Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WQ6X in the 2013 ARRL DX Cw Contest

This last weekend found me operating the ARRL Dx Cw contest from the SF bay area instead of Fallbrook.  I quickly setup the HF2-v vertical in its usual umbrella stand with a dozen radials, guyed with four thin ropes.  Because the Yaesu FT-900 sports an auto-tuner, I chose to use it instead of the ICOM 7000 (which would require me to setup the MFJ tuner and figure out all the settings).
The solar flux of 100 notwithstanding, 15 meters was quite a disappointment this contest; 10 meters wasn't much better - 40, 20 & 80 (in that order) were the best bands.

This year, I was frustrated by a number of Dx operator anomolies:
  • Stations would ask me to repeat my NR ("number) when they in fact wanted my state ("CA").  Rather than try to explain the difference (this was a Cw contest) I just went along.  Nevertheless, the confusion was unsettling.
  • Some stations (notably PY & P40 for example) had their receive filter settings skewed considerably.  Their signal would be 59+20 yet they couldn't hear me.  Tuning around sometimes found that if I positioned my carrier considerably BELOW their operating frequency they could hear me; so it turned out the problem was not my mere 100 watts.
  • As usual, some stations don't listen.  Waiting 1/2 second between CQs is NOT listening; especially if your receive passband (as described above) is not properly set. If stations would listen properly they wouldn't be calling as many CQs.
Nevertheless, I managed 211 QSOs in 39 countries (all continents).

New ones included: T88, J35, 6Y2 & XE7
Notable repeats included: C6, CR2, CR3, CQ8, EA8, NH2, V31, VP5 & ZF2.

Notably absent were Asian countries (other than China & Japan) and down under (VK & ZL).  The lack of Oceania was not due to poor antenna performance.  When the signals were there they were often S9-plus.  Signal presence from South America was quite good for this contest.  Even the African signals (what few there I could hear) were quite strong.  Northern Europe made quite a presence on Sunday altho southern European signals were noticeably lacking during this event.
I did mostly search and pounce (S&P) altho when I did call CQ, I was rewarded with a reply from CR3A (Madeira).
While this was not necessarily a memorable contest event I did find it enjoyable.
If the currently rising solar flux (114 today) holds for the DX phone contest, we should have some interesting fun.


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