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The 2014 CQWW DX Contest

A couple days ago I was thinking I haven't done much mW DXing of late, so I set the KX3 at 900 mW and worked a couple of DX stations including HR2/N6AA which was country # 73 worked with mW power. Then I got to thinking further and decided I'd turn the power down in the CQWW DX contest when I hear what would be a new country if I work it at 900 mW. So now I had a plan of attack for the contest including a goal of getting those 27 countries that would bring me to a mW DXCC.

I got GenLog set up, ready to go, and when 0000Z came, I was ready to roll. And roll I did toward my goal when I worked PJ2T on 15 M for mW country # 74. Although there were no more mW QSOs Friday evening, I made 20 QSOs in the first 2 hours. It was rough with tons of competition. It was about the busiest I've heard a contest in a good while now. Still I got some easy QSOs. In fact it seemed it was either easy or never work them. Activity was wide spread geographically and I worked all continents but Asia in the first hour. I heard some Asians, but couldn't work them. My pipeline to Hawaii was in good shape as I easily worked KH7M on 10 and KH7XX on 20 later. Oddly after struggling so long this month to work a European station with a 6 in the call for the NAQCC European challenge, my first European in the contest was EA6FO. Had I not finally completed the challenge earlier, that wouldn't have helped anyway as contest/sprint QSOs can't be used in our NAQCC challenges.

Another pipeline that was working was my Scandinavian one. It seems I can always work LA SM, and especially OH stations late in the afternoon or in the evening. I heard a weak and fluttery SJ2W, and despite almost being unable to copy him, I got him with a single call. The same with OH8X a little later, both on 20 meters. I quit for a while around 0150Z, and didn't get back on till a brief but largely unsuccessful stint from about 0540-0620Z. I only made one QSO with HC2AO/8 in the Galapagos Is. I never thought at the time to lower the power as that would have been another new mW country. Maybe I can still work it on another band. I also woke up around 1100Z and took a look for Asians on 40 and KL7s on 80, but didn't find anything and went back to bed till 1400Z.

I started in again then on 10 meters working CN2AA DL5CW and II9P. Then I heard ES5Q.... hmmm I need that one with mW power. I worked him easily. Both 10 and 15 were in good shape, and actually there were so many stations active, it was hard to figure out where to go next. 10 meters was full all the way up to 28200 and 15 well past 21100. Just like the early 2000s. This is great. The1400Z hour provided 30 QSOs including one more new mW country in OH0Z. Most QSOs were from Europe - in fact all but two with CN2AA. The 1500Z hour was even a little better with 31 QSOs. All were Europeans including a couple new prefixes, but no new mW countries that hour.

A short break for brunch from around 1550-1615Z, then back to the action. 18 QSOs in 45 minutes in that hour including two new mW countries LA8HGA and GW5R. I must have gotten a bit excited about Norway because I accidentally sent 599PA and had to correct myself to 5995. The Wales station was tough. He had a pretty big pileup and I had to wait till it diminished a bit before I finally got him. That was another hour with all European QSOs.

The 1700 hour provided a little more variety with HR2J and KH6LC breaking the non-European famine. The hour also provided probably my easiest mW country. A single call landed LX7I.

28 QSOs in the 1800Z hour picked up the pace a bit and ended with ZS4TX. He wasn't very strong, but was fairly easy to work for a country that it took a long time for me to first work it years ago. A mistake though as it would have been another new mW country had I turned the power down or waited to see if he got stronger later. Actually he did a couple hours later and was pretty much alone for the taking, but on the same band so I couldn't work him again. I did pass up a handful of countries that would have added to my score, but I wanted to get them with mW power later when they were stronger or had less of a pileup. The very next QSO after ZS4TX was VP2MDX to start the 1900 hour and again I goofed, working him with 5 watts when it would have been a new mW country. He seems to be a multi-band operation though, so I may get him on another band. The tenses here may be confusing because I'm writing this at the end of the first day with another day yet to come.

Let's move on a bit faster now and I'll just list the other mW countries I've gotten so far with a note or two. FY5KE came at 1905Z fairly easily. Then it was OX3OA at 2025. I had chased him earlier through a pileup with no luck, but he was easy this time. I almost messed up with 4O3A. I called with 5W, but fortunately he didn't hear me, so I went to 900mW and oddly when I called again with a couple repeats he got me. Next up was ZD8O. I should be arrested for theft with this one. After calling for a while in a pretty big pileup, I studied things a bit and figured out a way to wait and time my call. If he didn't answer anyone after I guess it was around 20 seconds, then I thought maybe the jumble cleared about that time. I dropped in my call and got him with that single call now. After calling JA5DQH repeatedly and losing to someone else each time, I found JS3CTQ who was much weaker, but he got me after several repeats of my call. The next one was really surprising. I have trouble working Chile under most all circumstances for whatever reason. However it didn't take too long to work CE3CT at 2342Z. Just one more closed out the first day. I worked HD2A 11 minutes later at 2353Z to up my mW total 86 countries now.

A couple more notes to close the first part of this report. As usual, when I work my friend OQ5M, no matter how busy and frantic the action, he'll take a moment for a personal greeting. There were a couple countries that would have been overall new, 5W or 900mW, but I couldn't get them - E51RAT and a KH8 station. Too big a pile for both, but there's still time left. Nine JAs in a contest is the most in a very long time and I think maybe the second most ever. Well, maybe not - I see in glancing at my contest stories that I had 28 JAs in the 1999 CQWW DX contest and probably had somewhere between 9 and 28 in other contests. And that covers part one. More later (as I type, but right away as you read - HI).

I should have picked this up right after the contest ended, but I haven't gotten to it until now - Tuesday afternoon. So I've now forgotten a lot of the little tidbits I wanted to include and will just go with the main points.

Not long after writing the first part above, I got back into the contest. I wasn't going to do so till much later in the evening, but I'm glad I didn't wait. My first QSO turned out to be an overall new country - #220. It was 3B8MU. It wasn't an easy QSO, but after calling a few times, he came back with K3?, and a few more repeats with him sticking with me led to a solid QSO. In a way it's strange because just a couple weeks ago my friend and neighbor (20 miles) Tom WB3FAE worked a 3B9 station, and I mentioned to him that was not an easy part of the world for me to work although I had worked a couple VQ9 stations and a D6 station. Yet, despite that, this was not all that hard a QSO although it did take those repeats to make it.

Another mW country followed about 10 minutes later when I got VP2MDX on 40 meters. My only 40M mW country in the contest. That took me to 87 mW countries now. I stuck on 40 for a while and added 15 QSOs to my totals. I would say DX on 40 was about average for me. Far from the best I've experienced, yet also far from the worst when I just couldn't work anyone. I guess the best QSO in that group was RT6A. I don't work a lot of Russians on 40. One QSO with KP2Q on 20 closed out that short session.

I got back on just after midnight (0500Z), and found the bands seemingly in good condition, but I was having trouble working even the strongest stations. I thought maybe I left my power at 900 mW, but no, it was set at 5 watts. I did manage some QSOs, but not a lot. Nine on 40 meters from EU mostly, and then off to 20 meters which was still nicely open although like on 40, I wasn't working stations easily. I did get RD4A UP0L RT4F and YT1A, but that was it, so I quit and went to bed.

I was a bit late getting up, and didn't get on again till 1415Z. The bands were still very good, and now it was easy working stations again, especially on 10 meters. 23 stations in 45 minutes were added to the log despite the fact many of the stations I was hearing, I had already worked yesterday. In the hour I did add another mW country in Bulgaria LZ5R. Other than that mostly the regular contest stations I work all the time.

The 1500Z hour gave me 30 QSOs, virtually all EU with one AF and one AS thrown in. The AS was P33W whom I tried and tried with mW with no luck. So I worked him with 5W.

On to the 1600Z hour now. It included only 11 QSOs as I took time out for some brunch. I didn't want to eat much, but I did need something to tide me over till I had a late Thanksgiving dinner with my neighbors. The hour did include my next to last mW country in the contest - TF3CW. I had been trying him periodically earlier with no success, but this time the QSO came pretty easily. You've got to have patience when you run mW power with no big antennas to help out.

23 QSOs were added in the full 1700Z hour, but now it was getting harder and harder to find stations I hadn't already worked. In looking at my log, again the vast majority of the 23 QSOs came from EU stations with two AF stations thrown in - CN8KD and EF8U.

Time was drawing near now for my dinner at the neighbor's, but I squeezed in 10 QSOs before quitting including the last mW country - HC2AO/8. I had messed up earlier working him with 5 watts, but I found him on a different band now (15) for the mW QSO.

I had a good time at the neighbors'. I'm speaking of the Bowsers which included Eric who was the one responsible for getting me back on the air again back in the early 90s. As those of you who follow my web site know, he suggested the 'streak' and later became a ham himself as KB3BFQ. As so often happens though, teenage hams as they near 20 get involved with life, family, work, etc. and get away from the hobby for a while. I had a couple such gaps myself in my 51 years of being licensed. Eric is now in such a gap busy raising two great kids, a boy and girl. He lives away in Pittsburgh now, so I don't see him often anymore, so it was nice to visit with him for a while. Also with the other family members whom are grown up and away now and I don't see often.

Anyway back to the fray now shortly before 2000Z. Things on 15 and 10 were pretty much in decline now except for some SA and Caribbean stations. I hoped they would open to JA and Oceania later, but now I went to 20 to work the EU stations remaining there. All in all the 2000Z hour added 20 QSOs to the log. Just like late night on the bands the previous two days, now stations were again becoming very hard to work for me. After the 2000Z hour, I only added 16 more QSOs till I gave up around 2315Z. Included were a couple memorable QSOs though. ZM4T from New Zealand, a country I don't work all that often. Then my last QSO was with AH0K in Saipan. A very rough QSO, and I hope I'm logged correctly there. He had me as several different variations of K3WWP. That was a new overall country - # 221 to close out the contest.

Now let's take a look at some stats since I love dealing with statistics and a big contest like this gives me a lot to work with.

Total QSOs - 381
Total Countries - 77
Multipliers - 212
New mW Countries - 17 (for an overall total of 90)
Overall new Countries - 2 (3B8 KH0 for a total of 221)

By continent:
AF - 17
AS - 12
EU - 279
NA - 40
OC - 10
SA - 23

By band:
80 - 0
40 - 27
20 - 80
15 - 101
10 - 173

Most Worked countries:
DL - 39
I - 30
G - 24
S5 - 18
OK - 16
F - 15
SP - 13
EA - 12
OH - 12
PA - 11
ON - 10

Countries by continent:
AF - 7 (3B8 CN CT3 EA8 EL ZD8 ZS)
AS - 4 (5B JA UA9 UN)
NA - 16 (6Y 8P CM FM HK0-S HR KL7 KP2 KP4 OX V2 V4 VP2M VP9 XE ZF)
OC - 4 (KH0 KH6 VK ZL)

Zones by band:
80 - 0
40 - 5 (8 9 14 15 16)
20 - 6 (5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 31 33 35 39)
15 - 15 (6 7 8 9 10 11 14 15 25 27 31 33 36 38 40)
10 - 17 (1 6 7 8 10 11 13 14 15 16 20 25 30 31 32 33 40)
Overall - 27 (1 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 25 27 30 31 32 33 35 36 38 39 40)

It might prove interesting to compare my band, country, zone, etc. totals to other CQWW DX contests in other years, but I'm not going to do that here and now. I'm just going to close by saying if you are one of the ones who think you can't work DX with your simple setup, then you either didn't read this story thoroughly or think your setup is worse than mine. I'd have to bet strongly against the second option, so go back and read the story again. Then make plans to give it a try in the upcoming ARRL 10M DX contest in December or the ARRL DX contest in February. I'm certainly looking forward to those contests and hoping the propagation gods will bless us with conditions similar to what they were in this contest. Have fun!