CQ WPX RTTY

The CQ WPX RTTY contest was held a few days ago, and despite being occupied with other duties that apparently are, quote, “more important than sitting infront of that radio all day”, I logged 100 contacts on low power. This should ideally be tenfold that number, but I’ll get there next year.

The antenna used for this contest was an EFHW tossed into a tree. I’m working on a more permanent antenna solution, but for the moment this is what I had to work with. If that wasn’t challenging enough, I didn’t have my PA here either, so I ran barefoot with ~70-80 watts.

I’m working on a better contest setup at home, and will dive into the details on this topic a little later.

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 contestcalendar.com 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.

Happy new year

2021 is over, and let’s take a look at what happened, and what we have ahead of us for 2022!

Looking back through my contest QSOs, I found that I’m just shy of 10k QSOs from various contests, for my own log, and my club’s. I have no intentions of letting my foot of the accelerator yet, and will try my best to beat that in 2022.

As for expeditions, I managed to visit Svalbard and Faroe Islands in 2021, despite Covid-19 and travel restrictions. My nose might not forgive me for all the tests I’ve been through, but I think it’s definitely worth it.

Now, for 2022, I still have Jan Mayen planned, which will require most of my energy in terms of preparations, planning, buying equipment and so on. I’ve saved 10 vacation days from 2021 for this trip, so I can take some extra time off without spoiling all the planned holidays for my family.

Speaking of family holidays, my XYL suggested the other day that we celebrate next x-mas in Australia, and who am I to turn that offer down. I’ve visited VK twice before, but that was long time before I got my amateur licence. For this trip I might be QRV from VK4 and VK6, and maybe even ZL. If time and money permits, a short stay on Lord Howe Island VK9L will be considered, too. Anyway, time will show however I’m not confident enough to put anything down in stone yet, as this is mostly talk and vague plans at the moment. Fingers crossed.

In summation, 2021 was a great year, but 2022 will be better!

Stay tuned and I’ll see you in contests.. 73 de LB5SH Stian

CQWW SSB 2021

I joined my group, LA2T, for the CQWW SSB contest this year. Along with three other operators we logged about 2,500 QSOs as LN2T. We had some unfortunate communication problems and planned poorly, so our stations were unmanned for several hours in the middle of prime time, so we missed out on a metric tonne of precious log entries. At the end of the day it was a decent result and in fact turned out to be the all-time high for my club, in this contest.

The condx were so-so, but Sunday evening 40m opened up great for us and I managed to reel in a decent pileup. I pushed myself to an average of 7 QSOs per minute for a long period. That’s approximately 8.5 seconds per exchange — needless to say, my mouth dried out and my ears still hurt from all the QRM! It was worth it, what an adrenaline rush when everything just “works” and the points keep rolling in.

The next big test for LA2T will be CQWPX in March 2022, we’ll make sure everything runs smoothly by then.

SAC SSB

This weekend I worked the Scandinavian Activity Contest (SAC) SSB on behalf of my club, LA2T. We were mainly two operators, with the exception of one extra guy helping out a few hours he had spare. Together we managed to log 972 QSOs for LN2T. My personal goal was 1000 in total, that’s close enough for me to call it a win.

All in all a good and fun contest, however I’m a little surprised and, to be honest, a little disappointed that there weren’t more Scandinavian stations involved. You could tell by the serial numbers returned by the DX stations; most reports were in the 40-50 range. I’m under the impression there weren’t many exceeding 100, and only a handful above 2-300. This could be explained by poor overall conditions for low powered stations. After all, our amplifiers got pretty hot running close to 1kW all the time.

Bad condx or not, we managed to log VK and ZA on 15m, ZL and BA on 20m which is a bit unusual for us and always bring a smile to our face. Even the 10m band surprised us with a couple of nice openings to EA8 and RA.

CQWW RTTY

Just a quick update regarding the CQWW RTTY contest. I tried my best but many hours had to be invested in house chores and other miscellaneous family duties. You know the saying: happy wife, happy life. I managed to log 221 QSOs from my QTH, peaking 100W using an EFHW tossed up in a tree. If only I had a bit more time I could have taken advantage of the 15m openings and probably doubled my score. Oh well – next time.

RTTY contesting is quite enjoyable. Even though it’s digital, it requires a lot of operator interaction, unlike the FTx modes.

I also got a good chance at using my KL405V power amplifier again, after repairing it recently (link). I must say it’s now performing better than.. ever, I think. Even though I didn’t push it beyond 100W this weekend, I’ve done some tests on FT8 at 200W and it just eats it. I should be able to pull 400W SSB from this, so I might try that at the next opportunity.

WW Digi DX

This weekend I attended the WW Digi DX contest as LC1R and LA2T, as I were the operator for my club as well as myself. I managed to nail 65 QSOs with my own call (only QRV for a few hours) and 131 for LA2T. I only worked the 20m bands.

At first I thought this would be a contest where I’d scoop in hundreds of QSOs, but this takes more effort than you’d expect. Calling CQ is pretty much a no-brainer, but when almost everyone does the same not much is happening. So S&P is the best choice, really. However, it takes time, and you need to pay attention to avoid dupes.

Next weekend I’ll hopefully be able to attend the Russian WW RTTY Contest.

WAE CW in QRSS…S.

This weekend I attended the WAE CW contest as LC1R, partially because I wanted the CW practice, and a little for testing a new antenna I designed and built a couple of days ago.

The contest was a poor choice for antenna testing, and this is clearly reflected in the participation. Contest QSOs could only be made outside Europe, and my experimental antenna setup wasn’t exactly carved out to be an extreme DX antenna. Despite the challenges I managed to log a whopping 30 – yes, thirty – QSOs, having logged Japan, AS Russia, USA, and Canada.

Keep in mind I’m a CW rookie. I spent most of the time listening to workable stations, making sure I got the call right and sort of could predict the next serial number. I pushed myself to 18WPM, but since most stations had an insane WPM so I had to use software to assist me, or I wouldn’t stand a chance.

Let’s slowly transition into the the antenna topic, which is somehow interesting. I call this antenna the “I don’t care just get me on the air”: it’s not optimal, by no means claimed to be good, no math or any science to back it up. To be honest it was made for a laugh, but it works and it’s simple in terms of use, and setting up.

The antenna is about 5 meters of wire soldered to a SO-239 connector, with the shield connected to a battery clamp. No balun or impedance matching at all. This can be hooked to whatever you have as a counterpoise/radial; be it the car, a park fence, auto barrier, rain gutters — anything might work. In my case, I used the frame of my kid’s trampoline and the SWR is barely registered on the FT-950. A couple of tests running FT8 (60W) and pskreporter.info shows acceptable results.

Colour me surprised. I might keep this one for later “slash portable” activity.

EU HF Championship SSB

On August the 7th I attended the European HF Championship as LC1R, single-op, high power, SSB only. I used the LA2T shack so I had plenty of power and good antennas, and was able to work 20, 40, and 80 meters. 15 and 10 meters was just playing the greatest hits of The Whitenoise on repeat to me. In total I logged 436 QSOs, but I think at least 10% were “uuh… 59 001” so probably worth no points.

I had a run of about 8 hours from start to finish, and in the end I wasn’t able to hear any stations that I hadn’t already worked. At then end of the day I guess I did as good as I could have done, given the time frame and the working conditions.

Logs have been submitted to the contest committee, and I’ve updated QRZ.com and LoTW, so anyone who wants their QSOs confirmed knows where to look.

It was a fun contest, thanks to everyone who participated!

RSGB IOTA from Herøy

I recently spent three weeks in Herøy, Norway, combining the family’s summer vacation with a little participation in the RSGB IOTA contest. I was active as LC1R from a small island named Øksningan in IOTA EU-062.

I had to work barefoot this time, as my PA needed a bit of TLC, and to top it all there were challenging working conditions, so I only landed a modest 161 QSOs. There were still many vacation days left, and outside contests I worked a few hundred more on SSB and FT8 with my primary callsign, LB5SH.

Oh, and I also participated in the RSGB FT4 contest, and tried my best in the Russian WW MM, but they were merely “bonus contests” and the effort was low, relaxed.

The antenna of choice this time was an EFHW, gracefully lended to me by my friend LB6VI Sanimir. As a ground reference I simply hooked it to a cow fence (not the shocking type) and that worked surprisingly well. When the conditions were up I was able to work the entire world on FT8, all the way from west coast USA to Australia. Not half bad for a string of wire stuck to some random farmer’s fence.

The scenerey in Herøy, or in Helgeland in general, is simply breathtaking. Love this place, and can’t wait to be QRV from JP66ca again.