Another WWDX-CW is in the books. Checked the 10 m condx on Thursday morning: a few reasonably loud VKs, but nothing from Asia. Hmm. Next check Friday afternoon: a few South Americans, no USA. 15 m also looked pretty meager, a few very weak stations from W9, but the typical East Coast not much louder either. Difficult decision … Lowbands no, not enough sleep. 20 m no way, far too small station. If 15 m doesn’t really work then I can stay on 10 m as well. It’s always exciting in terms of propagation even or especially in such conditions and I’m a 10 m addict anyway as you know. So decision made, another 10 m SOSB entry. 😉
Saturday morning 6z at the station, band still closed. Around 6:30z the first scatter signals from the Balkans, somehow that always works. After 7:30z the band opens for the first time for DX, a few UA9/0 and VKs come into the log, signals all pretty thin. In between also Thailand and various Europeans via scatter. 3B8M is a good signal, shortly after 9z 3B8BAP comes back to my CQ. Keep picking mults if they rise above the noise.
Around half past nine Zulu there is Sporadic-E to Spain and France, the opening is quite long and also allows QSOs to South America from time to time via F2 extension. Without openings like this within Europe things quickly get boring, there’s just not enough DX. At 11z, the antenna is still pointing towards South America, VR2XAN is suddenly 599+20! Antenna turned to Asia, only s6. Back to South America, again s9+++. Awesome long path signal! Excitingly, however, only he, no other stations. But well, up on the mountains in Hongkong with a long yagi it’s a lot different than at sea level with small equipment. Very interesting in terms of propagation anyway.
CQing myself is of little use, but at least some callers create a smile on my face, such as calls from FY5KE, TZ1CE, or VP8NO. ZD7BG is reasonably loud, but the pileups are just insane. Watching the spectrum & waterfall on the Flex helps identifying new signals immediately and being able to jump to them quickly. At 14:20z I can work N4XD who has a nice s5 signal. K1LZ comes back to my CQ but is extremely weak, rather unusual. I can work W3LPL, N4WW & ZF5T (all just above the noise), then the band closes at 16z, nothing to listen to except noise.
N4XD (right hand side in the spectrum) the only signal on the band Saturday afternoon.
I allow myself an hour extra sleep Sunday morning and start again at 7z. Good decision, band is still closed. At 7:15z the first signal appears in the spectrum and is also quite loud: JE6RPM. Wow! Quickly caught the double mult, a few minutes later the signal disappeared again. He should remain the only one from Japan … UA9/0 is doing a little better today, a few Chinese find their way into the log. JT1CO delivers zone 23, good boy. VK4BAP replies to my CQ, very weak. His qrz.com page suggests he is running QRP. If that’s the case his signal was ufb! 😉 Again a little ES to the southwest (also on 6 m), so a few more stations make it into the log. After 10:30z a long path opening towards Asia again, this time in addition to VR2XAN also various Chinese. At 11z a loud DL signal with extreme echo: DL5NEN. Sorry Tom it took a moment. The signal probably found its way once around the world. As interesting as this is in terms of propagation I already “fear” the better condx in the next few years when circulating echoes will make decoding really difficult in some cases. But that’s definitely complaining at a (very) high level. 😀
Today there is also a whole bag of EA8s in the log and two EA9s call me, I didn’t hear any with CQ. 9J2BO calls me too, very nice. After 12z there’s also a few Caribbeans, these mults generate crazy pileups again, most times I stop calling and just try again 10-15 minutes later. A risky strategy, sometimes the condx are gone again and the mult slipping through the cracks. 🙁 But at least the standard mults like PJ2, PJ4, P4, KP2, KP4 finally get into the log. PZ5CO is extremely weak but has good ears. After the contest I read that he probably also did QRP. With this Caribbean opening F2 backscatter is reasonably good for the first time this contest so a number of EU mults make it into the log, too. I’ve been chasing LA and OHØ all weekend, now the signals finally came up. V48A calls me, I’m grateful for that, his later pileup is just crazy.
Around 13:15z VY2TT pops up with a 319-419 signal and has a nasty pileup, too. I’m not sure if the QSO was okay, if in doubt the log checkers will delete it. At 14:30z I finally work a ZS. You’d think South Africa is easy, the simple southern path, but no, not so this time. But the double mult is in the bag. EA8AQV follows at 14:40z, then the band closes towards the south/southwest. I leave the CQ loop running, suddenly a loud K7GM calls from North Carolina. I did not expect that. So turned the antenna towards North America and continue CQing on the dead band. Every now and then a weak signal appears in the spectrum. Click, listen, call if necessary. This is how NR4M gets into the log. On CQ there are still a handful of stations from NC, VA, MD, WV with weak signals, sometimes I have to ask 5-6 times until I have identified the calls properly, in addition to the faint signals also pretty awful QSB. I’m grateful that people are taking the time. K3LR suddenly appears on the spectrum, louder than the others but still weak. I’m one of only 3 DLs they’ve worked (tnx info to Sandy, DL1QQ). All very patchy. When VE3NNT and CF3A call with s7 signals there is a bit of hope that maybe a little more would be possible now but … nope. Only 3 more Americans from AL, GA & NC, then the band closes just before 16z, not a beep in the spectrum.
Not much better Sunday afternoon …
I monitor the band for another hour, but nothing happens anymore. So I do another half an hour on 80 m handing out points, just for fun. Then switched the station back to remote operation (two cable connections) and did a few other things around the shack. At 18:30z a thick red stripe appears in the 10m spectrum: IR9K via ES with s9+10. Of course he’s already in the log. Then a few LUs & PYs pop up, but all relatively weak and worked before, no new ones. After 20 minutes the spook is over, I switch off and drive back into town …
Now what do we learn from this? Something is always possible, but you have to be there. And there’s no chance for high QSO numbers with such condx, the potential of stations in high population areas and an open path to them is just limited. And in the north everything is more difficult anyway. Still, I always have fun! 😎 See you in the ARRL-10m next weekend …
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW - 2021
Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
Operating Time (hrs): 22
Band QSOs Zones Countries
10: 371 29 89
Total: 371 29 89 Total Score = 72,570
Club: Bavarian Contest Club
Flex-6600, PA + 6 ele OWA Yagi @ 60 ft.
Hard work! Band very patchy, you had to be there all the time to
catch the "micro openings". A bit of Sporadic-E every now and then
enabled a few more QSOs at least. Relying solely on F2 propagation
would have been much more boring. Anyway, nice propagation study
again and despite the low QSO numbers still lots of fun.