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The 2012 CQ WPX Contest

Let me start off by saying that I treat the WPX as strictly a DX contest and don't work any W/VE stations unless I find a previously unworked W/VE prefix which I didn't this year. So all QSOs mentioned below are DX QSOs. Had I worked W/VE, I would have had many more QSOs and prefixes, as well as a much higher score.

With the great DX conditions of the past few weeks, I was fired up and looking forward to the CQ WPX contest this year. I was sure I was going to put in a pretty heavy effort, and I wound up doing so.

I really didn't set any goals, although I was thinking it would be nice if I could get 100 countries worked. I had no idea how many QSOs I would shoot for.

The contest started off with a bang. 20 and 15 were both very open, and I made 33 QSOs in my first hour and worked all continents in my first 50 minutes of activity. Here are the continents in order worked:
EU - HG3R 0010Z
AF - CR3L 0012Z
OC - KH6LC 0028Z
SA - PT5T 0031Z
AS - 4Z4AK 0052Z
and finally
NA - V31UB 0100Z

That may be one of my quickest WACs ever. Some day I'll have to look into that when I have nothing else to do.

Most QSOs were nothing out of the ordinary that first evening. I mean from common countries that are easy to work. There were some overall new prefixes in the mix, as I'm sure I'll find out when I do that checking. I guess the 'prize' QSOs came but 4 minutes apart when I worked 9K2RA at 0200 and TC2X at 0204. Those were only my 3rd Kuwait and 10th Turkey QSOs. I got excited for a little while when I worked P33W. I though that was a new country, till I 'remembered' it's only a special prefix for Cyprus, and I have 31 (now 32) QSOs from there. Oh well.

It was nice to work Mike F5IN. I first worked him way back in 1994, and remember hearing him long before that. I worked EE8X at 0247 and my friend Geo N1EAV said he heard me being worked.

I quit for the night at 0318 after working OP4K for QSO #73, an appropriate number, wouldn't you say? I hoped to get back on later and check 40 meters, and I did, but conditions were not all that good, and I didn't even try to work anyone there. I hoped next to maybe get up early (09 or 10Z) and see what was happening. I did wake up, but was too tired to even turn on the rig then.

My next action didn't come until 1700Z, and conditions were terrible. I made 3 QSOs in a half hour, then quit.

Back just before 2200, and things were much better. One of my first QSOs then was with my friend Franki OQ5M, and as usual we chatted briefly. My first real special prefix came from 9A201AA a couple QSOs later. Then 3 more QSOs to OG73X. Another few QSOs, then I worked the UN Global Service Center station 4U1GSC in Brindisi, Italy. One of the special GQ prefixes from England GQ8SRS followed a little later. I had my 42nd (and later 43rd) QSO with RU1A, although I had previously only worked him once since 2004. It took a lot of doing and failed calls, but I finally worked 9A22P for another nice prefix. Then just before the 26th turned into the 27th, I worked 4L0A from Georgia on 20M. Only my second Georgia QSO. I'd work 4L0A later on 15M for perhaps my only new band country of the contest. At least the only one I'm sure of pending further checking of my log. I wound up the first day with 126 QSOs, and headed on into the 27th (UTC).

From 0000 to 0511 I had a real ball. Both 20 and 15 were pretty much wide open all that time. I worked fairly rare Corsica from TK4A, only my 13th QSO from that country. I completed the pair of islands there with Sardinia IS0IGV later on in the contest. One of the longer calls I've ever worked came in the form of SF0503COH. The prefix of SF0503 was even a bit long for GenLog and it listed it as SF05. The real fun started at 0147 when I worked GM0F on 15 which really opened up from then on. I worked things like OG0Z, ZL1BYZ, OH10X. Then there was a direct connection to Lithuania. I worked LY6A, LY7A, LY8O, all well over S9 here as were other stations from that area like YL6W, ES9C, EU5T and many Russians. It was like a trip back in time to the last sunspot maximum when I often experienced great openings like that. It's nice to have the band pretty empty, but a lot of strong stations from certain areas of the world come pounding through and are easily worked. I guess the big KW/beam stations experience that a lot, but for a QRP/minimal wire antennas station like mine, it's a rare, enjoyable treat, and I take advantage of them.

Finally though, things wound down by 0520 or so and I quit for the night. Again I failed to get on 40 and I didn't make a single QSO on that band in the contest. I was just having too much fun on 20 and 15. I did get a couple of 10M QSOs, but that band never really opened up for DX as I hoped it would.

I got on a little earlier Sunday morning than I did on Saturday. I started at 1310Z with a QSO from OG1M on 15M. I stayed strictly on 15 for the next few hours, not going to 20 until 1952Z. That 6 hour period, with some time-outs for chow, etc. netted me 56 QSOs. Not a great many, but some thrilled me. I worked JF1SQC, JH0INP, and 7J1YAJ from Japan in the half hour between 1545 and 1615 on 15M. I can't recall working Japan before in those hours. Most of my 182 JA QSOs have come close to the sunrise and sunset hours, not near the middle of the day.

That period also brought a couple nice prefixes in SW8A and SN10SLO. Most other QSOs were with common prefixes, although it will be interesting to see how many new prefixes I worked overall, as well as seeing if there are any additional new band countries among the 291 QSOs. I'll have to analyze my log to find that out, and although you won't notice it in reading this, I am going to take a break before doing that.

First of all, I fell far short of my desired 100 countries. I only worked 64, but hey, that's not bad, although it again is far short of my record of 93 in a big DX contest in last year's CQWW DX contest in November.

I put in a total of 16.5 hours for a rate of 17.6 QSOs per hour. A bit low caused by doing a lot of searching and the time taken passing up the W/VE stations. I had 291 QSOs with 204 different prefixes. That made my total score 176,256 points which is irrelevant to me since I wasn't going for score. However I note that I came close to my best score in a WPX contest which was 183,310 back in 1999 from 308 QSOs and 230 prefixes. I could have easily beaten that if I'd noted it before the contest. Again oh well.

The breakdown by continent:
AF - 8
AS - 11
EU - 249
NA - 8
OC - 2
SA - 13

New prefixes: 3G1 3Z2 4L0 5C5 8S6 9A22 DA2 DD5 DJ5 DK1 DK7 DM6 DP3 DP9 EF5 EM2 GQ8 OH10 OM10
ON1 P33 PW7 R7 RC5 RM9 SF0530 SN10 TC2 UZ0 UZ4

Wow, I didn't realize there were that many - 30. Plus I noticed a lot that I have worked before, but don't have verified.

Let's do a quick check for new band-countries now.
4L0A on 15

That's it. Disappointing, but expected as I have over 1,000 band-countries worked. Like the prefixes though, there are some I worked I don't have verified yet.

By band:
10 - 2
15 - 110
20 - 179

CQ zones worked (18): 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 25 31 32 33

Finally here's a breakdown by hours:

SAT 00 - 30
01 - 22
02 - 17
03 - 3
16 - 1
17 - 2
21 - 3
22 - 24
23 - 23
SUN 00 - 18
01 - 17
02 - 13
03 - 6
04 - 5
05 - 3
13 - 18
14 - 4
15 - 17
16 - 12
19 - 8
21 - 11
22 - 16
23 - 16

I guess the only noteable thing there is the great start with 30 QSOs in the 00Z hour. Maybe my best start ever in a DX contest. Usually that first hour is rough with everyone having big pileups.

And that's it unless you'd care for any other statistics. Let me know.

The bottom line - DX is a very enjoyable ham radio pasttime. I don't think my friend Mike KC2EGL will mind if I post this. It says it all very well. No matter how many QSOs you get, there still is a lot of fun in DX and contesting.

"John, You outdid me by 280 QSO's. Hi-Hi!!! I couldn't bust through the pileups. I did get a few new countries which is always alot of fun. This will be the first time I have had more DX QSO's than domestic QSO's. I never knew DX hunting was so much fun, thanks to you. I will go back on the hunt for a bit tomorrow. Mike."

I hope that folks reading Mike's comments and this report will be encouraged to give contesting and DX a try no matter how simple a station setup they have.

For those who may be reading this out of context from the rest of my web site, I operate only CW, only QRP, and only use very simple wire antennas (20M attic dipole, 15M vertical dipole on the side of my house, 10M sloping dipole on my porch roof).

Thanks for reading. Have fun DXing.