Monthly Archives: March 2012

2012 CQ WPX SSB Contest Summary

Friday night at 8pm local / 0000z started this years CQ WPX SSB contest on the ham bands. After last weeks lackluster band conditions in the BARTG RTTY contest, I wasn’t optimistic about what the weekend would bring, but things were much improved in just 7 days. I decided to run assisted in this contest using the DX packet cluster to fill the band map with spotted stations. I also configured N1MM to automatically spot any station I worked that wasn’t already on the band map. That resulted in 312 spots of other stations by me over the course of the weekend, based on DXSummit’s spot search.

I started out Friday evening after a long week at work and the bands seemed ok. I was on 20m and after just 15 mins came across JT5DX in Mongolia and worked him quickly. I have worked JT5DX before and is my the only station I’ve logged from there. I worked a couple Alaska stations, WA5ZUP as I do in every contest, and Caribbean stations along with a lot of US stations. Scattered in the mix were European stations. For the first 2 hours I switched between 20m and 15m just scanning the band and working whoever I heard. After 2 hours I switched to 40m, worked just 3 contacts, and called it a night with 75 Qs in the log.

Sat morning with the radio on 40m from the evening before I scanned and worked a half dozen US stations before switching to 20m. I worked some stations on 20m and switched to 15m and scanned and worked the stations there. On 20m I heard 2 loud stations in China but couldn’t break through the pileup. Still don’t have a China station in the log. 10m and 15m were much improved over last weekend. 15m was more enjoyable than 20m with a bit more space between stations. I worked on and off most of the day with occasional breaks.

Watching the cluster as I was turning the dial 15m I saw a spot come in for N2RJ on 40m. N2RJ, Ryan, is located about 30 miles from me. We’ve connected on the computer via a common co-worker we both used to work with. I had not spoken with Ryan on the air before. He had a mini pileup going and I could hear him ok but it took a few attempts for him to hear me. He said hello and I wished him good luck. I saw him spotted on 20m or 15m on Sunday but couldn’t hear him to work him on another band. Just after 8pm ET/0000z, I came across A73A in Qatar calling CQ on 20m and was able to work him before a pileup came, likely from my auto spot after logging him. This was my first contact with Qatar.  I continued throughout the evening where 20m was active for most of it and 40m had some good activity. Nothing much was happening on 80m whenever I checked and worked just a handful of stations there. I called it quits before midnight and ended up with 452 Qs at the end of the night.

Sunday is usually less productive and more searching than pouncing as all the “easy” stations have already been worked. But there’s always new stations to catch on new bands and new folks that are popping in as well as smaller pileups on some of the harder stations for me to work. And of course, band conditions are constantly changing so you never know what’s in store for you. I worked a few stations again on 40m before switching to 20m and came up a VK4 station in Australia that I worked after a few tries. Later in the day I worked a different VK4 station on 15m which was the first logged VK station on 15m and it’s already confirmed on LoTW. I had logged 10m/20m/40m contacts with Australia but missed 15m until this weekend.

I spent most of the day just dialing around 10m, 15m & 20m scanning the bands from top to bottom and working whoever I could hear. Usually if I heard them, they could hear me. If for some reason I wasn’t getting through, I’d tune a bit off frequency and see if that helped. If not, I’d tune away and come back a few mins later, usually getting them on the first or second call. I really enjoy 10m when there’s activity since contacts seem so easy when the band is open vs 20m and even 15m. In the afternoon I started to watch my QSO count as I approached last years total of 567 Qs. When I hit that number around 1740z I noticed that for the same QSO count as last year I actually had less QSO points but 27 more WPX prefixes and a score about 10k more. I took a break for a bit after hitting that number.

As I could smell dinner cooking, 15m started to come alive with the JAs and the VK4 I worked and I was hoping dinner wouldn’t be ready for a little while as they started to peak. I don’t recall JAs being as loud as they were on Sunday so it was nice to work 9 of them, fighting over the west coast stations, before the dinner bell rang. It was a good dinner but I got back on with a little time left and scanned all the bands working as many stations up to the final bell as I could. I finished with 657 Qs in the log which is 90 more than last year and 183,310 more points.

Score Summary:
Here’s my score summary from N1MM. 40m and 80m were light and contacts on those bands are worth more points, but it just wasn’t as productive (or fun) for me to  hang out there and try and beat the conditions.

 Band    QSOs    Pts   WPX
  3.5      15     27     7
    7      62    155    34
   14     239    536   172
   21     241    617   148
   28     100    251    61
Total     657   1586   422

Score : 669,292


Here’s a map of the contacts made with (click to enlarge):


Random stats:
DXCCs logged: 88
Most logged DXCC: US followed by Brazil than Canada
Most WPXs by entity: US followed by Brazil than Argentina
CQ Zones logged: 27 out of 40 zones
Calls worked on 4 bands: 7  – only 1 was a US station
Unique stations logged: 496

Thanks to all those great ops that pulled my 100w signal out of the noise and put me in their log. Hopefully I didn’t blow too many exchanges and I’m in all those DX stations logs.


2012 BARTG HF RTTY Contest Summary

Without too many time consuming obligations this past weekend I could participate a fair amount in the BARTG HF RTTY contest. I had high hopes, but in a nutshell, conditions seemed to stink. Bands were poor for me with weak to no signals on 15m and 10m. Not sure why, but seems it wasn’t just me with post contest reports talking about lousy band conditions. But, we make do with what we have and like most things in life, any time on the radio is better than time at work – at least for folks where every day isn’t Saturday.

Friday night my local club the Bergen Amateur Radio Assoc (BARA)  had a VE testing session. We had 19 individuals, 17 of which walked out with a new license or upgrade including 4 new Extras. 8 of those were brand new hams, some of which walked away with their General class license. I was home before the contest started so I had time to setup N1MM with the appropriate macros for an exchange that includes RST (599), serial number and the current time in UTC. It’s a bit of a long exchange and I’d like to see 599 removed, but we all have to send the same thing.

Friday evening after the VE test session I got on the air for a bit. I made some 40m/20m contacts for a short time but things were kind of quiet. Checked 80m but heard no signals at all before turning off the radio. Ended Fri night with just 39 contacts and was hopeful I’d hear more signals the following day.

Saturday didn’t prove to be better than Friday night. I wasn’t hearing many European stations and signals were weak when I heard anyone. 20m had the majority of the activity and 15m was quiet with 10m dead. It was taking me back over a year to before the current sunspot cycle started and you spent all your time on 20m. But even 20m wasn’t great. I checked 15m and 10m often but there just wasn’t a lot of activity. I did catch a New Zealand station which was loud on 10m and he seemed to be loud for a while. Otherwise, 10m was useless the entire weekend with just 12 total Qs. It was well after dark before 40m activity picked up and it was ok, though mostly US stations. I even worked a few 80m stations, but there wasn’t a real lot of activity there either. Ended up with just 205 Qs in the log at the end of Saturday.

Sunday conditions certainly didn’t start out better. 15m and 10m were again pretty unproductive with most activity on 20m. I worked 2 stations on Sunday that I had worked on Saturday and I’d consider them dups. What was odd was their serial number which is part of the exchange was lower on Sunday than on Saturday. I’d have to guess maybe they had a computer/logging issue and had to start over. I worked the contest on and off throughout the day/evening taking breaks and running errands. I did a bit more CQing on Sunday on 20m and 40m. Had some luck, especially when I was spotted by some ops which helped. I usually spot stations myself if they aren’t already on the band map, assuming I’m using the cluster. It’s always nice when I’m using the cluster to see someone else spot me. I closed the contest out on 40m though I checked 80m and didn’t hear anything Sunday evening.

In the end, I finished up with  377 contacts with a few dups on top of that. I did work all 6 continents with just 37 DXCCs including the US and Canada. There were 272 distinct calls logged and only 3 calls worked on 4 bands with no calls worked on all 5 bands.

Here”s the score summary from N1MM:

 Band    QSOs    Pts   DX  Areas   Con
  3.5      14     14    2      7     0
    7     105    105   14     17     3
   14     194    194   29     17     1
   21      52     52   13     11     2
   28      12     12    6      6     0
Total     377    377   64     58     6

Score : 275,964

Here’s a map generated from (click to enlarge):

Thanks to everyone for the contacts!

20,000 LoTW QSLs Reached

I was travelling on business this week and on Thursday noticed I was about 15 QSLs short of reaching 20,000 on LoTW (Logbook Of The World). This morning I looked and I’m currently showing 20,009 QSLs.

With about 33,819 QSOs, that’s just a LoTW QSL rate of  59%. It doesn’t count the hundreds of paper QSLs I have, though there would be some overlap for the same contacts.

Looking by mode for just LoTW QSLs I show the following:

LoTW Mode
Mode QSL %
SSB 21
CW 14
PSK31 0.5
PSK125 0.4
FM 0.05
SSTV 0.05

Looking by band for LoTW QSLs:

LoTW Band
Band QSL %
20M 43
40M 23
80M 19
15M 10
10M 4
6M 0.3
2M 0.2
17M 0.2
12M 0.1
30M 0.1
70CM 0.1

Thanks to all those operators, about 4620 unique callsigns, that made the QSOs and followed them up with LoTW QSLs.