Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: February 11-12 2012
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday
15 / 203 / 161
TOTAL: 203 QSO / 161 PFX
SCORE: 64,883 (TIME ON: 11 H 31 Mn)
SOAPBOX: This was the first time I had entered a contest in a single band category. I had great success back in 2010 in WPX RTTY and looked to achieve the same sort of success this time around. I had set my goal at 300 QSO and 150 PFX, if I were able to participate on Sunday I would have met that goal. Unfortunately I shut things down 0016 on Saturday afternoon, when I probably could have hung around the band for at least 2 more hours, but looking back to the start of the contest those first 2 hours only yielded 42 contacts.
It was a contest filled with frustration this time around. Much like my 2010 effort I decided on low power, instead of firing up the amp. 15M was chosen over 20M, after some comments and input from NCCC members on the reflector. In hindsight, I probably would of had a better showing on 20M, since it is my strongest band, but always congested with signals. 15M allowed for a bit more room to spread out and possibly even run a frequency, which I will touch on in a bit.
I was hoping for 60-70 QSOs in the first few hours before the band closed, unfortunately I only logged half of that (43 QSOs). With propagation charts supplied by N6BV and K6TU I had a good idea where signals would be the best. Thankfully JA did not disappoint, which is where a majority of my contacts were made at the start of the contest. I had a sneaking suspicion that it would not be as good on Sunday at 00z. I was right, unfortunately, as I had somewhat planned for another stong run of JAs to fill my log and quest for 300.
I wasn’t discouraged…yet. I did find 15M very noisy through out the entire contest. Since it is a loaner rig (Thanks George, K6GT) and I am not as familiar with the FT-1000MP MkV as I was with my own FT-1000MP. I also believe I have better filters, which helps reduce adjacent signals, which is where my biggest problems were during WPX. I could not isolate many calls because of a stronger signal up or down the band. Still overall the radio performed admirably!
I got up bright an early the next morning (Saturday) and went to the shack by 1345z (0545). I didn’t expect 15M to be open yet, but it would give me some time to look over the propagation charts and see where the signals would be the best. All indications were on a southeast heading, beaming the Carribean/South America, but as luck would have it I spent very little time with the hex pointed that direction. When the band started to open I did not hesitate to join the fray and beam Europe.
It was slow going from my first contact with PZ5RA. While I had hoped to put together a few good runs, which never materialized, I was left with search & pounce to make contacts. What few short runs I had were only a handful of contacts and I was making more contacts when I was searching out others. This was frustrating, as I saw my rate never go above 24 QSOs in an hour. Only 4 hours produced a number of 20 or greater.
It started to wear on the morning wore on, I could not be heard and there were many signals, but most of them I could not pull out of the noise or adjacent signals. Still I did the best I could with the hex beam. While I didn’t achieve my total QSO goal, I did surpass my PFX count (161 actual vs 150 planned). Still the only comparison I had to look at was NK6A, Don who made 124 QSOs last year in ‘W6’, so at least I know my score was not terrible, but it was a quite a bit of work given my conditions.
I will chalk this up to a learning experience and an enjoyable way to contest, especially for someone like me, who can’t get the entire 48 hour period off to participate. It’s nice to work 2-3 hours and shut it down and spend time with the family, returning the next morning when the sun comes up. I might have to inquire about the propagation charts, because based on what I was reading from my QTH I should not of had a big signal into EU, which had me doubting I would make many contacts. In the end I had 33 DXCC (countries) and 35 states when I tallied up my log sheets. As frustrating as it was, I still enjoyed my time operating.