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The 2011 CQWW DX Contest

I had two great incentives to put in a big effort in this contest.
1. The Sun is finally very nicely spotted with resulting great propagation conditions.
2. I wanted to give the new K2 a workout in a big DX contest.

I set out with some goals in mind.
1. Make it to 100 countries with the K2 since I got it on October 10th. I had around 50 before the test.
2. Work KL7 on some band with mW power to complete a mW WAS.
3. Work KL7 on 80 meters to complete an 80 meters WAS.
4. Work Asia on 40 meters to complete a 40 meters WAC.

We'll see along the way or at the end of this report how I made out with my goals.

I started out just about at the starter's gun on Saturday at 0000Z, and made my first contact at 0005Z with P40L on 20 meters. However the pile-ups on 20 were absolutely awesome and after working NP4G there, I decided to try 40 meters.

The situation was just about the same on 40. I don't think I'd ever heard the band so busy in a DX contest. Perhaps it was increased activity with a lot of folks coming back to DX contests with the improved propagation. Or maybe the great receiver in the K2 was just allowing me to hear more than I usually do in my noisy location. More about the K2 as we go along.

I did manage 5 QSOs on 40 in the 0000Z hour before I gave up. Three were EU and two NA. I was surprised how easily I worked PJ5G which is still a quite in demand country, I would think. He wasn't strong and I got him on the first call if I remember correctly now.

I came back to 40 in the 0300Z hour and found the situation pretty much the same. I fought the activity for about an hour before giving up again. I managed only 7 QSOs, all in NA except EE2K. It was nice to work Montserrat, a somewhat less common country. That was VP2MWG. I bet I haven't worked a VP2M station in several years before that. That was it for the night. I went to bed. I woke up a couple times during the night but didn't even try the bands. I figured I'd wait till Sunday to do that since competition should be less on the second day. Anyway I was actually more looking forward to seeing how 10 and 15 were in the morning than doing 40 and 80 in the middle of the night.

I got up around 1315Z and hit the dial around 1330Z. 15 meters was alive with DX from deep into EU and the usual Caribbean stations. I stayed mostly on 15, with a brief excursion to 20, until 1410Z. In that time I made 27 QSOs with some of my favorites being ED9M from Ceuta, RT5Z/UA5A/RT4F for some possible new prefixes, and famous contest station OH2BH although Martti was not the operator. I believe he was operating 9H9BH while OH6UM was operating OH2BH. Whew, these contest operations can be confusing.

At 1410Z, my curiousity got the better of me and won out over the nice runs I was having on 15 meters. I had to check 10 meters. It was decent, but not up to the conditions at the peak of the last sunspot cycle by any means. So I switched back and forth between 10 and 15 for about 3 1/2 hours or so before also including 20 meters in the mix. I did take a break from 1500 to 1535 for chow and to walk my neighbor's dog Joe. Those of you who follow my web diary know all about Joe so that's all I say about him here. I pretty much stayed on the air until 1945 or so when I took a longer break for chow and just for a break in general as late afternoon is kind of a down period here for DX as the higher bands are closing and crowded 20 is about the only really good band at that time.

As far as the K2 goes, I was continually impressed by how it knocks out my local noise. Except for when my noise making furnace comes on, there was virtually NO noise to be heard on 15 and 10. I could literally hear stations at the S0 level. I was hearing many of the very weak (to me) stations that were in the pile-ups chasing the DX stations. Probably what I was hearing was very similar to how I sound at many of the DX stations, and I can understand how with their big antennas and a quiet location with a good receiver they can easily copy me if the competition doesn't overwhelm my signal. It was also impressive how I could work some of those very weak stations I was hearing here. The last QSO before my 1945 break was with ZM1A whom I was barely hearing.

Let's go back now and pick out some more favorite QSOs from Saturday morning and afternoon. Of course I enjoy each and every QSO in a contest like that, but some do stand out for one reason or other. TC3A because I can't recall working a TC prefix before, and it's always nice to work Turkey anyway. Many of the SN, SO, SQ stations from Poland again for the chance of them being a new prefix. The tiny country of Luxembourg always fascinated me along with Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and a couple of the other small EU countries. I like the way they stood up over the centuries and resisted incorporation into some larger country and thus maintained their independence. I still have never worked Andorra, but I did work LX1NO and T70A in this contest. I've worked Monaco, but not in the contest. I got a kick out of working IK2EGL because of my friend Mike KC2EGL. At first I only heard 2EGL and for a brief instant thought it might be Mike, but quickly realized it was 15 meters and too strong to be Mike at some 35 miles distance. LZ9W because he is usually very strong here, but is usually very hard for me to work. IO5O for what may be a new prefix. Another small EU entity OH0Z from Aland Is. MD2C for the prefix. 4O3A for a still somewhat new country. PA0LOU because he was among my first DX stations worked back in the 1960s when I was still new to the ham radio game. I don't know if it is the same person, but it brought back memories. TK4W because he wasn't all that strong from a rare entity and I beat a pile-up to work him very easily. That takes us up to late Saturday afternoon. At 1945 I had 130 QSOs and 103 multipliers.

The rest of Saturday wasn't too eventful with a couple exceptions. Although I only made 20 more QSOs before going to bed, one of them was WL7E. Why was that special? After trying KL7RA on 10 meters endlessly with 900 mW with no sucess, a little while later I found WL7E and worked him easily with the 900mW. That took care of my goal #2 and I now had a mW WAS under my belt. KH6LC and KH7M came easily on 10 meters as does Hawaii most every time for me on either 10 or 15 meters no matter how weak their signals may be. Hard to understand, but I'll accept it. Another country I seem to work easily is Cape Verde. If you look at the antenna farm they have there, it's no wonder I snagged D4C with no effort at all on 40 meters not long before giving up for the night at just 0105Z. Overall the bands were just not working for me then. 20 meters was pretty much dead except for stations I had already worked. EU stations were not hearing me at all on 40 meters, and I had worked most of the Caribbean stations there. So I called it quits for the evening with 150 QSOs and 127 multipliers.

I woke up around 1100Z and thought I'd see what was happening on 40 and 80. I figured I could work some OC stations on 40 and possibly find my KL7 on 80. However neither panned out at all and conditions were pretty awful on both bands at that time. So it was back to bed.

I got up again at 1300Z and joined in the fray. I was on for quite a bit of the last 11 hours of the contest with only short breaks for chow and a walk and visit with Joe.

The pattern for the first part of Sunday was very similar to the first part of Saturday with somewhat equal conditions. 15 remained the star performer, but a lot was to be had on 10 and later 20 also. Some of the favorite QSOs from Sunday morning included the following: PA3BWK who has a great Morse Code web site. YQ6A for perhaps a new prefix. I don't recall working any YQ station before, but I may find out differently when I go through the log for prefixes and band-countries. I'm just going from memory for this report, and the memory, along with the rest of me, is getting older. HI. After chasing Bosnia for a while I finally got it with E7DX and E73W back to back. UX1UF whom I worked on Saturday on the same 15 meters, but I know he logged me as W3WWP then so I worked him again and he got it right this time around. M3I for a neat little call who was quite popular later on in the contest with a big pile-up. The always easily workable DL1IAO. Another country that evaded me for a long time - EI2CN. I had really concentrated on working as many countries as possible so I could achieve goal #1 and get the Elecraft DXCC award. TK4W again easily, this time on 15 meters. I1EIS because the dit, di dit, di di dit suffix makes for a nice rhythm. ZS4TX for another country I took so long to work originally, then worked ZS6EZ so easily several years ago. I 'complained' about it being 'too easy' in one of these contest reports and got a comment from ZS6EZ on his QSL card to the effect that he wouldn't make it so easy the next time. HI.

As morning turned to afternoon here, I worked C5A - hadn't worked The Gambia in several years. ED9M again - I'd eventually make it 3 bands with him. 6V7V greeted me by name. I couldn't figure out who it was till after the contest despite him telling me about the operation. It was my young friend Jeff N1SNB who submitted one of my first ever 'Teens and CW' reports for the web site many years ago. He's now 'grown up' in his early 30's. Oh, to be that age again. HI. Shortly after that, it was OQ5M operated by Franki ON5ZO, another friend from via the web site many years ago. We had a brief chat. Two new contest countries back to back in 6Y3M and GI0RQK. I almost didn't get GI0RQK. I tried him before but then the furnace noise came on, so I put him in the K2 memory and went back after the noise quit and got him. Super strong antenna guru ON4ON who 'pegged' the S meter. I hadn't been working any W/VE stations since I wasn't going for score and was only interested in DX QSO's, but I did work about a half dozen as the contest was winding down. The first was VE7GL. A few new contest countries also as the contest was winding down came from PZ5T, CO6LP, 8P5A, HC2SL, VK6LW. The VK6LW QSO came on 20, and was one of those whom I could barely hear. It took a while to work him. He wasn't hearing me at all, then suddenly came back with WWP. I sent my complete call twice and we made the QSO. Without the K2, I probably wouldn't have even heard him. OH8X late on 20 meters. I can usually hear and work Finland after the rest of EU has disappeared due to some factor of propagation. That brings us to the end of these long somewhat tangled up 'favorites' paragraphs, and to my contest as well.

I shut down just after 2330. I had been trying to reach 300 QSOs, but just couldn't find anyone new and was getting tired, so I quit at 296 QSOs, 213 multipliers, and 178,068 points.

New prefixes worked: C5 DM8 EF2 HT7 IO5 IW1 LW8 M3 MD2 MM3 PR5 RM5 RT6 SO4 T70 TC3 TK4 TO7 UW3 YQ6 YU2 ZS4.

New band countries: VP2V 15, HK 10, PJ2 15, SV 15, 4O 15, FJ 20, TA 10.

QSOs, countries, and zones per band:
80      0     0     0
40     13    11     4
20     59    45    13
15    150    63    17
10     74    45    15
Tot   296   164    49
Ovall 296    93    22
Possibly that 93 countries may be my all-time record for a contest. So far in glancing at other contest stories, I find my best previous total was 83 in the 1999 CQWW DX contest. I'll have to do a little more checking, but I'm pretty sure that's right.

QSOs and countries per continent:
AF     17     7
AS      1     1
EU    190    45
NA     50    26
OC      7     3
SA     31    11
I just found out that my TC3A QSO was an Asiatic Turkey QSO, so that was my only Asian QSO and gave me a contest/weekend WAC. Other than that, I only heard a couple Cyprus and a couple Japan stations from Asia and couldn't work them.

Oh, with the 93 countries in the contest and 10 others from October 10 to November 25 that I didn't work in the contest, that made 103 countries with the K2. so I reached that goal, and am now going to apply for the Elecraft DXCC award.

I found out one important thing in the contest. My 15 meters vertical dipole will tune nicely on 10 meters with the wide range antenna tuning unit in the K2. It seems to work just as well as, if not better than, my sloping 10 meters dipole plus it has a better S/N ratio.

That pretty much wraps up this report. There are still some things I need to check about the contest, but I wanted to write this report while the contest was fresh in my mind. I think it shows that conditions are hot again now for DX, and that YOU can do the same or even better with a simple station like mine if you wish to do so and set your mind to it.