Radio W4KAZ

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Operating at NT4D is always fun, and always a learning event for me. This year I learned an important lesson on packet spots: Beware the QSX! More than once the spots were incorrect in some essential, the most humorous being a 20m spot with QSX on 11m. Breaker, breaker good buddy…

The actual operating in the contest was really a bit of a drag. I was unable to establish any runs because I just couldn’t hear the stations calling. Even after dropping the power levels back in hope of attracting Q’s from more equivalent stations, the run rate was so low that S&P was more productive. Not wanting to be an ‘alligator’, I went back to S&P. This was a big disappointment, because I was hoping to run. Turns out I just don’t have the patience for it in the poor conditions. (Not really a surprise…)

It seemed obvious pretty early on that we would not be reaching the 2007 numbers, and we put in only a token effort. We already had scheduled a break to lend a hand at N1LN/N1YXU. That turned out to be a two break/trip deal, as Saturday the high winds made the 30 meter lift seem too risky. So we re-grouped and did the lift on Sunday.

The bottom of the sunspot HF cycle conditions just seem to be dragging on. Scores from the recent months seem to match up with score from the last sunspot trough so maybe we will see better propagation soon. Operating at the bottom is a challenge.

In an e-mail exchange with my friend Jose’, EA5DFV, I gather that he also had challenging conditions from his QTH in southern Spain. Jose’ thought the crowded 20m conditions were problematic, with high QSB and QRM. Many stations were crowded on 20m because of the high band paths being closed to the US. Of his 1500+ QSO’s, he made only 3 on 15m. He indicated his best rates came only when stations to his east shut down for the evening. I’m sure the lack of 15m paths from EU to the US made 20m a real madhouse on the EU end, so I’m not too surprised my attempts to run were poorly attended.

On the other hand, 40m was open early. I’m not terribly fond of working split, but it is good practice. Propagation into South America was good. One of the more telling statistics from out log was the breakdown. European stations were only about 40% of our log. It was a good weekend to try to work all of Brazil and South America, because that was the most productive path. Occasional spots on 10m were mostly not heard.

CW is easier, more fun, and more effective in poor conditions. I gotta keep working on the code ear.

1 comment to 2008 ARRL DX SSB @ NT4D

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