CQWW CW 2016

Thanksgiving time again!  Please pass the turkey (white meat), stuffing (but no gravy), grandma’s pumpkin pie (yes, I will be eating more than one piece), and a big ole helping of CQWW CW.  I again ventured back to the N2QV station for a follow up performance from 2015 when I was able to win SOAB HP for the U.S.  I continue to marvel at the simplicity of the station setup.  Two towers, one amplifier, and one computer comprise the nuts and bolts of the station.  One 180 foot tower holds a two high stack of JK 40 meter beams on 48′ booms.  Also on that tower is a mini stack of Navassa 5 antennas.  Don’t let the size of these 12′ boom antennas fool you, they have

Navassa 5 Stack
Navassa 5 Stack

busted many pileups in their day.  A 150′ tower holds a four high stack of 2X array triband Yagis on 36′ booms.  These antennas sport 4 elements on 20, 6 on 15, and 7 on 10 meters.  A four square is used on 80 meters that is outstanding.

Last year my Achille’s heel in CQWW CW was 160 meters.  The N2QV building team decided to rectify this situation by doing something big for Top band.  A full size 160 meter 4 square was installed with enough copper wire on the ground to put my daughter through a semester of college.  Every detail of this antenna  was carefully designed and crafted by Scott, WU2X.  Locals Rich and Jimmy did an amazing job throughout the entire process.  These guys are some of the hardest workers I have ever met and they are invaluable resources.  I’ve never met Tim, W3YQ, but I certainly admire his work every time I visit the N2QV station.  He again came through in the clutch and did an outstanding job on various highly specialized tasks throughout the project, including erecting all four of the 120′ self supporting verticals.  The antenna is a work of art and it gets out like gang busters.

Complimenting the 160 meter 4 square is a 720′ beverage to Europe and an 800′ beverage to the Caribbean.  Scott, WU2X, and I decided that we wanted a beverage upgrade to go with the monster 4 square, so we decided on a pair of 1,000′ beverages spaced 400′ apart pointed at Berlin.  It was an ambitious task with only one day available to complete the project.  The sub freezing temperatures and 6″ of snow on the ground weren’t helping either.  However, the sun was out and the winds were light so we decided to go for it.  Despite the cold temperatures, snow packed ground, and abundant mountain laurel we were more than half way finished with our project as the afternoon wore on.  The first 1,000′ beverage was up and we had moved onto the final beverage.  Scott worked ahead of me citing our path towards the NE.  I followed behind; twisting insulators into tree trunks and pulling the beverage wire through each insulator.  I was tired and my feet were frozen from the constant submersion in the deep snow. I was twisting an insulator into a tree when suddenly Scott bolted towards me and yelled, “BEAR!”  My first thought was,  “should I continue to screw this insulator into the tree, or run like hell?”  I made my decision when Scott ran past me and I saw his wide eyes and heard the terror in his voice.  I abandon my tools and we ran a hundred feet or so and stopped.  Scott had stumbled onto a giant hole at the base of an overturned tree.  Peering inside the dark hole he saw the only animal capable of making such a den, a large black bear.The path of the beverage ran exactly over the bear den opening.  Our beverage project was at an end.  Neither of us wanted to wake this man eater and become a winter treat.    But there is something that is alluring about the words phased beverages.  The promise hearing that next layer of signals was just to sweet to resist.  I drew the short straw.  Insulators in pocket, and beverage in tow, I trudged through the snow determined to hear every last European on Top Band.  The next insulator spot was literally directly above the bear den.  No more frozen feet or achy legs.  There’s nothing like a pure shot of adrenaline to cure the body’s ails.  Did I look into the hole?  HELL, NO.  One glimpse of an eye or one large bear sigh would send me running for the Arkansas hills.  The thought, don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down, ran through my head with each twist of the insulator into the tree.  I passed the wire through the insulator and quickly took off to the next point with all my appendages securely fastened to my body.  We finished up the project just in time and the pair of beverages worked great throughout the contest.

Propagation predictions were brutal.  The SFI was hovering the high 70s and the predicted K index would be around 3 throughout the contest.  My main goals for the contest were to turn in an error free log and make perfect band transitions. I’ve always admired K5ZD’s error rate, it’s just incredible how accurate he is.  Take a look at the director’s report from some of the recent CQWW contests and you will see what I mean.  In 2014, his score reduction was 1.6% with an error rate of only 0.6%.  Out of neary 5,000 contacts, only 11 of those were copied incorrectly, astounding.    I decided that I wouldn’t log a contact unless I was absolutely positive it was correct.  I also wanted to make my band changes as seemless as possible, with the goal of not wasting a second of operating when transitioning from one band to another.  I decided that employing duel CQing would help to assess if the new band was open and also if the new frequency was clear.

Winter weather at N2QV
Winter weather at N2QV

The poor predicted conditions showed themselves early in the contest.  87 contacts went into the log the first hour, with 38 of those occurring on the second radio.  I started with both radios on 40 meters.  The K3 on my left side designated as the run radio with the TS 590 on my right side.  A simple vertical enabled the second radio to get within a few kHz of the run station without interference.  I was forced off my run frequency by an EU CQer within the first two minutes of the contest and retreated high into the band on 7064.  I managed to attract some EU callers, but the rate was slow.  A44A was a pleasant surprise, calling me at 0010z.  The second radio found a mixture of common EU stations and Caribbean big guns.  At 0030z I moved the second radio to 20 meters and quickly worked ZF2MJ, NP3A, and V26K.  ZF would be easy to work this weekend with Dan running two pileups and my dad (K5GO) running low power as ZF9CW.  I quickly tried 80 with the second radio but there wasn’t much happening there so back to 20 meters.  7011.30 is open and that quickly becomes the new run frequency.  The hour finishes with a handful of South American stations going into the log on 20 meters: CE3CT, OA4DX, PJ4Q, and CW5W to name a few.  At 0046Z I find a lonely DP1POL high in the band on 20 meters and he goes into the log for a double mult.

Again I’m forced to leave my run frequency on 40 meters and at the start of the 0100z hour I’m back up around 7060.  The second radio finds a mix of EU and Caribbean on 80 meters.  There is nothing to do other than pound out CQs on 40 meters while I try and find new contacts on 80 meters.  The ZS stations seem to be plentiful as I work my third one of the hour when ZS2DL goes into the log on 40 meters.  A sign that the southern stations have a propagation advantage. The hour closes out with TC3A calling in for a nice mult.  Of the 55 Qs during the 0100z hour 28 of them come from the second radio.

A quick trip to 160 during the 0200z hour nets a few VE contacts, P49Y, and PJ2T.  I’m hoping to make hay with the new 160 meter 4 square as the night rolls on.  Back to inband SO2R as TI2OY calls in on the run radio for an unexpected mult at 0217z on 40 meters.  The second radio finds CN2R at 7010 a few minutes later.  20 meters is still open to South America, as well as JA, with JA0QNJ being one of the 14 total JA contacts that make it into the log for the entire weekend.   The 0200Z hour ends with 64 total contacts and 30 second radio contacts.

I continue to run on 40 meters high in the band.  I’m breaking one of my rules, which is to CQ within the first 10 kHz of the band edge.  4Z4DX calls on 40 for a nice mult and a few minutes later I work a loud ZF9CW on Top Band for a double mult.  While only running 100 watts, my dad is still extremely loud with his ocean front QTH and big 160 vertical.  The 160 4 square easily slices through Caribbean pileups and YW4D, KP2Q, and J70BH go into the log for new countries.  Contacts dribble in on the run radio and I decide to move again, finding 7003.52 clear.  High in the band on 40, the second radio finds D4C for a double mult and then 9y4/VE3EY, J70BH, and KP2Q.  Conditions may be bad but hunting these mults down is still a blast.  The second radio slowly trudges down from the top of the 40 meter band.  HR2J is found on 7055 and then V26K on 7054.  ZS1EL calls the run radio and he agrees to move to 80 for a nice double multiplier, thanks Vidi!  It was a good move as I do not work anymore ZS on 80 meters.  ZD8W is found on 7051 and I ask him his 80 meter frequency, a quick QSY to 3545 and four mults in a row go into the log.  I end up missing ZD8W on 160 meters, a real bummer as they would have been easy to work.  The second radio makes 25 of the total 49 contacts for the 0300 hour.

The air waves begin to wake up during the 0400 hour.  I’m totally surprised when FO/K7AR calls in on 40 meters at 0415z.  This seems early for the South Pacific.  Two minutes later, VP2VI is found on the second radio on 40 for another mult.  WR6M/VP9 calls on the run radio but I can’t convince him to move.  Very few of my QSY requests were successful this year.  It’s time to move to 80 meters and 3508.38 is open.  Four successive mults go into the log: UW3U, OM3WZ, and SP5XO call the run radio while the second radio sandwiches in a QSO with V47T on 160.  160 seems worked out for now, so back to in band SO2R on 80 meters.  TI5W is found high in the band on 80 meters at 0456 followed by a call on the run radio by UA2F.  The hour ends with 67 contacts, 21 of the two radio variety.

I lose my nice run frequency on 80 meters.  Conditions are such that EU stations are not hearing me and they begin to CQ underneath me.  The second radio finds HB0/DK4YJ at 3512 and then D4C on 3509.  The run radio finds a new home on 3522.  MW0BRO calls the run station  at 0549z followed one minute later by GI4SJQ.  Not to be outdone by his UK brethren, GM2V calls in to finish the hour off.  60 contacts go into the log during the 0500z hour.

Screen Layout from CQWW SSB
Screen Layout from CQWW SSB

The 0600 hour begins with the run radio on 80 meters and the second radio on 20 meters.  I”m hoping to find some Africans on 20 meters.  That doesn’t happen, but HP1XT, 8P5A, and VK2IA are all found for new mults.  This is getting to be prime 160 meter time, but so far nothing of real interest has been found.  I’m hearing many EU stations, but they aren’t hearing me.  Come on guys, if you can’t hear a 4 square from the east coast, then something isn’t right.  Either you need to do some work on your RX setup or crank the power down to something less than 5 KW!  Some of the ones that do hear me are TM5X, CU4DX, and CR6K.  CR6K is fast and good, he is everywhere during the contest.  Finally the second radio works something a little deeper in EU with UA2F going into the log.  These guys consistently hear well on Top Band.  The run radio continues to toil away on 3522 working 1-2 Europeans per minute.  The 0600 hour ends with a flurry of mults.  MI0BPB and DK2FG are worked consecutively on the second radio for nice 160 mults.  CT1ELZ then calls in on 80 meters for a new one and then GW9J is found on the second radio for another mult.  Rates are finally picking up with 88 contacts, 16 of them on the second radio.

The 0700z hour begins and the run radio is still milking 80 meters.  This seems late to be on 80, but it is productive and 40 is not sounding good.  EU stations are weak there, and this is beginning to look like a replay from CQWW SSB.  OH0V calls in at 0713z for a nice mult and three minutes later I work back to back mults on 160 with MZ5B and OT4A going into the log.  160 is starting to get played out, so the second radio goes to 80 meters for more in band SO2R.  J70BH is found high in the band for a new one along with HI3CC.  The run radio continues to work western EU but the rate is starting to slow.  As the second radio makes its way down the band it finds CU4DX, and then ZM4T for a nice double mult!  The 0700Z hour ends with 55 contacts, with 15 on the second radio.

The 0800z hour continues to bring Western EU on 80 meters.  This is 3:00 am local time.  The second radio moves to 40 and finds VK3MI for a double mult.  EI3KI calls on 80 meters and he agrees to QSY to 160 for an easy pass, thanks Joe!  The second radio is quickly back on 40 and finds PJ7/K0CD, KH6LC, and CE3CT all for new ones.  The hour ends with 43 contacts, with 21 on the second radio.

The clock ticks to 0900z and I’m flailing around the bands, trying to find something productive.  Lots of mults, but no rate.  I find PZ5V on 80 and he agrees to move to 160 for an easy pass, thanks!  I attempt to CQ on 7011, but there is little rate.  The occasional western EU station call in.  The hour ends with 28 contacts in the log.

1000z.  I take a 15 minute nap from 1005-1020z.  The rate has slowed to a crawl and I’m hoping a small amount of sleep will keep me fresh for both Saturday and Sunday.  Back on the air and the run radio CQs on 7018.  The rate seems to be picking up a little bit and in hindsight that little 15 minute nap may have cost me some Qs on 40.  HC2AO is found on 80 meters for an easy mult.    The end of the hour approaches, and its 6:00 am local time

Sunrise at N2QV
Sunrise at N2QV

as EU continues to bang in on 40 meters.  38 contacts during this hour.

1100Z and 20 meters is coming to life.  I continue to run EU on 40 meters while trying to juggle the task of finding Asia and Pacific mults on the low bands, while working the EU opening on 20 meters.  KH7M is found on 160 at 1109z followed three minutes later by FO/K7AR on 80 meters.  There are lots of goodies out west but its just not worth it to delay EU on the high bands.  After working M6T, OL2N, and S57DX on 20 meters with the second radio I push F1 on 14002 and its off to the races..  The next 5 contacts are all with Germans on 20 meters.  It was a good move, and a nice frequency to find.  FG5LA and ZS1C call in back to back with the stack pointed at EU.  The pace is at four a minute, but I try to squeeze in second radio listening time.  This is actually very easy to do, especially in the CQWW contests when there is no real exchange to copy.  These short second radio moments can add up over the course of 48 hours.  At 1147 the second radio finds The 1100z hour ends with 110 contacts in the log, but only 9 of those on the second radio.  I’m ready for some rate and the next hour doesn’t disappoint.

Gentlemen, start your engines.  The sun is up, the stack is big, and everyone in Europe is tuning the 20 meter band.  The 1200 hour comes and goes in a blur with a consistent pileup of Europeans.  A welcome surprise happens when ET3AA calls for a double mult, thanks Ken!  CN2R calls at 1224z and one minute later RM9A calls for a nice zone 17 double mult.  At 1238z, P33W calls in for a new one.  EU is loud now and many are calling at the same time.  The hour ends with 214 Qs going into the log.

The 1300 hour begins with a bang with 7Z1SJ calling in for a double mult.  I test 21071.04 with some duel CQing.  The SO2R setup at N2QV relies on listening antennas to receive the second radio contacts.  The main transmit antennas are used to actually make the QSO.  This means that I’m using a single vertical as my listening antenna on the second radio for the high bands.  I’m quickly called by SP4Z and then CN2AA on 15 meters.  The vertical works great for two radio operation, but guys calling me on my CQ frequency are just to weak to be pulled out by the vertical.  I abandon the dueling CQ and go back to running on 20.  A good thing too because OX5M calls in at 1307z.  I continue to run on 20 meters and squeeze a few second radio contacts in between the big rate.  ZD8W is found on 21055.  A few minutes later, TK0C is also found on 15.  I finally find a clear frequency on 15 meters at 21002.87 and begin to run.   The hour comes to an end with the second radio finding HK1NA, V47T, J70BH and PJ2T on 10 meters.  171 Qs with 23 of the second radio variety.

Continue the 15 meter run on 21002.87 during the 1400 hour.  In band SO2R now on 15, with CR3OO, 8P5A and P40W going into the log.  In the mean time, SV9COL calls the run radio and then MD2C for nice mults.  I about fall out of my chair when 5X1XA calls in for a double mult.  I can’t get him to move, but thanks anyway Alan, all those rare African mults are greatly appreciated.  The second radio continues its mult hunting and finds 6Y3T on 21063 and then VP5M on 21057.  The hour ends with three more Caribbean mults: ZF2MJ, HI3CC, and V47T.  The rate picked up when I moved to 15 and 197 Qs went into the log.  Arrgh, I really wanted to have multiple 200+ hours this time.

The band is crowded and I’ve tweaked my run frequency up to 21003.  I continue to run and S&P 15 meters.  D4C is found at 1507z.  I worry about missing a 10 meter opening so I check again and find P40C, KP2Q, TI5W, and PJ4A for new ones.  Europe continues on 15 but it is exclusively Western EU.  I stick to my game plan of trying to duel CQ band changes.  I find 14016 clear and immediately start a nice run of EU.  Unlike 15 meters, there is some zone 16 activity on 20 meters.  I duel CQ from 1524-1554.  The rate is nothing special but the change of operating style helps to keep my interest level high.  The 1500z hour ends with 140 contacts.

The 1600Z hour begins with the run radio on 14016.  The frantic pace of EU calls is starting to slow.  The second radio picks off southern mults: KP2M, FM5FJ, and HK1NA are found within a three minute span on 15 meters.  The 1600Z hour ends with 131 contacts into the log with only 14 second radio contacts.  This number really should have been higher as the run radio rate allowed a more generous time to find second radio Qs.

The 1700Z hour begins with a continued run on 14016.  The second radio finds 8R1/AG6UT on 10 meters for a new one.  One minute later at 1712z, ZA/OG1N calls in for a new mult on 20 meters.  The second radio turns to 20 meters and finds a mixture of EU and Caribbean mults.  J70BH is worked at 1727z.  A nice find 5 minutes later is 5H3EE for a new country mult.  Everyone seems to be on 20 meters now, and in band SO2R is paying off.  At 1735z 3B9HA is found on 14058.  The pileup on Olof is massive, but the 4 high stack easily tears through all the callers for a quick double mult.  One minute later IS0HQJ calls the run radio for a new multiplier as well.  The second radio continues to be productive with 8R1/AG6UT going into the log at 1740Z.  The 1700 hour ends with 113 contacts and 13 second radio contacts.

The next two hours are slow.  Europe has migrated to 40 meters which means there isn’t much calling me on the run radio.  I cycle through 10, 15, and 20 meters on the second radio working everything I can find.  FW5JJ is found on 15 meters for a double multiplier.  Ten meters briefly opens and ZD8W is a nice catch for a double multiplier.  XE2JS calls the run radio on 20 meters for a double multiplier, we try 15 meters but I can’t hear him.  Four minutes later I happen upon XE1EE for the zone 6 multiplier.  The run radio on 20 meters is now being bombarded by US callers with the occasional VE sprinkled in.  This is not productive.  The 1800z hour ends with 66 contacts and the 1900z hour ends with 39 Qs.

At 2013z I make the move to 40 meters.  I probably should have been there earlier as the rate immediately jumps.  7013 is open but an EU station runs me off.  During this time VK3IO calls in; it isn’t a mult but its still cool to be called by Australia with the stack pointed at Europe.  I again retreat to the high part of 40 meters on 7062.  OH5DX and Z36W both call in at 2027z for new mults.  A review of the log shows me to be lazy during this stretch.  A twenty minute period passes without a second radio contact.  This would have been an excellent time to dredge 15 meters for Pacific mults.  The 2000z hour ends with 118 Qs.

The run continues on 7062 during the 2100z hour.  The second radio is also on 40 meters, this time working from the bottom of the band up.  A61EK is found on 7032 for a new one.  Three minutes later P33W calls on the run frequency for another mult.  At 2132z, LX7I is found for a new one and then TF3CW goes into the log one minute later for a nice double mult.  The pace is about two a minute on the run radio.  At 2145z, OH0R calls for a new one.  The hour ends with 122 contacts and 14 second radio Qs.

The 2200z hour continues with the run radio on 40 meters.  It’s 5:00 pm local time and the sun is setting.  I give 160 a listen and am happy to find 9A1A and

160 4 Square Vertical
160 4 Square Vertical

ES9C for back to back mults.  At 2214z, MZ5A calls on 40 for a new one.  A few minutes later EW2A also provides another tick in the country box.  The second radio is back on 20 meters and finds HC2AO for a new one and then RA0FF for a new zone.  I continue to run EU on 40, but the run is to high in the band.  I’m hanging out in the nose bleed section when I should be at the bottom edge of the band.  The rate is decent so I’m content to stay put.  VP2VI is found on 20 meters for a new country at 2232z followed by a call from UA2F on the run frequency one minute later.  As the hour winds down, back to back double mults are worked with XE2X on 80 and then CN2R on 160.  It takes several calls to bust the CN2R pileup.  His NA pileup is massive and there is likely an equally massive EU pileup buzzing under all the US guys calling.  Its assured that those EU guys are drowning out most of the NA callers.  The 2200Z hour finishes with TK0C going into the log on 80 meters for another country.  I end up working TK0C on all bands except 10 meters.  The hour ends with 81 contacts, 14 of the second radio variety.

Its time to move and the 2300z hour begins with me literally on the band edge at 7000.20.  Believe it or not, several EU stations attempt to slide underneath me but I’m able to fend them off.  The move was a good one as the rate jumps and a total of 108 contacts go into the log.  A sign that being high in the band adversely affected my rate.  The European callers are steady but not much is happening on the second radio.  These are the times when I should push myself to work even harder to find more mults and Qs.  Unfortunately only 3 contacts are made on the second radio during this time.  SK3W calls at 2323z for a new country followed by ES9C at 2330z and then MD2N at 2337z.  40 minutes into the hour and I wake up and do something on the second radio.  KP2M is found on 20 for a new mult.

The first half of the contest is finished and despite poor conditions I’m feeling great.  The new RX setup allows me to use the high band vertical without any interference.  This means that inband SO2R is highly productive.  I feel that my band changes have been smooth and even though few have been successful, I’m trying to move every mult that calls.  I continue to run on the low edge of 40 meters.  Being the second night of the contest, I’m thrilled with the steady rate of callers on 40 meters.  The second radio finds P40C on 7055 for a new mult.  A good mix of zone 20, 16, 15, and 14 continue to call the run radio.  I fall out of my chair when 5Z4/DL2RMC calls for a double mult.  No other mults are worked during this hour and 77 Qs go into the log.

The 0100 hour gets off to a nice start when SW9AA calls in at 0110z.  He agrees to QSY to 80 meters for an easy mult but I can’t get him to move to 160, thanks Christo!  The second radio trolls 160 and finds ED8X for a new country.  A few minutes later, TK0C is also found on Top Band for a new one.  The rate has slowed on 40 meters.  Sometimes I work three a minute, other times a full minute or two pass without a Q going into the log.  At 0146z I get another African surprise when 5H3EE calls in for a new one.  Christmas comes early when the next contact is 7Z1SJ, also for a new mult.  The hour ends with 54 contacts going into the log.

The 0200 hour shows a marked decline in rate.  The EU stations are now dwindling and more South American and Canadian stations are starting to fill the log.  The second radio finds V26K on 160 for a new one, and then a few minutes later 8P5A, also for a new one.  Both stations are worked on all six bands.  The hour finishes with only 25 contacts.

The 0300 hour is even slower with a total of 21 contacts being logged.  CO8ZZ, NP4DX and VP2VI are found on 160 for new countries.  I’ve moved up to 7002 and am called by YL2KO and LU3XX both for new countries.  The hour is slow but the mults continue to pour in.  LX7I is worked on 160 for a new one followed by 9J2HN for another African country on 40 meters.  The last few hours have been very lucrative to the continent of Africa, all while the big stack is pointed at Europe.  The second radio continues to produce on 160 with VP2EHC and HG6N going into the log as new countries.

The rate is at a snails pace as the 0400 hour begins.  This must be why many East coast single ops take off during this time.  However, it would have been a shame to miss out on 5Z4, 9J2, 5H3, along with others that I likely would not have worked.  I decide to take a 30 minute nap beginning at 0430z.  The 0400 hour ends with 12 contacts making it into the log.

My plan is to wake up and hopefully have a nice run of EU beginning on 160, then migrating to 80, and finishing on 40 meters.  I’m on the air starting back at 0508z but 30 minutes later I’m off again.  The amp is no longer putting out power and a distinctive smell is filling the shack.  The good news is I have a spare amplifier on hand.  The bad news is the amp is located at the house which is a 1/4 mile away.  It is 12:30 am, I’ve had 30 mintues of sleep in the past 30 hours and now I’m going to walk through the forest to find the only thing that can save the contest.  The walk there is a breeze.  The walk back is not.  I manage to balance my flashlight on top of the 60 pound amplifier box as I slowly shuffle back to the shack.  I’m forced to stop three times in order to recover from the strain of the amplifier.  After an hour and a half of unplanned off time I’m back on the air with the backup amplifier.  The run radio settles into 3509 and a steady stream of EU callers commence.  The first is GU3HFN for a new country.  This mult perks my spirits.  The adrenaline rush from my extreme hike through the woods is also helping to keep me alert.  The rate is picking up nicely on 80 meters.  As many as three a minute are going into the log.   However, callers seem to very persistent on sending their call signs.  I send an exchange to GW3NAS and he simply replies by sending his call sign twice and then waiting.  This little routine begins to play out over and over.  The 0700 hour ends with 54 Qs going into the log.  I leave my run frequency, concerned that my run was a result of someone underneath me.  I call a few people on the second radio and they return with I5 question mark.  Now I know something is up.  I listen to my signal on the other radio and realize that the first split second of my transmission is being cut off.  I have no idea why.  It must be the amp since that is the only variable that has changed.  The 0800z hour is spent exclusively as S&P.  I have to send my callsign, two, sometimes three times, in order for the stations to correctly copy N5DX.  I work a couple of nice double mults on 160; TI5W and HC2AO.  However the hour ends with only 14 contacts going into the log.  Worse though is the realization that I cannot run people with my current setup.  I have two options, find a solution or operate the last 15 hours running low power.  There is an hour and a half gap in my log from 0900z to 1022z.  I’m trying to find a solution to the amp problem.  The amp is literally NIB so its hard to believe there is actually a bad component.  One contact is made during the 1000z hour.  I have no idea how he does it but Andy, V47T, manages to copy my call on 80 meters.  At this point I contemplate going to the couch, taking a nap, and throwing in the towel.  I google search strings like, 2K-FA cuts off CW, but nothing pops up.  I’m looking through the manual but at this point exhaustion and desperation are starting to take hold.  20 meters is about to open and if I’m not running EU then the contest is OVER!   I call several dupes on 20 meters and get the dreaded I5 question mark response.  Hoping in vain that some magical fix has occurred over the last 2.5 hours.  Of course, no such luck.  I start to play with PTT delay settings in N1MM+ and with Winkeyer lead time settings and call a few more dupes on 20 meters.  They immediately return with N5DX ENN 14.  This is good, it seems that I’ve fixed the problem.  I waste no time and find 14022 open and start the EU run.  At this point, my only emotion is appreciation for having a working amplifier.  At 1201z the second radio works VK6LW for a new zone on 40 meters.  The 1214z minute shows four contacts going into the log, the next minute three contacts, and at 1216z another three contacts with A31MM being a mult on 40 meters.  Ten minutes later a very loud RM9A is easily worked on 40 meters for a double multiplier.  I waste no time transitioning to 15 meters and make the move at 1237z.  RU6K calls for a new mult on 15.  The hour ends with 120 contacts going into the log.

I continue to run on 15 meters, and it is now apparent that my amplifier is still having the cut off issue.  At times I have to send a received call sign three times in order for the caller to understand that I’ve copied his call sign correctly.  This greatly impacts my rate.  I have no choice though and I live with having to send many call signs two and sometimes three times to the people that are calling me.  P33W, ZA1F, and 4O3A call within the first 15 minutes of the 1300z hour for new multipliers.  At 1325z, 4X1KS calls for my first Israel contact on 15 meters.  The opening on 15 is deeper on Sunday than on Saturday, as evidenced by increased zone 16 and middle east callers.  Looking back on my log it is clear how exhausted I am.  Only one contact is made during the 1300 hour on the second radio!  Exhaustion is setting in and the amplifier event from the early morning has caught up to me.  I’m missing easy call signs and I’m not working the second radio hard.  No amount of sunlight, Red Bull, or 5 hour energy seems to cure my drowsiness.  TF1AM gives me a perk when he calls for a nice double mult at 1340z followed by SM5CEU for a new country mult.  Another indication that conditions have improved is the abundance of Norther European callers on 15 meters.  The hour ends with 107 contacts.

The opening on 15 meters doesn’t last long and the run radio is back to 20 at 1427z.  Z39A calls in for a new multiplier and I wake up enough to find PZ5V on the second radio on 10 meters.  The hour ends with 78 contacts and 7 second radio Qs.

There isn’t much to say about the 1500 hour.  The rate picks up but aside from finding LX7I on 15 and having 4X2M call me on 20 there is nothing of real interest.  The hour ends with 108 total contacts.  I continue to run high in the band on 20 meters.  The second radio finds 3V8SS for a new country and then VP2EHC for another new one on 15.  I’ve started to come out of my slumber as 8R1/AG6UT and 3B9HA are worked back to back on 15 meters for new multipliers.  Thanks again to Olof for another double multiplier.  A92GE calls on 20 meters to finish the 1600 hour out with 68 contacts.  The 1700 hour blows by with only 58 Qs and zero multipliers.  I finally find a better frequency low in the band at 14018 and promptly have FH/HB9AMO call for a nice Indian ocean multiplier.  CU4DX calls in 5 minutes later for another new country on 20 meters.  It’s concerning that the log was missing the Azores for a mult on 20 meters this late in the contest.  The second radio finds CE3CT at 1838z on 10 meters for a double multiplier and then YW4D on 15 meters for a new country.  The hour finishes with 44 contacts.

A brief opening on 10 meters occurs during the 1900z hour to the Caribbean and South America.  V26K is worked for a new one.  At 1941z the run radio moves to 7001.  The second contact is with RA6CA, a great sign that zone 16 stations are workable this early in the afternoon.  At 1944z the second radio works N7TR for zone 3 on 15 meters.  I was quite excited at the time, because I was really sweating this zone.  Unfortunately, I never work zone 3 on 10 meters.  Perhaps this is excusable, but what isn’t is missing zone 3 on 160 meters!!  The pace on 40 meters is about one per minute, not bad for the end of the contest.  I hear a faint station calling CQ just below me.  It’s JA3YBK on 40 meters at 3:00 in the afternoon.  We don’t seem to be bothering each other so I continue to CQ, knowing that a double mult is right under my nose.  It’s to early to work him but I keep a close eye on the grey line as it inches ever closer to the two of us.  At 2113z I turn the beam to the southeast and work him on the third call.  The stack rotates back to EU and I resume my run on 7001.  At 2128z, the stack turns back to the southeast and I work 4 JA stations in a row.  Cool, but of no real value.  Three minutes passes in the log and I’m rotating the beam back to EU when a loud RA0FF calls in for the zone 19 multiplier.  Wow, he was a legitimate S9 on the meter.  I decide to give this run a few more minutes and park the stack towards South Africa.  A few more JAs call in but at 2139z I decide its time to stop DXing.  It’s 4:40 pm local time and the sun is low on the horizon.  The second radio gives a listen on 160 and finds a loud CR3OO for a new multiplier.  Jose sounded lonely and I sure was happy to work him for a new country on Top Band.  Unfortunately, my mult count on 160 does not do justice to the killer combination of a four square and phased beverages.  I continue to CQ on 40 meters and decide to give the long path one more shot.  K4FT, YV5OIE, and N4WOT are the first three callers.  Not very encouraging.  My pulse quickens a bit when a watery BY5HB calls in for a double multiplier.  I imagine that the big gun US multi ops really make hay during this time with their top antenna pointed along the grey line and all of their other hardware pointed at Europe.  I’m esctactic to have put 5 new Asian mults into the log.

The 2200z hour begins with P33W worked on 160 for a double multiplier.  A quick CQ on 20 meters results in a bust.  Then a ten minute gap in the

2016 CQWW CW Final Score
2016 CQWW CW Final Score

log is followed by a run on 3505.  The first callers are encouraging: 2226z- HA8BT, UW3L, 2227z- UR0HQ, RT6A.  I’m hoping this keeps up but at 2230z, the run drys up and I retreat back to 40 meters.  My premium frequency on 40 is now taken and the run radio settles in at 7068.  I’m not liking this frequency, but the entire world is on 40 meters.  I like it better when at 2314z, SU9JG calls in for a double multiplier, thanks Nacho!  HR2J is found on the second radio on 20 meters for a new one and then GU3HFN calls on 40 meters for a new country.  As the clock ticks down I try a CQ on 160 but nothing turns up.  At 2357z, I finally am able to get LZ9W’s attention for a multiplier on 160 meters and the last contact of the contest.

The final tally puts me in a tight spot with W1KM in 1st, N5DX in second, and K1DG in third place.  I’m hopeful that my accuracy will be good enough to maintain second place.  Dealing with station issues before, during and after a contest are battles that we all fight.  This time Murphy got the best of me and it may have cost me a top spot in the contest.  Despite this I had a great time and I’m extremely greatful to Tariq, N2QV and Scott, WU2X.  They continue to push the station to new levels and I’m looking forward to spending more time during the 2017 contest season at the N2QV station.  A big thanks also to local resident Rich.  Rich keeps the station going and he also was kind enough to transport me around town both before and after the contest.  How about that amplifier problem?  One simple mouse click is all it took to put the amplifier in the correct state!  Oh well, on to the next battle.



CQWW CW 2015 at N2QV

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted, and many things have changed in the lives of the Stockton family.  Our move back to Arkansas has been great and our kids are really excited to be back.  My wife and I have settled back into our jobs that we held before moving to the Cayman Islands and we are even back in the same house (it still hasn’t sold, arrghh).  Enough family details though, this site after all is titled ZF2DX so, you guessed it, it’s about ham radio.  But more specifically contesting.  I was really worried that moving back to boring old Arkansas and being another hum drum W5 would make contesting a dull venture.  Not so!  Both summer NAQP contests were quite enjoyable and I placed first in the SSB contest and second in the CW contest.  The CQWW SSB contest was also really fun and I came oh so close to setting the W5 record with what looks to be a second place overall finish for the United States.  That second place finish along with all the other fourth, fifths, or also rans are always lingering in the back of my head.  Are those guys on the east coast really that much better than me?

Luckily I would have the chance to get my question answered.  That opportunity came when Scott, WU2X, invited me to come and operate at the N2QV station located in the Liberty area of New York.  The station sports an impressive array of fire power:

160: Elevated T vertical

80: Four Square

40: 4/4 JK Grande Antennas on 48′ booms at 175’/110′

20/15/10: 4 high stack of 2x Array Tribanders on 36′ booms with the top antenna at 150′.
20: 4/4/4/4
15: 6/6/6/6
10: 7/7/7/7

A huge amount of work was poured into the N2QV station in the months leading up to the CQWW CW contest.  This included the new 40 meter stack of JK Grande antennas and a small building placed extremely close to the 4 high stack of tribanders in order to minimize coax loss.  Also N2QV and WU2X put up a T vertical for 160 hanging from a couple of tall trees with 8 elevated radials underneath the antenna.

The two radio setup would be something very unique and was the main concern I had going into the contest.  A single Expert Amps 2K-FA would be use to provide 1.5 KW to both rigs.  It would also handle all of the band switching and provide an SO2R solution in the form of what the Expert Amp company refers to an SO2R port.  This port is used as a receive antenna port so that the inactive radio would always be listening on whatever receive antenna was selected.  For me that meant a triband vertical designed by WU2X for the high bands and a couple of beverages for the low bands.  I would be relying on these receive antennas to find all of my multipliers on the second radio.  The setup worked like a champ and I never had any issues with the amp throughout the contest.  This meant we were able to use all antennas at the station on both radios without the use of a six pack or band pass filters!

I arrived at the station about 1:00 A.M. Wednesday morning.  Scott, WU2X, picked me up at the train station and gave me a ride to the N2QV station.  Wednesday was spent familiarizing myself with the station and Scott and I put up an unterminated beverage for the low bands oriented SE/NW.  Thursday was spent putting the finishing touches on the beverage antenna and giving all the equipment a good workout.  Walking around in the woods by myself was very peaceful but also a little creepy.  The terrain reminded me of the Blair Witch Project and my imagination did the rest.  Obviously this was a silly thought to have but a legit concern were the local bears.  Fortunately the closest I came was nearly stepping into a heaping pile of bear dung and also a portrait one of the local inhabitants left for us.  I did manage to give myself a nasty cut on Thursday and since I was out in the middle of the woods, I didn’t have any band aids handy.  The cut was very deep and on my right index finger.  I could just picture it, the perfect excuse I couldn’t type during the contest and that’s why I got my ass handed to me.  Anyway, I found a leaf and some black tape and voila a makeshift

Leaves make really poor band aides!
Leaves make really poor band aides!


All antennas and equipment were working great before the contest started, except for 160 meters.  Unfortuantely, Europeans just CQed in my face when I called them in the days leading up to the contest.  I was also getting beat out by zone 4 guys.  Hey don’t those midwest guys know that they are supposed to wait in line until all the East Coasters get their turn?  I hoped that top band would improve during the contest as the SFI kept going down which meant bye bye 10 and hello 160.  Thanksgiving day, 10 meters sounded great with loud EU signals coming in.  I was really hoping that 10 would be a factor as having a four high stack of 7 element antennas would just be a death ray wherever that array was pointed.

The day of the contest arrived quickly.  Scott and I spent the morning hunting for some pesky line noise that was effecting the NE beverage.  We managed to narrow down the offending power pole to three different ones.  Fortunately, the noise did not effect me too much during the contest.  I relaxed before the contest by watching the Arkansas/Missouri football game and was able to sleep for about 45 minutes.  I woke up feeling refreshed but also a little nervous.  The station was ready, I was ready, there could be no excuses.  I knew the ops in Maine would likely have an advantage in terms of proximity to Europe, but I hoped that the excellence station engineering and high gain across 80-10 would be enough to equalize the distance differences.  I told N2QV, WU2X, and K5GO that my goal was 5,000 Qs and 5 band DXCC.  I didn’t really think the later was possible, although it could have been if 10 meters was just a little better.N5DX at the helm!

0000z: Found a spot on 40 meters and started running.  No way was I going to S&P the first hour with 4/4 from the East coast!  The second radio stayed on 20 for the entire hour working mostly Caribbean with some Oceania, JA, and Africa.  Found ZD8W on 20 meters.

0100z: Continued running on 40 with the second radio on 20 meters then 80 meters.  Found C92ZO, DP1POL, ZT6T, and ZP9MCE on 20.  I wasn’t being heard well on 80 so the second radio went back to 20 after a few Qs on 80 meters.

0200z: Moved to 3546.88 at 0240z and put the second radio on 40 meters.  ZF2ET (K5GO) calls in on 80 meters and he is moved to 160 meters.  The hour is finished off by finding 4L8A on 40 meters.

0300z: Continue to run on 3546.88.  4o3A calls in followed by UN3M both on 80 meters!  Interesting mults found on 40 include: TF3CW , EA9UG, and ZT6T.

0400- 0700z: Continue to run on 80 meters, but I don’t want to spend to much time there. TC0A calls on 80 for a nice mult  The second radio bounces between 40 and 160 and I finally work OZ1IKY on 160 meters along with other EU stations.  I’m feeling weak on 160 and I know that the boys in Maine will not be weak on that band.  I grow tired of being high in the band on 80 and go looking for a really good frequency.  I land on 3502.51 and a nice rate ensues with VP2VVV (Thanks Fred) along with TK5MH calling in.  Towards the end of the 0600 hour the second radio finds ZD8W and CX4AT both within one kHz of each other on 40 meters.  Two double mults quickly go into the log.

0700Z: QSY to 40 meters and begin a run on 7010.93.  EU seems to have closed on 160 and the second radio picks off P40L, PJ4Q and V26K.  But wait, Africans show up on 160 with CR3OO and EA8/LZ2HM going into the log for mults on top band.  The rate is high now on 40 and I’m not able to get in the second radio work that is needed.  I neglect 80 meters during this hour and probably miss some available EU mults.  I do not want to be a one radio operator even when the rate meter starts to soar.  171 Qs go into the log during the 0700z hour.

0800Z: Continue a strong run on 40 meters with the second radio combing 160 and 80 meters for Caribbean, African, and Western Europe.  MI0BPB calls in on 40 at the end of the hour and he is moved to 80 for a mult.

0900Z: Continue to run EU on 40 with JHORNN calling in for my first zone 25 on 40 meters.  I didn’t expect to run JA but I was about to be in for a pleasant surprise.  ZF2ET calls on 40 for a new one (thanks dad!).  The rate on 40 is starting to slow and I’m able to do more tuning on 80 meters: LP1H, XE1AY, and OA4SS all go into the log on 80 for double mults.  The 4 square works great!  At 0934, GD3TNS calls in on 40 but I can’t get him to move to 80 meters (drat).  A few minutes later the second radio finds KH7M on 160, a big surprise as I didn’t think I would work that far west on top band.  Where is VK and ZL on 80??  They aren’t to be found, but TF3SG for zone 40 is found on 80 for a double mult at 0953.

1000Z: Continue to run EU on 40 (does EU ever quit?) but start to wonder about that JA that called in and I turn the big stack North splitting the difference between EU and JA.  Within a couple of minutes at 1003z  BG2AUE calls on 40 for a double mult, big surprise followed by some zone 18 and 25 stations and then 9m6XRO calls in at 1006.  That antenna turn really paid off.  The log continues to fill but now it consists of EU, JA, Asia, and Russia.  This is fun!  At 1015z YE1K calls in with a great signal.  I wonder what else is out there that isn’t calling me on 40 and leave my run frequency to go hunting for some good Asia mults.  I should have put the second radio on 80 but I didn’t feel that the beverages would be able to find those juicy Asian mults on 40 meters.  After a few minutes of S&Ping up the band I find PJ2T for a new one (not so exciting) but a turn of the dial reveals BX4AG in Taiwain (there we go).  I keep making my way up the band and find YW4D at 7045  for a new country and then three minutes later find 5W0IF for a double mult.  All in all a really fun hour and while I sacrificed some rate, it was worth it to find some good mults that likely would not have called me.

1100Z: Return to running JA on 7020.29  EU seems to be long gone now and the second radio confirms this with a full band of EU on 20 meters.  It’s overwhelming to think about combing through the entire 20 meter band on the second radio for mults, but this is a 48 hour contest so there is plenty of time.  I continue to run JA on 40 with the occasional zone 14 station thrown in for good measure.  DS5VTG calls on 40 at 11:36 for a new one.  The extent of the Asia run is unexpected and the mults are really starting to pileup.  I linger on 40 hoping that a VU or HS will call in all the while knowing that I should be on 20 meters.  I am playing DXer and while it is fun, it isn’t the best strategy.  At 11:52 I decide it is time to test 20 and I soon find out that I should have been there sooner.  Even in the nose bleed section at 14080.89 a pileup promptly ensues and the rate meter jumps.

1200Z: Continue to run high in the band on 20 meters.  I know that this time last year the East Coast big guns were running 200+ an hour on 15.  But 15 is just now opening and I’m only working southern Europe and those guys that are technically Africa but are really in their own little continent (read EA8 and CT3).  Interesting stuff on 15 found on the second radio includes: ZF2ET (thanks again Dad), in the same minute TF2CW for a double mult and TK0C.  UN9GD calls at 12:33 and four minutes later JW7QIA calls in for a nice double mult on 20 meters.  This type of run just simply isn’t possible from Arkansas on 20 meters.  At 12:45 VU2JOS calls in (I probably should have tried to move him to 40 but I’m guessing it was to late?).  I move to 15 meters at 12:49 high in the band.  I really don’t want to be up here, going into the contest my plan was to be in the first 10kHz when CQing, but the band is packed.  The hour ends with 171 Qs going into the log.  Not bad, but it really should be in the 200+ range.  Still lots of room for improvement on my CW skills.

1300-1500Z: The rate meter is going up and my second radio Qs go to almost nil.  About half way through the hour I make up my mind to go low in the band and find 21008.56 open.  Continue to run EU on 15 and final turn the second radio to 10 meters, fearing that I’m missing an opening.   It doesn’t sound very good.  I’m having interference from 15 meters on the RX vertical.  The band sounds dead but in between CQs I find K3WU and G3V at 14:13 (exciting((not really)).  For the next 15 minutes I just run on 15 meters.  Finally at 14:28 I find 9a1P on 10 meters and a few minutes later ED8X goes into the log.  It’s clear that 10 meters is not open, big bummer.  Still worried that perhaps the band is open and the interference along with the low gain of the vertical is masking the opening I decide to try a few CQs on 10 meters at 14:49.  The rate is about two a minute but it doesn’t last long, the CQ is good for several run of the mill EU countries along with some interesting stuff like CN2AA and TK0C.  I abandon the run at 15:16  and decide to sweep the band before retreating back to 15 meters.  The following mults are worked: P40C, 5J1E, 5R8SV (double mult), CR5U, VE3YAA, TO8M, D4C, L33M, IO9A, PZ5W, F8DGY, CR3L, OA85O, YW4D, PJ2T, ZB2CW, 6V7A, EF6T, VE2IM, 4O3A, KP3W, CO8DM, KP2M, 9Y4/WJ2O, ZT6T, V47T, ZF2ET, VP2VVV, 9J2HN, C92ZO, 3V8SS, FY/F5HRY, HI3/ND3F, and VP5CW.  Definately played DXer with that S&P event taking up about an hour.  It was fun and fruitful but ideally that would have done while running EU on 15 meters.  However, I didn’t feel like my receive capabilities would allow me to pick up all these mults on 10 meters.

1600-1800Z:  I finish the DX smorgasboard on 10 meters at 16:13 and return to 15 meters on 21027.18.  It takes me four minutes to find a frequency, but as soon as my first CQ is complete I already have EU callers.  15 feels as if it is closed to all of the deep Asia mults, but I do have XE2JS call for a double mult followed a few minutes later by 4Z4AK.  I use the second radio to continue to go through 10 meters again finding C6AKQ for a new one.  At 1705z, 3B8HB calls me on 15 meters for a double mult, but he will not QSY to 20 meters.  I continue to milk 15 meters and at 17:12 EI6JK calls for a new one immediately followed by SV9COL.  Most of 15 is now western and southern Europe.  The zone 16 stations are practically all gone so it’s time to move to 20 meters.  I do a test CQ on 14091 and quickly work 3 stations in a minute, but I need to find a better frequency.  I continue to run on 15 until I settle into 14011.81.  TC0A and Z60A call in for nice mults.  20 sounds great and the rate is so high that the second radio is turned off, something that I know is a losing strategy.

1800-2000z:  I have my best hour of the contest during the 1800z hour with 202 contacts going into the log. During this hour 4K9W calls for a double mult, followed a minute later by TK0C.  I know from reviewing previous zone 5 logs that this is the time that HS, VU, and other really good deep Asia stuff will call in, but so far nothing other than the 4K.  Where is everybody?  At 1839, A45XR calls in for a new country and at this point I’m totally one radio with the rate being as high as it will ever get in the contest.  A few common UK mults call in to close the 1900 hour on 20 meters.  At 1903, I find ZD8W on 10 meters for a new one.  At 1912, ZA1WW calls in on 20 and 5 minutes later OX3LX also drops by to add to the country total.  At 1933, GD5F calls for a new one followed immediately by GU4YBW.  There are a lot of mults in the UK!  The second radio moves to 15 and within a five minute stretch 3 new mults and 2 new zones are added on 15.  15 continues to be productive with D4C, VP2EAQ, AND ZD8W all going into the log in the course of two minutes.  The HS I was hoping would call me on 20 meters never happens and at 1955 I QSY to 40 meters.4 High Stack of 2X Arrays Triband Yagi Antennas

2000z:  The run radio settles in at 7006.  It is 3:00 p.m. eastern time and 40 is bangin!  I’m getting in good second radio work on 15 meters with Caribbean and South American mults going into the log at a nice clip.  I still haven’t eaten and I’m feeling great.  No need to get up and go to the bathroom and I’m not feeling overly hungry despite the fact it has been 24 hours since I last ate.  The hour ends with a total of 148 Qs going into the log with only 9 second radio contacts.  It isn’t much but I’m being picky about who I work on the second radio, with nearly all Qs on the second radio being mults.

2100Z: I continue running on 7006 but now the second radio is on 20 meters.  FY5KE and CO2RQ go into the log at 2108 and 2111 respectively.  At 2013, P40L is found on 20 for another new one.  Finally at 2120, something interesting calls in on 40 with 5R8SV going into the log as a double mult.  I’m unable to convince him to QSY.  At 2145z, the second radio finds VK2IA for a double mult on 15 meters.  I’m missing a lot of Oceania and Asian mults on 15 and 20 meters!  The hour ends with a whimper with only 89 total contacts going into the log.  20 of those coming from the second radio.

2200Z:  Continue to run on 40 meters.  At 2216, AH2R goes into the log on 15 for a double mult.  Finally a JA on 15, with JA7NVF quickly followed by YN2CC.  I move the second radio to 20 meters, and the JA stations are sounding good.  It is around sunset and frankly it would be nice to work something other than Europe for a bit.  I move to 14004.51 and promptly have a few JA stations call in along with VK7GK for a double mult.  This also gives me a chance to put the second radio on 40 meters.  At 2254, VK6VT calls in for zone 29 and I’m starting to think that being on 20 is a good place even though the rate isn’t very high.  VK6HG calls in for my second zone 29 in the last 5 minutes.  Then EF8R calls in for a new one.  20 is open to everywhere and it is an exciting time because there is no telling who might drop by.  At 2304, CX7ACH calls in for a new one.  I have the four high stack pointed due North but it doesn’t seem to matter where it is pointed as I’ve worked 3 different continents in the last three minutes.  Second radio work on 40 starts to pay off with PJ6/OH1VR going into the log.  I abadon 20 meters, with the fear that I’m playing DXer and head to 80 meters at 2315z, which is 6:15 PM eastern time.  The run radio settles into 3513.65 and I start to walk Europe.  The second radio promptly finds 6V7A on 20 meters at 2320.  Zone 16 is pounding in on 80 meters and at 2325, TF3W goes into the log on 20 meters for a new country mult.  5 minutes later the second radio finds something interesting: VR2XAN!  2 kHz up the band BV1EL goes into the log for a new country and a few minutes later CR2X followed by YE1K are found on 20 meters.  The move to 80 is paying off with a decent rate on the run radio and some really juicy mults on 20 meters going into the log.  The 2300z hour ends with only 78 Qs going into the log but several nice mults were found on 20 meters.

Saturday Night 0000-1200Z

I’m starting to get tired.  I’ve been up for well over 24 hours and I’m getting into the mode of dredding every minute of the contest.  I question how in the world can I do this for another 24 hours, not a good mental mind set to have.  Hopefully I can push through this and remember that this really is fun.  The first 24 hours ends with around 4.5 million points and 3176 Qs.  One of my goals was to make 5,000 Qs and I’m on track to make it!

I decide to give 20 meters another try at 0009 and I settle into 14026.96.  Europe will be on 80 for the next 6 hours, but I doubt that Asia will be around much longer on 20 meters.  I’m rewarded with my third contact being HS3XVP for a double mult!  At 0023Z, DU3JH calls in for another double mult. YES!!! This is fun.  It’s hard to believe but Asia never sounds this good in Arkansas.   At 0027z BH4XDZ and HL1VAU call in for back to back mults.  I’m playing Dxer again because my second radio has now gone silent.  At 0042Z 6Y5WJ calls in for a new one, but I can’t get him to move.  Jamaica was not very active during the contest.  The next minute KL1JP calls in for my first zone 1 on 20 meters.  KL7RA is sorely missed throughout the contest.  This move to 20 is really paying off and I’m telling myself that my competitors in Maine probably aren’t milking an Asian opening on 20 meters when the low bands are wide open to EU.  At 0045Z OA85O calls in and finally I’m successful with a move as I convince him to go to 40 meters.  6Y5WJ hears me move OA85O and calls me on 40 meters, score!  6Y5WJ agrees to move to 80, double score!  The hour ends with only 71 Qs, but a total of 16 mults add to the score.  Not to mention some plain ole fun running Asia.

At 0113z I find 3501 wide open.  80 actually sounds kinda dead and I wonder if everyone is taking some rest time?  By this point I’m really concerned about the mult total on 160.  I know that the Maine contingency is kicking my butt on that band so I’m going to have to work really hard to get as close as I can mult wise on that band.  While the second radio slowly tunes through 160 I have ZT6T call me on 80 meters for a double mult!  A few minutes later TA1L calls in for a new one as well.  At 0155Z RD8D calls in for a new one on 80 and I’m reminded that I’m missing a bunch of Asia on 80 meters including zone 25.  I’m getting tired and sort of coasting.  The second radio finds ZB2X at 0234z on 40 and then 9K2HN makes it into the log on 40 meters.  I have a Cliff Bar and a Red Bull and it gives me some needed energy and alertness.

At 0300Z I’m still on 3501 and can’t believe it when C92ZO calls in!  Thanks Marko.  He even agrees to QSY to 40 meters for two double mults in a row.  I continue to bounce around 40 and 80 meters.  Around 0500Z I decide that I can’t effectively pick up everything on top band with the second radio so I decide to focus solely on 160 meters.  I’m feeling weak but over the course of the next hour several mults are worked including: GD, ES, OM, 9A, F, ON, HB, E7, UA2, HA, GM, EA, LX and VP9.

I’m back on 40 meters at 0700z and really feeling tired.  In Arkanas I wouldn’t think twice about taking an hour and half nap at this point.  But I’m not in Arkansas I’m in totally awesome perfect DX location land where EU is around forever and never ever quits, ever.  But I can’t shake the drowsiness and I know that I need a quick nap.  I set my timer for 30 minutes and lay my head down on the desk and fall asleep immediately from 0738-0815z.  Resume running on 7012.85 and at 0822z 5T0JL calls in for a new country.  Later I move to 80 hoping to have a VK or ZL call, but no luck.  HI8A does call in at 0853z on 80 meters and we quickly QSY for a nice move and mult on top band.  I manage to find CR2X on 40 meters a few minutes later and he kindly QSYs to 80 meters for an easy mult that I had surely missed.  Thanks!  I continue to run on 80 meters and at 0900z KP3Z calls in on 80 meters and I move him to 160 for another mult.  I’m not really running on 80 meters but it is one of those times where I know the rate will be slow but whoever calls will likely be a new mult.  That doesn’t last long though and at 0900z, back to 40 meters to continue to mine EU for more contacts.

Shouldn't you be hibernating?
Shouldn’t you be hibernating?

1040z I continue to run 40 meters and have my first ZL station call in on 40.  10 minutes later I finally break through and work JA3YBK on 80 meters for a double mult.  I get lucky and have AH2R call me on 40 meters at 1104z.  There is an 8 minute gap in the log (I think I was taking a pee and doing jumping jacks to try and wake up) but the next contact is still on my run frequency and it is with AH0K for another mult.  Despite my nap, I’m feeling really sleepy and wishing the sun would rise so I would wake up and the rate would also wake up.  During my pee break I see eyes reflecting in the distance outside.  Is it the dreaded evil tenacious Paddington the Bear?  Being on practically no sleep I get a little freaked out but can’t resist figuring out who the eyes belong to.  The flashlight reveals it is just a deer and I actually welcome the short rush of adrenaline.  The rocks outside look like blankets and they are inviting me to take a nap.  I resist though and head back to the radio.    JA and Asia never really materalize on Sunday morning like it did Saturday morning on 40 meters.  Good thing I made hay on the first morning while it was there.

QSY to 20 meters at 1123z and the EU run that will last for the next 12 hours begins!  I continue on 20 meters with very few second radio Qs.  Clearly I’m tired and it takes all I have to focus on the main radio.  I do manage to find C92ZO on 15 meters for a double mult at 1216z and our 5th band.  I still feel like there is life left in 40 meters and I’m rewarded with finding V73NS on 40 meters at 1223z.

Sunday 1230z-0000z

The run radio moves to 15 meters at 21001 at 1233.  The band is packed but the frequency sounds good and the pileup is legit big.  RM9A calls in at 1242 for a double mult.  I feel like I’m going to have some deep Asia stuff soon and I also tell myself that 10 is going to open to Europe for real.  One of these predictions holds with 4L3T calling in at 1256 for another double mult.  5 minutes later VU3KPL also calls in for another double mult.  I’m tired and the rate is big so the second radio is off. I’m going to have to force myself in the future to hunt (or CQ) with the second radio even when I’m tired and the rate is high.  OX5T calls in for another mult on 15 meters at 1315 but VY2ZM has moved in very close.  I doubt that he even hears me as he is barely audible here.  We both seem to be working people so I continue on the frequency but I know that Jeff is loud in EU, even with 100 watts.  TA1DX, IS0GQX, CU8FN, V47T, and ER1DX call in during the 1300z hour all for new mults.  I’m clearly tired as the second radio never gets a consideration.  I also realize that the RX vertical isn’t working properly on 10 meters.

The 1400z hour continues with running on 21001 and very few second radio Qs.  RW0BG calls at 1442z for a new one and he kindly QSYs to 20 meters for another new zone on 20 meters.

For some reason N1MM+ loses communication with the K3 and continues to log contacts on 21001 even though I’m tuning 15 meters.  Just like Saturday, I give up a nice run for combing through the band hoping to find lots of good mults.  I don’t really care that the frequency readout is wrong just as long as I stay on 15 meters.   I restart the program and it fixes the frequency tracking instantly.   During my hunt through 15 meters I find a weak 9X0NH for a nice mult and also CJ3A for a new zone (what???? still needed zone 4 on 15, crazy).  I’m starting to think that this is a waste of time, but at 1544z 6V7A goes into the log for a new one, followed by OA850 at 1603z and HZ1DG at 1607Z.  I continue to search up the band on 15 meters and am rewarded with PJ4Q, FM5FJ, TO8M, C6AUM, and J35X.  When I finish the searching it is clear that 15 is on its way out.  It is closing early which means I’m going to 20 meters way before I intended too.  It also means that 10 meters never opened or I managed to miss it.  At 1637 I QSY to 14012.20, about an hour and a half earlier than I expected to.

In hindsight I was clearly tired and not thinking about two radios (bad, bad, operator).  I probably missed some good stuff on 10 and 15 meters during this time.  At 1713 LX7I calls for a new one, immediately followed by OY4M for another new country.  GD4EIP calls in on 20 meters at 1723z and he kindly moves to 15 meters for a new one.  I continue to run on 14012.20 and A61EK calls in for a new one at 1735z ten minutes later, A71AE also calls for a new country.  The 1700 hour ends with 152 contacts going into the log.  I continue to run on 20 meters as there really isn’t anywhere else to be.  At 1817z, ZM1A calls in on 20 meters, but I can’t get him to qsy to 15 meters.  4X7R calls on 20 for a new one and the second radio finds CR2X on 10 metes at 1834z.  Some excitement occurs at the end of the hour.  PJ7/G4JEC calls in on 20 and moves to 15 for a new one.  Followed immediately by OH0X on 20 who also agrees to QSY to 15 meters.  Four new mults in three minutes!  The rate is dropping on 20 but I still manage to put into the log 119 contacts.

Its only 1900z and the zone 16 stations are drying up.  It’s 2:00 PM Eastern time and it seems way to early to be on 40 meters.  The second radio goes to 40 and at 1918z finds an interesting pileup of Europeans high in the band.  It turns out to be 3B9HA, I figure that it will be one of those 5 minute

Tall Legs and tall towers.
Tall Legs and tall towers.

pileups to bust but not so.  One call and the mult goes in the log!  Wow that 4/4 stack really kicks some butt.  What other goodies might be lurking on 40, ZA/YT7DQ and 4O3A are found within five minutes of each other for two more second radio mults.   A few minutes later at 1939z, EA6UN calls on 20 for a new one and moves to 40 for a new one.  I’m feeling really tired but I’m pushing hard to find as many mults as possible.  At nearly 8 Qs each they are quite valuable.  20 meters is fading and I try 15 meters hoping to get some Pacific, Africa, or anything else to call me.  At 1957z, HK3ZD calls for a new one and the next contact is ZS1C for a double mult.  Yikes, I would have been kicking myself if I missed South Africa on 15 meters.  Nothing else going on 15 and at 3:00 PM local time I go to 40 meters.  The 1800z hour ends with 119 Qs.

40 meters is decent and I get woken up when VK6HG calls for zone 29 at 2035z.  The next contact is VY1EI on the second radio for a new zone on 15 meters.  I continue to CQ on 40 and am rewarded with A93JA at 2110z. I’m having trouble copying calls accurately but I push on.  At 2129z the second radio works V47T for a new one.  Thanks Andy.  I never find Andy on 80 meters which really ticks me off.  Oh well, you can’t get them all.  I continue to CQ on 40 meters with the second radio combing 20 meters and at 2146 9Y4/WJ2O goes into the log on 20.  Ten minutes later YN2CC is also found on 20 meters.  Nicaragua on all 6 bands, I’ll take that.

I get lucky and a 2214, VE2IM calls in for zone 2 on 40 meters!  It’s to late to move him to 15 meters and he wasn’t able to QSY earlier so I end up missing zone 2 on 15.  40 sounds good, but after putting over 1800 Qs in the log the band is starting to feel tapped out.  I make a QSY to 20 meters to see if anything is happening at 2244z.  I have a nice run of JA stations going plus the second radio finds PZ5W for a new one on 40 meters.  72 Qs go into the log at the end of the 2200z hour.

CQWW CW Final Score
CQWW CW Final Score

The last hour of the contest.  And I QSY back to 40 meters to 7005.10 at 2328z.  ZZ5T goes into the log on 80 meters for a double mult at 2343z and at 2351z VP5CW is a new one on 20 meters.  The contest ends on a great note with PJ6/OH3JR as the last contact and a new mult on 20 meters.  Even better, than the mult I’m surprised by WU2X popping into the shack as soon as the final bell tolls.  I’ve been dreading for the past 12 hours the thought of walking the quarter of mile in complete darkness back to the house.  Certainly the thought of lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my was running through my head.  That along with some hallucinations was not a pleasant combination.  Scott gave me a ride back to the house and then surprised me again with a home cooked Thanksgiving meal courtesy of his wife… Delicious!

I will always be in debt to the generosity of N2QV and WU2X.  That station kicked some serious butt!  I’ve done some really cool stuff in the last two years and this is right up there at the top.  Getting to prove to myself that I can hang with the big boys was definitely most rewarding.


3830 WriteUp and Rate Sheet

Paradise is the New Normal

I kind of hate myself for writing the title of this post.

You probably should as well.

How in the world could a person become accustomed to 80 degree  year round weather with constant sunshine and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world?

Well, I’ll tell you.  Whenever an adventure becomes normalcy then that sense of excitement and small amount of stress dissipates and turns into an everyday routine.   This has certainly happened for our family over the past six months.  When this happened we realized the life that we lived in Arkansas was something that we all missed.  Why?  I’m not really sure.  Friends and family play a role in that, but actually I fear that it is really just the excitement of doing something different again.  For my wife and kids I believe the desire to return to Arkansas is genuine and not a grandiose adult symptom of ADHD as I believe it may be for me.

Typical Day After Work
Typical Day After Work

My Aunt Luanne used to say that “boredom was a reflection of one’s self.”  I’ve had the privilege of learning that maxim first hand over the past year, and it’s been a good lesson to learn.  Of course Auntie Luanne also said, “cleanliness is next to godliness” and I’m still trying to disprove that one.  But for posterity sake I should write for myself that when we made the decision to return to Arkansas that I was excited about the prospect of coming home and getting on with our lives.  It’s going to be extremely hard for me to leave the friends I’ve made both at work and through amateur radio on Cayman.  The members of the Cayman Amateur Radio Society have been incredibly welcoming to me and so generous.   The office I work in has been one of the most stimulating experiences of my life.  I have absurd, deep, and totally random conversations on a weekly basis with fellow professionals from Jamaica, England, Northern Ireland, Canada, Cayman, and the U.S.  I’ve also not written one IEP, annual review, reevaluation conference, transfer conference, or referral conference in the last year and a half!  It’s been nice devoting time towards therapy instead of being a paper pusher.

It’s also become painfully clear that this is without a doubt the best decision that could be made for both Katie and Michael.  Both kids have been groomed to deal with adversity so they both have done an amazing job handling the unique school system here on Cayman.  However, at this point it does them very little good to continue to be in the school system here on the island.  Michael especially has developed some odd ticks and mannerisms that seemed to be associated with school and stress.   Katie is super excited to return to Arkansas for her first year of middle school.  She spent over an hour looking at the Harrison Middle School website in anticipation of beginning 5th grade next year.  Being in public school on this island has been an eye opener for both Michael and Katie and they will be better off for it (atleast that’s what I tell myself).  Hopefully the experiences and lessons of being a minority and outsider will always be with them.

We are all happy with the decision that we made to leave Arkansas and are all unanimously happy with our decision to return to Arkansas.  Personally, I’m looking forward to doing some things that I’ve always taken for granted in Arkansas.  Heck, I might even go out to the river or lake one time.  I might just even camp, in the woods, for an entire night.

See y’all soon.