Hams as yet unborn will ask if we competed in the 2016 ARRL DX SSB 48-hour contest and we will say “yes yes we were there”.
It was a contest when even the little pistols ran with the big guns and the conditions kept getting better and better. When one band would close another would open.
Oh some who live high on a hill in their country estate might say what is the big deal but they don’t know the pain, even the shame of living, by circumstance or marriage, in the low country and even worse within town lines and all that that entails when it comes to lesser power and restricted antennas
For those on the hill weekends like this last one maybe common but for those of us mere mortals running with our ancient tube rigs and 100-watt PAs into dipoles and rusty verticals the ability to break pileups on 80 meters in Europe is unheard of and only happens in our deepest most secret dreams.
And yet it did happen and more.
Working an Italian station who was heard through the pileup isn’t unusual but when he claimed to be running 500-milliwatts then you know that something special is taking place.
Working Mozambique on several bands too rates as a notable moment for certain but actually hearing Europeans on 80 Saturday night was simply beyond belief. And then a tentative call made more out of curiosity than certainly resulted in an immediate reply was so surreal as cause one to check that they hadn’t fallen asleep at the keyboard (which has happened before more out of boredom than lack of sleep).
Gathering courage calls to Europeans calling CQ Contest into the face or a howling pileup on 80 were answered immediately.
What sorcery is this?
Who works Europe with a shortened 80/40 dipole at 25 feet? With 80 acting like 40 on a good night there was no expectation that more was to come but it was.
Getting up early on both mornings resulted in no special openings but Friday night the greyline DX resulted in signals from Japan peaking over S-9 and calls answered on the first try.
And the on Sunday morning 15 meters opened to the low country in Europe and calling CQ resulted in endless numbers of casual operators out for a go with their 100 modest stations running up the point total to astronomical heights.
Just for fun the occasional station out of the middle East would call and who knew there were so many Russian stations available in one contest? Typing became painful in attempts to keep up and an external voice keyer saved the vocal chords from failing from overuse.
When all was said and done conditions, while perhaps not as strong as in the glory days of the 80s, were more unpredictable, crazy and productive for those of us who were there.
For a few hours each day, we the owners of modest stations raged across the bands and we competed with the high-powered Titans and the multi-multi monsters who devour all that they can hear. For a few brief hours we too were heroes and warriors battling on the edges of solar terminator.
It was glorious and wonderful and perhaps the most exciting contest in my memory. I did better on SSB than in any previous contest in over 35 years.