Caribbean Tour QSL Preview

The V26BM and VP2MSW QSL cards are now available, check out the preview here! These beautiful QSL cards have been designed by ON5UR Max. They will be used by M0URX Tim to confirm contacts made with me during my Caribbean New Year tour.

V26BM QSL, Front

Please QSL only via M0URX – send to M0URX direct or via OQRS for Bureau.

Exclusive to the backside of the VP2MSW card is a unique photo of Plymouth, the former capital of Montserrat, covered in lava and ash and abandoned in 1997.

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Low power effort in CQ160 CW via remote

I decided to try low power (LP) in CQ160 CW for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was prepared to spend lots of time with Search & Pounce in the QRM. Here is a summary of my CQ160 CW effort from SE0X operated via remote.

SE0X Remote Shack

Remote shack with a K3/0 controlling a K3/100 at SE0X over the internet.

To my surprise I hit off running with a nice pace on Friday evening, but then everything slowed down on Saturday. The rate was miserable and all hope of a respectable score went out the window. But something happened Saturday evening at 21:00 when the the rate cam up again, and during the following two hours I was able to catch up everything lost during the day. I was again ahead of my plan and was feeling great. Then at midnight it all came to a halt and Sunday was tremendously slow. I guess by then I had already worked most of the stations that I could reach with my low power setup, and the only action on Sunday where casual contesters and a few DX. The only joy on Sunday where a few needed multipliers found through S&P.

I didn’t expect to log much DX, but to my surprise I did work some nice ones including JA, FM, and a very few NA. The most memorable contacts where logging EY8MM using only 10 watts (SM power restriction above 1850 kHz) and breaking through a dense pileup of HP stations fighting to get a multiplier from A65BP (thats a guy with good ears).

The claimed result of 222.759 points is just a few points below the current SM record (well 3.5k below). I worked 826 contacts but came in a little low on multipliers, 50 countries and 3 Statets and Provinces (VA, ME and PEI). With most of active EU countries logged, the difference would be to snag a few more states next time. Going low power was fun and although there is a difference compared to previous efforts with High Power, it was fun and challenging.

The contest was run home via remote using the K3-K3/0 combo and Remoterig interfaces. N1MM was used to log the contacts using one of Remoterig’s internal RS232 servers. Everything worked great except for a few network dropouts and a bug in the K3/Remoterig setup causing audio to mute when turning the SUB RX on or OFF. My home office is much more comfortable than the station shack, so I could get used to this.

73 de Björn, SM0MDG

TF3W – SM/TF Team breaks Zone 40 record in CQWW SSB

Icelandic Radio Amateurs, ÍRA, Club Station

Endless rates on 10 and 15 meter, antenna repairs in the rain and way too little sleep. The four operator team consisting of Björn SM0MDG, Patrik SM0MLZ, Ulf SM0NOR and our Icelandic host Jón TF3ZA broke the Multi Operator/Single Station Zone 40 record in CQWW SSB 2012.

Entering a major Contest from Iceland was an idea we had tossed around for quite some time and it finally became reality with the help of TF3ZA who I had met a year earlier during the JX5O Jan Mayen 2011 expedition. Together we decided to enter the CQWW SSB Contest and take a shot at the Zone 40 record. This is our story.

Jón TF3ZA had arranged for us to use the Icelandic Radio Amateur’s club station, TF3IRA, located on the beach by the end of the domestic airport runway in the outskirts of Reykjavik. The location is perfect for DX’ing and the club station is a well maintained and clean installation, but lacks a multiplier radio setup and the low band antennas needed.

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SE0X ranks SM #1 Single Operator in SAC SSB 2012

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SE0X operated by SM0MDG ranks #1 Swedish single operator (high power) in SAC SSB 2012 when the final scores where published this week.

The contest was a challenge because of bad propagation, but as I was well prepared, rested and ready I din’t let propagation bring me down. I had to drop my ambitions to break a record, but instead I found a good challenge in chasing the Swedish National Team‘s online score. Read the report from SAC SSB 2012 here.

With 1072 valid contacts and 200 multipliers the the final score was 452.600. The SM results for the single operator high power category can be found here.

CQWW CW Summary

CQ LogoLess action but higher score in CQWW CW, how is that possible? The answer is in the summary below, keep reading.

Being prepared and well rested is crucial to be successful in any contest. Good propagation can help, but it can also be very selective. This year I was not fully prepared, definitely not well rested and propagation was not on my side. Not the ideal situation!

What played in my favor was the 15 meter antenna upgrade made in preparation for this contest season. It helped boost my signal to NA and my most productive hour was Sunday at 15:00 when a nice two hour NA run on 15 started and lasted into sunset. 15 meter also produced the most multipliers thanks to a fruitful search and punch session during late sunset on Sunday.

Propagation on 10 meter was good enough for search and pounce of multipliers, especially to AS and AF but also SA and NA. 20 meter produced the most contacts overall but it came in 5 zones and 9 countries short compared to 15.

40 meter is normally a great band for both quantity and multipliers, but this weekend propagation was weird. The band was calm with good DX propagation, but high angle paths where broken. The few EU stations that came through had weak and hollow backscatter sounding signals. Without EU it was hard to get good runs going and build the numbers on 40.

80 meter became the goto band for runs in the dark hours, it outperformed 40 in number of contacts but did not provide as many multipliers due to the simple transmit antenna, a short vertical T. 160 meter provided a few good but short runs boosting the numbers of country multipliers, but it provided very few Zone multipliers.

The end result is OK, but not anywhere near my goal mainly due to the weird propagation on 40. I was able to improve the final (claimed) score with 250 fewer contacts than a year ago. A total of 499 multipliers, 84 more than in 2011 year made a big difference.

 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160:  312     9       42
   80:  660    15       58
   40:  551    24       75
   20:  714    25       66
   15:  612    30       75
   10:  113    23       57
------------------------------
Total: 2962   126      373  Total Score = 2,492,006

Another goal for this year was to lower the logging errors, and as I already played by the “no-post-edit rules” last year the results should be comparable. I’ll guess I just have to wait for the UBN report and see. One can hope the new “submit-by-5-days rule” will speed up the results.

Congratulations to SJ2W who broke the record of the category and beat Nordic super stations like OH8X!

To conclude, the CQWW CW contest weekend was challenging but fun. I was able to improve my result compared to 2011 despite weaker band conditions. But I can do better than this, so I am already looking forward to CQWW CW 2013!

X-Team @ TF3W in CQWW SSB

Icelandic Radio Amateurs, ÍRA, Club Station

X-Team members SM0MDG, SM0MLZ and SM0NOR have been invited to the ÍRA, Icelandic Radio Amateur Club in Reykjavik, and will team up with TF3ZA to be active in the CQWW SSB 2012 Contest using the TF3W call.

The team plan to enter in the Multi Operator Single Transmitter category and preparations have already started. In addition to the equipment already available at the club station, temporary low band verticals and RX antennas will be added for the contest.

“The team is motivated and ready to take on some of the records waiting to be broken”, says Patrik SM0MLZ who rates CQWW SSB as his favorite contest of the year.

Listen for TF3W and log us in the CQWW SSB Contest, GL!

SAC SSB and Change of Plans

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SAC SSB is over for this time and it was a fun and memorable experience. Not because of record scores or mega-runs, but because a thick (and hopefully colorful) Aurora Borealis effectively killed most propagation paths over the pole.

After accepting this fact, I decided to drop all ambitions to hit records and readjust to reality. My new goal became to chase the Swedish National Team reasoning that they would have the same challenge as me, the aurora would cut of NA, thus limit the available stations (and multipliers) available. It would not be enough to run with the biggest signal to win, we would all have to fight boredom and use our skills to chase and catch the remaining points out there.

It is rare to experience a quiet low band overnight in a contest, but because of boredom this contest came to a halt at 01:00 when even big dogs like OH8X took a break because of low activity. When I realized that most of my competition was in bed, I decided to take one hour of sleep which helped me stay focused during the rest of the contest.

Because of limited time before the contest I did not hook SE0X up for SO2R this time, instead I use the K3’s sub receiver to sweep the run band for mults whenever the rate came down.

I also increased the effort to QSY for multipliers. While runs were possible on 80-15 meter, very little activity was found on 10 meters. As so often before ten meter was wide open, but stations had to be dragged up there to get this missing band.

Analyzing the log after the contest it is very clear how paths over the poles where blocked by aurora hovering at level 10 most of the contest. Only a very few NA stations in the North East part where logged and the longest QSO was with VK.

Below is the final claimed score with band breakdowns as reported by the SAC log submission engine;

Claimed Scores

What seemed to become a boring contest really turned out to be a fun challenge as soon as the effort was adjusted to the current propagation. And how did the final (claimed) score compared with the Swedish National Team? Find the team score here and claimed results here.

Now its time to get prepared for another effort under the aurora oval, the WWDX SSB Contest from TF3W. CU from Iceland then!

73!

160m vertical in the air for the season

The top loaded 160 meter Top Band vertical TX antenna has been deployed for the winter DX and contest season. This year the antenna is based on an 18 meter aluminum vertical with three top loading wires.

160m Top loaded Vertical

The ground system consists of two elevated radials bent to follow the shore line. Both radials are raised from the feed-point in a steep angle to 2.5 meter heigh over the water level, then stretched straight out about ten meter in symmetry from the vertical before they both are bent about 90 degrees South. It is far from an optimal solution, but the antenna is literally standing on water which compensates for the lack of height and the compromise radial system.

160m Vertical Feed pointThe antenna is resonant on 1830 kHz and measures 17.5 Ohm impedance at the feed-point which is expected for a short vertical like this. An unun is used to transform the low impedance to 50 Ohm, then a coax choke is canceling RF in the coax shield. The choke is made using seven turns of RG-213 through five paralleled Amidon FT240-31 cores.

With the vertical up again I will be back on Top Band for the winter season and SE0X is ready for the upcoming contests. We are especially looking forward to the 160 meter contests.

CU on Top Band, 73!

SE0X in SAC CW Contest September 15-16!

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SE0X will kick off the fall contest season by going all out in the upcoming SAC CW contest this weekend September 15-16. SM0MDG is operating in the Single Operator, All Band Category, High Power.

SE0X will of course also be active in the SAC SSB Contest October 13-14.

More information and full rules for the SAC contest can be found at www.sactest.net, to get a propagation brief go to www.sactest.net/blog/propagation.

CU in the SAC Contest this weekend, GL!