The Agony And The Ecstasy

Another CQ WW CW contest is in the log and from the initial reports I’m reading online, conditions were all over the map but got exceptionally better especially on Sunday.

I had planned an all-QRP FlexRadio 1500 assault on the contest and by 9 p.m. Friday I was on the phone to Harry, VA3EC, (who lives 360 meters north of me and is running the identical antenna system) to see if he was experiencing the same awful band conditions. (Signals were weak and watery sounding plus nobody was hearing me in the din.) Harry concurred and after working one guy in the Caribbean at 5 watts I went to bed.Dumb.

Apparently the low bands got really, really good later in the night. Rats.

Same experience on Saturday with bad conditions so I got busy doing other things like fixing up the station and went to a neighbour’s holiday season open house, had two glasses of wine and came home and went to bed. Dumber.

So Sunday comes along and I’m running 100 watts using a solid-state, all-band amp into an LDG Pro 200 autotuner into the Explorer beam (with 40-meter extensions) and I can’t do anything wrong.

Heard and worked a guy in Egypt just over the noise level (which is exceptionally low in the FlexRadio) who was sending CQ with no one answering him. Finished the contest off by working C5A in Gambia by breaking a huge pileup on the second call. Cool.

If I’d only stayed on Friday night I could have been a contender. It felt like I was running K1AR’s or VE3EJ’s contest stations. I was king of the bands.

BTW the photo to the top right is the operating desk which is tucked away behind a bookcase in our home office. Thus I have a ham shack that is on the ground floor, away from the family room (which is in the basement) and has its own separate entrance for multi-op contests but, best of all, its own washroom. And now, with the exception of the March paddles, Heil headphones and computer mouse and display there’s no evidence of a fully functioning 100-watt, all-band, multi-mode contest station in the room.

That’s not to say I’m finished ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve got some CPU issues with the computer that chokes up the SDR CW so maybe Santa can bring me a more robust quad-core Windows 7 computer ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, I want to run at least 800 watts and that means either I go for a Flex 3000 or I revert back to an IC-7600 plus a new amp.

Decisions. Decisions. ย Here’s the line up of the equipment that’s been put under the desk:

Top row: 2/440 rig and remote antenna switch (the antennas are terminated at the tower which is 75 feet behind the house and control cable and coax are buried)with the FlexRadio 1500 and the rotor controller sitting on the shelf; next down are the 100-watt amp and the power supply for the Flex and autotuner; bottom shelf holds the LDG Pro 200 tuner and power supply for the VHF/UHF rig.

Once the auto tuner’s memories are loaded, everything below the desktop runs automatically. Now if we could just figure a way to keep the operator in the chair we’d have something ๐Ÿ™‚

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About Peter West

I am retired. I'm invested into bike riding, guitar playing, yoga and Ham Radio. I am a former photojournalist, newspaper and magazine editor and public relations practitioner with national, regional and local experience. A long-time member of Toastmasters International and an active Amateur Radio (Ham) operator here in Canada I am taking on new challenges.

One thought on “The Agony And The Ecstasy

  1. Hi Peter,

    I had looked forward to the CQ WW CW contest for some time but come Friday after a long week at work I was just too burnt out. I didn’t even turn the radio on Friday evening.

    Just around noon on Saturday I felt the need to get on again and did so. I have a FT-950 that I use turned down to 5 watts for QRP and a 40 meter OCFD that I can use on 80 and 15 using the radio’s tuner in addition to the antenna’s normal 40/20/10 bands.

    15 was good all afternoon on Saturday and again on Sunday. 10 was OK and I managed a few Saturday and a few more starting mid morning on Sunday but 10 was up and down both days. Saturday evening and early into Sunday morning and very early Sunday evening 40 and 80 where both very nice. I figured that I would only be able to work US stations for points on 40 and 80 but was quite surprised to work quite a few Europeans on both. 20 meters was, well… 20 meters, good and not so good; busy and sometimes too crowded. Of all, I think I worked more on 15 meters than any other band. Some contacts where pretty easy on QRP and some I really had to work for.

    Out of a total of about 16 hours total operating time I manged about 175 contacts and just over 50,000 points.

    I had a pretty good time and luck working the contest.

    cheers, Graham ve3gtc

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