For those not involved in amateur radio, many of the terms I use many seen foreign. I have received a few comments from puzzled readers of The 6th Floor. Sometimes I forget this “language” we speak in the world of ham radio is not widely known. Starting Friday afternoon at 5pm PDT the World Wide WPX Contest sponsored by CQ Magazine kicked off. Each contest is a different mode, this week it was the SSB (single side band or voice) contest. If you read my news on Thursday, WPX SSB Goals I was hoping to put in a 10 hour effort and possibly see 200-300 QSOs.
In every contest you must decide if you operate low (100 watts or less) or high power (greater than 100 watts) and if you want to work all the available bands or one band. The three previous years I had operated high power, all bands. This year I decided to change that up (which I shouldn’t have done in hindsight) and working low power on 20 Meter band (14 MHz). I spent the better part of 2.5 hours and only worked 50 stations and pulled the plug on my operation. I knew better than and consulted my father, N6SV before making the decision.
Instead of spending the better part of Saturday, sitting frustrated in front of my radio I decided to head to N6RO about 2 miles down the road. I had e-mailed Dean Straw, N6BV and asked if I could sit, listen and learn. When I arrived I met Juan, W6NOW, Masa, K1GI, Dean, N6BV, Steve, K6AW and I believe Bob, K3EST. Our host, Ken, N6RO came out to the shack a few hours later. I plugged in with Juan on 40M, but the band was very slow, as it was daylight. I decided to plug in with Dean a about 60 minutes later, who was working 15 Meters (21 MHz) and working Europe at a good rate.
Dean asked if I wanted to operate 15 Meters and I hopped in the chair and started calling CQ NR6O, which was the unique club call sign we were using. The WPX contest is a great contest to work, since each new prefix you work is a multiplier, which adds to your score. So in this contest you can work everyone on all 6 bands potentially. When I took over, I was nervous, since this was only the second time I had worked at N6RO. I settled into a modest rhythm, but after listening in with Dean and some of the call signs he was pulling out of the noise I was somewhat frustrated I was not able to accomplish the same.
It was still a great experience knowing I had some big antennas putting out a very clean and strong signal across the world. Some of the new countries I worked were Dodecanse (J45), Namibia (V5A) and Kenya (5YA). Unfortunately none of these were using my personal call sign of W6ONV, so I cannot claim any of them in my log book. I had a few short runs where I made multiple contacts in a short period of time. I probably put in 2 hours on 15 Meters and Dean took control of the station before the JA’s (Japan) came on the air at which time Masa sat down.
I then took a short break and spent another 90 minutes, maybe 2 hours working 40 Meters. Again, it was very quiet and maybe had 10 contacts in that 2 hour time period, but it’s something that needs to be done in order to maximize points for the station. There were times Bob, who was working 10 Meters would move or send a station to 40 Meters if that operator had not contacted us on that band.
All in all it was a great contest weekend. I was thankfully to be part of the NR6O operation. I might have to start spending more time with that group and learning the ins and outs of operating from their shack. Unfortunately time isn’t something I usually have much of, so being able to commit 48 hours (as is the duration of this contest) or even 12 hours is not always possible. Still being able to relieve an operator even for a few hours is a blessing, especially if you plan on operating all 48 hours. Not sure what the rest of the year will bring. I do have N6RO to visit, as well as W6ZJH in Pittsburg for some of the shorter duration contests.