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The 2012 CQWW DX Contest

This was my 23rd contest in which I've made 321 QSOs or more. Obviously I picked that number because that's how many I made in this contest. However it's the first time I've made that many since the ARRL DX Contest in February 2004. Over 8 years - WOW! It wasn't because I couldn't have done it between now and then. CW and QRP didn't stop working. It was just I didn't have the time nor desire to put in that big an effort in contesting with my work with the NAQCC and other things since then.

But now, the desire was back egged on by my new KX3 rig plus having many more helpers to assist with the many chores associated with the ever expanding NAQCC which is now perhaps the largest QRP/CW club in the world with over 6,300 members promoting the use of CW and QRP on the ham bands. So I set out Friday evening with the intention of seeing just how well I could make out with a big effort.

Besides just doing as well as I could - not going for a big score but just having as much fun as I could and hoping to work some new band countries and prefixes along the way, I did set a couple goals.

1. Finish WAC and DXCC with my new KX3.
2. Get another one-day or less WAC.
3. Work Asia on 40 to finish my 40M WAC.
4. Work KL7 on 80 to finish my 80M WAS.

I didn't quite make it to the KX3 DXCC. Of the 80 I worked in the contest, only about half were new to the KX3 and my total after the contest stands at 88.

Once again I failed #3 and #4 and once again I say maybe next big DX contest.

I really should take notes as I go along in a contest. I'm sure there are a lot of thoughts I had to put here in this story, but I've forgotten a lot of them by now. Anyway let's get to the play-by-play as well as I can remember it from looking at my log, then we'll have the usual stats at the end of the story.

When I started out, 20 meters was pretty much dead and all I had Friday evening was 40 meters. In addition to the usual Friday evening Caribbean QSOs, conditions were pretty good to EU so I worked II2E, E7DX, 4O3A, CR2X, S52AW, ED5O from across the pond. 23 QSOs by bedtime a little above average for me, I would guess.

I did wake up a couple times during the night, but didn't have the energy to get on the air, so my next run of QSOs started at 1359Z Saturday morning. As it was pretty much during the whole contest, 15 meters was the star then. 10 meters just never really did open up as the solar flux was not high enough plus there was some minor storminess in the ionosphere. I did get some QSOs on 10, but nowhere near what I'd done there in the last sunspot maximum around 2000. I worked two 3Z5 stations back to back on 15 - 3Z5W and 3Z5N for a new prefix. My QSO with 9A7A at 1430Z was the 50th time we've worked in contests. Only HG1S has worked me more often from EU. Hey, LZ9W was easy to work for a change. Usually no matter how strong he is here, he just never seems to hear me, but this time it only took a couple calls to get him. 31 QSOs in the first hour Saturday morning wasn't all that bad. Just behind the next hour's 33 QSOs. Most were common countries and stations. I guess about the most noteworthy was P33W on Cyprus. I don't work that country all that much.

I usually work Finland easily on 20 meters in the afternoon for whatever reason, and I had a tiny run of stations from that area in the 1700Z hour - OH0X, OG1D, OH8X. At 1727Z I worked perhaps my most unusual station of the contest in Z60WW. I had to look that one up to see what it was. It was Kosovo which isn't universally recognized as an independent country (yet), notably by the UN and the ARRL and ITU. Some hams there are using the self-assigned Z6 prefix. I'm not sure how CQ magazine treats that. I have heard they do count the Z6 prefix for thier WPX awards, but don't quote me on any of that.

At 1947Z, I worked my first Hawaii - KH7X. It still amazes me how easily I can work KH6. I seemingly never have to take more than a few tries to make the QSO even though the Hawaiian may not be all that strong.

And there's Cape Verde - D4C - piece of cake to work him not only on 15 at 2141Z, but on 20 and 40 later. I once got Cape Verde on 5 bands in a contest, but didn't make it on 10 or 80 this time around. All in all that part of the world - the Atlantic Ocean and west coast of Africa is another easy place for me to work and I also worked C5A (40,10) and 6V7V (40,15,20) easily.

Alaska on the other hand is sometimes easy, sometimes not. I did work KL8DX on 15 for a new Alaskan prefix. It was neither too easy nor too hard. Oh oh, there's Japan on 20 meters. You know my story about Japan. It took forever to get my first one, but now I am closing in on 200 Japanese QSOs. I wonder what will happen with JA in this contest. Well, JA5FDJ was worked fairly easily to start things off. That was followed by two fluttery QSOs with OH8L and SJ2W. They were more fluttery than the JAs, but I got them pretty easily as I usually do with Scandinavian stations late in the afternoon no matter how much flutter there is. I sometimes wonder if QRP doesn't flutter as much as higher power. It could be that the higher power takes more slightly different paths than QRP, but again that's only an unfounded supposition on my part.

Here's a string of 5 QSOs in 8 minutes that is rather interesting - JA5DQH, KH6LC, JR1IJV, KH7M, KH6MB.

And here's a WAC in 61 minutes I just noted while looking at that string:

2141Z - AF - D4C
2142Z - NA - C6AQQ
2145Z - SA - PY2EX
2212Z - AS - JA5FDJ
2217Z - EU - OH8L
2242Z - OC - KH6LC

Three somewhat rare Africans in 18 minutes on 40 meters:

0132Z - C5A
0141Z - EL2A
0150Z - 6V6V

If you wish, you can throw in CR3L at 0148Z, but it's not all that rare for me.

It's things like that which make contesting interesting for me. I'm never going to rack up the points like the big contest stations nor even like the QRP stations with great locations and big antenna farms, but I enjoy things like working rare stations easily or getting a quick WAC, and so forth.

That closed out Saturday with 166 QSOs. Again I woke up during the night, but didn't feel like getting on the air. It took till 1332Z to get going again.

Conditions were pretty much the same as they were on Saturday morning. The only difference I was finding a lot of stations I had already worked on Saturday so my rate was much lower. Only 14 stations in the first half hour and 31 the next hour. Well, actually that isn't all that much lower now that I look more closely at it - I guess it just felt that way.

Just a few thoughts about Sunday, then on to the statistics. I enjoyed breaking several moderate sized pile ups to get some of my QSOs. I just noted down a few of the stations I got that way - ZF1A, VP5CW, LX7I. The LX7I QSO was strange. I called him, then listened while he had trouble working another station which took a minute, maybe more. After that without me calling again, he came back to me. I guess he queued me up for after he finished with the other station. I'm glad I didn't tune away in the meantime.

A few of the 'rarer' stations came quite easily. It took a single call on 20 to get EL2A, and one call on 10 to get KH6LC. I guess that adds a little to my statement that those are easy parts of the world for me to work. Oh, and one station (I forget who now) I called, I messed up my call, sending K3WWR, but the station came back with K3WWP 599##. That's a reversal of the usual trend when I send the call right but they don't get it till after I repeat it a couple times.

It's always unusual to hear strong EU signals on 10 meters after late morning here except for maybe the British Isles countries, but DK1MAX was booming in after just about all the other EU stations were down to a whisper.

Sunday afternoon provided some of the biggest pile ups of the contest as a lot of stations were now looking for those extra multipliers they missed before while just racking up QSOs. I'd hear a big pile up, then some virtually empty territory, then another pile up and so on while tuning around then.

I only heard one what would have been an overall new country for me - that was a 7P station. He did not have a big pile up as far as I could hear, but he was so weak, I could barely hear him. I tried calling several times, but gave up after I realized he was never going to hear me.

I hadn't been going for a score in the contest, but when I neared 300 QSOs, I though I might try working some zone 3, 4, and 5 stations which I hadn't done before just in case I did decide to submit my score. Other than a few QSOs then, everything else was strictly DX.

Japan showed up again near the end of the contest on Sunday and I added JA0QNJ and JF9JTS to my log as well as Asiatic Russia from RU0FM and RT0C.

Let's get to some stats now.

I worked 5 new band countries - EL2A on 40, 20, 15, and 10 - also PJ7 on 40. Nine new prefixes - 3Z5, DR4, Z60 (if it counts), SE5, YV8, KL8, HF3, RT0, JF9.

QSOs by hour:
0000 - 13
0300 - 5
0500 - 5
1300 - 1
1400 - 30
1500 - 33
1600 - 17
1700 - 29
1800 - 2
1900 - 9
2000 - 4
2100 - 5
2200 - 11
2300 - 2
0100 - 14
0300 - 2
1300 - 14
1400 - 31
1500 - 7
1600 - 28
1700 - 11
1800 - 17
1900 - 5
2100 - 9
2200 - 9
2300 - 8

No real spectacular hours there as in some 50 or so hours in contests during the last sunspot maximum.

The 321 QSOs came from 80 countries, short of the 93 countries I worked in last year's CQWWDX.

QSOs by continent:
AF - 17
AS - 8
EU - 218
NA - 45
OC - 6
SA - 27

And finally by band:
80 - 1
40 - 41
20 - 75
15 - 179
10 - 25

I hope this all gives you an idea of what you can accomplish with a little effort in a big DX contest. All you really need is QRP power feeding some simple antennas, and some practice in copying CW in a somewhat frantic situation. Of course if you have a big antenna farm to go along with the QRP power and copying skills, you should do a lot better.

Hey, even if you don't copy CW at 30 WPM or better, there are still plenty of slower stations to work.

I must close by saying how great the KX3 performed in the contest. The roofing filters performed admirably and unless two stations were exactly zero beat and at the same level, it was armchair copy. I could even hear the very weak S0-S1 stations who were working the stronger DX stations in many many cases.