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.
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 http://levinecentral.com/adif2map (click to enlarge):
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.