Well, this one was a real mixed experience! Got to the station Friday evening. Peter, DM5DX, was already there having some fun chasing all the different DXpeditions. After I had installed all of my stuff I turned on my K3 switching around the bands and suddenly poof, no RX anymore! We do have bandpass filters installed for the classical contest bands but none for the WARC bands. While moving bands up & down I switched across 30 m while Peter was transmitting high power on 40 m. Our dipoles for both bands are just 2 m away from each other and obviously the K3’s COR (carrier operated relay) which normally grounds the RX antenna connection to ground if detecting too much RF wasn’t fast enough this time! So I had almost no receive anymore. 🙁

Looking across the Elecraft mailing list archive there were several posts mentioning similar faults. Most of them pointed to PIN diode D5 on the KXV3 sub-board. But it seemed to be intact after ripping the whole K3 apart. Further analysis resulted in PIN diode D25 on the main RX board to be defective. It is the double PIN diode that switches RX/TX and the RX diode had gone south. Of course there was no spare available so even knowing what was wrong (and having ordered spares now) it was no solution for the contest! Luckily Heiko, DG1BHA, owns a K3, too, and was kind enough to loan me his one for contest. He even brought along his P3 to see if it is of any value during contest ops. Thanks mate, that’s real ham spirit! 😎

Decided to go for 15 m as conditions were quite nice the weekend before during WAG. Uwe, DL3BQA, wanted to go for 80 m but the weather was just awful so no joy to build up the 80 m groundplane. He then switched to 20 m … Condx were quite nice on Saturday and I was astonished to work a couple of JA’s wit strong signals although not comparable to the hours-long runs a few years ago during sunspot maximum.

Had a second failure Saturday morning when a brand new headset failed after just 2 hours of operation. I suddenly had hum on my transmit signal. Luckily I had a spare hand-mic with me and took that then for the remaining contest time just laying in front of me and still operating PTT with the foot switch. Saturday afternoon saw quite a nice W/VE opening and I was lucky enough to find a not too crowded spot to run. Indeed this was rather challenging most of the time as the band was quite crammed (everybody wanted their share of the cake with these good conditions) and splatters all around. Have the impression it gets worse contest by contest. To be honest I start loosing enthusiasm for SSB contests alone due to these ignorant idiots! How can it be they feel comfortable producing these kinds of signals? Here’s just one example (I do have a few more) of one station wiping out 20+ kHz of the band QRMing at least 8 surrounding QSOs (see spectrum display below):

I had hopes to do about 600 QSOs during the whole contest after comparing results from last sunspot minimum. I went to bed with exactly 600 Saturday night. 😎 So I set my new goal to 1.000 QSOs which should have been reasonable even knowing that Sunday is the slower day of the two. Unfortunately condx seemed a little worse Sunday morning with no real JA opening. There were a few more zone 3 stations in the afternoon than Saturday but I was unlucky with CQ’ing, just couldn’t hold any frequency for too long. 🙁 Also lost about 30 minutes while opening DL3BQA’s PA to change a fuse. It started producing interference after a few hours of operation on Sunday which was QRM’ing me on 15 m (in fact it was/is broadband across all HF bands). It had that fault in the past already but went away after a few minutes normally. Not so this time. 🙁 Will need to talk to the manufacturer now to sort out what the problem is (all operating parameters are in the normal range, if it wasn’t for a second station nearby one would probably not even recognize it).

So all in all it was quite an interesting weekend with some failures but still lots of fun on the bands! Besides missing my new goal I was quite happy with 38 zones and 140 country multipliers! And I even heard a few more that I didn’t reach so I think 150+ might have been possible from central Europe …

                    CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB(A)/15 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 24:30

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
   15:  909    38      140
   10:  (2)               
Total:  903    38      140  Total Score = 384,124

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Elecraft K3, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi

Next “stop” will be CQ WWDX CW at the end of November. Will participate in that one from abroad, stay tuned for further info … 😉

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