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The 2000 CQWW DX Contest

Well, once again it was going to be a less than full effort in a contest. For many reasons that I won't go into here, I figured I'd only be able to put in 10 or 12 hours in the contest. So I had to come up with some goals based on that.

For a long time now I have been very close to 100 countries on 40M and unable to work the last few to get me over the top. I figured one thing I'd shoot for in the contest would be getting 4 new ones on 40 to put me at the 100 mark. I also have been unable to work Asia on 40 to complete my 40M WAC. I thought maybe I could catch a Cyprus station on 40M in the test to take care of that.

Also I'm getting close to 200 countries worked, so I thought I'd try hard to get some overall new ones.

I would not be going for a big score. I often try to beat my previous record in a contest, but I knew I wouldn't be active enough to get more than the 500+ QSO's I made in the 1999 CQWW DX test.

With all that in mind, I'd probably be spending a lot of time just listening, and not working everyone I heard. I'd work contesting friends, countries I just enjoy working, new band countries, unusual prefixes, etc. No frantic efforts to keep up a good rate. If I do find a new country strong enough to work, I'll stick with him till I get the QSO.

Now that I had the plan in my head, and TR set up on the computer, I dug in when the contest started. I started out on 10M since it was still open. My very first QSO was JE4VVM. Those of you familiar with me and my QRP efforts know how long it took me to work my first Japan. Well, now I have well over 100 JA QSO's logged and I'm at the point where JA's are sending me their QSL cards requesting my card. I figure when a country reaches that status, it can be considered a common country for me. Even so, I still enjoy working JA's and get a kick out of doing so. I worked 3 other JA's in the first half hour on 10 and 15M. After JE4VVM came 9Y4VU on 10M, my first new band country of the contest.

Friday evening provided 24 QSO's - a rather good start for me since I usually have trouble breaking the pileups of the big contest stations working each other as the contest starts. In fact I got my contest WAC that first evening with JE4VVM, 9Y4VU, and VE5SF on 10M, CN8WW on 20M, HG6N and KH7R on 40M. The pileups on 40 were still pretty awesome, but I did work a few EU stations easily giving me hope I might reach my 40M goals Saturday evening.

I woke up at 1300Z Saturday, and again headed for 10M. As I tuned up the band I heard many familiar contest stations and thought I'd help them out with an extra QSO. I worked those I could work easily, and moved on looking for those new countries. Wait a second, what's this. Was that an AB1, no, it's A61AJ, a country I need. I settled in for a long wait if necessary. I called several times with no results, but I was determined to get him. It didn't really take all that long. I got him in about 2 minutes, and my country total was now at 190 worked.

There were no more new ones to be found during the day on Saturday so I just kept on working any station that I could get easily as I was looking. I always enjoy mentally analyzing things as I work my way through a contest. Things like which countries are coming in strongly, which countries seem to have a lot of activity, looking for certain contest stations that seem to be in every contest I enter, and wondering what happened to them if I don't hear them. One thing I noticed this time was a lot of French stations. Usually I only hear and/or work 2 or 3 in a whole contest for some reason. This time I had already worked a half dozen in the first couple hours.

As usual, the Lithuanians were out in big numbers. I found it interesting to work LY2IC and LY2CI back to back. It's a good thing we have computer programs for contesting now. That would confuse my aging brain. HI.

YP3A and IU2D, among others provided me with some new prefixes. However still the 9Y and A6 were the only new band or overall countries. I stuck mostly with 10M on Saturday, and when it was time to eat late Saturday afternoon, I had 180 QSO's despite taking time out for chores and other obligations.

One other thing worth mentioning was working ZS6EZ on 10M. If you have read my 1999 report on this contest, you may recall my joking that my QSO with Chris was almost too easy for a new country. Well, Chris read the report and we kidded each other about that. He even wrote on his QSL that he was sorry he made it too easy for me. This time I had to call Chris a few times to get the QSO, and I think I'll Email him and kid him, asking if he made it harder this year on purpose.

After my supper, I got on and jumped around from 20 to 15 to 10. Some notable QSO's were ZB2X on 15, VK4DX on 10, RW1ZA on 10 after other EU sigs had disappeared - must be some kind of propagation through the auroral zone from Murmansk as I've worked that part of Russia other times after other EU sigs had faded out. RJ9J and 9G5AA provided some other good QSO's for me.

Finally around 2330Z I moved on to 40M to make my assault on those needed band countries. Shortly after getting there, I heard EU1DX, and got a K? out of him which seemed to be me he was hearing. However we couldn't complete the QSO. He was complaining of bad QRN. That would have been a new one on 40M, but it wasn't to be.

The first station I did work on 40M was S57AW. I mention that because he must have just about the best 'ears' in EU. Seemingly every time I call him on 40, it's an easy QSO, and it was easy this time also.

Here's OZ1LO coming in nice and strong. That will be a new one if I can get him. I do, and that's 97 on 40M now. An easy QSO with UR8MA deep into EU encourages me that I'm reaching well into EU quite easily. A QSO with IH9P near north Africa despite him not being all that strong is also encouraging. Maybe I can snag CN8WW if he shows up on 40. Well, I don't hear him, but I do hear 3V8BB, and work him easily after just a couple calls. A harder QSO with Z30M with many repeats makes it 99 countries on 40M and I'm near to my goal. Along the way I hear P3A on Cyprus, but rather weak, and he QRT shortly after I found him, so no AS QSO on 40M.

Time now for another break. When I return, 40M is still good so I continue my search for # 100. C4W is on which would do double duty - # 100 and WAC on 40M. However despite many minutes of trying, he is not hearing me so I move on. Well, here's someone giving out zone 33 - turns out to be CN8WW. As it was with 3V8BB, the QSO comes easily and I have my # 100 on 40M.

After that, I work a few more EU stations on 40M, then check the higher bands again. I work JE4VVM on a second band, 15M, then back to 40 for RW2F. Now it's break time again for a couple hours.

A final 45 minutes provides a handful of EU stations on 40M. This is probably my best evening of working EU on 40M I have ever had in a contest. I haven't checked all the stats yet. At any rate I have 249 QSO's logged as I head to bed Saturday night.

Again Sunday morning I wake up around 1300Z and head off to 10M. Conditions seemed a tad better than yesterday and stations were a little easier to work. I was still doing more listening and looking around than working everyone I did hear. It wasn't too long before that paid off when I found JX7DFA. I settled in to wait till I got him. It was a short wait since I got him the first time I called. That was country # 191 overall. After that I didn't find any more new ones. I did hear HS0AB very weak on 20M late in the day - far too weak for me to work or even bother trying.

Since I made two of my goals now, I decided to work some more stations than I had been doing. I ran off some 50 stations before I took a break for breakfast. Included were RL3A, SN3A, and HG5A for some new prefixes. I also ran into my friend Oliver, OE5OHO calling CQ around 40 WPM or so, and worked him. After we exchanged our info, we chatted a bit. He said he was trying to get a good run started but things were going slow.

There had been a prediction of CME's from the sun impacting the ionosphere sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. However conditions still seemed quite good. When I finished breakfast, I came back to the bands, again settling in on 10M. I mentioned earlier that I was hearing more French stations than I usually did. This was also true of CT stations. I worked CT1AOZ for another of the half dozen or so CT's I got in the contest. I usually get 1 at the most.

Around 1600Z I noticed sigs were getting much stronger and it was hard to tell who was DX and who was a K or VE station from signal strength. Some of the DX was pushing my S meter to S9 + 20 which is very strong for my less than ideal antennas and location. This continued until 1630Z or so. I was running out of stations on 10M, and checked to see what was on 15 and 20. IU4T and a few other stations were put in my log on 15M until 1640Z. At that time I checked 20M and was surprised to find it almost completely dead. I went back to 15 and found it pretty much dead also. 10M had a few stations but nothing like it was just 15-20 minutes ago. I figured the CME finally did its nasty work in the ionosphere, and ruined the bands, probably for the rest of the contest. So I decided to quit with 358 stations logged. I went out for a walk, did some shopping, and took care of some other chores.

When I was done, I had nothing much else to do, so I returned to the bands, and surprisingly again found them pretty good. I decided I'd stick around long enough to make it to 400 QSO's. It took an hour and six minutes to work the needed 42 stations, not too bad a rate. I continued on the bands till suppertime, working Oliver again, this time on 15M. Also PB6X for another prefix, although I had gotten him before the contest also. CT3BX on 15M brought me to 418 QSO's when I took another break to eat.

Since I had most of my chores and other things taken care of now, I thought I'd jump around among 20, 15, and 10M to close out the contest. I was hoping to find something interesting from Asia or Oceania to work, and also to make it to 450 QSO's. I did work NH7A, KH7Z, and KH6/W6PH from Hawaii but no other Oceania countries were even heard. I worked 9G5AA on a second band. A couple more JA's and CQ9K also got into my log. All contest long I had been looking for the J7 stations that were seeming omnipresent during the week before the contest. I needed Dominica on 10M. Finally I did work J79GU, but that was on 15M. A few minutes later I did get J75KG on 10 for the new band country. One final new band country was FY5KE on 10M.

During the contest I was having fun breaking some pileups to get my QSO's. I get a kick out of doing that. One of the best came late in the contest on 15M. 8P9Z had a huge pileup. Apparently Barbados was not very plentiful during the contest. It took a couple minutes of calling, but I did get him, hearing many others calling at the same time.

The final QSO to bring my total to 450 was another QRPer - LU7EE on 15M. I was surprised that I had worked so many stations, and of course wondered what I could have done with more of an effort. I missed some prime operating hours on 15 and 20M especially. My total operating time turned out to be higher than I intended, but still less than last year's contest when I put in almost 25 hours. This year it was just a little over 17 hours. In spite of doing more listening this year, my rate was 26 per hour, better than my 20 of last year.

I haven't really analyzed the contest or figured my score yet. As I recall, the score on the TR screen was something like 275,000 points, about 100K less than last year. I could have improved that by working some USA stations to increase my country and zone multipliers, but I didn't work a single one this year since I wasn't really trying for a big score as I mentioned at the beginning of this report.

Just a few stats here. I worked 78 countries, only a few less than last year. EU provided the bulk of my QSO's with 346, NA - 47, AF - 21, SA - 20, AS - 9, OC - 7.

By bands: 40 - 42, 20 - 35, 15 - 117, 10 - 256. More QSO's on 40 than 20. Unusual, but then I did miss prime time conditions on 20M both days. 30 EU QSO's on 40M is a personal high for any contest as far as I can see.

Once again, remember these reports are here to let you know that you can have fun in a big DX contest with a minimal QRP station. If you have trouble working DX at other times, contests are a great place to pick up those DX QSO's. Contesters are the best operators in the world with the best equipment. They CAN copy your weak QRP signals easily.