The 2000 ARRL DX Contest
As those of you who read these reports regularly know, I like to set goals before a contest. My setup is not good enough to win a big contest like this overall, so my victory comes in achieving my pre-contest goals. I wasn't sure how much of an effort I was going to put into this contest so I set some simple goals - work some new band countries, hopefully pushing my 40 and 10M totals over 100 countries, and most important - HAVE FUN.
To assist in my search for new band countries, I made up a chart for each band listing the countries I needed. I included only those likely to be found in contests. Then, when I ran across one of them on the air, I'd stick with it until I got it.
After that, I set up the TR contest program on my shack computer for the ARRL DX test.
I never bothered listening to the bands until a couple minutes before the test. Strangely, the first station I heard was VP6BR on 10M getting ready for the test. He was pretty strong, so I thought I'd try to catch him when the test started. Maybe there wouldn't be so big a pileup at the very start of the contest. Wrong! A large pile of stations started calling him, and his sigs dropped in level, so I thought I'd not even bother trying.
As usual, the first hour was very rough for making contacts with all the big KW stations working each other and my QRP getting lost in the shuffle. I did manage to work a handful of Caribbean and South American stations including HC8L on 15M. Then after a short break, I came back and got NH7A on 15M. It amazes me how easily NH7A and KH7R can copy my QRP signal. I can always count on them for a Hawaii multiplier in any DX test.
Right after that, I heard Andy, EA8CN on 20M and got him easily. Then came EA4KA. Hmmmm..... with Oceania, Africa, and Europe worked, I may be close to a WAC already. Let's see, there's SA with P49V, several NA stations. Yes, that's 5 continents already. Where's Asia. Ooops, I hear RZ9UA with a strong signal on 20M. I'm going for him to get my WAC out of the way. After a few calls, I snag him. Takes a couple tries to get my call right. Yep, there's my WAC. How quickly did I do it. Well, P49V came at 0029Z, NA, OC, EU, AF in-between, and it's now 0130Z, so that's WAC in 61 minutes. Not bad for minimal QRP. My quickest WAC ever.
That's one standing goal out of the way. I always go for a WAC in a contest. Back in the sunspot minimum it was very rough for me. Now it seems too easy a goal.
Back to the contest. Who's this super fast station on 20M sending 599K at around 60 WPM. Oh, it's ZD8Z. This guy would be a good test for that gadget in the new QST magazine. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's a device to digitally record high speed CW and play it back at half speed for those who can't copy fast CW. It was good to see a gadget involving CW in QST, but something like that, well.... All you need to do to copy fast CW is use it a lot. OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.
Oh, I did get ZD8Z and he turned out to be the first of my new band countries for the contest. Some other interesting QSO's included KL7Y. He was super strong on all bands during the whole contest. More so than usual. I wound up getting him on 40, 20, 15, and 10M. Strangely when I was first hearing him on 10 and 15, he was well over S9, but I couldn't get him, then on 20M with just an S6 or 7 signal, it only took a single call to get him. Ham radio is strange.
NH7A was worked again, this time on 20, followed by KH6/W6PH. I think I worked every KH6 I heard on 40-10M. After a few NA stations on 40, I started to work EU on 40M. Again regular readers know the trouble I have working EU on 40M. I got IR2W, G4BUO, TM6P, and that was it. With 31 stations logged - my best Friday evening start in a DX test, I went to bed.
I awoke at 0930Z and decided to see what was happening. I got a smattering of NA stations on 40M. Also I worked KH7R on 40M, then got V31TP on 80M for another new band country. One of my contest frustrations also came at this time. I came very close to getting V7G on 40M. He had my call as a mixture of M's and W's, but never did get it right, so no QSO. That would have been an overall new country for me. After that, I kept trying him, but he never heard me again.
Back to bed now till 1345Z when the high band EU barrage began. This continued till around 1900Z or so. At that time I had 226 QSO's in the log. Briefly, some of the stations that stand out in my mind in that stretch were R3K, RU1A, RK6AXS (remember I had trouble working Russia back in the CQWW), C4A, some HB2's for a nice prefix, most of the OT0 prefix stations, OH0B (still like working Aland Island - one that took me a long time to work the first time - now I've got a couple dozen Aland QSO's overall), 5N0W (only my second ever Nigeria).
After a break till 2035Z, I started to work a bunch of EU's on 20M since 15 and 10 were in a slow period now. I got special station 9AY2K to add to my prefix list. Also 6V6U on both 15 and 20M. TG9/IK2NCJ (National Contest Journal?) for a country I don't work often, especially in contests.
I wondered if Japan would come through on 10M like it did back in November. It did, but not as well. JF1SQC, JR1BTG, JH3AIU, and about a dozen others showed up in my log. Nothing like the deluge in the CQWW test though. I heard a quick 'LL' as I was tuning 10M and figured it was K6LL, but when I came back to that spot it turned out to be RU0LL, and I snagged him with a bit of an effort for another of my new band countries. Then not long after that I got an insurance QSO with RA0FN.
After passing ZD8Z by earlier on 15M thinking I had worked him, I realized I hadn't and this time when I heard him, I worked him easily. Hope I can get him on 10M now as that would be a new band country. I already have Ascension confirmed on 15M.
Another break at 0000Z. At the end of the first day, 306 QSO's were in the TR log, my highest total of DX worked in a single day. Now I started to think about making 500 QSO's again as I had in the CQWW. I was ahead of my pace in the CQWW so I should make it even though I wasn't working as hard in this contest.
I came back to the bands around 0130Z and found it very hard to work anyone. I called and called with no results other than a handful of Caribbean and Central American stations. So I quit for a couple of hours to watch some TV and spend time with my mother.
When I came back at 0400Z, it was the same thing. I just couldn't work anyone. It was frustrating until the following happened. I came across a strong VP6BR on 20M. I almost didn't bother trying since I couldn't work anyone else, but I did try. Wouldn't you know it? It only took a couple of tries, and a brand new country was worked, and a very exotic one at that. He had my call as K3WKP at first, but after a few tries, he corrected it to WWP. I didn't hear much of a pileup at that time. I guess I caught him in a lull. That was the only station I worked in that time period, but I didn't really care. After a couple months without a new overall country I finally had one.
The next session saw me working EU on 40M. 6 EU's and a few NA's put me at 323 QSO's at bedtime.
I forget just when, but again I had another frustrating time chasing V7G on 40M. He never heard me this morning. Some day I'm going to get me a V7. The same with a JT. Those two countries are probably my most heard unworked countries now. I had hoped to get one of the JT's in the contest, but I guess none of them are contesters. Maybe I just wasn't at the right place at the right time.
European deluge, part II came from 1145Z till 2000Z. Well, I did sneak in some more sleep from 1230 till 1400Z. Anyway at 2000Z, I was up to 477 QSO's with 500 within easy reach. It wouldn't be that easy though as you'll see in a minute. First let's check this period for any noteworthy QSO's. RI3A provided a seldom heard prefix. I had a short double letter streak with I2ZZZ, LZ2PP, and YV4AA worked in a couple minutes on 10M. CT1GFK and CT1BOH for seldom worked Portugal. It seems that country is rarer for me than it should be. At 1907 I snagged ZD8Z on 10M for another new band country.
After my supper break, a late EU on 15M came from GM0F at 2055Z. Then another seldom worked contest country in CO8LY on 15M.
I was just thinking that KL7Y was the only Alaskan I was hearing. I figured all the AK contesters must have joined the KL7Y multi-op effort. Then I heard AL7IF on 10M and got him with a single call, followed by KH6/W6PH.
Right after that came one of my strangest QSO's. I heard TI5N on 15M and hadn't worked him yet on that band. It would be a new multiplier so I thought I'd wait him out. He had a sizeable pileup. I called him once, and he never came back to anyone. I listened to the stations calling him for about 30 seconds, then suddenly he came back with K3WWP 599K. I almost didn't reply, I was so surprised. I did send my exchange though and got the new multiplier. What was going on for those 30 seconds between my call and his answer, I have no idea.
Now I'm at 485 QSO's, and it is really slow going now. 5 hard-earned EU QSO's on 20 made 489. It took an hour and a half including a short break to hit 498 with JA8RWU on 10M. I had virtually exhausted the high bands now so I went to 40M to see if I could work some Caribbean stations to push me to 500.
I didn't find any Caribbean stations, but there were some fairly strong EU signals, so I rolled up my sleeves, so to speak, and went after them. S58A with his great 'ears' got me easily. DL3OI seems to be a real sharp operator and he was operating from GD as MD/DL3OI. I had gotten him easily on 20-10M earlier so I tried him. It wasn't as easy as S58A, but he did get me for my # 500. Whew!! For the second time I made it to 500 QSO's in a DX test.
As in the CQWW I would have been unhappy to wind up close to 500 and not make it, so I was relieved now and with an hour left in the contest, I worked a dozen other stations including my last new band country, ER4DX on 40M.
The bottom line - 512 QSO's, 182 multipliers, 279552 points in 23.5 hours of operation. That's a little less time than I put into the CQWW test. 71 countries overall - well short of the CQWW. 8 new band countries, one new overall country, 4 new band zones, and 18 new prefixes.
The following is a comparison of my CQWW and ARRL DX tests. The first column is the hour (UTC), the second and third columns my QSO totals at the end of each hour for the ARRL and CQWW tests respectively:
00 8 11
01 18 20
02 19 20
03 23 23
04 25 23
05 31 23
06 31 23
07 31 23
08 31 23
09 36 23
10 38 23
11 38 34
12 38 34
13 44 34
14 86 82
15 107 117
16 146 158
17 186 185
18 221 217
19 226 235
20 240 241
21 269 256
22 290 280
23 306 283
00 306 291
01 311 291
02 311 301
03 311 317
04 312 321
05 323 321
06 323 321
07 323 321
08 323 321
09 323 325
10 323 339
11 326 339
12 333 339
13 333 372
14 359 394
15 383 411
16 412 428
17 444 446
18 465 447
19 477 465
20 482 469
21 491 482
22 500 490
23 512 502
The CQWW totals include two dupes, no dupes in the ARRL. I tried combining the best hours from both contests into one total and found I would have made 662 QSO's that way. So perhaps getting 700 QSO's with my setup is not out of the question if I can put in some more hours.
Here's a breakdown by band and continent:
AF AS EU NA OC SA tot
80 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
40 0 0 14 18 1 2 35
20 3 1 69 17 3 2 95
15 3 0 105 21 2 4 135
10 1 18 201 13 3 10 246
tot 7 19 389 70 9 18 512