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2010 ARRL DX CW – What A Difference A Few Sunspots Make

The propagation conditions were better to EU than its been for quite a long while.  That made the contest a lot more enjoyable than the DX contests have been over the past few years from here in the “cheap seats”[low power into low dipoles].  I’m sure the scores at the big stations will reflect the changes.

For my own part it went quite well-even with a small station

In the week before the contest, conditions were sounding good, with good openings on 15m and 20m.  There was no real plan to put in a heavy effort here, but instead to have fun and get in some CW practice.  Check.  Mission accomplished.

Overall, with conditions so much better it was easy to stay in the chair longer than planned. 15m opened early on both days, just after local sunrise.  20m was hot in the early afternoon, and 40m and 80m both opened to Europe earlier than I usually notice.  There were even a few QSO’s on the edges from 160m and 10m.  The 160m Q’s were early in the evening, when I was hearing a few EU stations, but they weren’t hearing the dulcet tones emanating from the Kazshack.  The 10m QSO’s were very fluttery, with lots of QSB, but worth chasing anyway.

The operating plan quickly morphed from “Search and Pounce” into finding a place to try to run.  The original idea was to operate “unlimited” and play “S&P2R”.  The network connection never got connected after tuning around a bit and shifting the gray matter into run mode.  Wedging into a good spot is always a problem, but once found the good conditions had the stations lining up.  Sometimes too many – a new experience from the KazShack.  But good spots were hard to find and a lot of time running was done at lower rates up in the “nosebleed” areas higher in the band.

The runs brought in a lot of surprises.  On 40m finding and working the KH6 was a surprise, as well as being called by a TA and a ZC up on 15m .  Early on the second day I also found a JA1 on 40m, but no joy – working left coast.  Some of the surprises were unusual enough to cause the brain to balk on copying the call sign correctly – V51 in particular.  A search and pounce sweep on 10m and 15m bagged ZM1A on 15m,  as well as five of the 10m mults.

15m showed signs of signals from Europe just after local sunrise, and they were able to hear me soon thereafter.  Probably an hour or so earlier than that for the stations with good 15m antennas.  But the lack of good antennas served to limit the volume of responses rather than shut the band to use.  I was able to run stations on 15m after 1230z on the second day.  Just a couple of hours later, and 20m became hospitable for a low power run above 14100.

Being a fan of 15m, not much time was spent in the local evening hours.  Its difficult for the DX to hear the 100w stations through their local QRM and QRN.  With 15m and 20m open, that’s not the disaster it has been in the past couple of years.

It will be interesting to see the scores and compare them to those of the past couple of years.

The Good:

  • Conditions!
  • More like fun, less like work
  • Decent runs

The Bad:

  • Problems with copy on unexpected calls
  • Pile up skills

The Ugly:

  • Possible problem with K2 KAT100 auto-tuner on Ant1, used ant2 for duration of the contest

********  ********

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  160:    5     5
   80:   55    28
   40:  191    46
   20:  187    45
   15:  131    45
   10:    8     6
Total:  577   175  Total Score = 302,925

amended 2010/2/26

2 comments to 2010 ARRL DX CW – What A Difference A Few Sunspots Make

  • Scot R. Morrison

    Hi, Keith

    An excellent read this evening and thanks for pointing out where you are calling CQ as a low power station. I, too, was surprised as conditions made a significant difference in the quantity of fun that weekend. Notably, logging Asiatic Russia on 20m and 40m and one King Henry Six on five bands. The five band accomplishment was a first at shackadelic.

    I did not expend as much time on 20m this year as in the past instead opting for 15 and 10 meters. Frankly, when 10m opens, really opens and the cosmos aligns with a major event date, I’m looking forward to smashing all my personal records.

    A job well done inside KazShack!


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