Happy New Year!

Once again its time to pop the cork of a bottle of chilled Dom Pérignon and celebrate another fun year at SEØX, and what a year it’s been!

2011 was the year when the sun finally got back into the game and once again fuelling fantastic propagation paths on high bands.

For me 2011 started with the failed DXØDX Spratly adventure which after its cancellation was rearranged to to an IOTA tour together with Christian EA3NT and Simon IZ7ATN. During the trip in the Philippine Archipelago trip we activated Palawan Island OC-128, Caluya Island OC-125, and Tablas Island OC-244. It was a memorable trip to and especially the very remote Island of Caluya will be pinned into my mind forever.

With the rise in solar activity the 160 meter band seems to have suffered which might explain this year’s lower result in CQ-160 CW. The goal was set to increase from the excellent 2010 resultSM record in CQ-160 CW SOHP, but propagation did not support the ambition. Despite the lower score, the 1031 contacts logged was enough to place SE0X as #1 SM and break the SM record in CQ-160 CW SOHP Assisted.

If CQ-160 CW was a little disappointing CQ-160 SSB was a positive surprise, maybe because of the lowered expectation. A total of 555 stations where casually logged but at a higher QSO rate than in the CW leg, and the result was enough to put SEØX at the #1 SM position in the SOHP category and break another SM record in CQ-160 SSB SOHP.

After the single operator efforts in January and February the SEØX team went south to the French Atlantic Coast to enter the ARRL DX SSB contest as TMØX. Vincent F4BKV had invited us to his station and we were treated with french hospitality by his generous family. Although the contest was fun, I am sure what the team remembers is all the tasty food and excellent wines served in the beautiful family estate housing Vincent’s station.

Next up was the big multi-effort of the year from the SEØX team in the WPX SSB Contest where we signed as 7SØX (for the “exotic” 7S prefix). The team gathered to have fun consisted of F4BKV, SMØMDG, SMØMLZ and SMØNOR. The station was temporary set up for M/2 and this was the first contest where the higher bands showed some life. 15 meter was quite OK, but 10 meter was not performing at all this weekend. The final score ended up at 8.410.650 score which was a substantial improvement of the 2010 result, but SJ2W with its huge antenna park was well ahead of us in a Single Op effort. SEØX ranked #1 SM and #18 EU in the M/2 category and the team is currently planning for WPX SSB 2012.

In April a lot of work went in to convert the station for M/2 and SO2R permanently. A Kenwood TS-590 was picked as the second station and 5B4AGN band pass filters installed to keep interference to a minimum. A 3-element Spiderbeam is serving as the temporary secondary antenna for high bands and the low bands antennas are shared between stations using a Sixpak antenna switch.

In WPX CW the brand new SO2R setup was taken for a test drive. At a claimed score of 2.069.559 SEØX (operated by me SMØMDG) ranks #1 SM in SOHP and #4 SM overall being beaten only by assisted stations.

In July I departed for Reykjavik to participate in the JX5O expedition to Jan Mayen in the Norwegian Arctic Ocean. The expedition happened to coincide with the IARU HF Championship and the team decided to put two of the four HF stations in the contest. The goal was not to work up a good score to be competitive, but rather to maintain presence at the contest bands during the weekend. The log of 1200+ contacts was submitted as a check-log. AD1C commented our entry in IARU with: “This was supposed to be a CW-only effort my only SSB QSO was with JX5O, an all-time new DXCC entity from CO” and DK9TN wrote “the best QSO was to be called by JX5O on 20m”.

Returning home from the Arctic Ocean I used the remainder of the summer to catch up on life outside the shack. In August I also spent some time getting most of my old personal and contest logs uploaded to LoTW, Logbook of The World.

September is the start of the contest season and it takes off with SAC, the Scandinavian Activity Contest. This might be a small contest for the outside world but for Scandinavians its an intense battle, and very competitive as the local participation is very high compared to most other tests. This year the contest committee decided to publish the results in record short time and SEØX ranked #3 SM in CW and #6 in SSB beaten by team mate SMØMLZ from his station SGØX.

In CQWW SSB it was time again for a team effort and Patrik SMØMLZ (SGØX), Ulf SMØNOR (SFØX) and I teamed up at Patrik’s station SGØX North/East of Stockholm. Preparations started one weekend before the contest when we put up a 2-element phased array for 80 meter and on the Friday before the test we setup the complete second station including a 3-element Spiderbeam yagi and all filters needed. There where no other entries in the M/2 category, but we where ranking #2 overall in SM with only SJ2W outscoring us. But with three operators on two stations we where happy with the result and we had enjoyed the first real explosion of the 10 meter band with some nice runs and funky DX.

Two of my favorite contests where the perfect end to a good contest and DX year, the ARRL 10 Meter Contest and the Stew Perry Topband Distance Challenge.

I like the 10 Meter test and have participated the past years even though the propagation was dead. But this year the increase in solar activity made a big difference, and although a little weaker propagation than in CQWW SSB, the 2011 ARRL 10 meter contest was lot of fun.

Last but not least, the Stew Perry Top Band Challenge is a unique and fun contest. What makes it different is that the result is calculated by the total aggregated distance of all contacts worked which, in my opinion, levels the field and make the contest interesting regardless of location and power levels. This is a contest where its less important to win, its more about the challenge of filtering out faint signals from the static of Topband.

To sum it up, the improvement of Solar Cycle 24 is probably the most important news of 2011. Not only does it support contesting, but it also brings back life to DX’ing on higher bands in general. When  fireworks and Champagne corks hit the ground on the other side of the New Year, I am convinced that 2012 will be even more fun and challenging!

Happy New Year!

73 de Björn, SM0MDG