2011 ARRL DX – SSB

Contest: ARRL DX
Date: March 5-6, 201
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

80 / 3 / 3
40 / 14 / 10
20 / 65 / 31
15 / 164 / 50
10 / 69 / 19

TOTAL: 315 QSO / 113 DXC
SCORE: 106,107 (TIME ON: 13 H 24 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I had no intentions of spending 13+ hours in the shack working this contest. Looking back on it now, I am very glad the engagement I had on Sunday was canceled and instead I spent about 11 hours operating. Unlike previous contests I did not set any goals or do any real preparation like I normally do. Instead, it was to go where the Q’s were and this weekend they were on 10M and 15M.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me backtrack. I had hoped to work more contacts/mults in this year’s ARRL DX than I did in 2010. This is typically the goal I sent, but being able to work more than 71 contacts was not much of a goal. It was not until about 2200z on Sunday did I tell my XYL, “Okay I want to get 300 QSOs, 100 DXCC and 100,000 total points.” Needless to say, she looked at me as if I was some sort of idiot. But that was beside the point, after 10 hours of operating on Sunday this was achievable.

At the start of the contest I fully expected to start on 20M, since that is usually my bread and butter band. I was shocked when after the first hour or so and I had no QSOs on 20M, all my contacts early on came from 15M. The first hour was my best rate was 49/hr. Then again being a “lil pistol” I rarely go for rate or holding a frequency. Unfortunately one of my dogs got tunneled under the backyard fence and decided to go on an afternoon walk, so this cut my work on 15M (possibly 20M) short after just an hour.

I would not be back on the air until almost 2300z on Saturday after getting off work. I would start on 10M and make QSOs with PY, LU, CE, JA and KL7 before moving to 20M, which was not great from 6-land. Over the course of the next 2+ hours I would make 50 QSOs on 20M, which spanned the globe from Asia to South American and into the Caribbean, but this would be the most time I would spend on 20M in the entire contest.

Seeing as I had never experienced a solar cycle with sunspots, I was amazed at 10M and 15M. This seemed to be the norm across the board for many operators, as I read over their 3830 soapbox comments. I will consider myself lucky that I was able to work more contacts on 10M than I did on 20M, which has never happened in a contest! I am sure I could have spent more time on Sunday working new multipliers, but it was too hard to pass up a load South American station or JA.

I found myself running back and forth between the shack and the hex beam. Why? Since I have no rotator I was using the “armstrong method” for changing the direction the hex beam was facing and was usually torn between EU, SA and JA throughout most of Sunday.

All my QSOs were S&P, I did not even attempt to run a frequency on any band. So I would usually make three passes through a band working each direction. Of course it only complicated things when I saw an E5, VK or ZL pop up on the band map. The most interesting QSO of the weekend was with E51CG. I was attempting to work EU on 10M and was pointed about 20 degrees and heard E51CG booming a CQ at 5/9+ so I answered. Wow, was I surprised when he answered!

Sunday was dominated by 15M, but unlike many others I will consider myself lucky I was able to work into EU. I had one outstanding opening to Italy starting about 1520z and lasting for about 15 minutes. During that time is when I benefited most from EU working most all of my EU contacts including Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, European Russia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Unfortunately the move to 10M did not yield much in the way of EU contacts, in fact I none of my on that band came from EU. It would end up being SA (67%) dominating 10M for me, while AS and OC both had 12%, the remaining 10% were NA.Overall EU dominated my log as 31% of my contacts were EU, followed closely by AS at 29%. I will consider myself lucky that I got in the JAs when I did on 15M on Saturday afternoon, because Sunday seemed to be nothing by the “East Coast Wall” trying working west into JA and OC.

Looking back at the breakdown by band I continued to switch bands between 10M and 15M for 7 hours until I shut down the shack at 2307z on a high note working KL7AC and KH7DX on 15M followed by ZL3IO and ZL1BYZ on 10M. This also meant many (too many) trips out of the door of the shack to manually move the hex beam to the correct direction. As I sit here now, looking at the Hy-Gain Ham M rotator, I guess I SHOULD get that cleaned up and functional.So that’s it. I have absolutely no complaints when it comes to my performance of the results in this contest. In all honesty, I did not expect much since my DXE 5-Band Hexx Beam is ONLY 6m off the ground. As for 40/80, I only made 17 Qs between the two bands, didn’t put any time on the low bands due to noise and lack of a better antenna (vertical). Thanks to all my friends who were able to hear me and I look forward to WPX! 73.