Monday, November 28, 2011

CQ World Wide CW 2011 - 5 Star Weekend!

Log Snapshot ARS KL8DX CQWWCW, 2011
This past weekend was the weekend of all weekends for DX contests. The CQ World Wide CW Contest took place and contesters from all over the world sent the sweet sound of Morse Code across the airwaves in this 48 hour, Indy 500 style, contest. Stations from all corners of the globe prepare their equipment and stations weeks in advance in hopes of achieving DX contest success. From mult-operators to the QRP, this contest has something for everyone who is willing to send and receive CW (Morse Code) in a contest format. Like any contest, this is fast paced fun and when propagation cooperates, there is not a part of the globe you can't hear on the bands.

Contests are many things to many different people. Some use them only to chase new award contacts such as new DXCC countries or even states. Some get on to actually compete with stations on a regional level or even a global level. There is almost a contest involving every mode available to ham radio operators and like many sports, you either love em or you hate em. From a DX'ers standpoint, I love this contest due to the ability to add new countries (dating myself as they are now called Entities) to my DXCC totals. From a contester in training standpoint, this is the chance to hone those skills that push my CW ability to the maximum (which is not fast by any means) along with learning how to deal with QRN, QRM, and using my equipment to the best of it's ability.

To prepare for this contest, I set up my contest program and got my macros the way I needed them on Wednesday evening prior to the contest weekend. I have a small station so that was the extent of my prep work. I started a bit late come Friday afternoon (contest starts in Alaska at 3 PM local time) but not as late as I had first expected with my first contact at 0032 hours. As with any contest, it takes a bit for my nerves to get settled and for my CW decoding speed to function. My only strategy was an attempt to do a bit more S&P (Search and Pounce) for multipliers and not call CQ as much. Being that I'm in CQ Zone 1, as with all of the CQ Zones, we are a multiplier to everyone. And not only are we a CQ Zone multiplier, we are a country multiplier being in Alaska. I think Zone 1 was well represented this past weekend and I doubt was missing from many logs.

Contest Score Summary for KL8DX
As far as the contest for me, I decided it would be an all band effort. I normally enter in a single band in many of these contests but looking back to last year, I operated all band, high power. My operating time in 2010 was 15h43m running high power and I achieved 951 QSO's (minus dupes) for a total claimed score of 245,676. I was out to beat my previous years score but I was a bit worried as this year, I had to enter low power. My amplifier refuses to put any power out on 10 or 15 meters so I was at the mercy the propagation and the other stations receiving ability. I joke that a low power entry this far north is like running QRP in the lower 48. With that said, there were lots of stations who pulled out my low power signal when I didn't think there was a chance of adding them to my log when I was hunting multipliers. So totally impressed with so many great operators and stations out there!

I began Friday night (technically Saturday in contest speak) by doing mostly S&P. I wanted to look for multipliers early on, expecting none to be finding me when I decided to park and call CQ. So I often feel the contest really begins for me on Saturday morning after I roll out of bed. Yes, I don't operate an entire contest weekend and I normally get sleep during Friday and Saturday nights. I think the reason I don't operate an entire weekend is my low band antennas are far from adequate and those would be the antennas I would use to work stations throughout the night time hours. When I woke up Saturday morning, I checked the bands and looked for a small hole that I could call CQ. The same happened Sunday, looked for multipliers toward Europe and then find a place to park for awhile.

I like the Single Operator format in this contest as anything goes. No restrictions to speak of when it comes to operating off times, band changes, etc. I normally take notes over the weekend so I can refer back to them when doing my contest summary. These are normally one liners on a piece of scrap paper. Some of those one liners were;

  • Local low temperature -26F to start with on Friday, ended up with a high temperature of +18 on Saturday and +15 on Sunday. Research the effects of hot bands on global warming and local temperatures.
  • Saturday night, echo effect on 20 meters was rough! Many stations sounded like they had twins and both were calling at the same time.
  • I like to type because most people can't read my handwriting. I like to send CW in contests using my keyboard since most probably could not read or copy my manually generated CW. I continuously hit the wrong function keys on my keyboard. There is no hope for the contesting public when I get on the bands.
  • What, no Europe on 10? Hearing a few on Sunday morning but nothing workable. 
  • Wait, scratch my last, just worked G3TXF on 10 meters! Awesome!
  • Holy crap, I just worked OH8X, KL7RA, and TM6M on 10 also! I need oxygen!
  • Hearing Zone 27 on 40 meters but can't work any of the stations I hear. They are strong, but they can't hear me. Time to put in a funding request with the XYL for better low band antenna's. 
  • Wait a minute, scratch my last, I just snagged NH2T along with AH0KT on 40 meters with a side order of VK4KW in Zone 30! Damn, there must be some truth to this grayline propagation stuff! Research when time allows but should not be a problem as funding request mentioned above will most likely be denied. 
  • Wonder if I'm the only one who gets CB'ers on my run frequency? Wonder what all those "Extra Channel" freaks are thinking now with all this beeping stuff going on?
  • Must have been spotted as KL7DX again, getting lots of dupes! Corliss will have to use her reject button again. Make note to send Corliss some Christmas cookies for the overuse of her reject button on QSL requests for KL7DX.
  • Okay, this lower power stuff ain't so bad after all! Having to run the space heater in the shack due to amplifier sitting cold and lonely on the table due to operator abuse. Make note to submit funding request with XYL to get amplifier repaired. Probably will get funded due in part that heating the igloo using the amplifier is much cheaper than using the oil fired furnace especially with heating fuel at $4.24 per gallon. 
  • Need to sign up for a Pile Up Management class! How in the heck do some of these DXpedition operators do it? My nerves are about shot and I could really use an Elixir right now.
  • Wow, best effort EVER! Remember to thank all the operators that called in making it possible!
  • Just made my best rates ever working CW in a contest! An endless flow of callsigns on 10 meters!  I love 10 meters!
CW Run Rates for ARS KL8DX
So that was the highlights of the contest with my one liners on my piece of scrap paper. As it turned out, my fears of running low power were put to rest due to the awesome band conditions. I have highly respected the group at KL2R, lead by Larry, N1TX due to their abilities with their low power efforts. With the solar cycle on the upswing, my amp will finally get a well deserved break once it gets repaired. I have always felt that my station is only as good as my antennas and my Mosley continues to impress the dickens out of me! But either way, achieving a personal best rate of 154 Q's per hour just made my weekend! Yes, it's nothing compared to the seasoned contest operator who can easily pull double that but for me, that's something! CW has been challenging for me since the beginning but I will continue to practice and try to learn from each and every contest experience.

In conclusion, this was my best effort EVER in ANY contest I have participated in. The high bands were awesome (glad they recovered from the radiation storm that effected the bands on Saturday / Sunday) and I am so appreciative of everyone that called me or attempted to log me. I'm in these contests to have fun as my station is not big enough to compete. I had 32 dupes total over the course of the weekend. I have not looked at the DX cluster yet but I assume it was due to being spotted as KL7DX. I DO work dupes just to keep things moving rather than to set up a macro that says "Wrkd B4" and go back to CQ'n.

I must apologize to those that were effected by my keyboarding "WTH" moments, with UP2L coming to mind not to mention my hiccups on 20 meters toward the end of the contest. I appreciate everyone's patience and effort in logging or being logged for ARS KL8DX. I'm still riding high and I can still hear the sweet sound of CW in my head. After the contest, I started to catch up on laundry and I could swear my washing machine was sending me a signal report. I will be uploading my log to LOTW soon but will probably wait to see how LOTW handles this batch of millions of QSO's before doing so. And in speaking of washing, I will sure looking forward to seeing the contest results as once my log has been washed of bad or broken calls to see where I actually ended up. I'm sure there is no "Golden Log" here but with continued efforts, I might actually get there someday.


  1. What can I say Phil, what a!
    This was the contest of your lifetime....
    And many to follow. As I think propagation will oly get better next year. 73, Bas

  2. Hi Phil
    What a great read - Love the one liners ! I could'nt publish mine ;-)
    Good to know others mess up with the macros Hi...

    GL Peter

  3. Great job Phil - Enjoyed your Blog.
    Received my new Icom 7600 just in time.
    Always a pleasure...
    Chat soon... Andy (VE9DX)

  4. Bas, I sure hope so my friend, looking forward to working you on 10 meters!!! G4NKX - LOL, I had a few I had to leave out about stations not sending their calls and making me wait nearly 5 minutes or more to learn who they were. :0) Andy, awesome and it was great to hear you! Ah, the 7600, another one of my dream rigs!