown is 16:54z at 27 dB, afterwards the band rapidly closed. I was seen a single time again half an hour later at -2 dB.

So the skimmer spots nicely confirm what I had learned during the last few years already concerning the DL – NA openings: The band opens skewed path beaming South America and/or the Caribbean with weak signals about an hour before it is open direct path. Interestingly it’s the same from the other side of the pond as I learned during my visit to Carol, N2MM, during WPX-SSB earlier this year. There you have to beam to Africa to hear the first European signals before the band finally opens. So the scatter reflection zone seems to be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean half-way between Portugal and the Caribbean …

The direct path opening takes about 20-30 minutes to evolve into full signal strength. And after the opening the band closes almost abruptly. Usually backscatter signals vanish about an hour or so before the band closes although DX signals are still strong (this cannot be seen from the data above, of course). The variation in signal strength has different reasons. One is QRM that lets the skimmers think the noise level is higher thus the SNR shown in the graph will drop. Another one is the shifts in propagation and corresponding reflection elevation angles. This is were a stack with switchable antennas would come in handy. ;) And third there might be a bit of variation due to antenna direction. I.e. around 15:30z +/- I did turn the antenna a bit more north (295° to 310°) as the U.S. mid-west opened. With a 6L yagi it might already have an influence although beam-width is broad enough to not show it like that. So possibly rather a combination of all 3 factors that came into play then.

Of course one has to pay attention to not over-analyze things. ;) But sure enough skimmers are a great tool to learn and/or confirm certain things. Thus let me take the opportunity to say a big “Thank you guys!” to all of you spending time and money to make those tools available to the public!

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wwdx-cw-2011-certificateNow that another week of QRL is gone and the weekend is here maybe it’s time to sum up my this year’s WWDX CW contest entry between packing moving boxes. ;) Condx were excellent so my choice of band had to be 10 m, of course. As a reader of this blog you know I’m an absolute 10 m addict, even in sunspot minimum. Back in 2011 when we built our big 6 ele OWA Yagi I took part in the (then still new) SOSB10 QRP (A) category aiming for the world record. Sorrily SU/HA3JB had decided to do the same thus it was “only” 2nd place world and a new European record (see left). That did indeed hold for 3 years but is going over to EA4KR now as per the preliminary results. Congrats Julio!

This year I was running HP (A) and had a really great time! Last year I made almost 1.400 QSOs with the same setup and quite nice condx and didn’t think I would ever be able to do much more. Condx are winter-typical at the end of November compared to WWDX-SSB in October meaning about 2-3 hours less time when the band is open. That is cutting down QSO totals, of course. Another “problem” that arises from the later time in year is there is no common window with zone 1 (KL7) anymore, likewise for zone 31 (KH6) on shortpath. Even with great conditions the band simply closes an hour too early overhere (and opens an hour to late overthere). Thus if all goes well only 38 zones are workable. Z31 could be worked as number 39 via longpath but I had no luck this time.

Last year certainly nobody would have thought of propagation still being as good as it was now, yours truly included! After the SSB leg I’m sure almost everybody was hoping for similar condx in the CW leg and keeping all fingers crossed they had, yours truly included! And yes, we were indeed lucky! ;) I went to bed Saturday evening with 1.030 QSOs, 148 DXCCs and 38 CQ zones worked. That’s been a plus of 300 QSOs compared to last year. Wow!

After having had such a great first day I did check the CQWW records page and saw that the German category record would possibly be in reach. Some 1.800 QSOs and a few more multipliers would be needed to break it. *That* was my big motivation for the second day! Unfortunately conditions went down quite a bit on Sunday. There was Aurora in the North (with VHF QSOs done just 500 km north of my location) and distorted conditions. The German Aurora warning beacon DKØWCY showed K=4 and A=14, ouch! Although sunspot numbers as well as solar flux were still high it meant the band just opened three quarters of an hour later into North America and closed more than an hour earlier than Saturday. Not to speak of almost no west coast QSOs. This did cost me about 100+ QSOs which would have been needed to surpass the German record including some reserve for the log checking process. :( So after all my final result of 773k points just scratched the current 777k record of Stefan, DL1IAO (a great OP who won 3rd place in this year’s WRTC by the way). Oh well, maybe in 9-10 years again. ;)

Despite not breaking the record I’m really satisfied with the result! I would never have thought it would be possible to do almost 1.800 QSOs (including dupes) being SOSB and taking into account I am an average CW’er at best. I definitely recognized that the small CW pileup trainings I did operating special event station DM5ØPCK every now and then during the last few weeks & month’ helped a lot with my CW abilities. I’m also proud of myself having surpassed all the other German big guns like DK3T with DK3DM (big station with 3 antenna systems), DK2GZ, DL5CW, etc., all really great OPs! DK3T’s multiplier total didn’t look like being assisted although he first posted his result as being (A). Certainly just an error, meanwhile it is listed as non-assisted on 3830 as well as CQ’s preliminary results page. Even with different categories I’m still proud of my performance compared to DK3T as he had just 80 QSOs more. Taking the station size difference and Bud’s CW abilities into account I am more than happy with my results. Yes, DK3T *is* a kind of benchmark for me on 10 m as you might have recognized in past blog entries already. :) Other benchmarks are the big German M/M stations: DR1A had just 20 QSOs more than myself with an almost identical multiplier total while DFØHQ had even less QSOs and mults than myself! Both have a lot more aluminium in the air than me. Seems I did a few things right. ;)

So here’s the final result. As usual I put a detailed SH5 analysis online, too.

                   CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB(A)/10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 26.5

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
   10: 1755    38      153
Total: 1755    38      153  Total Score = 772,786

Club: Bavarian Contest Club
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Already 20.000 QSOs this year and still counting …

DBZ__20000_HitsJust saw that I already made my 20.000th QSO this year this evening. Thanks everybody worked! This is by far my most “radio-active” year in my ham career so far. And there are still a few more QSO chances (i.e. contests) to come. ;)

Having another week of holidays now I arrived at the station this afternoon to install all the equipment for next weekend’s CQ WWDX CW contest (*the* CW contest of the year) and also made a few more QSOs using our SES callsign DM5ØPCK which is valid until 30.11.2014. Was lucky to catch a few more VU4KV slots, too. Condx were rather bad during the last few days but came back nicely today, even worked a few west coast guys on 10 m although the band closed early (well, getting into winter condx now). Hope for some great propagation during the contest, really keeping fingers crossed! If so you will certainly find me on 10 m single band again.

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VU4 – Andaman & Nicobar Islands #298

100th blogJust worked VU4KV on 30 m RTTY for another ATNO. They were spotted before on 40 m CW but it turned out to be VU2UR running a nice pileup. :) Glad to catch them on 30 m rather easily now after they had been calling NA & SA only for what felt like ages. ;)

BTW: This is my 100th blog entry, too! Never imagined to blog so regularly when I started with the new webpage layout just 10 month’ ago. ;)

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qsl_neu_1It’s been quite a while since my last blog entry. Reason is very simple: a lot of QRL and not much interest in playing radio. Basically only worked a few W1AW portable slots here and there and a very few DX QSOs during the last 2 weeks, that’s all I did. But I spent every evening printing and sorting QSLs to finally get rid of all my QSL “debts”. I haven’t done any serious QSLing for the last 2,5 years (yes, shame on me) so it finally was time now. ;) I do send a card for every new band/mode slot worked and up to 5 QSOs per card. But I’m already thinking of just answering incoming cards starting from 2015 onwards, at least for all the contest QSOs. That might save a bit I can imagine. Will see. For now about 9.600 cards are prepared to be sent to the DARC QSL bureau … Besides QRL and QSL I’m also preparing to move house so rather spend the little available spare time packing lots of moving boxes than playing radio. ;)

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FT4TA – Things are getting out of control :-(

As you might know the FT4TA expedition is currently active from Tromelin Island, #10 of the most wanted DXCCs. I “only” worked them on 15 & 12 m so far as I know they will QSL thru LoTW, that’s the important thing for me. It’s not been a new one as I had worked (and confirmed) FR/F6KDF/T back in 2000 already (with 100 watts and a dipole, it was indeed easy back then). Although beeing one of the most wanted I think things are really getting out of control. Their CW pileups are up to 20+ kHz wide. So effectively one station is taking 20+ % bandwidth of the smaller bands like 17 & 12 m. SSB pileups are a minimum of 20 kHz, at times they were reported listening over a 50 kHz split range on the classic bands. I like DXing and I can understand all the people who are eager to work a new one (you never know if that DXCC will ever be active again, it took some 14 years since the last expedition). Nevertheless I think what they are doing is just too much, certainly not only for my taste. :( I would plead for a bit more pileup control (maybe too easy to say sitting on the other side) and thinking of all the other people wanting to use our small bands …

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Marconi Memorial Contest ’14

Was busy with a few other things over the weekend but managed to squeeze in a few QSOs every now and then Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Worked some nice DX, too! Hope to have a bit more time next year again for a more serious entry …

 Contest Report from DH8BQA in JO73CE at 144 MHz
 Contest : Marconi Memorial Contest
 Date    : 2014 Nov 01 to 2014 Nov 02
 Section : 01 144MHz Single OP
 QTH     : Woltersdorf

 TX      : Elecraft K3 + K144XV + OM1002, 700 W
 RX      : Elecraft K3 + K144XV
 Antenna : 9 ele LFA Yagi, 9 m AGL, 59 m ASL
 Log     : TACLog by OZ2M, 1,995

 QSOs    :  152
 -invalid:    1                                 Points/valid QSO
 -valid  :  151     QSO-points (*1) :    60166               398
 WWLs    :   47     WWL bonus (0)   :        0                 0
 DXCCs   :   14     DXCC bonus (0)  :        0                 0
                    --------------------------              ----
                    Total score     :    60166               398
 ODX     :  TM0W in JN36BP at 929 km
 Worked World Wide Locators:
 JN36:  1   JN68:  2   JN88:  9   JO42:  3   JO60:  9   JO72:  3
 JN37:  1   JN69:  6   JN89:  6   JO43:  2   JO61: 10   JO73:  1
 JN39:  1   JN76:  3   JN97:  2   JO44:  1   JO62: 14   JO80:  4
 JN47:  3   JN77:  1   JN99:  5   JO50:  4   JO63:  1   JO83:  1
 JN48:  3   JN79:  3   JO20:  2   JO51:  4   JO64:  1   JO90:  1
 JN49:  2   JN85:  1   JO31:  2   JO52:  1   JO65:  1   JO92:  1
 JN58:  3   JN86:  3   JO32:  1   JO54:  2   JO70: 14   JO93:  1
 JN59:  3   JN87:  5   JO41:  1   JO59:  1   JO71:  2

 Worked DXCCs:
 9A  :  1   HA  :  6   OE  :  4   OM  :  9   OZ  :  1   S5  :  5
 DL  : 72   HB  :  2   OK  : 40   ON  :  2   PA  :  1   SP  :  6
 F   :  1   LA  :  1

 Top 10 QSO-points:
 20141101 2214 TM0W          599 054   599 200     JN36BP    929
 20141101 1755 9A1N          599 014   599 107     JN85LI    894
 20141101 1847 HB9GF         599 027   599 112     JN37WB    817
 20141101 2136 LA0BY         599 050   519 004     JO59IX    785
 20141102 1012 S54LANE       599 129   599 284     JN76BD    784
 20141101 1822 S50C          599 021   599 179     JN76JG    771
 20141101 1850 HB9FAP        599 028   599 190     JN47PH    741
 20141102 0837 S57M          599 100   599 248     JN76PO    737
 20141102 0830 S51ZO         599 099   599 299     JN86DR    734
 20141101 1956 ON4TX         599 038   599 057     JO20EP    731
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4th of July Week – 13 Original Colonies Special Event Award

4thjulyweekawardShown right is the latest addition to my awards collection: The 13 Original Colonies Special Event Award 2014. Every year during the 4th of July week there are special event stations in the 13 original colonies of the United States. I got into the event “by accident” last summer and after finding out more about it on the event homepage I had quite some fun chasing them during the few days they were active (although condx were quite bad … typical summer doldrums). Sorrily I didn’t manage a full sweep but just 10 of the 13 and one of the two “sister” stations. But you can apply for the award with even just a single contact … but of course that would be no challenge. ;) They change the award motive every year. The theme for 2014 was “Revolution War Era Colonial Currency“. The award is printed on parchment paper and looks great (sorrily the scan above doesn’t reflect it nearly). Next year’s theme will be the “Founders and Patriots of the Republic“. Hope to catch them next year again …

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The QRM festival … a.k.a. the CQ WWDX SSB contest ;-)

Well, what shall I say? Never thought it would be possible to do more than 2.000 QSOs single band on 15 m from our station (station record so far was 1.800 QSOs). Not even dreamt of > 2.400 (including dupes)! Conditions were excellent, especially on Sunday afternoon. QRM was really heavy at times. No idea how that shall work in the next few years when all the people who now populated almost a full MHz of bandwidth on 10 m will have to squeeze into the lower bands as well!

Thought I would have the run of my live when I had already worked 110 QSOs in 28 minutes Saturday afternoon but then IK6LBV popped up (see below). :( So it would only be 174 QSOs as the best 60 minutes rate.

Sorrily I missed the VK9X double mult. Whenever I checked their frequency they were burried in heavy QRM. :( Think I missed 2 or 3 additional mults, too. But was great to be called by KH8, FK, VE8 (z1), HP, etc. just to name a few of the juicier mults. :) Also great to be called by KL7RA Sunday morning (09z) when beaming JA … ;) Speaking of JA I had the impression that the JA opening on Sunday was worse than Saturday (weaker sigs and only 85 QSOs compared to 205 on Saturday) while with the US opening it was the opposite, i.e. better on Sunday than on Saturday (much stronger sigs). Just my perception or did others experience the same?

Something to think about: Popping up on one’s QRG and trying to steal it *IS* unsportsmanlike behaviour! :( I will start calling names now as as I’m really pissed off by those guys, sorry. IK6LBV popped up just 350 Hz away from me. He was 59+ and didn’t react at all after I told him. If he didn’t hear me he must have been running at least 100 kW and that’s already assuming a bit of QRM for his benefit. IK7CMY was 600 Hz away. After I told him the frequency is in use he was silent for a minute or two then started all over again. That repeated for about half an hour. S52OP was just 400 Hz away and 59 on backscatter, too, but stopped after 15 minutes (he certainly realized that I won’t move). WK1Q 700 Hz away ignored me completely. But maybe I just have too bad an RX (Elecraft K3 with 1.8 kHz roofer) … what are others using then?

Don’t get me wrong guys. I know this can happen in the heat of the battle. It happened to myself, too. But I immediately moved after the other guy told me! Yes, that meant I was without a run QRG for almost 2.5 hours Sunday afternoon (couldn’t hold the one used before, QRM got too heavy over time) and certainly lost 100-150 QSOs but that’s life and part of the game. I really do not have a problem if that happens when the other guy is just s2 and really cannot hear me. If he has better propagation I loose. Part of the game. But don’t tell me you don’t hear me if you are s9 and stronger! 400 or 800 Hz simply won’t cut it. Please leave 1.2 to 1.5 kHz space. Even then you will still leave lots of your signal in my passband but usually that’s handable somehow.

Excessive bandwidth: IO5O, UW8SM, E77A. These are only those guys that affected me directly during running as they splattered from 4-10 kHz away. I’m sure there were some others, too.

Overall it was still LOTS of fun and a very enjoyable event. For sure something to remember during the next few years while heading down into sunspot minimum and being happy if you manage to work at least a handful of W1’s and 2’s on 15 m during a contest. ;-)

Now here’s my result:

                   CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB(A)/15 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 32.5

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
   15: 2364    37      135
Total: 2364    37      135  Total Score = 946,172

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

SH5 analysis is available here. BTW: Uwe, DL3BQA, even did 20 QSOs more as DMØY on 10 m from the 2nd shack at our station. He had quite some fun, too. ;)

I’m eager to see how my good friend Oliver, DL2ARD, finished. He will certainly have well over 3.000 QSOs on 15 m (same category). He is “only” about 360 km away from me, that means about 300 km more southerly and 200 km more western. His station is located on a high mountain and he also has a bit more aluminium in the air than me. ;) Of course Oliver is a superb operator, too! I listened to him Saturday evening after the band had died overhere and he was still running the U.S. for almost another hour! Amazing …

Now hoping that condx will hold until CQ WW CW and ARRL 10 m as well!

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Pre-contest condx

Condx came up nicely since Monday. Flux and sunspot numbers did a big jump upwards. Yesterday saw a really nice 10 m opening. I had a lot of fun running NA on 10 m for 2.5 hours continously. Even had a caller from SoCal who was a good 54 with his 100 watts and a 4 ele. QRP stations from the U.S. east coast produced solid 59 signals, even a guy running just 10 watts into a small whip from his mobile in the mid-west was a solid 57. But you know, if ten is open even a wet string will work the world. ;) Now just keeping fingers crossed condx will make it through the weekend, too! Today was even a bit better during the day but now into the evening Aurora’s coming up again. So we’ll have to see what’s left of propagation tomorrow morning and how fast it recovers.

Our station will see two single band entries in CQ WW DX SSB this weekend. As Uwe, DL3BQA, has the choice of band this year he will go for 10 m as DMØY while I will be active as DH8BQA on 15 m then. If you hear us please give us a call. Every contact is much appreciated! Good luck everybody …

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Short-lived but intense Aurora opening

We had another short-lived but intense Aurora opening this afternoon/early evening. Signals were very strong, SM4IVE was peaking 59A+20! It didn’t extend much south but nevertheless always enjoyable to work those other VHF enthusiasts. ;-)

20/10/2014 16:37 LA3BO    JO59CD    57A 56A  2 m.  CW    AUR   707
20/10/2014 16:41 GM3WOJ   IO77WS    52A 55A  2 m.  CW    AUR  1257
20/10/2014 16:45 SMØNKZ   JO99IQ    59A 59A  2 m.  CW    AUR   773
20/10/2014 16:46 OH5LK    KP3ØON    59A 58A  2 m.  CW    AUR  1134
20/10/2014 16:52 SM4GGC   JO69RK    59A 59A  2 m.  CW    AUR   696
20/10/2014 16:56 LAØBY    JO59FW    59A 59A  2 m.  CW    AUR   784
20/10/2014 17:13 SM4HFI   JP7ØTO    57A 57A  2 m.  CW    AUR   829
20/10/2014 17:18 SM5KWU   JO89IP    57A 57A  2 m.  CW    AUR   734
20/10/2014 17:34 SM4IVE   JO79SD    59A 59A  2 m.  CW    AUR   667

Being local I used our IC-7400 dedicated to 2 m, a smoothly run GS35 amp and our trusty 10 ele DK7ZB Yagi at 21 m above the ground (top-most antenna on the big chimney in the photo on top of this page).

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WAG ’14

wag-qsos-per-hourThe Worked All Germany Contest 2014 is history now. After doing 1.923 QSOs last year with superb conditions but only keeping my butt 23 hours in the chair the goal for this year was to finally break the 2.000 QSO mark from our medium sized station and make it through the whole 24 hours, of course. I managed the latter but to be honest it was really difficult. I was not well prepared, i.e. not enough sleep the days before, too much QRL, a.s.o. I really had some senior moments especially Sunday morning when rates were low and microsleep caught me a few times. Sleep depriviation did not help with my not too good CW, too, so please excuse me for all the repeats needed. My mind simply switched of at times after receiving the first 2 or 3 letters of a caller. ;)

wag-qsos-cumulatedSo what about the other goal? Yes, I knocked down the 2.000. But this as well was real hard work as condx were much much worse then last year. An X-flare just before the contest was going to wipe out condx. Especially Sunday was really bad. 10 m stayed closed overhere until almost noon and even then only allowing QSOs up to UA9 and the more southern path’. Backscatter was bad, too, but got better again in the afternoon. Also North America opened again during the last contest hour on 10 m but only for the big guns and no high rates possible. Saturday was a lot better but even with a good 10 m opening right at the start of the contest it did not produce the same rates like last year. So I quickly QSYed down into the other bands.

wag-qso-deltaAs can be seen from the charts left and right (click them to enlarge) I lost a few QSOs at the beginning compared to last year. I made up for it later on and at times was ahead 185 QSOs (spent more time on 40 m working nice DL pileups). But the bad condx on Sunday let that edge shrink hour after hour. :(

Bad condx also meant bad points average as less DX was worked. I couldn’t get anything going on 20 m SSB at all. In general it was much more fun on CW so I might change over to the CW-only class next year instead of Mixed. ;)

Having my goal of breaking the 2.000 QSO mark I did not pay any attention to multipliers, just worked what came across. Yes, that’s not the right strategy for a high total score but this was not what I was aiming for this time. ;) For scoring high you need a high QSO total as well as a high multiplier total. Both together will only work with SO2R techniques … something left to try in the future. ;)

After all the new antenna setup (see below) surely helped a bit at least against the bad conditions. Here’s the score summary …

                    Worked All Germany Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Mixed HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 24

 Band  CW Qs  SSB Qs  Mults
   80:   342    259     42
   40:   300    239     44
   20:   202     17     43
   15:   240    138     42
   10:   182    103     44
Total:  1266    756    215  Total Score = 1,171,320

… and a more detailed comparison of 2013 vs. 2014 (claimed scores each):

Worked All Germany Contest Comparison 2013/2014
Data point                 2013            2014
SSN                         149              60
K-Index                     0-1             2-4
A-Index                       2            9-13
QSOs                       1923            2033
Mults                       244             216
QSO-Points                 5788            5448
Total points            1412272         1176768
Best 60 min rate            170             152
Best rate band              80m             40m
Equipment           Elecraft K3     Elecraft K3
Antenna 80 m       Inv-V dipole    Inv-V dipole
Antenna 40 m       Inv-V dipole    Inv-V dipole
Antenna 20 m       Cushcraft X7    4L Yagi (hb)
Antenna 15 m       Cushcraft X7    6L Yagi (hb)
Antenna 10 m       6L Yagi (hb)    6L Yagi (hb)

Detailed SH5 analysis is available here.

Believe it or not but I slept a continous 15 hours after being home again and having been awake for 36 hours. Seems my body was in demand … ;) See you all in WWDX-SSB next weekend!

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VK9L – Lord Howe Island #297


Worked the VK9DLX guys on 12 SSB, 15 CW & 20 SSB without any trouble … thanks for a new one, guys! I’m sure there will be a few more band/mode slots in the log during the next few days … having holidays now and a bit more time to play radio. ;) The WAG contest is going to start 15 UTC today for 24 hours. Hope to work you!

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No QSOs this week but one – ZS on 6 m

This week has been quite busy at work again so I was not in the mood to do any amateur radio in the evenings. I even ignored VK9DLX becoming active from Lord Howe which is a new one for me and should be easy to work, they are good guys there! But they will stay for 2 weeks so I can certainly work them next week when up at the station anyway for WAG and WWDX-SSB and preparations in-between. And pileups should be a lot smaller by then, too. ;)

There was just one evening I switched the radio on, Tuesday. That was after Sandro, DD3SP, a good friend about 80 km south, told me he had just worked ZS on 6 m through an ES + TEP link. With my usual luck of course nothing was heard overhere. Yes, those 80 km *do* make a difference, sometimes even on 10 m but especially so on 6 m. So I kept the frequency of ZS4TX/6 running in the background while doing other things around. About half an hour later he suddenly came up, peaking 559 for a few seconds (certainly MS reflections) and being about 529-539 for a few minutes in total. After a few repeats we made it a complete QSO before he vanished into the noise again. Just my 2nd South Africa contact on the Magic Band and KG47 a new square. :)

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