Baltic SSB and accidental DARC 10m

This was my first contest weekend of 2022, and I was taking it easy with the goal of attending the Baltic SSB contest only. This is a 80m/40m contest, and since I don’t have a good antenna for 80m at home I used the LA2T club shack and used the opportunity to QRO.

The Baltic SSB contest started out nicely, and I noted 134 QSOs. The propagation was allright and I can only blame myself for not logging more – the contest started early in the morning and I’m not a morning person.

Anyway, the contest was over and just for fun I decided to switch over to 10m in case the band was open. I usually do this by listening around 28.074 at first, in case any FT8 activity can be heard. If you can’t hear FT8, you sure as hell can’t hear SSB. To my surprise many stations were active. So many, in fact, that I decided to turn the knob to the SSB portion of the band and check if anyone was active there. What do you know, a few stations could be heard — but they all called “CQ contest.”

I checked and it turned out a short 2-hour German sprint contest was on, DARC 10m, and it had started just over half an hour earlier. I thought to my self, what the heck, might as well log some 10m while there’s an opening. It’s not everyday business to work the 10m band in January from mo location. Since they all heard me so well, I found myself calling CQ just a few minutes later. A pileup quickly appeared out of nowhere, and it just kept on going.

Interestingly though, and a bit counter-intuitively, a pileup isn’t necessarily synonymous with more contacts. In fact, it gets increasingly difficult as the pileup grows; catching a full callsign on the first try can be challenging. I logged 166 QSOs on the 10m band in the middle of a cold January month, and that was all the reward I needed.

The 10m band is full of surprises, so checking it every now and then is definitely worth the effort.

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