The title of this post looks like a hand in Scrabble — lots of letters, none of which can be combined into real words. What it’s meant to say is that I’ve just completed working the CQ Magazine’s World Wide ham radio contest. This one is restricted to CW, or Morse Code. Plus, I entered the competition in the QRP category, which means that my power level was restricted to 5 watts — about the power level of a Christmas tree light bulb.
During this contest I also elected to compete on just a single band — 15 meters. I do this because I have that 2-element Moxon antenna. It gives me some gain in the direction aimed — rotated by running downstairs from my ham shack, climbing up on the deck railing and turning the mast in the general direction that I’m trying to reach. It makes a huge difference at any power level. But it is especially important at QRP levels.
The contest starts at 6 PM Friday evening local time. So, I fired up the rig, dialed down the power to 5 watts, pointed the antenna at Japan — which is the open direction at that time. For the next two hours, until the band went dead, I managed to work just 4 stations. Not very encouraging.
On Saturday morning at around 7 AM local time, the band starts coming alive again. At this time of day the antenna is pointed at Europe. Then around 2-4 PM Europe is in the dark and I point the antenna at the Caribbean and northern South America. Finally, around 4-5 PM the antenna moves to the Pacific. At the end of Saturday I had a total of 197 stations in the log. Much better going sweeping up and down the band picking up new stations and countries.
When Sunday rolled around, I found that many of the stations I’d either already worked or they still couldn’t hear me. Even so, I managed to end the contest at 304 stations with a total of 86 different countries in the log. This day was a bit more of a grind trying to find stations that I hadn’t already worked and in many cases running outside in the cold and rain to turn the antenna for that one special station that I needed and who couldn’t quite hear me.
The total time in the chair was 21 hours out of the 48 hour time frame for the contest. That’s another reason that I like a single band 15 meter effort — I get to sleep at night when the band is dead.
All in all it was a fun contest. If you worked me through the QRN and QRM (again with the letters — noise and interference), thanks so much for your patience and good ears. My award-winning stations were 4O3A, (more letters — he’s from Montenegro) who managed to pull me through a huge pile up by repeated calls to get my call correct, and NH2DX who did much the same thing but didn’t need quite as long to get my call — after all he’s in the relative quiet of Guam.
Nice to get on a CW contest for a change from my usual RTTY versions. I’ll do this again!