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The 2013 CQWW DX Contest

I was really looking forward to this contest for the past few weeks after the high bands became alive with DX. I thought we'd have a chance at some conditions like those in the DX contests back around the last sunspot maximum. Then in our NAQCC sprint just a few days before the contest, conditions were really horrible, and I was worried. I didn't really know what to expect since I was pretty busy with a variety of things the couple days before the contest and unable to really check the bands.

So I fired up the rig just before 0000Z on the 23rd, set up GenLog for the contest, and turned on the panadapter. Except for a few stations 'holding' a frequency for the contest, there didn't look to be much activity. However when the 'bell rang' at 0000Z, the panadapter exploded with signals from stem to stern, especially on 20 and 40 meters. There was some action on 15 and a couple stations on 10, but those bands would have their moment in the sun (literally) when the sun actually did rise here. More on that in a bit.

It was very rough making contacts with my setup here. For those who may not be at all familiar with what I mean, here's a description. I only use CW and only at QRP power levels. My antennas consist of an attic random wire for 160 through 30 meters, attic dipoles for 20 and 6 meters, a vertical dipole on the side of my house cut for 15 meters, but also used on 17 and 12 meters, and finally a sloping 10 meters dipole on my front porch roof. Pretty hard to compete against a KW and beam station with that. Heck, even hard to compete against another QRP station with a good high outdoor antenna system. But then, I don't compete against other stations anyway. Just against myself to try to keep bettering my scores in each contest.

I started off working CR3E, SJ2W, and OH8X on 20 meters. It took about 15 minutes to get that far, and it didn't get any faster. After one hour, I had only eight QSOs. Another half hour brought four more, then one very short and one longer session that ended at 0647Z. Yawn....... I went to bed with 27 QSOs. However it did include D4C on 40 meters, CN2AA on 40, and ZD8M on 40. The latter a new band entity. Also included were DR1A on 80 as well as LX7I on 80 which likewise is a new band entity.

I guess that wasn't too bad a start running up against all the high power stations trying to get off to as fast a start as they could. Things picked up very nicely in the morning however. After a brief check around 1050Z which didn't turn up much - I was hoping to find a KL7 station on 80 to finally get my 80M WAS or an Asian on 40 to complete 40M WAC, but no luck. All I worked then was KP2M on 20. Then around 1415Z I got started for good and really never slowed down much all day Saturday except for a few breaks here and there.

Europe was the dominant continent to start off my run. I worked 22 EU stations on 10 and 15, then a Mexican followed by 62 more EU stations, a SA station, then 65 more stations, all EU except for a couple NA stations. Well, you get the picture without any further details. Most all the QSOs came very easily. There were no new band countries on the higher bands from EU and only one all told above 40M - FJ/VA3RA on 10M on Sunday.

I find it always nice in the really big contests when someone takes a moment to go beyond the exchange and say hello or make some brief comments. That happened three times in the contest. With my friends Franki OQ5M, Oliver (OE5OHO) operating LX7I, and Bob (N4BP) operating C6AKQ.

There were frustrations in the contest hearing what could have been new overall entities for me had I been able to work them, but I couldn't. The entities were Swaziland, Madagascar, and Samoa. The closest I came was getting a K? from 3DA0ET, the timing of which indicated it could have been me he was hearing, but that never went any further.

One of my goals in these big contests is always getting a contest WAC, and I did it several (well, 5) times over actually with the following totals:

AF - 20
AS - 10
EU - 309
NA - 45
OC - 5
SA - 32

Actually, I didn't realize this until counting continent QSOs, but I made a WAC in 6 straight QSOs over a span of 36 minutes Saturday afternoon as follows:

EU - EA5DD 2120Z 20M
SA - PX2C 2132Z 15M
OC - KH7M 2138Z 10M
AF - ZD8X 2143Z 10M
NA - CO8TW 2147Z 10M
AS - JA5FDJ 2156Z 15M

Talk about the bands being wide open to everywhere!

The DX came on all bands from 80 through 10 as follows listing the band and number of QSOs:

80 - 6
40 - 35
20 - 102
15 - 141
10 - 137

Shades of the last sunspot maximum for sure.

I spent 22 hours on the air for an average of 19.1 QSOs per hour. That's the most time I've spent in a contest since way back in the early 2000s, possibly since the 2002 ARRL DX Contest. Here's a breakdown of QSOs by hour (Z) Saturday then Sunday:

0000 - 8
0100 - 4
0200 - 0
0300 - 0
0400 - 2
0500 - 7
0600 - 6
0700 - 0
0800 - 0
0900 - 0
1000 - 1
1100 - 0
1200 - 0
1300 - 0
1400 - 32
1500 - 40
1600 - 36
1700 - 40
1800 - 21
1900 - 19
2000 - 20
2100 - 11
2200 - 10
2300 - 3
0000 - 17
0100 - 4
0200 - 4
0300 - 0
0400 - 0
0500 - 8
0600 - 0
0700 - 0
0800 - 0
0900 - 1
1000 - 7
1100 - 0
1200 - 0
1300 - 3
1400 - 25
1500 - 16
1600 - 16
1700 - 19
1800 - 14
1900 - 6
2000 - 0
2100 - 11
2200 - 8
2300 - 2

That's a pattern that is normal for my contest operations here. Most of my QSOs (EU mostly) come from 1400Z when I get up until 2000Z or so when the conditions to EU die away and I go looking for contacts from other parts of the world to see if I can find any new band countries, etc. Then after sunset I hit 40M for some additional QSOs and perhaps something new. Just before bedtime, it's a check of 80 and 40 for anything new. Perhaps I'll wake up around 1000Z and check for a few additional QSOs. But as I said, the meat of my results come from EU in the morning and early afternoon.

One other thing worth mentioning is that 20M often becomes superb for me around mid to late afternoon. This contest, I swept down through 20 and worked virtually everyone I heard easily. When I went back through the band the second time, I couldn't find anyone I hadn't worked already.

The purpose of these contest reports is to show everyone that you too can have fun and be successful in big DX contests with a very simple set up. Too many folks seem to be intimidated by big contests and shy away from them. They don't know what they are missing. I hope this particular report encourages some folks to give the 10M contest in December and the ARRL DX contest in February a try this time around.

Thanks for reading. 73.