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The 1999 CQ WPX Contest

Well, time to write another report. I enjoy doing these reports as it lets me re-live the contest and helps me to remember it better.

The contest ended just 2 1/2 hours ago so it's fairly fresh in my mind now although I am tired after putting in a pretty heavy effort.

I set up some guidelines for myself. I would work every DX station I could since each one would give me a certain number of QSO points based on continent and band. Also each new DX prefix would be 1 more multiplier. For USA stations I would only work one per prefix - if I worked N4WW, that would be it for the N4 stations in the contest. I wanted to treat this as more of a DX contest. I did want the USA prefix multipliers though. This would work since I planned to do the whole contest using S&P and no CQing.

I wound up with 67 USA stations worked, each one a different prefix. So basically it did turn out to be a DX contest for me.

I started out a few minutes late in the contest since I was helping my neighbor work on his daughter's car. 15M was still open at 0015Z Friday evening so I started there. There was a nice selection of strong EU sigs to choose from. The first QSO was with 9A3GW, then IR4T, NZ5I and XR1X, followed immediately by P3A. 5 QSO's - 4 continents. Looks like my weekend WAC is going to be a cinch.

At 0100Z I switched to 20M where my minimal QRP acted like a KW. I started at 14000 and worked my way up to 14060 working virtually every DX station I came across. 32 stations in the hour including CN8WW for continent number 5. I took a short break and returned around 0245Z. Conditions were still the same on 20M, so by 0610Z I had 100 QSO's and quit for the night, quite satisfied with my results. The only disappointment was hearing HZ1AB and JY9QJ quite strong on 20M and not being able to work either one despite many calls. The pileups of the high power stations were just too overwhelming for my little station to get through. I hoped that Saturday evening they would be back with smaller pileups, and I could get them. Both would be new overall countries for me.

I woke up around 1000Z and hoped to find the bands open to AS or OC, but such wasn't the case. I worked WP2Z and went back to bed till 1345Z. Conditions still weren't that good for DX, so I decided this would be a good time to rack up some USA prefixes. I worked a fair selection on 20 and 15 with some Caribbean stations thrown in. It was disappointing not finding any strong DX to work at that time since in past DX contests, the 1300-1500Z hours were some of my most productive. This time I didn't work my first EU station till I got S50G at 1704Z. That kind of opened the DX floodgates and I worked many EU stations the next few hours, mostly on 15M. Thrown in the mix was KH6ND to complete my contest WAC.

By 2130Z, I started to switch back and forth between 15 and 20M as both bands were very good. Gradually 20 took over as 15 faded out for the evening around 2300Z. From then until 0315Z I spent all my time on 20M. HZ1AB showed up again and I continued the chase. I came close a couple of times with him sending K3? or K3LP?, both of which I feel were me especially since my weak signal W often gets mistaken for an L. We just couldn't complete the QSO's though. I probably wasted 45 minutes trying for him.

Although JY9QJ never showed up again, JY9NX did. I set in to try to work him, determined to try as long as it took. He was a bit stronger than JY9QJ the night before, and stronger than HZ1AB. Well, it didn't take that long to get him. I probably only waited through a couple dozen stations when he came back with my call. I don't remember now, but I think he had it as K3WWG at first, but I corrected him and he sent K3WWP and got my number easily. Country number 158 was in the log.

That would be the only new overall country I would get in the contest along with 3 new band-countries - MU2K, P3A, and CN8WW on 15M.

At 0315, I switched to 40M to see if I could get some more USA prefixes for multipliers. I worked 8, then got YV4A easily. A few more USA, then ED8PP made it into the log easily with just a single call. 3 continents on 40M in just a few QSO's. Interesting. 2 QSO's later came AM8ZS for another AF. That QSO was easy also. Was this the night I could easily work across the pond on 40M? Not really, but I did add EA4ML for a 4th 40M continent before going back to 20M at 0500Z.

I added SK7BI on 20M, but the EU path was pretty much gone by that time so I went back and forth between 20 and 40 adding a few more USA multipliers before quitting for the night.

Again I woke up around 1000Z - actually around 0945 this morning. I was still tuned up on 40M so I listened there a bit and worked LT1F and N3BB. Then I heard ZM1A and decided I wanted him. I thought I'd wait him out as long as it took. However, I got him after only a couple tries and followed him up with ZL6QH. It's amazing to me how easily I can work VK, ZL, and that part of the world on 40M while having so much trouble working EU. My random wire must have a low angle lobe directed toward OC while any lobe toward EU must be a very high angle one or perhaps I even have a null toward EU. It's hard to figure patterns with a random wire with many bends in it. Perhaps I'll try simply to change its configuration and see if I can improve my EU situation. It sure would help in DX contests to have another band to rack up the EU QSO's.

After that I went to 20M and found some JA's there. I worked JE1CKA, JA3ZOH, and JS2LHJ. None came easily, but the QSO's were made. Anything else I was hearing was too weak to bother with so it was back to bed till 1320Z.

As I started out the day on Sunday I had 268 QSO's and thought making my goal of 300 QSO's would be a cinch and perhaps I could even make 350 or 400. Wrong!

Conditions Sunday never became that good. Just like Saturday 10M never opened up for me except for a few USA multipliers and some LA/SA stations. Had 10M been as good as it was in the couple previous DX tests I could have reached 400 QSO's.

I spent the day off and on 20M and 15M trying to eke out those last 32 QSO's to hit 300. I kind of thought I was going to come up short, but I hung in there and finally made # 300 at 2234Z by working S54W on 15M.

I was finding that I could fairly easily work even weak stations I was hearing on 15M like what I was doing on 20M in the ARRL DX test. The problem was that I simply couldn't find that many stations I hadn't already worked. A few new ones did show up near the end of the contest, and I wound up with 308 QSO's and 230 different prefixes for a score of just under 170K points, my best ever in a CQ WPX contest. I worked 56 different countries on all continents. Of the 308 QSO's, 241 were DX stations.

No real unusual prefixes, except for the AM8 perhaps, but I did wind up with around 25-30 new ones. I haven't figured the exact total yet.

QSO's by continent: AF-4, AS-7, EU-199, NA-83, OC-3, SA-12. By band: 40-31, 20-161, 15-109, 10-7.

Highlights of the contest: Working JY9NX in Jordan, getting two New Zealand stations easily on 40M, making contact with all continents but Asia on 40M. I also really enjoyed the first couple hours of the contest when I was working station after station with ease.

Disappointments: Of course, not getting HZ1AB. Not even hearing the OJ0 station that was supposed to be active. I heard him during the previous week, but missed him in the contest if he was there.

Strange things: Having some stations utterly unable to hear me despite them being very strong. Kind of like they have a filter that cuts out signals from K3WWP. Conversely, on Sunday afternoon working stations I could barely hear that copied me very easily. I'm convinced there is such a thing as one-way skip on the bands.