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The 2007 CQ WPX Contest

It's been quite a while since I wrote one of these reports. I just haven't been all that active in contests due to the time consumption of other activities. Also anything that I would write would wind up being mostly just a repetition of earlier reports of the same contest.

However, I approached this contest differently so I feel it is worth writing about and may be of interest to some folks.

This month our NAQCC Challenge was to make 10 QSO's using mW power. I figured the easiest way to do it would be to wait till the WPX contest and get them there. However the NAQCC was awarding a Participation Point to anyone who made and reported at least 1 mW QSO during the month. I wanted that point, so I got in the NE QP early in the month and made a mW QSO there to be sure of getting my PP. The other 9 to meet the full challenge I would get in the WPX contest.

As with getting the PP, I wanted to be assured of getting my daily QSO to keep my 'streak' going, so I started the WPX contest Friday evening at the full 5 watts and worked VC2M for my QSO of the day.

Then I switched around my station a bit. The 570D won't go below 5 watts so I would need to use the QRP+ rig I've been keeping for my friend Eric, KB3BFQ. He gave me permission to use it at any time I wanted to. I had to switch my antennas to my secondary tuner that I use with the QRP+. I also had to switch headphones and the keyer to that rig.

Once I was set up, I headed to 40M and tuned around for the strongest signals I could find, figuring (correctly in most cases) they would be the easiest to work with the 600-800 mW power level I would be using.

It took just a few minutes after calling a couple of stations who didn't hear me to work NV1N fairly easily. Skip was a bit long, and I next worked KT5E in Colorado (I'm getting the QTH from the Internet as QTH is not part of the exchange in the WPX contest. Since stations sometimes operate at other ham's stations in big contests, some of the QTH's I give may be inaccurate at this time).

I worked 6 stations in the next 10 minutes including VP5/WQ7X. That brought me to a total of 9 QSO's in the contest and 9 mW QSO's for the challenge. Then I hit a brick wall. I just couldn't get anyone to answer me for that 10th and final challenge QSO. It took 17 minutes of fruitless calling before N0NI finally answered me and that completed the challenge.

I quit the contest then, but it kept nagging me that I was having fun playing with QRPp or mW power, so I decided to get back in the contest again Saturday morning and see how far I could go.

When I turned on the rig at 1315Z or so, 40M was still fairly active so I started out there. My first QSO was W0BH in Kansas, and it came easily. Next it was WO4O in TN before I headed off to 20M. That involved changing antenna plugs again to connect the QRP+ to my 20M attic dipole.

When I got to 20M it was in a good opening to the SE USA. I worked stations in TN, GA, FL, AL, LA, and the like. Mixed in was a station in somewhat the same direction, but a bit further off. I had a fairly easy QSO with ZF1A. I made 22 QSO's in the first hour and 2 minutes Saturday morning before getting hungry and having some chow.

I came back from 1526 to 1555Z and added 8 more QSO's. They were spread out everywhere from New England to the Midwest to the South. All were on 20M. I checked 15 and 10 and didn't find any openings on those bands yet, except for a couple very weak unworkable stations.

I found throughout the whole contest that almost every station I worked had to be really strong for them to even hear my mW signals from my minimal antennas. I can only recall working a couple that were less than a solid S9 here. On the other hand when I use 5 watts, I can often work stations that are S5 or even lower and almost unreadable here.

My practice was to limit myself to calling a station twice unless he was getting answers from other stations, then I might stick with him a bit longer. If he wasn't getting any answers and not hearing me at all, I moved on quickly. It was interesting to note that several station not hearing me were the same stations who always seem to have trouble copying me even when I'm using 5 watts.

I took a break until 1800Z, and when I returned, I found some stronger activity on 15M so I worked NX5M, KU1CW, and N0NI there in a few minutes activity spread over the next couple hours as I would tune around for a while, then QRT and return a little later to try again.

My next period of sustained activity started at 2010Z and lasted about an hour. I logged 11 stations in that hour. Among them was AB1HZ who is listed as being in Oregon, but from his signal strength I doubt that. OR would be a new mW state for me, but I'm reluctant to count it unless I find out for sure AB1HZ was definitely in that state. When I looked up the call, I saw it was a club calling itself 'Former Operators of HZ1AB'. They just transposed the prefix and suffix of the Saudi call. Neat.

I was now at 57 WPX and 57 mW QSO's, and I set as my goal making 100 QSO's. It was strange to note that each time I reached a landmark number like 10, then 50, the 10th and 50th QSO's were very hard to get. I wondered if I made it to 99 if the 100th would also be hard. More about that when the time comes.

24 more QSO's came in just over an hour between 0004 and 0109Z. The mix came on 40 and 20 meters. Included were TO3T in Martinique on 20M, P40L on 20M, along with some good prefixes like NS1S and VE8, both of which I believe before checking are new ones for me. I remember when VE8 used to be the prefix for the territories of Canada. This VE8 is licensed to Ontario and it would be interesting to find out how he came about getting that call with the VE8 prefix.

Some more activity in the 0200Z hour got me to a total of 91 QSO's. I finally crossed the country (assuming AB1HZ was not in Oregon) when I worked AI6V in California which was a new mW state for me, and brought my mW state total to 39 worked now.

I figured I could get the remaining 9 QSO's for my goal of 100 Sunday morning so I QRT for the night.

It was rougher on Sunday morning because I had already worked most all of the really strong stations. I did struggle to get 8 more QSO's though. And as I thought, that made 99 and that 100th QSO was elusive. In fact as I write this, I still need to get #100 with about 6 hours left to go. I'm going to pause in my writing now and go back on the air to see if I can get it. If not now, then I should probably be able to get someone in the 2200-2400Z time period this evening on 40M.

Well, I got N4IG on 20M shortly after I fired up the rig. I added a couple more QSO's for 102 mW QSO's, then switched to 5 watts and worked TM7XX. Now I don't know what my plans are for the rest of the contest. I have 3 options. I can call it quits right now, go back and get still more mW QSO's, or go back and try to work some of those new Mexican prefixes I've been hearing in the contest but couldn't work with my mW power.

I'll post this now, but add a paragraph later if necessary to tell you of my closing hours in the contest.

I wound up spending the last three hours of the contest pursuing the last two of the three objectives I mentioned above. It took a while but I did find two of the Mexican prefixes and worked them. I also added a few more mW QSO's. However the star of the three hours, or at least from about 2200-2345Z, was the DX on 20M. Conditions were a throwback to the sunspot maximum a few years ago with EU and AF signals often topping out well over the S9 mark. Still I couldn't work them with my mW signals, so I went back to 5 watts and that acted like a KW for me. With 5 watts I worked virtually every DX station I heard unless they were just starting out in the contest and drawing big pileups like OP4K to name one.

In that time period I worked 41 DX stations, not a bad rate for a sunspot minimum day with a SF of 67 and A index of 14. Some of the more unusual calls I worked were 4N8A, EE8A, DR5L, EC2DX, DR80AMA, 6F75A, 6H1CT. All of which I believe are new prefixes for my collection. That was certainly a fun time. I hope to see more periods like that in other big contests like the IARU, CQDX, ARRLDX, etc. during these otherwise dreary DX days.

This certainly has rekindled my interest in QRPp work, and I'll probably be doing more of it in the near future. That is unless we have DX openings like the one in this contest, then I'll go with 5 watts and have fun working the DX and save the mW work for later. HI