WPX-SSB 2015 raw scores published

wpx-ssb-2015-claimedRaw scores for this year’s WPX-SSB contest were published yesterday. Seems I can be proud of placing 1st out of 6 participants in Germany, 2nd out of 52 in Europe and 6th out of 85 worldwide! 8-)

The points differences to the guys before and behind me is big enough that I don’t expect any changes in the placement after the final log checks. So it seems all the efforts and endurance especially on Sunday paid off. ;)

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Centennial Points Challenge Award

Unexpectedly something in the mailbox again today! :) That’s for sure one I’m really proud of and one of the few that will find it’s place on the shack wall! I really like all the new designs of ARRL, be it the Centennial Awards or all the new style contest awards! 8-)


Being active in the ARRL’s Centennial QP activities chasing the W1AW portable stations but also being very “radio-active” in general last year provided the chance to reach the top level with it’s needed 15.000 points easily. Besides extra points for the W1AW contacts every ARRL member was worth points (me too!) so a lot of the “normal” QSOs done during the year 2014 counted, too. I placed 3rd out of 1.475 German single operator participants on the leader board. 8-) Didn’t expect to receive the award that fast as I had only applied for it 2 weeks ago. ARRL staff is obviously doing a great job getting all the paper out the door! Now waiting to find the W1AW portable WAS Award and the plaque which I also applied for in the mailbox, too. ;)

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SP DX contest certificate received

SP-DX-2014-DH8BQA Found the winner certificate for my last year’s entry in the SP DX contest in the post box today. I have to admit I liked the “old design” of the contest certificates much better!

Remember my participation quite well as it was lots of fun chasing the guys all on backscatter. Being located directly at the DL-SP border there is no chance for any sky wave propagation into Poland on 10 m (except maybe some Sporadic-E into the southeastern-most parts of the country with 500-700 km distance … but even then it must be a very good ES opening with high MUF to enable short distances which is not common at all that time of the year). Thus relying entirely on BS with weak signals was a challenge at times but almost all of the SP guys are very good operators so no problem. And it was even good for a new country record. 8-)

Also thought about participating in this year’s contest again, maybe on 80 m, but due to the bad weather before Easter (the contest conincided with Easter again this year) I rather spent Saturday and a bit of Easter Sunday completing our antenna builds. So maybe next year again.

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Japan International DX Contest CW

No radio activity here since Easter. Had a marker in my calendar that JIDX-CW would be this past weekend. Wasn’t in the mood to participate on Saturday, thoughts were rather in a QRL project I’m handling right now. Also saw on the cluster that condx must have been awful. Sunday morning saw me in better mood so I switched on the radio. Heard some weak JA signals on 10 m so gave it a go there. Some of the JA1’s and 4’s were rather loud (meaning S4-5) but most of the JA’s were down in the noise making it serious weak signal work. But I like a challenge every now and then. ;-)

                    JIDX CW Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB/10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 3

 Band  QSOs  Mults
   10:  45     24
Total:  44     24  Total Score = 2,112

Elecraft K3, KPA500 + 6 ele OWA Yagi

After all it should be good enough for the country win again. ;) Last year’s condx were even worse and I made only 13 QSOs but that was enough to win 10 m DL … being the only DL participating. :-D

Besides the few contest QSOs I used some time to further “test-drive” the new WARC antenna. Although condx were rather bad the JA’s on 5WØ (Western Samoa) were some easy catches on 12 & 10 m CW. Amazing as the path is almost directly over the Northpole! ZL7E on 15 m RTTY was a new digital DXCC country, nice. Easily working some good Caribbean DX like HK, 8P, ZF, FM, YV, etc. late in the evening (almost local midnight here) on 18 MHz was much fun, too. A 2 ele *is* good bang for the buck! 8-)

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Antennas, antennas, antennas

6-4-duoBeen busy the week before Easter with some antenna work. Weather was just awful with heavy storms and even snow on two mornings! So I prepared the new 6/4 m Dualband Yagi indoors and could only mount it on Good Friday thanks to the help of Heiko, DG1BHA. It’s now where the 10/6 m Dualband Yagi used to be. Unfortunately the 1/2″ coax cable is broken, must be water in there somewhere. :( Of course I left all my cable reserves back here in Cologne so 700 km away. Oh well … will prepare a new one before going up to the station again beginning of May and change the cable then. The new antenna has a bit more gain on 6 m than the old one and also offers 4 m, both on the same 5 m boom. Keeping fingers crossed German RegTP will allow us to work 4 m again this summer! Would be great to gain some experience on that band, too. ;)

Casekow-20150404-00099We also used the time to dismount the old 5 ele 6 m Yagi on top the 20 m Yagi and repair it. Brought it up above the 15 m Yagi then. On top of the 20 m beam is now a 17/12 m Dualband Yagi. We had to use the existing other antennas (i.e. the 10 m Yagi on 12 m) and match them to put out a signal on these two WARC bands somehow. Believe me, having just 2 resonant elements on both bands now is a night and day difference compared to the matched somethings from before. ;)

Although I once again missed to pack the camera (doh!) I took some photos of Heiko doing all the heavy lifting on the masts using an old smartphone. Left shows him just finished with mounting the new WARC beam and now fixing the coax up on the 9 m high platform. Right shows him up above the 15 m beam (on a 15 m boom) mounting the old 5 ele 6 m Yagi (4.5 m boom) normally used by Uwe.

IMG-20150404-00104  Casekow-20150405-00134

I also took a short video clip of Heiko preparing the ropes to get the 6 m beam up for mounting above the 15 m beam. Just to show some dimensional comparison. ;) And it was quite windy, too!

So quite some work done in the 3 days that we could use weather-wise. After changing out the coax in 3 weeks I hope we can “just use” everything for a while then. Time to think about additional stuff now, isn’t it? ;)

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Another WPX-SSB is done. Although not planned I managed to take Friday off and drive the 700 km to the station the night from Thursday to Friday already. Was certainly the better choice than driving after QRL on Friday evening arriving Saturday morning and then starting right into the contest. ;-) So I had the chance to do the station setup without hurry and also spend some time with Uwe, DL3BQA, discussing strategies, etc.
As I had the choice of band this time (we usually do 2 single OP entries as 2 guys is simply not enough for a serious Multi-OP entry) it was back and forth between 15 and 10 m for me. Conditions were quite bad during the last few days and weeks. Even on Friday there was no propagation to the U.S. at all. I nevertheless choose to go for 10 m (yes, the addictive thing ;-)) hoping that the high speed solar wind stream expected to hit the Earth this weekend (received the warning email by Australian IPS Space Forecast Centre just Friday evening, too) might have a small positive impact (as already seen several times in the past) before condx would really go south afterwards. And of course this could be the last contest where 10 m is usable at all! Me on 10 m meant Uwe was going to do 15 m as DMØY where condx should be much better. After all we had sun spot numbers > 100 and a solar flux of almost 140 was not too bad either. But A index was up to 16 … ouch! My last WPX-SSB 10 m entry from Germany was 2012 with comparably bad condx so about 700-800 QSOs should be possible nevertheless.

Got up at 5:20z and the band already showed first signs of live. First QSO was with 9N7CC. Seems the Polish guys installed a nice setup there on “the roof of the world”. First hour brought some 35 search & pounce QSOs which is a little more than to be expected normally. Activity was quite good but signals could have been better. Backscatter was rather weak, too. Also no direct path JA opening. Worked JA7OWD on sidescatter beaming 90° (direct path would have been 45°) around 9z. Only two ZL’s worked, too. ZM2IO later “complained” I did not hear him when he called me. :( Sorry Holger, usually my RX is very good compared to many others and I am able to dig out all the weak guys. This time condx were no good to ZL …
At 10z it was as if somebody had switched on the ionosphere! Suddenly a very good short path opening into JA although already totally dark overthere. Managed to work 37 JA’s in the following 2 hours. Sorrily not more, they certainly already QSY’ed down to 15 and/or 20 m by then. Fascinating stuff as this is normally the time when JA would open long path. Not so this time … Seems the old saying stays true: There ain’t no meters like ten meters. ;-)
At 12:30z again VE9AA opened the band into North America. Good to chat with you for a few moments, Mike, always much appreciated. :-) And yes, good to see NA open at all! Fearing the worst I was really positively surprised! Of course it was not as good as during WWDX-SSB last year but still nice with numerous QSOs into the East Coast. There were just a handful of Mid-West stations and only a few (but strong!) guys from the South-West, i.e. Southern California and Arizona, making it into the log. Nothing from the North-West, though. The band closed around 19:30z direct path (300-320°) but was still usable on scatter beaming skewed path to 270° (Caribbean) for another hour! Interestingly also South American stations were strongest beaming 270° instead of the usual 240° until the band finally closed exactly 21z! Seems there was a really nice scatter point. :) It was superb for Europe on backscatter, too. Even Frank, DL8LR, running 5 watts but a good beam was a true 57 on the K3’s calibrated s-meter! 8-)
What put me down a bit on Saturday was that I was constantly about 10-20 QSOs ahead of DK3T (DO9EE & DK3EE operating) until the U.S. opening started. Checking back on them short before the band closed they were ahead almost 500 QSOs! Ouch … :-( Yes, my run rates were not too high although I had clear frequencies (asked a few callers) and also changed regularly when recognizing rate was dropping too much but I really wondered what I might have done wrong? There is a bit of station difference, yes, more aluminium in the air at Tom’s station and a bit more power and surely better location 400 km west but a commanding lead of 50% on QSO totals after the first day … wow! Seems they had much more luck with the NA opening. Went to bed with 930 QSOs in the log …

jp3ibb_1Band started a little later on Sunday. Amazingly the first signal heard was JA7OWD at 5:50z! This time skewed path beaming 120° (i.e. A6, A7, etc.) instead of the usual 45° (no signal there). They were just above the noise but still! But it was not until 6:15z when I did the first QSO so almost an hour later than Saturday. Only made 9 QSOs during the first hour. Not a good omen. But 12 years old JP3IBB called at 7:30z with a solid 59+10dB signal, wow! Band was open to JA for a bit over 2 hours but still not too many stations in the log. Seems it was rather only the big guns who made it but most of them were really strong! Good thing is the noise into direction Japan is completely gone (although we never found out what it was!) so no limitations on that matter any more. :) Added a few more JA’s in a small long path opening after 10:30z, too. So 87 JA’s in total. Yes, not too many (with good condx we usually have some 250-300 in the log) but still better than expected when deciding for 10 m on Friday afternoon. ;-)
Sorrily there was no North America opening at all on Sunday afternoon, complete absence. Also backscatter condx detoriated constantly so it was quite a challenge to pull out all the weak guys calling in although there were some really strong backscatter signals until late into the evening. Maybe the weak guys were just running low power or QRP and simple antennas? I had to constantly check for the best backscatter point to make the most out of it. Luckily activity from South America was extraordinarily high with almost 50 LU’s and 140 PY’s worked (usually it’s only about 1/4 of those figures if at all). So that made up for it a little bit.
At 16z a weak W5BN called in and I had hopes the band might now open up into the U.S. but it was not. A quick check on antenna direction revealed he was best skewed path dir 260° on scatter. Eight minutes later K6ND (MA) called in for a dupe. Maybe he just wanted to see if the band was open but he, too, was only in skewed path. He was rather loud at s7. Wouldn’t believe my ears when N6ENU from Southern California called me 16:30z. He was very weak but we finally made it after 2 or 3 minutes digging deep into the noise. Great if you have a passionate VHF weak signal guy on the other end who simply knows how to work scatter QSOs. ;-) 20 minutes later WB5JHY and VO1SO called on scatter, too, but that was it: just 5 QSOs into continental North America and all within one hour on skewed path. For comparison Caribbean stations were rather loud!
17 to 20:20z, before the band went completely dead, was not too productive anymore but still allowed another 120 QSOs. Small surprise was 19:05z when Mike, VE9AA, called again just to tell me he could hear me. Quick check confirmed he was just coming in skewed path, too. And even that seemed to be very selective as there were no other callers.
Good news: until the band closed I managed to lower the advantage of DK3T to something like 260 QSOs. Seems Sunday was a bit better for me. :) Not sure if they worked some more QSOs afterwards (the band closes a little later for them due to their more westerly location) but that difference is quite okay for the equipment and antenna differences. Maybe we should also go for at least 3 antennas per band in the future overhere. If we only had enough space and money … :-o

Unexpectedly good conditions on Saturday (positive phase before solar storm hitting Earth) and rather bad on Sunday (negative impact of solar wind). Made about twice as many QSOs as anticipated. Need more hardware to seriously compete with some certain guys. ;-)
Some really bad splatter signals on the band(s) again. UA9MA being 59+20 was +/- 20 kHz wide. When I told him he thanked me, retuned his PA and anticipated it would be better. Yes, it was, he was then “only” +/- 15 kHz wide! CN3A had a really wide signal (+/- 15 kHz), too. Just to name the two worst offenders. :( On the other hand there were some really loud but exceptionally clean signals, too. Yes, you can tell the difference between a K3’s (or other similarily good rigs, I’m not fixated on the K3) and an FT-1000MP’s or “modern” ICOM’s transmitting signal …
Taking the splatter issues aside I had lots of fun again! Detailed SH5 analysis is available here. Looking forward to WPX-CW now …

                    CQWW WPX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 30

 Band  QSOs
   10: 1611  (incl. dupes)
Total: 1576  Prefixes = 865  Total Score = 2,930,620

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

BTW: Uwe made about 1200 QSOs on 15 m on Saturday and another 400+ on Sunday. Although condx on Sunday were not as bad on 15 m as on 10 m he simply had some bad luck as he lost his run QRG a few times and couldn’t find a new one. Also rates were not too high on 15 m. Seems we need some more aluminium on that band, too. ;)

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Superb Aurora opening

au-ovation-17.03.2015Thanks to the phone alert by Heiko, DG1BHA, I managed to get out of QRL not too late yesterday evening. There was a very strong Aurora going on and Heiko being at our station had already worked over 20 stations on 2 m SSB which is really demanding and needs very strong Aurora condx – CW sure is the easier mode for Aurora as it is much easier to decode with the raspy audio distortion. ;) A few examples of how SSB Aurora sounds can be found on my Youtube channel. These were recorded during the great opening in July 2012.

I was right on time for when the Aurora got so strong it even enabled contacts into Southern Europe! This only happens about 3-4 times per solar cycle … if it is an intensive one! The current cycle is a rather weak one so this was just the second AU opening that I’m aware of that brought condx for Southern Europe, too. So it was very nice to see all the great VHF’ers in HA, 9A, etc. on Aurora for a change and even IK3VZO was worked! 8-)

What was also interesting is I had to regularly change antenna direction. Reflection zones were scattered between 290 and 70 degrees! There were times when even the G & GM stations were only audible when beaming 70°, wow! Unfortunately there was no possibility to work any UA stations until very late in the evening. It seemed the reflection zone was so far south it also blocked DX into east. When it was finally possible to work into Russia I stumbled across RV3YM in KO63. This would have been a new square but unfortunately it was not his frequency so I lost him. Never heard him back so was quite sad for the moment. But luckily condx got better again about an hour later when I finally found him CQing and bingo, #508 on 2 m worked. :)

aurora-berge-österreichI was a bit shocked when RK9AT called me while CQing! Thoughts already started spinning … oh wow, UA9 on 2 m, fantastic, this must be a new record, a.s.o. :-o But when he repeated his callsign a 2nd time I recognized he was /3 so “only” in UA3 but still some very nice DX! ;)

Around 20z it seemed to be over so Heiko called it a day with 32 SSB-QSOs in the log. I think we were below the reflection zone ourselves in JO73 then. About an hour later the Aurora was even visible down in Austria! Now that is neat! Sure the webcam’s height of 2.970 m ASL helped to extend the visible horizon a few hundred kilometers. Weather was also superb with clear blue sky during the day so that helped, too. Heiko reported to have seen some weak visual Aurora as well. Just click on the right hand picture to get to the originating website. Isn’t that fantastic? :-)

I did not think of switching on the audio recorder early enough so only two recordings this time, but both being real good DX!

RV3YM in KO63PR, 1.261 km via Aurora:

RN3F in KO86RE, 1.523 km via Aurora:

I made some 85 QSOs in total, you can view the full log here. The most distant contacts, i.e. over 800 km, were made with these great guys:

22:03  RN3F          KO86RE  55A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1523
22:18  RK9AT/3       KO86QF  53A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1518
18:50  EI3KD         IO51VW  59A    58A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1515
17:54  EI4DQ         IO51WU  59A    59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1512
18:47  GI1CET        IO74DS  59A    59A    2 m.   SSB   AUR   1309
20:13  GM4VVX        IO78TA  53A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1279
23:12  RV3YM         KO63PR  55A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1261
22:37  GM3WOJ        IO77WS  55A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1257
23:39  RA3LBK        KO64PW  56A    56A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1256
22:41  GM4PPT        IO75SK  55A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1232
17:32  GM3SEK        IO74SR  59A    59A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1229
00:36  OH5LK         KP3ØON  55A    56A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1134
20:03  G7RAU         IO9ØIR  51A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1094
18:05  G4MKF         IO91HJ  57A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1076
18:03  G4AEP         IO91NJ  55A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR   1043
23:28  ES6FX         KO37OW  59A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR    970
19:23  G4DHF         IO92UU  55A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR    969
00:00  ES5PC         KO38HJ  57A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    966
18:00  G4FUF         JOØ1GN  57A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR    943
17:43  IK3VZO        JN55XA  55A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    922
17:29  G4SWX         JOØ2RF  57A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR    864
18:28  HA8CE         KNØ6EN  52A    53A    2 m.   CW    AUR    858
18:12  F6GYH         JN27TS  55A    54A    2 m.   CW    AUR    854
23:24  G4CDN         JOØ2SS  57A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    848
22:05  SK4AO         JP7ØTO  59A    59A    2 m.   CW    AUR    829
17:48  UR5WD         KO2ØNC  55A    55A    2 m.   CW    AUR    826
23:26  SKØEN         JO99JX  59A    57A    2 m.   CW    AUR    805

I decided to call it a day at 1:30 A.M. while the Aurora was still in full swing, although moved up North. This sure was a real fun evening! I was indeed a bit exhausted after 10 hours in QRL and another 7 hours straight on the radio but it was definitely worth it. ;-)

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Again two ATNOs wkd :-)

Haven’t been very active lately. Handed out just a few points during ARRL-DX-SSB last weekend and didn’t switch on the radio at all during the week … QRL taking it’s toll. This morning was a little different. Decided to chase the current DXpeditions like E3ØFB, 7QAA, 9QØHQ, etc. for a few new LotW slot confirmations. Doing so I ran across E51UFF on 20 CW. He was not very loud but good to see the path over the Northpole open at all. Checking qrz.com later I discovered he was on North Cook rather than South Cook. I had worked the latter a few times already but North Cook indeed was an ATNO. :)

h44ntHalf an hour later I stumbled across H44NT on 15 SSB. He had a big pileup so it was rather listening listening listening with an occassional call every now and then. Caught him about 10 minutes later for another ATNO, so up to #304 now. :)

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ARRL-DX 2014 certificates received

arrl-dx-cw-2014      arrl-dx-ssb-2014Two times post from the ARRL contest committee during the last few days. Received the ARRL-DX-CW participation certificate for doing more than 500 QSOs as a DX participant as well as the winner certificate for winning SOAB Unlimited Germany in the ARRL-DX-SSB last year. :)

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Well, I did not plan to take part in that one. As reported earlier I have an RFI problem using the remote on 160 m. Practically this means I’m limited to about 15-20 watts output if I want to reliably transfer TX audio through the line without loosing packets or even the complete connection. Nevertheless it was itching to do some QSOs Friday evening. :) Thus I decided to do at least a few contacts with 5 watts for a small QRP entry and see what happens. After all it meant catching a few points for the club competition for the BCC, too. But 160 m, SSB & QRP does not sound like a winning combination, does it?

Well, I will certainly not go for it again. It was quite painful and I swore like a trooper several times not getting people’s attention. :( Uwe, DL3BQA, told me on Saturday about the current German QRP record and asked if I might not want to go for it. Initially I did not want to, it should be just a leisurely participation with a few QSOs here and there. But seeing it really getting in reach provided some additional motivation so I put in a few extra hours.

Condx were not favourable for DX. Besides my QRP signal not reaching very far (most of the QSOs were in a 1.000 km circle) I did not even hear much DX. Two UA9’s Saturday evening (no contacts) and only two U.S. stations heard Sunday morning, both just above the noise so did not even call. But then I stumbled across a very loud HK1T who came right back to my first call. Wow, almost 10.000 km, SSB QRP on 160 m, unbelievable! Being so impressed I started the audio recorder to at least record him afterwards.

HK1T with a real 59 signal on 160 m:

If you’re asking what about the QRP record – yes, I made it, even with a good margin. :) Let’s see what the result is good for …

                    CQ 160-Meter Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: Single Op QRP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 15

Total:  QSOs = 272    Countries = 41    Total Score = 46,822

Bavarian Contest Club

Elecraft K3, 5 W + full size Lazy Loop @ 18 m

Next contest for me will be WPX-SSB at the end of March. Will be back in JO73 then with a week of holidays afterwards to do some antenna work with the guys …

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arrl-dx-cw-2012It does not feel that long ago since I wrote about 2014’s ARRL-DX-CW contest in this blog. Another year is gone … wow, time’s really flying by! So I practised my poor CW again last weekend. ;)

Had a good night’s sleep Friday to Saturday. With lots of heavy QRL during the whole week I was not in the mood to start the contest right away at 0z. But I set the alarm clock to 4z to at least take advantage of the greyline propagation on the low bands. And boy, condx were really great! Made some 60 QSOs into North America in just one hour on 80 m! This is what I usually work during a whole contest on that band – if I’m lucky! 40 m was great, too, propagation even reached to the West Coast and a few AZ & CA guys were really loud. Went back to bed at 8z.

At the station again at 10:30z to work the high bands. Did about 98% only S&P or rather C&P (click & pounce) ;) on Saturday and concentrated on collecting all the juicy mults, i.e. US states and Canadian provinces. Condx on the upper bands were not really good, only made some 130 QSOs on 10 m on Saturday. The band opened just very selectively. Back to bed at 20:30z with 675 QSOs on the first day.

Got up at 0:30z Sunday morning for another low band session. Condx not as good as the day before anymore but still quite nice and lots of folks to work, good activity! Would not have thought it would ever be possible to work over 500 low band QSOs into North America in one single contest! Might be low figures for others but big score for me … just using low dipoles overhere (80 m dipole Inv-V at 16 m height, 40 m Inv-V @ 14 m) that have a high elevation angle and are rather suited for NVIS than for DX. ;) Back to bed at 7:30z.

Into the game again for the “final spurt” at 11:15z. High band condx much better now! Had some great fun running on 10 m Sunday afternoon. Even worked a few West Coast guys although I cannot compete with the guys in Southern and Western Germany on that matter. Yes, location matters! ;) Went down to 15 m after 10 m had dried out at 18z and had lots of fun there, too. Fantastic signals from the West Coast, maybe I should have changed bands an hour earlier already. Whole Sunday about 85% run operation. Down to 20 m after 15 m had died (20z) and could still run there until 22:30z. Would not have expected that. Another short C&P session through the bandmap before QSYing down to 40 m for the last 2 hours with an occasional QSO on 80 m in-between. Rate dropped a lot so was short of quitting. But kept my butt in the chair until the end using small motivation techniques, i.e. setting reachable goals like working a full 300 Q’s on 40 m (was at 290 then with rate near zero), then 310 afterwards … or 1.650 Q’s in total, then 1.666 Q’s for a nice number, a.s.o. ;)

All in all lots of fun and an enjoyable time. Sure with a little less sleep and also some running on Saturday 2.000 QSOs would have been in reach. Also some optimization potential concerning breaks. After all it does not matter as much on CW as on SSB if you’re eating pizza while operating radio, does it? :) And sometime we *really* have to install some DX-optimized low band antennas …

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SO Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 34

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  160:   15     9
   80:  182    41
   40:  311    48
   20:  378    57
   15:  342    55
   10:  440    52
Total: 1668   262  Total Score = 1,311,048

Elecraft K3, KPA500 & low dipoles (80/40) plus beams (20/15/10).

SH5 analysis available here.
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TI9 – Cocos Island #302

Just saw that working TI9/3Z9DX was another ATNO so up to 302 now. Seems a great start into the new DX year with 4 new ones within 6 weeks but I suppose it will not continue at that speed being over 300 now. ;)

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Weak and short Aurora opening this evening

Had a very small and weak Aurora opening on 2 m this evening. Did not last longer than 20 minutes. The SK4MPI Aurora warning beacon was barely audible via Aurora which is quite unusual even in weak openings. Elsewise only heard & worked 2 stations, both big guys who are normally much much stronger …

18:55  SM4IVE          JO79SD  57A      55A    2 m.  CW        667
18:59  SM4GGC          JO69RK  52A      55A    2 m.  CW        696

Lars, SM4IVE, CQing on CW via Aurora:

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Another RTTY contest is history. After I was rather disappointed after last year’s CQ-WWDX-RTTY this one was real fun! Uwe, DL3BQA, was going to use our station as the 1st OP again and had the choice of band. He decided to go single band for several reasons and chose 15 m. I had not planned to do a serious effort, just handing out a few points remotely every now and then besides other weekend activity plans. To maximize points for our BCC club entry it should be an SO4B (Single Operator 4 Bands ;)) entry then.

Condx were really good! Who would have expected that 10 m would still be this good and even open to the US West Coast? Japan was easy going Saturday morning already, that was a first indication of how good propagation would be going to be. Neither sunspot numbers nor the solar flux were extraordinarily high but a calm sun, low A- & K-index and no Aurora helped to provide good propagation. Sorrily I could only spent 2 hours Saturday morning so missed most of the fun dir East. Was back when the band opened into the U.S. and had lots of fun running on 10 m. No, I won’t repeat now for the umpteenth time that I’m a 10 m addict, you certainly know that by now. ;) Rates were good enough to keep me awake. :) I have been told by seasoned RTTY operators that participating from DL everything > 50 QSOs/hour is really good and > 60 fantastic and seldomly seen. Well, my best hour was 68/h, best 30 min 80/h (details are here). If I did the math right I had an > 4 hour average of 62/h while running one frequency from 13:07z to 17:22z doing 262 QSOs in that time frame. ;) Clearly speaks for great condx and people enjoying 10 m as long as it lasts!

Although there were fewer JA contacts on Sunday compared to Saturday I felt Sunday had even better propagation. The band was open almost an hour longer and had more and stronger West Coast signals. In total 40 “zone 3″ stations were worked, wow! Really didn’t expect that. I could even decode KH7XX a few times on short path (albeit skewed path, best at 330° instead of the direct 352°) Sunday evening! U.S. runs were “not as good” as on Saturday but hey, who am I to complain about a 50/h average over 4 1/2 hours on RTTY? ;)

After I returned to the station Sunday evening and Uwe had already left (he had completed his max allowed op time of 30 hours) 15 m still showed activity so I could even do a few QSOs there making it effectively an SO4,5B entry. ;) The band was still nicely open after 21z but did not produce any runs so I soon QSYed down. 20 & 40 m were not much better. Both bands full of stations but I couldn’t get a run going. Using 500 W into a 4 ele Yagi simply does not cut it on 20 m during contests. The combination works quite nicely when chasing DXpeditions, though! So I QSY’ed to 80 m for the last 1 1/2 hours of the contest and could maintain an average of 61/h. Maybe I should have gone there earlier already …

All in all a total of 1.283 QSOs were made “casually” ;) in less than the allowed op time. Sorrily there were a number of dupes who called Saturday and Sunday and both times confirmed they had my call correct! Wonder why … would understand that in CW or SSB and people possibly paper-logging but in RTTY when you are running the computer anyway I would expect people to use a computer log, too?! Weird …

                    CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOAB HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 28:30

 Band  QSOs
   80:  191
   40:  114
   20:  138
   15:   12
   10:  800
Total: 1255  Prefixes = 638  Total Score = 2,325,510

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Elecraft K3, KPA500, beams & dipoles

Now keeping fingers crossed condx will hold until next weekend. Should be fun in the ARRLDX-CW then. ;)

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Tropo – the final

tropo-12z-12.02Taking the F5LEN tropo forecast into account I anticipated the tropo would move further east this morning and then start to vanish. Today is Fat Thursday in the Cologne carnival which means we only have to work half-day. What a nice coincidence! ;) As I’m not much into all the carnival stuff I used the chance to be back home early and switch on the remote station again. Early enough to still be able to do a few more tropo QSOs. ;) As forecasted the tropo moved further East again but it also started to vanish already. There was much QSB this time, especially in all the QSOs into Lithuania. OH2 and ES seemed more stable but these guys soon started to disappear, too. Didn’t expect to work Jussi, OH5LK, at that time anymore, as the OH2VHF beacon had vanished about an hour earlier. Interestingly it returned about 20 minutes after the QSO with Jussi for a few minutes being very strong (see audio recording below) before going down into the noise again. All tropo was gone by 14z overhere so I was very astonished to find YL2GD CQing in the evening. Did a quick QSO and he was gone about 5 minutes later again and since then the band stayed “dead”. So some nice tropo finally ended with 70 QSOs in the log. I really enjoyed it! All QSOs were done with about 650-700 W into a 9 ele LFA Yagi. This afternoon I switched down to shortwave once after I saw K1N beeing spotted on RTTY. Heard and saw the mess and immediately switched back to 2 m. VHF, Yours is My Heart Alone. ;)

11:32  ES1CW           KO29HK  529     599     2 m.  CW        944
11:33  ES3RF           KO29IF  559     569     2 m.  CW        932
11:38  YL2FZ           KO37QI  549     579     2 m.  CW        952
11:46  YL3IQ           KO17OD  539     599     2 m.  CW        720
11:49  R2FAD           KOØ4FW  549     579     2 m.  CW        452
11:51  LY2LE           KO24OQ  559     579     2 m.  CW        738
11:58  LY1CO           KO15XG  539     539     2 m.  CW        674
12:01  LY1CR           KO15CL  569     579     2 m.  CW        577
12:03  OK1FFW          JN69JK  539     559     2 m.  CW        428
12:07  OH2AUK          KO19TX  579     599     2 m.  CW        948
12:19  YL2AJ           KO16OX  579     559     2 m.  CW        710
12:23  OH2AXH          KP2ØOK  52      52      2 m.  SSB      1045
13:00  LY2CH           KO15OV  559     579     2 m.  CW        653
13:02  YL2QW           KO17OD  529     559     2 m.  CW        720
13:04  LY2HM           KO15CX  519     559     2 m.  CW        601
13:07  SKØEN           JO99JX  57      59      2 m.  SSB       805
13:10  SMØFZH          JO99HI  57      59      2 m.  SSB       737
13:14  SP1JQJ          JO73GJ  59      59      2 m.  SSB        32
13:27  OH5LK           KP3ØON  55      55      2 m.  SSB      1134
18:15  YL2GD           KO37ML  529     559     2 m.  CW        939

Jussi, OH5LK, CQing on CW:

OH2VHF/B, very strong for a few minutes:

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More tropo and square #507 on 2 m

tropo-18z     tropo-00z

Seems I was correct with my yesterday’s assumption concerning tropo moving. ;) Sorrily I was rather under the duct tonight thus the really big distance contacts where done i.e. from LAØBY down into 9A & S5 over 1.600 km, and between G/PA and OH, even on 70 cm! EI3KD reported hearing the SK1UHF 70 cm beacon on Gotland, that’s a whopping 1.800 km! A pity nobody of the SM1 guys was on to provide him with a QSO. These are the moments where I wish to be QRV on 70 cm again but taking it seriously, is it worth it for that one big tropo once every 10 years? ;) Also read that EI3KD finally worked SP4MPB on 2 m, that’s almost 2.000 km on tropo! Amazing …

Only did a few QSOs myself as I had some other things to do besides radio. But signals were great most of the time! Did a few more audio recordings, see below. Nice to catch SM4DXO in JP71! It’s been a very long time since I worked a new square on tropo. ;-)

Also remembered reading about a new tropo forecasting website in the past. A quick Google search revealed F5LEN’s refractive index forecast for Europe. It seems to be much more accurate than Hepburn’s tropo index. The two pictures above show the forecasts for 18z and midnight and are sorta identical to my experience on the band.

17:17  OZ5AGJ          JO47IA  59      59      2 m.  SSB       551
19:40  SM4GGC          JO69RK  59      59      2 m.  SSB       696
19:46  SM4BDQ          JP8ØFG  59      59      2 m.  SSB       799
20:20  SM4DXO          JP71SB  57      59      2 m.  SSB       879
20:44  LAØBY           JO59IX  59      59      2 m.  SSB       785
21:14  LA6LCA          JO59FE  59      59      2 m.  SSB       706
21:53  OH1UM           KPØ1UL  59      59      2 m.  SSB      1024
21:56  OH1ND           KPØØXL  59      59      2 m.  SSB       936
22:04  OH1XT           KPØ1UK  559     599     2 m.  CW       1020
22:11  SM7WW           JO65OR  59      59      2 m.  SSB       290
22:15  OH1OP           KP1ØGL  52      59      2 m.  SSB       954




SK1VHF/B, the Gotland beacon:

SK4MPI/B, the Aurora warning beacon, this time on tropo for a change: ;)

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Nice 2 m tropo opening tonight

Coming home after work today I saw a few spots on the cluster that looked like a bit of tropo enhancement between the UK and Western Europe. So I switched on the radio to check condx and boy, was lucky I did so! ;) Had a nice tropo opening and made some 40 QSOs, the “better ones” are listed below. Nice to experience a small “mini pileup” from western France with great distances! Interestingly the closer UK stations, i.e. G4SWX from JO02, came in best from 240°, i.e. beaming central France. It seems there was a very strong tropo scatter point down there or maybe the entry into the duct. John reported the same, he had to beam more southerly to get me strongest. There’s still something magic to VHF … I like it! :)

16:37  G8GXP           IO93FQ  57      59      2 m.  SSB      1042
16:43  GØODR           JOØ2OP  51      53      2 m.  SSB       872
16:45  G4RRA           IO8ØBS  54      55      2 m.  SSB      1263
16:47  G3SMT           IO82KV  59      59      2 m.  SSB      1156
16:48  FØGWK           IN88CM  57      55      2 m.  SSB      1361
16:53  F6KHM           IN78RJ  549     55      2 m.  SSB/CW   1416
16:53  F1AKK           IN78RJ  549     55      2 m.  SSB/CW   1416
16:54  F6FGQ           IN78QJ  52      52      2 m.  SSB      1421
16:56  F8BRK           IN99VF  56      55      2 m.  SSB      1094
16:56  F8FKJ           IN78RJ  51      51      2 m.  SSB      1416
16:57  G4SWX           JOØ2RF  59      59      2 m.  SSB       864
16:59  FØGWK           IN88CM  55      57      2 m.  SSB      1361
17:11  PA4VHF          JO32JE  599     599     2 m.  CW        512
17:13  F5DQK           JN18GR  529     519     2 m.  CW        954
17:17  G4DHF           IO92UU  559     559     2 m.  CW        969
17:34  G4DCV           IO91OF  559     559     2 m.  CW       1043
17:39  G7RAU           IO9ØIR  579     579     2 m.  CW       1094
17:48  G4MKF           IO91HJ  549     559     2 m.  CW       1076
17:56  DK9TF           JO31NF  599     559     2 m.  CW        529
17:58  F4JVG           JN16NL  41      52      2 m.  SSB      1088
18:00  DL4EBV          JO31HK  55      56      2 m.  SSB       551
18:02  FØFIG           JO1ØJE  51      51      2 m.  SSB       853
18:07  F5XU            JN15MT  52      52      2 m.  SSB      1147
18:12  DFØFHK          JO3ØLW  559     539     2 m.  CW        555
18:15  PD1AHM          JO21WF  57      55      2 m.  SSB       608
18:39  G4EAT           JOØ1HR  57      57      2 m.  SSB       933
18:41  GØGXT           IO82RF  52      55      2 m.  SSB      1130
19:20  PAØDDB          JO32KE  55      55      2 m.  SSB       506
20:36  G4EHD           IO93BS  55      58      2 m.  SSB      1064
20:58  GM8FFX          IO87WB  55      56      2 m.  SSB      1120
21:07  F6DCD           JN38RQ  55      57      2 m.  SSB       688
22:13  G4WJS           IO91NP  52      55      2 m.  SSB      1035
22:25  F4EHG           JN18EQ  53      55      2 m.  SSB       966
22:35  ON5AEN          JO1ØVW  56      56      2 m.  SSB       754
22:43  GM4AFF          IO86TS  539     519     2 m.  CW       1127
22:46  GM4AFF          IO86TS  56      57      2 m.  SSB      1127

Didn’t think of switching on the MP3 recorder until late in the evening so just a few audio recordings this time …

GB3ANG/B, beacon 1.158 km away:

GM4AFF, Stewart, 1.127 km away, working Sandro, DD3SP:

GM8FFX, 1.120 km, struggling to work SQ1FYB QRP station:

Taking the weather reports into account the tropo will certainly shift eastwards tomorrow. So it might be possible to work into Scandinavia then. Keeping fingers crossed and looking already forward to returning from QRL tomorrow evening. ;)

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ZL7 – Chatham Islands #301

Worked another ATNO today! :) ZL7/F8FUA is currently on holiday there and took a K3 and a Buddipole with him. Already heard him yesterday on 20 m SSB but lots of QRM and weak signals. He was still weak today, i.e. 41 on average and peaking 52 a few times, and had a big pileup. Couldn’t get through so left for the kitchen to prepare lunch. When getting back I was astonished not hearing anything anymore when he suddenly starting CQing again without any pileup! Took my chance to put him in the log then although I had to repeat my call 2 times until he got it okay (500 W + 4 ele Yagi here, 100 W and the shortened dipole overthere). He was spotted about 30 seconds later on the cluster and hell broke loose again. Lucky me! ;)

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KP1 – Navassa Island #300

k1nlogoNow that the Navassa expedition has been on for a few days I found a little time to chase them. Pileups are immense and it took a while to put them in the log for an ATNO. But what really bothers me is the bad pileup discipline. Even if the guys are calling particular stations everybody is still calling and calling and calling making it worse for everybody as it really slows things down! Equally bad are all the “cops” on the expedition frequency. They make much more QRM than the poor guy that forgot to switch on split or forgot to switch VFOs again. And not to forget the intentional QRMers! :( And then we got all the cluster spots! The packet cluster used to be an aid to find rare DX and unusual stations in the past. Nowadays most spots are of the “Hey, see I’m a hero, I just worked them!” fashion and only attract more lids! More than once I wished the cluster system would simply be switched off. It’s a shame what can be heard in the pileups nowadays. This weekend is especially bad. I took some time to just monitor the spectacle and finally switched the radio off as I was really ashamed and disappointed. :(

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Nice trans-polar 10 m opening this morning

Had a great trans-polar 10 m opening this morning. Worked KL7XU who was peaking 59 and said he was waiting for that opening for 12 years. ;) WL7E had a nice signal on CW, too, but was only working (or not) FOC members in the closed FOC contest. Both had nice auroral flutter on their signals! Made a few audio recordings so you can listen for yourself. A pity not more guys were on …

KL7XU, Frank, 10 m SSB, suffering from bad pileup discipline, then getting upset:

WL7E, 10 m CW, FOC members only:

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