Days 38, 39 and 40 – How bad can 80m be?

Day #38 started off well. It was the second round of the RSGB SSB 80m Club Championship and I’d planned on operating for the 90 minutes and attempting to beat my score of 30 QSOs from last month.  In order to get nicely warmed up, I called CQ on the band an hour or so before the start and had a very nice conversation with Davy, MM0KBT over in Galloway, western Scotland for fifteen minutes or so before I signed to go and have my evening meal.  Before I could go I was called by Mike, F5VIG in central Brittany and we spoke for a few minutes before I left.    When I returned at just before 20:00 for the contest start I was amazed at what had happened to the band.  It was dead, completely and utterly dead.  Conditions had changed dramatically in that half hour and once the clock ticked over to 20:00 I started tuning around.  I could only hear two stations, G3SNU and G0DVJ and I worked them both in quick succession.  Twenty minutes later I just made out G4FTP in the noise and worked him and then I struggled with F6FTB another fifteen minutes later.  By this time it was around 20:45 and I’d had four QSOs!  There was no chance of me beating my score from the previous month and so I decided to find a clear frequency and call CQ for a while.  Finding a clear frequency was easy and so I started calling CQ.

I was very surprised when just a few calls later I worked G3YAJ, G6XOU, G0GYY, G0IBN and G3YEC one after another in the space of around two minutes and so I thought that the band had improved and things were starting to open.  I was very wrong because I then called CQ for nearly half an hour with no replies.  Eventually I tuned around again and worked one more station, SM0A to bring my total for the contest to just ten QSOs.  The contest reflector afterwards was full of people saying that band conditions for the duration of the contest were the worst in recollection, it seems that the MUF never went above 3.1MHz and even dropped as far as 2.5MHz during the contest which explains how bad it was.  The only positive as far as I was concerned was that I had a very quick QSO with Peter, G0GYY who is a good friend that I’ve not spoken to for many years and I hope to have a chat with him again soon as I’d not realised he was still active on the bands.

Day #39 was another contest but as most of my family were ill I decided not to go to the Martello Tower and instead stay at home.  I had a tune around on 80m shortly after I got home from work and heard Colin, M0XSM calling CQ so I replied to him and we had a chat for a few minutes.  During the 432MHz UKAC I operated for about ten minutes just to give away some points and worked G4ZTR, G3PYE/P and G0PKT.

I blogged yesterday saying that I’d spent a couple of hours working on a construction project, that didn’t give me much time on the wireless on day #40 but before I got the soldering iron out I did have two quick QSOs on 80m with Boris who was operating the DG0GSK club station and Freed, DP5A.

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