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The 2001 CQWW DX Contest

I hadn't really intended to write a report on this year's CQWW DX contest, but my friend Oliver, OE5OHO came to my web site looking to see if I had done one and eMailed me asking about it. Perhaps some other visitors are also looking for a report as well. I know in the past these reports have drawn a lot of favorable comments, so I am going to do one.

It's now a week since the contest. I usually like to write these things immediately after the contest ends, so this time things are not as fresh in my mind, but I'll try to recall any interesting happenings by going through my log as I write.

You know I always set some kind of a goal in contests. I haven't been too active in contests this year since my mother passed away back in May. That kind of lowered my interest in hamming in general and changed some of my priorities in life. Also there are now a couple of QRP contesters here in WPA with vastly better antennas and locations than mine who have made it very rough for me to win any contest awards if they enter the same contests that I do, even with all the contesting savvy I've developed over the years.. With all of that in mind, I set a very modest goal this time. I just wanted to get in the contest and try to be more active than I've been since May. I thought I might go for 500 QSO's. That soon changed as you will see.

I didn't get on at all Friday evening because I was having a good time with a friend of mine until a few hours into the contest. I never do much that first evening anyway, so I wasn't concerned about losing that time, and thought I'd just wait till 12 or 13Z to get really started.

When I did get on and checked the bands, my worst fears had come true. You may know that in my propagation report a couple days earlier I mentioned there had been a huge CME on the Sun and it looked like the energy was directed toward Earth. I said there may be some very poor conditions for the first day of the contest if the energy was strong enough and did impact the Earth directly. Well, it did, even taking the experts by surprise by it's severity. The bands early Saturday morning on November 24, 2001 sounded more like the bands of late November, 1994 or 1995 near the sunspot minimum. There was no high latitude path support at all in the ionosphere. Even the most super of the great EU contest stations were totally absent or just a mere fluttery whisper of a signal.

There were some Caribbean and South American stations that were workable. In brief periods of activity from 1353 to 2105Z I worked HI, HC8, J3, FM, VP5, 8P, ZF, 6Y, and CO. That was it, and my hopes of 500 QSO's were now dashed.

My first EU station showed up in the log at 2109Z in the form of EA6IB. The 21Z hour showed the bands opening to the SW corner of EU and the NW corner of AF providing me with QSO's from EA5FV, EA4ML, EA8ZS, CT1CJJ, etc. plus more Caribbean and SA's. Also thrown in the mix was KH7R on 15M.

The calendar turned over to November 25 UTC and the same pattern continued. Since I now had only 30 QSO's or so, when I found XT2DX fairly strong on 20M, I decided to stick with him as long as it took to get him, if I could. I couldn't possibly ruin my meager score by wasting the time there. I found him around 0020Z, and sent my call each time he finished a QSO. He wasn't hearing me at all through the pileup though. I was determined to get Burkina Faso as my 195th country so I didn't give up, and finally at 0036Z with there still being a pileup, he came back to WWP? and I sent my call a couple more times, and the contact was completed. At least that was one positive in the contest so far. A new overall country!

My friend VA3RJ had told me to watch out for stations from 6Y who were putting on a multi-op QRP effort. I made it a point to try to work them if I heard them, and I did get them on 40-10M. In the process I completed the block of prefixes for 6Y since each station was using a different prefix - 6Y9A, 6Y2A, etc. A couple of the prefixes were the ones I needed to finish 6Y1 through 6Y0, so that was another positive as I like to try to complete prefix blocks like that, especially from DX countries. Also I was glad to help out their QRP effort.

I checked 40M, and knew immediately I wasn't going to repeat my success on that band that I had back in the ARRL DX test earlier in the year. It wasn't supporting my QRP signal at all well, even to the Caribbean, and I wound up with only a couple 40M QSO's - 6Y4A and KP2E.

Before I went to bed, I found PT0F on 20M and thought I'd try to break his big pileup. I needed Fernando de Noronha on 20M for a new band country. It took a while, but I think I did get him. I say "I think" because he was one of those op's who send only partial calls. He sent K3? 59910 and I thought it was me so I sent K3WWP K3WWP TU 5995 and the timing was right when he came back with TU PT0F, but he never sent my full call. I hate that, and I just don't log stations who do that, although I made an exception here and hope he did log me correctly since it would be a new band country. I didn't log at least a half dozen other stations who did that though.

Bedtime now with only 45 stations in the log. I usually have that many when I go to bed Friday night if conditions are good. I wondered what Sunday morning would bring as I drifted off to sleep.

It was back to the fray at 1400Z. I was now hearing EU much better, although still a couple S units below normal. They were hearing me easily though and I logged OQ1T (new prefix), DH7KU (likewise), RW2F, S50C, S53EO, DL1VDL, and SQ6Z in the first 5 minutes of action. All on 10M.

In the first hour Sunday morning I worked 40 stations, almost equaling my efforts through Saturday evening. I was kind of looking for my friend Oliver, wondering how he was doing. I found him on 10M, and as we usually do in contests, we take a minute or two to chat. I enjoy that a lot, since it doesn't happen often that DX stations in contests will take the time to chat with a QRPer. He asked me how I was doing and said it was very slow. He said he was just fooling around in the contest himself, handing out contacts.

I didn't work much that was new or exotic on Sunday, but it felt great being active again and having the bands in fairly good shape. There were a couple more highlights besides chatting with Oliver though.

You'll know the outcome of this paragraph as soon as I mention the call letters if you're familiar with my previous contest write-ups. XT2DX. You're right. After the struggle on 20M Saturday evening, I found him on 15M at 1838Z and of course - a single call from me netted the QSO. The pileup had diminished to just about nothing at this time. As I mention in my contest tips elsewhere on the web site, it's often easy to work these rare stations near the end of a contest while at the beginning it can be impossible to make your QRP heard amongst dozens, even hundreds of 100-1500 watt stations. Your QRP signal will make it there, but the competition will beat you most of the time. The stronger your signal, the easier you can break these pileups and go on to work more stations. That is what kills my contest efforts at times. Other QRPers with the bigger antennas and better locations can break the pileups earlier than me, and thus make more QSO's, leaving me in the dust. That's why I say I only compete against myself and try to better my efforts in previous contests.

Well that didn't happen this time because of the severe geomagnetic storm on Saturday that brought the K index up to 9 at times and that's as high as it can go if you're not familiar with the SF, A, K, etc. numbers. That is a severe geomagnetic storm that often causes complete radio blackouts. However, I am very happy with my 276 QSO's in just a little over 10 hours operating time. Had the bands been good both days, that could well have projected to over 500 QSO's which would be near a personal record for the CQWW DX test. I made QSO's with a total of 67 countries. I didn't make an Asian QSO though and missed my weekend WAC. The bands never did recover well enough to support a QRP path to Asia. I did get a K3? from a JA on 10M, but couldn't finish the QSO.

I ended my Sunday run with a QSO from OQ1T just as I started the day. I had fun in the contest and snagged one overall new DX entity in XT2DX, new band countries in PT0F-20M, 4U1ITU-15M, and ZS6EZ-20M. And Chris, if you read this, you didn't make the QSO too easy this time. HI. Also new prefixes - 8P2, 6Y1, L34, L40, XT2, PT0, OQ1, DH7, CS7, MZ5, 8S2, LX4, OQ6, OQ5, YL9, CT9, and M2.

Hope you enjoyed reading about this contest effort, and I hope it gives you some incentive to enter contests as a QRPer if you haven't done so yet. It's very rewarding. Now I'm looking forward to the ARRL 10M contest in a couple weeks. Maybe I'll report on that one also.