While I was hoping to take some time this coming week for CQWW WPX (SSB) this coming weekend, it looks like I will just put in about 4-6 hours during the contest. Since it is SSB and not my strongest mode, couple that with the solar cycle that has been down, compared to what it was just a few weeks back for the ARRL DX (SSB) my commitment level won’t be what I was previously anticipating. Now something could change between today and Saturday, which would allow me more time come Saturday and into Sunday.
Thankfully the weather system that just moved through Northern California did not damage the hex beam or the SteppIR BigIR, but I have some issue looming I will need to address as we move into spring. The hex beam, while at 20′ does an admirable job, but I must tie it off at 3 points to keep it from rotating when the wind gusts.The SteppIR has two problems, the first is the concrete base. Somehow over the 2 years it has been standing the base has become loose and now the antenna will list side to side, even though I have it tied off with guy wires. The second problem to note is the aluminum coupler on the extension support tube seems to have come unglued and was sliding down. I looked it over and I could see no visible damage, so I am hoping I can make it another month of so before I pull the antenna down.
As for this past weekend, conditions were not great, especially on 20M. I decided to split time in a number of radio contests; Russian DX Contest (RDXC), BARTG HF RTTY Contest, Virginia QSO Party and the North Dakota QSO Party, none of which I really put in a big effort, but casually participated.I had a very enjoyable time in the RDXC on Saturday afternoon. I only put in a few hours at most, worked a few Russian oblasts, some JAs and JT5DX in Mongolia on15M, first call! Improved on my 2010 scores. Also found 20m difficult on RTTY on Sunday morning. Mainly worked 20M again, but the noise was terrible, but I did hand out a few QSOs.
I was more interested in the VA QSO Party, which I finished with about 15 contacts including K4NVA! Worked mainly on CW, but found a few stations calling CQ on SSB, even got 1 PSK31 contact! North Dakota was slim, worked all of 3 stations. All in all the main goal (as always) was achieved. I had fun, can’t ask for more.
From now until the end of June I need to pick and choose carefully what I want to participate in. There are some enjoyable events coming in the next few months: JIDX (CW), 7QP, NEQP, CQWW WPX (CW). At the beginning of July I will receive a group of days off in order to use for events starting in July, as well as a week of vacation earned coming in early October.