This is a grim example how to keep your competition on a distance! I won’t mention calls, but this screenshot is from the IARU HF contest this past weekend and this is a HQ station. If you look closely to the waterfall display you notice the splatter lines at least 30 kHz down.
WPX SSB a year ago, in 2014, was a success for SE0X. Propagation was fabulous and we where able to set a new SM record in the Multi-Two category. This year we wanted to try something new and decided to enter in Multi-One Low Power where there presently is no Swedish record. Reaching the current EU record would be a stretch with the current propagation, but we like a challenge so we chose this as our goal.
Working a 160 meter contest QRP is much more fun than you might think! A few weeks ago I worked the CQ-160 SSB contest using 5 watt QRP power. I logged more than 200 QSOs and the claimed score is almost half the number of my SM Low Power record and more than a third of my High Power and High Power Assisted records.
Spending two weeks in the Maldives in January was an unforgettable experience. Not only because of the blue ocean, white sand and warm sun. 160 meter contesting and DX’ing barefoot with a compromise antenna posed a challenge very different from the usual big signal-work-them-all experience from home.
Below are a few photos from 8Q7BM.
A multi operator effort with international operators have become a tradition at SE0X in WPX SSB. This year the team consisted of four nationalities, DD1MAT from Germany, SM0MDG and SM0MLZ from Sweden, TF1ZA from Iceland and W1UE from USA. The team set its target at beating the 2011 SM record in the Multi-Two category, a record set by a previous team effort from SE0X in 2011 (7S0X).
SE0X is a “small station” but with a great location. We have only a fraction of the aluminium compared to some of the local super stations. But at SE0X we have the benefit of being close to the sea, our antennas are surrounded by brackish water. Good propagation is also helpful, we need the stateside runs on higher bands to be able to build competitive scores. Our 5 element OP-DES mono-band Yagi really gets the job done in most situations, but when 10 meter opens big things really gets interesting and almost anything is possible.
This year we invited W1UE Dennis to participate in the team via remote. Dennis already had the necessary hardware, a K3/0 and a Remoterig interface which is the system SE0X uses for remote control of the station. After a little testing we decided the transatlantic connection was good enough, and we scheduled Dennis for several shifts on station one.
SE0X have been remotely controlled in contests for three years, but never done before with an operator physically outside SM. We wanted to see how the bigger latency and logistics with a mixed local and remote team would work out. Dennis logged 876 contacts from his home QTH in Marlborough, Massachusetts. N1MM’s ‘Talk’ feature and a Skype chat was used to communicate between Dennis and the operator on Radio 2 when needed. Dennis was also able to follow the contest by listening in to the other operators working their shifts on the remote controlled K3. Except for some intermittent dropouts, the transatlantic internet connection was reliable and the remote operation part of the contest very successful.
WPX this year will go into the SE0X history book. Propagation was great, higher bands where in excellent shape. 15 meter really dominated the log on Saturday while 10 meter took over and rocked on Sunday. 20 meter was the goto high band for NA runs overnight. Lower bands where not as good this time, probably because most operators where busy on higher bands even during dark hours.
The result of the team effort in WPX SSB 2014 is amazing! The band breakdown shows that 15 meter was the strongest band overall with a large amount of North American and Asian DX. 10 meter was also very strong ranking number two in contacts but with a bigger share of DX than any other band.
Our goal was to beat the 2011 record at 8.410.650. Not only did we beat the record, but we where able to almost double the score. With a claimed score of 16.297.886 points the team left SE0X early Monday morning with a broad smile on their faces.
Thanks to everyone in the log, we couldn’t have done it without you!
de DD1MAT, SM0MDG, SM0MLZ, TF3ZA, W1UE
Last weekend a small team came together at SK3W to take shot at the Multi-One SM record in ARRL DX SSB. SM0MLZ, SM0MDG and SM5PU teamed up with SM3SGP for the contest. The weekend started with a very nice team dinner on Friday evening, SM0PHU had prepared a very delicious “Beef Rydberg”.
The first two hours of the contest was a disaster with too little propagation to get a run going. At around 0200z Twenty meter opened and the rest of the night we had a decent rate. But as the morning came we believed that we lost too much in the beginning to have a real chance on breaking the record. We felt that we were too far behind target.
Saturday afternoon we got very busy on high bands. Ten meter was fantastic with strong signal and Fifteen meter also provided well. On Sunday we were really picking up speed, ten and fifteen rocked. During Sunday afternoon we realized that we might still have a chance to break the record. With three hours to go we just needed to keep the rate above 115 contacts per hour and scope in the last renaming multipliers on 15 meters. Ten and Fifteen meter closed a little too early on Sunday for us to reach the goal. We moved to Twenty meter and continued to log mainly low power stations resulting in a lower rate.
Low bands where generally weak during the ARRL SSB weekend, but we snatched the multipliers that became available on Forty and Eighty. Topband only provided two contacts, one to VY2ZN and the other to K2XX in NY. We where a little surprised that W3LPL and WE3C didn’t hear us despite their stable 57-59 signals.
We crossed the finish line with 2,578,644 points only 1,4% above the current record. After score reduction this will most likely not be enough to reach the record. In any case it was a fun contest with lots of actions on higher bands.
Thanks to Gunnar SM3SGP for the invitation to SK3W!
My plan for CQ160 SSB was to beat the Swedish low power record. I ended up with almost twice the score. Considering that the 2013 result was 130k in High Power Assisted, I am very happy with the result.
Propagation was weak the first night, very little DX and not a single K or VE station heard. Worked a few AS in the 3000 km range and in my sunrise I found KP4KE who came back to me on the first call. Even with the band broken the first night, KP4KE was the longest distance logged.
Second night propagation improved a little and a few K’s where heard. But I was only able to make it through to Jeff VY2ZM on PEI. Peter K3ZM was the strongest NA station with a real 59 at my SR, but I could not crack through the pile. The Briggs brothers where emitting 90% of the NA RF picked up here! Everyone else was weak.
The contest was run via remote using pre-recorded voice prompts overnight. N1MM is hooked up to the remote radio via Remoterig’s serial server. Commands travel back and forth and a lag is introduced. The lag is obvious when tuning the radio manually and it slows down S&P a little. But its a small price to pay for the convenience of the much more comfortable remote shack.
Total number of QSOs logged is 436, 49 country multipliers and only 1 Canadian province. All summing to a total (claimed) score of 109,450. The current SM record is 56k, half my final score.
Overall a fun contest and no snow shovelling needed. Thanks to everyone in the log!
This is my 160 meter top (and bottom loaded) compromise vertical relaxing on the beach from the overnight exercises on Top Band.
Working CQ160 from the Maldives using a compromise antenna and barefoot transceiver was not easy. One would think the exotic prefix should generate some attention. The fact is that it is almost impossible to cut through contest QRM in the EU, and I wouldn’t even dram about an NA contact. Plus the complicated call (on CW) confuses the few operators able to hear my tiny signal.
Kudos to the few who heard and logged me! Tonight I am back for the final part of the contest. I am ready to log a few more “good ears on top band”.
The antenna is a 15 meter high vertical with three top loading spokes attached at 13 meters, the highest point possible on the weak glass fibre pole. The antenna is self resonant at 2.2 MHz and a loading coil wound on a water bottle at the bottom brings it down to 1.83 MHz. An elevated radial is deployed every evening and retracted again every morning after sunrise. The antenna is placed just short of a 1/4 wave lenght from the water line.
UPDATE January 27: I will try to be on 160 for another few days before I take down the top band vertical. Look for me on 160 around 15:00 and 01:00 UTC.
UPDATE January 29: New photo of the antenna and text edited.
UPDATE February 3: 8Q7BM is now QRT and we are on our way back home to the winter. TU!
QSL via Tim M0URX.
73 & GL from Raa Atoll de SM0MDG/8Q7BM
A new year with new challenges just started. This weekend we got snow and temperatures below the freezing point for the first time this winter. On Saturday I spent some time making sure antennas where in shape for the colder season. I checked and adjusted tension of the 160 meter vertical guys and everything else about it was looking just fine.
On Sunday I made a last check of the Topband vertical and made a disturbing discovery. Ice had been building up overnight inside the bottom pipe and with enormous force pushed the whole antenna upwards.
On the photo you can how the antennas has risen almost 70 millimeter! When discovered there where only 15 millimeter margin, then the antenna would have jumped off the insulator. The force cut the stainless steel bolt securing the pipe to the insulator and the guy lines where tense like banjo strings.
The fix was quite easy, I strapped a heater tight to the pipe and a drilled a couple of holes for drainage. After about an hour the ice had melted and I was able to get the pipe back in place. A new hole was drilled a new bolt it put in place.
The Topband vertical is the most challenging antenna to keep in the air at SE0X. It is exposed not only to heavy wind, but also to the sea. In wintertime that means icing is a big threat, and at least two times icing of guy lines have brought it down. It happened last season and three seasons ago. This was a very close call! Lets see if it will survive this season.
Happy New Year!