This year’s entry to the CQ WPX CW Contest was a bit truncated. Friday evening I was in San Diego at the Boy Scouts of America’s National Annual Meeting. Traveling back on Saturday morning, I arrived home about noon and started to operate. With my QRP signal at 5 watts into a couple of verticals, I did reasonably well given that I started some 17 hours late. It is always difficult to make contacts during those early contest hours anyway, since everyone is working the strong and easy signals first — and they don’t want to take time to dig my signal out of the QRN and QRM. It always gets much easier the last afternoon, as they are looking for any contact they can make to move their scores up a notch.
In addition to having little time for the contest, I was not able to set up my temporary Moxon 15 meter two-element beam. This was just as well since the wind was gusting to 35 mph and would have no doubt taken down my simple painter-pole mast that holds up the antenna. How I would have pointed the antenna was another challenge that was avoided by not putting it up in the first place.
I’ll also note that the last 7 hours of the contest was trumped by a call from “she who must be obeyed”. My dear wife had ventured out to an estate sale in the unlikely event that a dining room set she had spotted online would still be available on half-price Sunday. Sure enough it was available and she purchased it. The rest of the day was spent finding sufficient cash to complete the sale, renting a U-Haul truck, negotiating the 30 some miles to the estate sale, getting somebody to help me load the furniture into the truck and secure it. At my request, Karen fetched some more straps for loading along with a couple of 12-packs of the guy’s favorite beer for a reward for his knowledgeable assist. Then my daughter’s boyfriend helped me get it into the house. The dining set is in superb shape and is really a point of pride for my dear wife. This is an example of contest time spent very, very productively!
As to the contest itself, in the 14 hours spent searching and pouncing I was able to double my score from 2010 with 160 QSO’s and 24,000 points. The propagation was relatively poor with nearly all of my contacts with US stations. Heard some Europeans and South American’s but they couldn’t hear me. Noted very little activity from the Caribbean or Central America. The K3/10 worked great as did the Winkeyer. However, the logging software — Skookum Logger (Mac contest software) — gave me a few fits. First, about 20 Q’s in I noticed that it wasn’t flagging duplicates. So I restarted it. Then it was noting that my Q’s were not meeting CW criteria (a software fix I see that has now been made). As a result, I started the log from scratch and entered the first Q’s by hand. It worked for the rest of the contest just fine.
Fun contest and a fantastic end in purchasing and moving the dining room set that my wife has been looking for that past decade! Very successful contest.