WPX SSB: K3 fried one hour before start

This year SM0MDG and SM0MLZ teamed up for the WPX SSB Contest from SEOX. Due to the contest colliding with easter weekend obligations the other regulars weren’t able to make it. With a two person team our plan was to take a shot at the SM record, multi-op, single TX in WPX SSB. Two radios were configured SO2R style for us to be able to listen in on other bands while running.

About one hour before start we noticed some strange behavior with the multiplier radio, a Kenwoood TS-590. It would power down when we were transmitting with the run radio, a K3. My first assumption was that RF feedback somehow got into the TS-590 confusing its processor to shut down the radio.

Then we noticed that the 12 volt powered shack lights fluctuated a little at the start and end to each transmission. After a few times the desk light came on very bright and I quickly checked the voltage using the K3 volt meter which measured 20 volt! I immediately turned off the K3, then turned the PSU off. The PSU was very hot and it was apparent that it had given up.

After installing a backup PSU the K3 wouldn’t power up and after several attempts made it was clear to us that something in the radio had been fried. With so little time left to the start our only option was to promote the TS-590 to the main (and only) radio. We quickly reconfigured the station and bypassed all filters, TX interlock and other electronics that might also have been damaged by the high voltage.

The contest started in a slow pace due to aurora and weak propagation. The first night was a disappointment and the whole of Saturday wasn’t much better. The only place we could find decent rate was on 20 meter with EU, so a lot of time we had to S&P for DX points.

On Sunday things got better as 15 meter came to life in the morning to AS, and then later in the afternoon to NA. A few hours on fifteen in the afternoon with lots of NA improved the situation considerably.

Score Summary:
Band QSOs
160: 86
80: 304
40: 767
20: 835
15: 485
10: 10
Total: 2487 Prefixes 983 Total Score 5,192,206

The end result is about 500 contacts below the goal, but considering the fried K3 and how the atmosphere behaved, we are happy with the result and eager to improve it next year.

  • Kenwood TS-590 + 1kW
  • 15m 5-el op-des mono
  • SteppIR
  • 40m 2-el phased array
  • 80m and 160m, top loaded verticals

73 de SM0MDG & SM0MLZ