CQ 160 CW Soapbox

CQ 160 is one of my favourite contests. The goal this year was set to break the SM record in SO-HP Assisted. In addition I also wanted to beat my own score from 2010 in SO-HP (unassisted). Reasonably well prepared, somewhat rested and with the gear in shape I was ready to take on the challenge. This is the story of SE0X in CQ 160 CW 2017, keep on reading to see if I succeeded in hitting my goals.

The contest started with lots of activity the first night. EU signals was crowding Topband with rates of the first hour around 140 QSO/hour. Lots of activity but there was almost no NA propagation before sunrise on Saturday morning. Nevertheless, all that EU action helped filling up the log. 50% of the quantity goal and 85% of the multiplier goal was achieved in the fist night.

Saturday rates slowed down a little but the band was still covered with EU stations running. During quiet periods I tried to pick up points using the SUB VFO/RX in SO2V style. Almost every time I paused my run to pick up a multiplier, someone noticed my absence within seconds and tried to occupy my run frequency.

On Saturday evening a mini pileup of the JA Topband club entered the log at their SR, a healthy injection of 10 point DX contacts and the JA multiplier adding to the overall score. Only three minutes after the last JA being logged, the first NA station appeared. Unfortunately the path to NA didn’t really open and fewer states and provinces were logged the second night.

If rates where low on Saturday, rates where almost non-existent on Sunday. Not in any hour did the rate go above 20 Qs/hour on Sunday! The band was still jammed with stations calling, but most had been logged by now. I kept calling CQ and used SO2V to pick up anything that appeared in the band map and wasn’t already logged.

So how did it go? The 2016 record by 8S0DX at 542,532 was broken with a good margin. To be fair, propagation this year was probably better than a year ago. Next year its likely to improve even more as we move down the cycle. Also I did pass my 2010 SO-HP score with a small margin, so both goals accomplished.

Thanks to all of You in the log!

Equipment

  • Elecraft K3
  • OM2500HF
  • 18 meter top loaded vertical “on water” with FCP
  • N/W and N/E RX Pennants
  • Clifton active RX whip as diversity antenna
  • Bose noise cancelling headset (makes fan noise disappear!)

UPDATE 2017-08-18 – The scores for CQ160 has officially been published by CQ Magazine. A new SOHP Assisted SM record is set by SE0X with a final score of 607.511 points.