I had not really prepared for the 2012 edition of the IARU HF Challenge because of intensified preparations of the upcoming CY9M expedition, but I spent an hour reading up on past years achievements deciding it was time for a CW only effort with a goal to reach 1700 contacts. Not checking the propagation in advance I did not bother to calculate a goal for the final score, I was more focused on the number of contacts.
I also decided not to configure the station for SO2R this time as I simply could not find the time to spend setting up and taking down antennas, mounting filters and do the other other preparations needed for two radios.
The IARU contest started out in a decent pace of about 100 contacts per hour for the first 4-5 hours, but never got anywhere. I begun at 20 meter but the rate dropped already in the second hour so quickly checked 10 meter to find it almost dead exept for some big gun HQ stations. Then I spent about 3 hours on 15 meter picking up a collections of DX and EU, but the band did not provide the sweet NA rates that it is capable of. At 16:30 I went back to 10 meter which was now open and stayed there for two hours. The rate was OK, but not great, and there was very little DX around.
Around 20:00 UTC 15 meter where closing and I decided to go there to sweep the band for HQ stations. It was a good idea, almost no QRM and multipliers on a string, I picked up about 20 of the plus one or two DX. I repeated the same tactics on Sunday picking up several missing HQ stations on 40 meter in daylight begging for contacts.
It all went OK until midnight, then someone hit the break… or EU operators hit the bed. Strong Aurora obstructed the DX paths making the slow hours even slower and the hours between midnight and 0400 averaged a rate of 30-35. At 0300 I got bored and decided to take a 20 minute nap to be in shape for the morning.
On Sunday the Aurora was in full effect and DX paths where never restored. Occasional DX where logged, but the bands never recovered to provide a steady rate. Due to the Aurora obstructing the path to North America 82% of all stations logged where in EU.
The claimed score of the IARU HF Challenge 2012 is i 849.760 and it breaks down to this;
Band CW Qs Ph Qs Zones HQ Mults ------------------------------------- 160: 0 0 0 0 80: 125 0 8 22 40: 290 0 18 30 20: 492 0 21 23 15: 359 0 23 20 10: 174 0 8 15 ------------------------------------- Total: 1440 0 78 110
Congratulations to SM6CNN posting a claimed score of 1.7 million! Being 400 km south west of me might have provided Anders with a better path to NA.
On a side note I tried the new K3 firmware with improvements of the AGC and ran the contest using a threshold setting (AGC THR) of 12 to 15. The AGC worked well, but with the light pileups it can hardly be called a test.
Now back to the preparations of CY9M.