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The 2017 CQWW DX Contest

First of all, I always treat the CQWW DX Contest as strictly DX. I don't work any W/VE stations even though I could. I don't go for a score, so I don't need the W/VE countries or zones. I just enjoy the fun of making DX contacts. Now with that said, here's my brief(?) report on the contest.

I did virtually nothing on Saturday except to get my DX streak QSO (KH6J) Friday evening and I made 6 more QSOs during the day on Saturday. Conditions were very poor plus I was bothered by a cold. Four of the 6 QSOs came from two stations - TI7W and ZF2MJ on 20 and 15 meters.

Saturday evening (Sunday) I added only 3 more QSOs including one more from TI7W on 40. So when I went to bed Saturday night, I had a grand total of just 10 QSOs, and I decided I would shoot for a simple goal of 50 QSOs for the contest.

Sunday morning, my cold seemed better although still a bit of a nuisance. I didn't check the bands till just after 9AM (1400Z). Right away, like my cold, conditions seemed better also. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but there were more and stronger signals on 15 meters, so I spent most of my time on Sunday on 15 meters.

I heard very few European stations on 15, and not a lot later on 20 and 40 meters. Well, I should say strong workable Europeans. There were quite a few that were right at or just above my local noise level of S4 or S5. Most weren't hearing my call at all. Just about all the action was from Caribbean stations, the islands around NW Africa, some South America and Hawaii. A lot of the stations in the favorable areas responded to my first call. Others I might have to wait through a couple other QSOs to get them. Only a few of those who heard me at all required a few repeats to make the QSO. Some were very patient and I appreciate that.

That sums things up overall. Now some specifics. I put in only about 6 1/2 hours total operating time including a lot of just listening to find stations strong enough to try to work. I made my goal of 50 QSOs when I worked 6Y0W on 20 at 1748Z. I made 4 more QSOs, then took a break for a couple of hours to enjoy a couple of belated Thanksgiving meals my friends and neighbors brought me. I couldn't finish all the food in one setting so there were a couple other shorter food breaks as well.

Having made it to 50, I upped the goal to 60 and made that also. Next it was 70, then 80. I fell short of 80 though, and wound up with 79 QSOs. Considering my cold, and conditions being the way they were, I'm happy with that. Had I stuck it out more on Saturday and also worked W/VE stations, I'm sure I could have easily made it to 150 or even 200 or more. But the desire to do so just wasn't there.

With the poor conditions, I was surprised to hear Japan and Asiatic Russia on 20 meters late Sunday afternoon or early evening. I couldn't get them to hear me at all though. I also heard P33W in Asia on 40 very weak. I tried, but never got as far as a question mark from him. Someday I'll get Asia on 40 to complete my 40M WAC, I hope.

I did easily get the other 5 continents in the contest. Including once in 5 straight QSOs - 6Y3M CR3W TM6M KH7B PZ5V - all on 40 except KH7B on 20.

By continent, I made the following totals: AF - 14, EU - 9, NA - 30, OC - 4, SA - 22. That says a lot about conditions as Europe normally tops the QSO totals in my DX contests.

I worked a total of 33 countries in 10 zones - 6 7 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 31.

Finally by band: 40 - 16, 20 - 26, 15 - 37.

Oh, and new things worked. I still have to do a detailed check, but I think the only new thing was a prefix - CB1 which also was the first ever CB I worked. I thought HQ9X was new, but I have an HQ9 already.

The bottom line as usual is to say that you can still have fun working DX with a minimal setup similar to mine, even with conditions as poor as they are now and are likely to get as we go through the bottom of the sunspot cycle. Just don't raise your expectations too high until the sunspots fire up again in a few years. Or move to a better location and build a bigger antenna farm. That makes a bigger difference during the low side of a sunspot cycle than it does during the upper side.