This weekend was the Open Ukrainian RTTY Championship which runs over three parts – The first two are “Low Band” which consists of 160m and 80m and the third part is “High Band” and that’s 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m. I’d managed to misread a contest calendar and had thought that the EA PSK63 contest was on this weekend and I’d scheduled to work that for a while.
Because I got the date wrong, I was able to have a go in the Ukrainian RTTY Championship instead. I wasn’t bothered about the low bands and so I was up fresh and early today to have a go in the high band section. As I’ve often done recently I planned to put in a single band entry for 15m and had hopes that the band would be nicely open and busy at the 08:00 start. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I had good runs into Japan on 15m RTTY at around the same time of day.
How wrong could I be! I was in the shack at 07:45 with the amplifier warmed up and ready to go but tuning around the band, I couldn’t hear anyone on the data segment and just one station on SSB. This was a little concerning. I checked my aerial in case it had fallen down over night but it was still there and the VSWR measured fine.
So come 08:00 and I started calling CQ. Nothing. Not a sausage. I called for ten minutes or so and then tuned around again but there was nobody there so I resumed. It wasn’t until 08:43 that I received my first reply. The contest was only four hours long and I’d sort of hoped to get some decent runs going and perhaps average 40 QSOs/hour. That was a mistake. I only had a total of 41 QSOs over the whole four hours, it was absolutely dreadful. I did tune around a few times and picked up one new station but I’d worked everyone I could hear.
This chart shows the QSO distribution for the four hours – It got a little less quiet in the middle but it was never even slightly busy. I had two QSOs in the first hour and six in the last hour with nothing after 11:44.
My QSO map of the stations who have their details on qrz.com shows just how poor this was. I don’t know whether the lack of QSOs was down to conditions or just a general lack of activity. I’ve looked at last years results and the winner of the Single Operator Single Band 15m section had just 61 QSOs so it wasn’t much better then. Perhaps the clash with the ARRL DX SSB contest doesn’t help.
I was frustrated by the lack of activity but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I like data contesting and although this was the slowest rate I’ve had on any HF contest to date, it won’t put me off. In fact I’m looking forward to the BARTG HF RTTY contest in a couple of weeks time although I still have to decide what section I’m going to enter.
As an amusing final, here’s a plot of the temperature inside my shack from an hour before the contest to an hour after. Can you tell when the amplifier was running?