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The 1999 CQWW DX Contest

Since most hams are scientifically minded, I'm sure most all of you reading this know about Pangea and Gondwanaland. These terms describe an earlier distribution of the earth's continents. Without going into specific details, in prehistoric time the continents were grouped together much differently than they are today. After going through the CQWW DX test this weekend, I think the continents must have been distributed differently this weekend also. You'll see what I mean as you read through this report, especially those of you who know me and my Dxing successes and failures.

Since my previous best in a CQWW DX test was 295 QSO's, I decided to shoot for 350 QSO's this time. I figured with the new Kenwood TS-570D and better conditions I should be able to top my record without much trouble.

Things got off to my usual DX contest start. Picking up the Caribbean DXpedition stations and not a lot more. However QSO #8 changed things and would be a harbinger of things to come. I worked EA8EA easily on 15M. The next few QSO's again consisted of Caribbean and SA stations. But what's this - CN8WW - worked easily just like EA8EA. Two Africans in the first 14 QSO's. That's my usual quota of AF in a whole contest.

Right after CN8WW came a good zone - 40 in the form of OX/N6AA. I don't often get that zone in a contest. Shortly after that I worked my third African, EA9EA. The pipeline to zone 33 was really working well. That's when I started to wonder about a change in continental distribution on the globe. That was only the start, however.

With 20 QSO's in the log on 20 and 15M after a couple hours, I quit for a while. When I returned I decided to give 40 and 80M a try. Surprisingly I worked 3 EU stations on 40M. The first was a bit of a struggle, but M7Z and DK6WL came easily. That's unusual because I have a lot of trouble with EU on 40M. True to form, that ended my working EU (or anything else) on 40 for the night. Just couldn't break any more pileups. I tried 80 briefly, but didn't find anything workable there so I quit for the night with 23 QSO's. That's a little better start than I usually get in a DX contest.

I awoke around 6 AM and, half asleep, thought I'd try the bands. I booked several Caribbean and SA stations on 40 and 20M since the pileups were now diminished. Then back to bed till 9AM.

I headed straight to 10M which was wide open to EU and AF. 83 QSO's in the log on 10M for the next two hours including time off for breakfast. I started out at 28.000 MHz and just kept going up the band working stations as I found them, usually on just a single call. I never ran out of stations till I got up around 28.225 MHz. I'd never heard stations strung out so far and wide on 10M. They were mostly common EU stations, but mixed in were some good prefixes and what I consider to be rarer countries. Some that stood out were EU5F, RT3A, ES1QD, CT3BX (another zone 33), 8S5X, 6Y3A, R3K, ES2X, OH0Z (the first of many Aland Is. QSO's). Also in the mix was a QSO with OE5OHO who I have come to know via my web site. He took time out to chat a bit and compliment me on my QRP signal.

At 1600Z I thought I'd better get some stations on 15M as this was becoming like the 10M contest for me. 15 yielded a mix of mostly EU stations plus EA9EA (get the picture about AF?). 15M wasn't working as good as 10M though, so I returned to 10 after about 15 minutes and continued racking them up there. At 1700Z I went back to 15M and picked up stations like AH7DX, EA8FT, SN8V, II1R. A short journey to 10M produced yet another zone 33 station, CN8WW. I'm ignoring 20M - I'd better check it out. It wasn't that good, but it did provide me with QSO # 200 at 1829Z in the form of 9A4X. I'd never gotten to 200 that quickly in a DX contest.

For the remainder of the afternoon and early evening I jumped among 20, 15, and 10M. 20M brought goodies like HB0/HB9LF, EA6IB, OH0R and OH0Z back to back, GM0F, MU/OH3GI. EA6IB was interesting. That's a rare one for everyone in a contest. I got him on just a single call. I either broke a big pileup or got there just as he did. I did hear a big pileup following my QSO with him.

15M provided me with CN8WW (how many AF's is that now?), 7S5A, EA8EA, 9G5AA (I had never worked Ghana till a few days ago).

Then the second surprise (after all the AF's) came on 10M. I worked JH7XGN. I was pleased with that since JA is a tough one for my QRP. That was just the start of the flood though. 53 minutes later I had 22 JA's in the log. The grey line propagation was working just like it says in the propagation textbooks. I'd never heard JA's so strong. Some of them were like locals, and most all were worked with a single call.

Just as the JA flood was subsiding, my neighbor dropped over. He had been having trouble with a drain in the cellar and wanted me to help him fix it. Since some things are more important than contesting I took off about an hour and helped him with some plumbing work. When I returned to the contest, I worked a few more JA's. This time on 15M. The higher bands were slipping away now. I headed off to 40M and promptly worked 2 EU's and one AF (of course). One of the EU's was my friend OE5OHO, who struggled to copy me, but when he did, he took time to chat a bit again.

I figured the EU's were just a fluke like last night so I didn't hang around long. I took a couple of hours off. Perhaps that was a mistake since when I came back, I easily worked YZ7ED on 40M, followed by S59AA, S50A, HG9X, OT9T. Well, you get the picture. I was working EU on 40M, and doing it easily. Something I hadn't done in quite a while. I got IH9P, EA8CN, OK5W, and HG1S among many others. I actually took a moment to check my power output to see if it had been changed somehow, but it was still only 5 watts output. HG1S deserves a comment. I have had the toughest time working him lately, including this contest. He will be booming in on 20, 15, or 10M and just can't hear me for some reason. However I worked him easily on 40M.

Hey, IH9P was QSO # 300. It's only 0253Z and I've already beaten my previous best CQWW DX contest. My goal of 350 QSO's should be a cinch unless the bands collapse completely. I got 21 more QSO's before turning in for the night. Included was my second QSO with 9G5AA, this time on 20M, and again quite easily.

I woke up around 4:15 AM and decided to see if anything was coming in from OC on 40M. There wasn't, so I worked a couple of US and VE multipliers along with VP5DX and 8P9Z. The QSO with 8P9Z was interesting. He started to send K3?, then you could almost hear the gears turning in his head as it must have dawned on him that it was me from my keying, weak signal or whatever, and he corrected himself and sent K3WWP 5998. I don't know if that was my friend John, K4BAI or not. I've worked him so many times, he would recognize me. Anyway the bands didn't have much else to offer so I got some more rest till 7 AM (1200Z), when I started in earnest. I knew when I hit the bands yesterday at 1400Z they were wide open and I probably missed some things by not starting earlier. I wasn't going to let that happen today despite being quite tired.

The EU sigs were there on 20M, but rather weak. Nothing on 15 or 10 yet. I worked G3TXF on 20M. It wasn't an easy QSO, and I knew the ionosphere wasn't supporting my QRP level signals yet. I added OZ5WQ a minute later, again with a bit of a struggle. 10 or 15 minutes later the same thing on 15M. I was witnessing the bands just starting to open up. It was interesting listening to the signals slowly increase as the bands woke up, so to speak. I struggled with OK5W, GM7V, 9A2AJ, and YZ7A on 15M till it got really good around 1250Z and then it was one station after another. I wanted to get back to 10M though, so I didn't spend much time on 15M. The 1200Z hour brought me another milestone. The points meter on the TR program screen passed 200K points as I worked SM5CLE. Never made 200K in a DX test before.

At 1315Z I went to 10M and again worked my way up the band. There weren't as many QSO's as yesterday since I already had worked a good many of the stations. They were there however, and spread out just like yesterday. I neglected to mention it but I normally work European and Asiatic Russia easily, but this time was different. I was unable to work a single Asiatic Russian last evening. I did work UN7PCZ this morning on 15M but that was about it for zones 17, 18, and 19. Another manifestation of continental drift? HI.

By the way, QSO # 350 was OM5M at 1322Z. I had reached my goal already. With almost 11 hours remaining I started to think about 500 QSO's. I knew 400 would be easy, but 500 would really be pushing it. I thought I might have to depend on another JA flood near the end of the contest. That would be ironic.

Well let's see what I was working. 7S5Q, 4N9BW, UT5UGR (also having trouble working Ukraine), 3V8BB (who got mixed up at one point and sent his home call YT1AD), 8S0A, EO7V, 4N1N, EI6FR (rare? Ireland), EA9EA (got him on 4 bands), WP2Z (where had he been hiding? Turns out he was doing a single band effort), MJ0AWR (after a struggle), CQ1A (hiding out around 28.200). Most of the previous on 10M. Oh, and # 400 came at 1507Z with DL8UD.

Just short of 450 QSO's I needed a break. I did a few non contest things for an hour or so. When I returned, things slowed down quite a bit, and it was now S&S&S&P (search, search, search some more and pounce), trying to find someone I hadn't worked yet. I found some good ones like GI0KOW, NH7A, AL7IF. Then came what I had been waiting for. A new overall country. I had previously chased ones like JT1JA, A61AJ (got as far as K3?? from him, but no further), YA7A (really?), and a couple others I can't recall now. This time I succeeded and it was so easy it wasn't all that much fun. One call to ZS6EZ gave me a QSO with South Africa for the first time with QRP. I had worked it with 75 watts back in the 60's, and Angola is now the only non-deleted country remaining that I've worked with QRO but not QRP.

As easy as that QSO was - that's how hard the QSO with the other new country was. I give many thanks to VQ9IO for sticking with me almost 3 minutes till he had me in the log correctly. I'm sorry for those who were waiting to work him. It's considerate operators like him that help to make this such a great hobby.

I reached 300K points at 1940Z with my QSO with G3UFY on 20M. Another points milestone.

At 2300Z I still needed 12 QSO's to make it to 500, and they were getting extremely hard to find. I did get a minor JA flood of 3 stations. However I couldn't work them as easily as I did yesterday. Also the ones who were strong today were the ones I worked yesterday. # 493 was an easy one with RU1A on 20M despite very fluttery signals. 2 of the JA's provided 494 and 495. As I was tuning around 10M I found 3E1DX and his pileup. I had the propagation advantage however and got him with a single call. That's 496 now. There were several LU's around on 20, 15, and 10. LU8XW gave me QSO # 497. That was on 15M.

28 minutes to go now. I'm looking and looking, thinking that despite shattering my previous best record in a DX contest I'll be disappointed if I don't get to # 500. Here's a very fluttery Aland Island station (OH0V) I haven't worked yet on 15M. I'll try him. WP? comes back at me. I send my call twice and it's K3??P now. I send my call a few more times and finally get that K3WWP 5NN15. I send TU5NN5, get a ?, send 5NN5 again, get my TU and my 498th QSO. Now what? It's Argentina to the rescue. LU1FNH is worked easily for 499. Two minutes later, it's LO1F whom I had tried to work earlier with no luck. This time he hears me after a couple calls, and I've got my 500. Whew. I tried to get a couple insurance QSO's but couldn't work anyone else in the last 15 minutes.

So summing up, I worked 28 JA's in the contest when I usually struggle to get 2 or 3. The Africans came at a rapid rate with over 20 QSO's with that continent. Countries included CN, EA8, EA9, 3V, 6V, 9G, ZS, and VQ9. That's almost half the total number of AF countries I had worked previous to the contest. I usually work Russia with ease, but not this time. Hence my opening statement about continental distribution.

Now to the stats. I worked 83 countries in all. That means that a goal in the next DX contest will be a weekend DXCC. I probably heard at least another 17 countries this time that I didn't work so that's a reasonable goal if conditions are the same or better. I had 69 zone multipliers plus 191 country multipliers for a total of 260 multipliers. My 500 QSO's gave me 1420 QSO points. That makes my final score 369,200 points. Not bad for a QRP station using only dipoles and a random wire for the antennas.

New stuff: 2 new overall countries - VQ9IO and ZS6EZ. 20 new band countries. AF on 10 (CT3BX + several others) to complete 10M WAC at last. 6 new band zones including zone 39 on 15M which is zone #33 overall. 7 to go!! 37 new prefixes.

Band   QSO's   Countries   Zones
 80      2          1         1
 40     44         29        10
 20     87         48        17
 15    111         52        20
 10    256         61        21
tot    500        191        69