Monday, December 10, 2012

The 2012 ARRL 10 Meter Contest - Like Eggnog

Pre-amped Up and listening for all I have!
10 Meters was tough sledding this past weekend for the annual ARRL 10 Meter Contest. Having to work late on Friday, by the time I made it into the shack, there was not a single station to be heard on 10 meters. Normally I can snag a Hawaiian station or a few JA's on Friday night but NIL. On Saturday morning while waiting patiently for propagation to arrive on 10 meters, I worked a few stations in the monthly SKCC Weekend Sprintathon on 20 meters. Once 10 meters started showing signs of life, my focus changed to that band. It was obvious that it was gonna be a tough weekend.

My first QSO was around the 1830z mark with W0AIH, who had a super signal into my part of Alaska. But as it would turn out, the lower 48 was going to be effected by a mixed bag of propagation for me. The Central & South American stations were booming in, which is somewhat typical on 10 meters here. By the end of the opening on Saturday night, the furthest east I had worked was New York. This meant that the harder W1, W2 and W3 stations had to be picked up on Sunday, assuming there was propagation! 

Statistics from ARS KL8DX
My statistics graph to the right from Win-test puts things into perspective from Saturday. I had one fair hour of contacts rolling in when I found a clear frequency and called CQ. It was obvious that this was going to be another contest that was all about location! Hearing some of the numbers DX stations were exchanging as I tuned across the band, hearing stations like PJ2T with over 700 QSO's or CW5W with over 1,000 QSO's this early in the contest made me jealous. I can only imagine what they were hearing so far south as I've never personally experienced propagation down that way. My passport is like my wallet, empty. Anyway, my Saturday night ended with just over 100 QSO's in the log, leaving me with that sinking multiplier feeling. Highlights were finishing up the day with two VK4'S, VK4WIL and VK4IZ, and then my last QSO being with AH0BT.

States & Provinces Worked (Blue) & Not Worked (White) 
When I woke up early on Sunday morning, I was hoping for some either North East USA or some Europe. I sometimes can get lucky and attract the attention of the NE stations when they are working Europe by busting through the back of their beams. Normally this is only effective with the BIG GUN stations but I was hoping to close the book on some of the harder NE states. To my amazement, the band was pretty quiet Sunday morning except for D4C. Wait, D4C? Was I hearing that right? It was obvious that he had a pile-up (all of which I could not hear). Peaking at times 599 here, really? Like playing the lottery, I joined in knowing full well I was not going to win with all those playing. I called several times but I realized the obvious. But I did get to hear Rich, KL7RA snag em! Either way, D4C was putting in an extremely impressive signal into the Interior of Alaska Sunday morning. After listening to that for a bit, I tuned around hearing a few 1's and 2's but I was not having any luck putting any in the contest log. I finally scored my first NE stations just before 1600z with N1IW and N2MM. Kudos to N2MM for pulling me out of the mud! It was not long before the band fell silent once again.

Sunday was extremely slow going but 10 meters started to show signs that it wanted to cooperate around 1930z. I was beginning to hear more and see more activity on the spectrum scope of my Icom 756PRO. Even though things were looking up, QSB was extremely tough! I had stations call me and when I sent them my exchange, on several occasions, they were either very weak or unreadable and I had to ask for a repeat. An extreme case of "Strong & Gone" as I like to refer to it. I would call CQ for several minutes without a single caller. I would begin to multitask and do a few other things and when I turned my attention elsewhere, someone would call me. I would have to quickly hit the "Escape Key" to get my repeated CQ to stop and then shamefully ask for a repeat or a partial call confirmation. It can be hard to stay focused during those dry periods. 

In the end, I made well under half of the contacts I did last year. I'm certain I did not work anything new to me this weekend but I was sure hoping. Running low power, I sure had plenty of stations CQ'n in my face but that's all part of the challenge when the bands are tough. But a bad day of contesting is still better than a great day in the office! This week is the 25th anniversary of me taking and passing my Novice test in Fremont, Ohio those many years ago. Things have sure changed just in my 25 years of enjoying this hobby. But in keeping with the theme of the season, when it comes to 10 meters and 10 meter contesting, it's like Eggnog...I can't get enough of it. The holiday season brings the return of Eggnog to store shelves and the ARRL 10 Meter Contest. Thanks to the ARRL for supporting yet another great contest! Thanks for all the QSO's, too! My 3830 submission is listed below with further comments. This might as well be my last effort in this contest from this QTH but God willing, it won't be my last 10 meter contest effort and with any luck, I can enjoy Eggnog and the ARRL 10 meter contest next year.

ARRL 10-Meter Contest

Call: KL8DX
Operator(s): KL8DX
Station: KL8DX

Class: SO CW LP
QTH: Alaska
Operating Time (hrs): 10h14m

Band  QSOs  Mults
  CW:  375    63
  SSB:    3      5
Total:  375     63      Total Score = 94,500

Club: North Coast Contesters


This will be a CW only submission but I did work a few
that asked me to QSY to SSB. I had to work late on Friday
so I also started out with NIL until Saturday morning.
My first contest QSO came at 1828z and last fell into
the log at 2342z, Saturday. Saturday was tough but that's
contesting. Saturday was even a bit harder due to QRN
as a direct result of 40 mph wind gusts that day. I
watched our temperature go from -21F to +20F in a matter
of a few hours thanks to the arrival of the SE wind flow.

The last four hours of Sunday showed my best rates all
weekend. I had higher hopes for the last big contest of
2012, as I didn't even hit the 50% mark from what I was
able to accomplished last year.

I think the most notable points with this contest was
the crazy propagation and QSB. The QSB was intense at
times and stations would call and then disappear. I was
low power so like many, I had multipliers CQ in my face
to no avail. I missed more than I care to list.

Happy Holidays to all and I hope to find my way into a
few logs as this contest season continues into 2013. I
have no valid complaints about this contest as 378 QSO's
are better than none, which was the case only a few years
ago. I predict that 2013 will be the year of change for this
station. But for now, it's time to enjoy the holiday season
and from our shack to yours, on behalf of KL8SU and myself,
Seasons Greetings from Alaska! May many new multipliers and
entities fall easily into your logbooks in 2013.


Phil - KL8DX
Suann - KL8SU
Dempsey (The Wonder Beagle)
Luna (The Grandcat)


  1. Good evening Phil, great run down of the contest from your neck of the woods. I was going to enter the contest then got called into work all of Saturday and and Saturday evening. I was to tired to give 10m an honest go on Sunday. With your score comparisons from this time last year seems propagation is on it's way down.

  2. Mike, thanks for the comment and stopping by! Sorry you got called into work but at least on this end, Saturday was almost a wash. Sunday was sure better but sometimes it's life in the north. Reading other posts, it was just not only Alaska this time :) Good DX my friend and best wishes for the holidays!

  3. Phil,
    As always a great read.
    I was studying your Win-Test stats and it became very obvious working you will not be easy. The band had pretty much folded here by 17:30 Z I agree conditions on Sunday was much better than Saturday.
    I am almost done with WAS on 10m, three to go but Alaska is going to be tough one….

    73, Pierre ZS6A

  4. Hello Phil, you didn't do bad at all given the circumstances. Well, drink another eggnog and think about next years ARRL 10m contest ;-) 73, Bas