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.