Looking back at my old contest entries, I noticed that I’d never made a serious entry into CQ WW RTTY on 15m in the past and have always concentrated my efforts on CQ WPX RTTY instead. I’ve won the Single Operator, High Power 15m section four times in the past for stations in England and always been reasonably well placed throughout European and World entries.
15m is still my favourite band and I decided to make a proper entry this year into CQ WW RTTY despite the fact that conditions on HF have been steadily going downhill over the last few years as the solar cycle declines and have been pretty dreadful on the higher bands over the course of the summer with major solar flares and storms.
I started operating shortly after sunrise yesterday morning and it took well over an hour of calling before I even made my first contact. Strangely enough, out of my first twenty or so Qs, half of them were with stations in Finland.
The whole morning was painfully slow, to the extent that by lunchtime, I’d only worked 25 stations or so. I had a goal to make 300 QSOs on 15m and was beginning to think that this would be totally impossible. In order to alleviate the boredom, I switched to 20m and worked 65 stations in about 75 minutes. At least I knew that if 15m carried on as badly, I would be able to run on 20m and get a half decent score.
I needn’t have worried too much though. I switched back to 15m and after a while, I turned the beam west and started working a lot of stations in North and South America. I worked Chile, Cuba, Bolivia, Uruguay, Canada, Colombia, Martinique, Sardinia, Argentina, Peru, Lebanon, Brazil and many others. I was even called by Mike, VP8NO in the Falkland Islands who readers may remember from my sked with him back in 2012.
My day ended on 15m with a total of 250 QSOs in the log. I even popped back on a bit later in the evening and worked another twenty or so on 40m.
This morning I didn’t start as early and it’s just as well. When I finally did get on the air at around 08:00z, the bands were in even worse condition than yesterday and it was just slow that I nearly gave up and started learning to knit instead. However I persevered and waited for the band to open to the west again as it did yesterday. Finally this happened and I was able to make a nice few contacts before it slowed right down at around tea time and I stopped operating at just after 18:30z.
Excluding the 20m and 40m contacts, my final tally was 326 QSOs including 7 duplicates. You can see a full log analysis by clicking here. This log analysis is generated by the SH5 utility and enough graphs, charts and statistics to keep everyone happy.
I was pleased to exceed the goal of 300 Qs that I’d set myself.
I worked 45 separate DXCC entities but just 17 of the available 40 CQ zones which goes to show how bad conditions were and 31 States/Areas. On a plus side, I did increase my RTTY DXCC tally up to 153 even though there were no all time new ones.
As can be seen above, I worked far more non European stations than Europeans and here’s the breakdown.
It’s been a number of years since I made any serious contest entry – I’m used to 15m being a busy and bustling band with lots of Europeans, then a bunch of JAs from mid to late morning and bucketloads of Americans in the afternoon. I knew conditions would be poor but wasn’t really expecting things to be quite so bad.
The afternoon runs to North and South America were nice though and they’re reflected in the breakdown of countries worked.
I enjoyed operating the contest this weekend and am looking forward to the results in the forthcoming months. It was nice to get stuck in and get my hand back in operating. I still use fldigi for operating contests and I’m confident and comfortable using it. Over the years I’ve put together macro files for all the contests I’ve operated in and they work very well. I’m sure that there are better tools available for data contesting but it’s what I know and I like it.
If anyone wants to have a look at my fldigi macro files or would like help with getting started with fldigi, please contact me either by adding a comment to this post, via the contact page on this site or by email using my address on qrz.com