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The 2001 ARRL 10M Contest

Since my interest in contesting returned in the CQWW DX contest, I was really looking forward to the 10M contest. Also I knew I'd better be active in this one, since next year the sunspots should be on the decline and the band may not be that good by then.

I didn't really set any goals before the contest other than just to be as active as I could. After I got started, I would set some goals along the way which I'll mention in their proper time.

Friday night was out since I had company, and the band would be closed by the time I could check it. Just to make sure, I did listen around 0230Z and I was right - there was nothing to be heard on my simple setup. The KW and beam boys were probably working each other then, but if so, I couldn't even hear them.

My contesting started at 1254Z on Saturday with a QSO with DL1LOD. Conditions to EU were good. I had some fears since there had been a couple of major solar flares over the past 3 days or so and the resulting CME's could have wiped out the band, at least for high latitude DX. However as the experts predicted, the energy from the CME's largely missed Earth and had very little effect on conditions. I decided to get as much DX that morning as I could though, since one prediction said the energy from one of the flares could impact Earth around 1800Z.

I worked EU stations easily and had 19 in the log by 1319Z when I ran into A61AJ. Although I didn't need him for a new band country, I did stick with him for a few minutes till I finally got him. It was not an easy QSO, but it was a good one. He took the time to get my call right, something I appreciated.

In contrast, a few QSO's earlier, I had one of those QSO's where the station never sends my correct call, and I'm not sure if he logged me correctly or not. It goes something like this CQ TEST S50K - K3WWP - K3WW 599572 - K3WWP WWP WWP TU 599PA - QSL S50K TEST. Now did he log me correctly or not. I certainly don't know. Perhaps I'm logged as K3WW or maybe K3WWP. Only S50K knows for sure. I was using the TR program and I entered a note after the QSO with the intention of calling S50K later if I heard him again to see if he sent me SRI QSO B4. If so, then I know he logged me as K3WWP, if not either he was not dupe checking or he did have me logged incorrectly. In that case I'd work him again.

I did the above with about a dozen stations in the contest, and I did get a few to respond with SRI QSO B4 which meant they did log me OK, but never sent my correct call as they should have done.

I'm sorry to be so wordy about that matter, but it bothers me very much when a station does that. In fact, I think I'll list the calls of those stations who were guilty - S50K, S59KW*, YT6A, IO3Q, N5OT, HB9EP*, PA1TT, VO1MP*, KA7T, N6TU, LU6UO, 9A1A, W4SAA, RN6BY, LZ9W, 4N1N. The ones with an * were the ones who later said SRI QSO B4.

At 1356 I called OQ5ZO who greeted me by name and said it was nice to work me. I didn't realize at first it was my eMail friend Franki - ON5ZO. I guess the OQ5 prefix fooled me. Then when I did realize who it was, it was too late to say something back to him.

Nothing really unusual in the way of band entities or new prefixes entered my log by the time I made my 100th QSO - GM3JKS at 1514Z. That was one of the goals I made along the way - to reach 100 QSO's before brunch. Since I did it at about the usual time I have my brunch, I took a half hour break to get something to eat. I was thinking about then that if conditions held, I might have a shot at 500 QSO's. I didn't really set that as a new goal, but I did set a goal of breaking my previous best 10M contest which was 363 QSO's. That is, if conditions held. It was such an iffy thing with all that matter from the CME's lurking out there somewhere in space.

At 1710Z I worked W0SD easily for a new mult. That was a pattern that would continue throughout the contest. When I ran into a somewhat rare mult that I needed, I usually got it on the first try or at least very easily. VY1JA, K7BG in MT, WB0O in ND, FG/K6LA, ZL2AZ (a new band-entity), VK5GN and a few others all worked out that way.

In contrast to that, I just could not work any stations closer than 800 miles or so. I could hear them around S6 or so, but they couldn't hear me. Perhaps some expert on 10M propagation can explain that to me. I think it must have been some form of scatter propagation that would bring a portion of their high power RF to me, but conversely that mode couldn't get enough of my minimal QRP signal back to them for them to even hear me at all. I sure would have liked to have worked some eastern US states for additional multipliers. And I would have loved to have worked MD and DE to complete my 10M WAS. Several MD stations, especially K3ZO were S5 to S7 here, but I never got so much as a ? from them when I called.

Japan started to come through around 2200Z, and I worked JR7ZIT, JF1SQC, JH0SDA/1, JH3AIU, JA2KVB, JI1RXQ, JN1NOP, JA1NLX, JK1KNB, JR2DOL, and JA8LN by 0100Z. I may have missed the real peak conditions to JA though as I had to take a break to get some exercise from 2333 to 0044Z. I just wasn't feeling all that good after sitting at the rig most of the day with only my brunch and supper breaks. I'm used to taking a couple long walks every day, and my body was apparently missing that exercise.

There wasn't much to be had from 0044 to 0104Z, so I quit for the day at 276 QSO's. There was no sign of deteriorating conditions at all, so I hoped the CME impact predicted for 1800Z missed Earth completely, and we would be clear for a good day on Sunday.

I started at virtually the same time Sunday morning as I did on Saturday and worked 9A1CCY at 1259Z to start the day off. My second Sunday QSO turned out to be a new band entity. As I had been doing, my QSO with something needed or new came easily and I snagged TK5T with a single call for a new 10M entity.

Another run of EU stations in the morning followed. I was wondering what happened to Africa. My only two African QSO's in the whole contest were EA8/SM6CLU on Saturday at 1723Z which completed my contest WAC, and another that I'll mention later. This was in sharp contrast to the CQWW DX test when I must have worked around 15-20 AF QSO's. I can't explain that one.

One other strange thing was the lack of LZ stations. I never worked nor heard one until I got LZ2PL at 1343Z on Sunday for my 296th QSO.

I worked K1TO at 1437Z and Dan made it a point to say CU in the FQP. He's been after me to put in another big effort in that contest since I came in 2nd place a couple years ago. I probably will put in a good effort in 2002 if my contest interest stays peaked.

I finally got Kaliningrad in the form of UA2FB at 1449Z. I chased him on Saturday with no success. I wonder where RW2F was. I didn't hear him in this contest. Maybe on SSB? As you know, I don't use that mode at all here.

Some nice prefixes came around that time with GM2T and IC8CQJ. I haven't counted yet to see how many new prefixes I worked, but there were quite a few, I think.

Earlier in the day I tried for P3F, but the QSO wasn't good enough for me to log it. There were some QSO's I didn't log because I wasn't sure they were complete. That's in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier who didn't verify my correct call. I did get another shot at P3F at 1538Z and got him easily then.

I reached 364 QSO's at 1559Z when I worked PA3ELD making this my best 10M contest ever. Another goal out of the way. With only a couple hours left to easily work EU and still not being able to work the eastern USA, I knew I wouldn't make it to 500 QSO's and just decided to see how far I could go. The contacts were coming slower and slower now.

By 1730Z it got so slow that I thought I'd try some CQ's. All my previous contacts came from S&P as they usually do in big contests. In fact I am not at all very good at using the CQ functions in TR, even though working S&P is second nature with the program. I decided to jump in and give it a try. That would maybe give me some more QSO's in addition to learning the TR CQ setup.

I did fairly well in getting used to the program with only a couple screw ups. I didn't get all that many contacts via CQ though. Only W7SW, KR5F, W5YZ, VE4IM, and W7HS answered me in about 15 minutes. I went back to S&P for most of the rest of the contest although I did try CQing again and got 8 more QSO's that way.

I found myself stuck at 399 QSO's for some time. It took 7 minutes to go from 399 to 400. I finally got K0JJ at 1814Z for #400. It was then that I decided to set 450 QSO's as my final goal. Perhaps that sounds easy, but EU had pretty much faded out now, leaving me with only the western USA, SA, and later OC and AS for sources of QSO's.

My final EU came at 1851Z when I got CT1BOH. The SW corner of EU seems to always be the last to go when the bands change.

Now it was hunt, hunt, hunt for stations I hadn't worked before. They came slowly, but a string of stations brought me to 437 QSO's at 2211Z. Next up was ZD8Z. I parked on his frequency and thought I'd try to get him since that would be a new mult. The QSO did come in a couple minutes, but it wasn't easy with many repeats before he got my call right.

My 82nd and next to last multiplier came a few minutes later from FM/G3SQX. One more would tie my multiplier total from my best 10M contest, but with many more QSO's this time, my score would be much better.

The last hour and a half brought 15 QSO's with some JA's and WC USA making up the bulk of those. OA4O provided the 83rd multiplier in that time period also.

My total of 460 QSO's is my 6th highest QSO total in a contest. My final line score was 460 QSO's, 83 mults, 153,052 points, 18.75 hours of operating time.

Perhaps a breakdown by hours (UTC) and continents would be interesting:

Hour   NA    EU    SA    AF    AS    OC    Tot   O'all   Notes
12            2                              2      2    Last 5 mins
13      1    42                 1           44     46
14      3    40     1                       44     90
15      7    10                             17    107    Brunch break
16     25    15                             40    147
17     27     7     1     1           1     37    184
18     29     2     1                 1     33    217
19      6                                    6    223    Supper
20                                                       Break
21     24           2                       26    249
22      7           1           5     1     14    263
23      3                       4     1      8    271    Half hour
00      1                       2            3    274    15 mins
01      2                                    2    276    5 mins
02-11                                                    Off
12            1                              1    277    5 mins
13      1    27                             28    305
14      7    27                             34    339
15      2    22                 1           25    364
16      6     9                             15    379    Brunch
17     12     6                             18    397
18     11     4                             15    412
19      1                                    1    413    Supper
20                                                       Break
21     17           3                       20    433
22     14                 1     2           17    450
23      5           1           4           10    460

Tot   211   214    10     2    19    4     460
Remember these reports are here to show what can be done with QRP and only simple wire antennas. You can do the same or better in a similar situation. Of course with a better location and bigger antenna farm your results will be vastly superior. The bottom line is that contesting with QRP is a lot of fun, and you can be a lot more successful than those who've never tried QRP may believe.