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The 2015 CQWW DX Contest

This was one of those times I wasn't really in a contesting mood. Most of my efforts in ham radio of late had been making it to 1,000 straight days of working DX, and once I achieved it on November 25, a couple days before the contest, the steam kind of went out of me, so to speak. Then Tom WB3FAE and I got to talking about the contest a bit and that kind of brought back my interest. Still I wasn't really ready for an all out effort, so I told Tom I'd probably just set a goal of 200 QSOs and go for that. Since sunspots were down from the years when I normally can get 400-500 or more QSOs in a CQWW DX test, but still not all that far down, I thought that was a reasonable goal I could reach without all that much work.

I started out on 40M as soon as the contest started at 0000Z. The activity there was awesome with way too much competition for my minimal QRP, so I went to 20M to see if it was still open. Normally it would be closed at that time of evening, but of course contest activity tends to open bands in some magical way. The first station I heard was a not too strong and fluttery SJ2W. Of course as I've mentioned many times in these contest stories and elsewhere, it seems I can work Scandinavia easily even if the stations are weak and fluttery. Bingo, true again and I had my first QSO in the log. Getting that increased my interest still more.

20M didn't have much more to offer at that time though, so I went back to the chaos on 40M. Tom and I communicated via email several times during the contest comparing our results. I told Tom it looked on the PX3 like there was one very wide peak covering the entire 40M CW segment (and beyond) with only a few notches here and there where there wasn't any activity. That was not far from the truth. Nevertheless I dug in and did manage to get through the action to a few stations like S52AW EA5BM IR4X and OR3A along with a few Caribbean stations.

Still it was very hectic so I went back to 20 and found it a little better now, but only to the Caribbean and South America. In a couple sessions with a break in between I worked things like KP2M HR2J ZF2MU (probably my most heard station in the contest - he was seemingly everywhere at every time) YN2CC HI3K and CE3CT. I was surprised that CE3CT thanked me by name and I listened a bit to see if he was doing that for everyone, but I was the only one. I'm not even sure I know him except I did work him once or twice before. I get a kick out of being recognized like that. It also happened with Oliver OE5OHO and Bert F6HKA later in the contest, but I know them both pretty well from many QSOs and some emails.

With only 18 QSOs by 0300Z, I quit for a while until 0538Z. In exactly one hour then I doubled my total plus one, all from 40M QSOs like D4C S56X G4R EA8/YP9W and KH6LC to mention a few. Yes, the Hawaii pipeline was working although I couldn't work KH6LC earlier on 20M and even my 40M QSO wasn't as easy as usual. Later in the contest on the higher bands it was fully operational and I worked KH6J and KH7M with my usual ease.

So at 37 QSOs and 40 multipliers I quit for the night. Oh, I also checked 80M during that time but my usual S8-9 QRN there eliminated any possibility of working or even hearing any DX. You probably know this if you,ve read my previous CQWW DX test stories, but I only work DX and not any W/VE stations. However near the end I may throw in a few W/VEs for the multipliers. I did that this year for around a half dozen W/VE QSOs

I woke up a couple times during the night, but was so tired I never did check the bands until I got up for real around 1400Z and hit the bands at 1430Z. 15M was in very good shape and it proved to be that way for just about all the daylight hours during the contest. 10M was also open, but I wasn't hearing much here and stuck mostly with 15M and 20M. Apparently I missed some prime time on 10M though as Tom (who lives about 20 miles from here BTW) had a lot more 10M QSOs than I did. I think that may have been Sunday afternoon when I was having a belated Thanksgiving dinner with my neighbors.

Let's look at what I was working now. The first 27 QSOs were with EU and AF. I wasn't working as deep into EU as normal and only had a couple QSOs with far Eastern EU stations like LY2W LZ5R UA2F and EW2A. Scandinavia was pretty good with OH0Z SK3W and LA2AB to mention a couple.

Around 1600Z it became a mix of EU and the Caribbean. Still mostly EU (and AF) though. ES7GN was my only Estonian until ES9C near the end of the contest. KH6J was the first of the Hawaiins during the day at 1732Z on 15M. A brief excursion to 40M yielded an early EU QSO with TM6M, but still all the rest of my QSOs were on 10, 15 and 20M until 2328Z when they pretty much died out. Strangely, but indicative of the state of the sunspot cycle, I did not work any Asians until late on Sunday. I heard a couple including RT0C (or was it RT0F, I forget now) on 40M, but couldn't get him. That would have given me my first Asian ever on 40. It was the same story later with C4W on 40M.

Let's see what I worked of interest on Saturday. Oh, just after Tom worked FY5KE on 20M, I worked him, so we're back to back in the FY5KE log. I worked somewhat rare Iceland - TF3W. Most everything else on Saturday was the normal contest stations. I finished Saturday with 107 QSOs, just over halfway to my goal of 200.

Sunday started on 40M at 0000Z with IR2C. After a couple brief sessions getting me to 123 QSOs, I called it quits at 0232Z. In that time though my Hawaii and NE AF pipelines were in good shape and I added KH6J and KH7M on 20M and ED8X CR3OO EF8R and EF8U on 40M to the log. I never did get on again until 1430Z Sunday. Well, I did wake up aroud 1000Z and this time did check the bands but didn't find anything worth working, only W/VE and stations I had already worked. Later I found I didn't miss much late Saturday evening as Tom said he didn't work or hear much then on 40M.

Sunday morning started with my first Russian RT4F of the contest. I was hearing things a little deeper into EU than on Saturday, but still not working many of them. In fact I see only LY4L YL2SM LY8O. Sunday yielded several QSOs with the weak fluttery Scandinavian stations like OG7A OH1F LB1GB (new prefix) SM2M OH1F (again diff band) OH0Z SB3W OH8X OH0X OG6N SM2CEW SM3NXS. I didn't realize there were so many till now and as I recall not all were weak and fluttery. Other noteworthy stations (hate to put it that way since every QSO is actually noteworthy, but you know what I mean) were ZD8W on 20M, VK2IA on 15 (new overall band country), ES9C well after all other EU stations were gone on 15M, JA7ZFN and JA8RWU on 20M for Asia (finally), TK0C on 40M, GW5R on 40M (first GW in the contest), RT0C on 20 for another Asian, and EI7M EI1Y on 40M (don't work Ireland much on 40M).

I found it very interesting that in the end, Tom and I wound up with exactly the same number of QSOs - 254. First some notes from Tom. Antenna(s) - Predominately use my 90 foot end fed at ~30 feet that has about a 15 foot vertical component. Fed with coax through a 9:1 UNUN Impedance Transformer. Also used a full wave 20 meter Delta Loop. Feed on the side for Vertical Polarization.

Now some comparisons and details of our two efforts.
                Me        Tom
QSOs           254        254
Mults          191        
Countries       76         68
Zones           23         21
Score      133,127    130,456
      QSOs Per Band
80M              0          2
40M             58         42
20M             63         52
15M            127         99
10M              6         59
      Some Zones
 8              44         45
 9              22         26
11               5         18
13               1         18
14              65         49
15              68         54
33              13         12
      QSOs Per Continent
AF              17
AS               3
EU             137
NA              61
OC               7
SA              29
      Countries Per Band
80M              0
40M             31
20M             44
15M             59
10M              6
      Some Countries
EA              10         10
DL              17         12
PY               5         18
LU               1         14
      QSOs Per Day
Sat            107        142
Sun            147        112
      QSOs Per Hour
Sat 00Z         11
01Z              3
02Z              4
03Z              0
04Z              0
05Z             10
06Z              9
07Z              0
08Z              0
09Z              0
10Z              0
11Z              0
12Z              0
13Z              0
14Z              9
15Z             21         13
16Z              8         13
17Z             11         15
18Z              1
19Z              0
20Z              7
21Z             11         14
22Z              0
23Z              2
Sun 00Z         10
01Z              2
02Z              4
03Z              0
04Z              0
05Z              0
06Z              0
07Z              0
08Z              0
09Z              0
10Z              0
11Z              0
12Z              0
13Z              0
14Z              8
15Z             32
16Z             23
17Z             10
18Z              0         16
19Z             12
20Z              9
21Z             13
22Z             10
23Z             14
One big thing jumps right out from those stats. Tom can work SA much better than I can.

I worked one new band-entity - VK on 15M, and 5 new prefixes - LW3 LB1 OG7 ES7 J60.

I hope you enjoyed reading the report. For those new to contesting, it might give some tips on how to approach a big DX contest using QRP/CW/simple wire antennas.