To start with, I’ll post the basic statistics for the entire year of 2018 and then go into the background.
QSOs made: 3789
Unique QSOs made: 2962
Average QSOs per day: 10.4
Days missed: 0 <- This is the most important statistic, it means that QSO365 #2 was a success.
DXCC entities worked: 160
New DXCC entities worked: 5
Total DXCC worked and confirmed: 276
When I started this site back in November 2010 it was solely to document my attempts to make a QSO per day in 2011. I was very vocal about my challenge with articles published in many of the amateur radio magazines and news reporting sites. I successfully completed the QSO365 challenge and the site continued, becoming my regular amateur radio blog.
At the time, despite having held an amateur radio licence for nearly thirty years, I’d never really operated on the HF bands and had little experience. It was a massive learning curve for me and I’d timed it perfectly as solar cycle 24 built up nicely throughout 2011, leading towards the first peak in early 2012. During the course of the year, I was able to to make a lot of changes to my station including replacing my FT-847 with a TS-590 and with the help of a group of local friends, installing a mast with an HF beam on the top. All this is well documented within this blog.
I decided towards the end of 2017 that I wanted to see if I could complete this challenge again in 2018. I didn’t tell anyone about it, I didn’t publish anything about it, I just got on and did it. Throughout the year, I did mention to maybe half a dozen people that I was doing it again but asked them to keep it to themselves. My initial expectation was that it was going to be difficult to complete, largely because we are now right at the bottom of the solar cycle with very few sunspots and (to be blunt), pretty dreadful conditions on the HF bands. A lot of my contacts in 2011 were made during contests where I concentrated on 15m which is my favourite band and I was fairly sure it wasn’t going to be open very often in 2018. I was right, 15m has been dire.
I expected the challenge to be difficult to complete in 2018 because I thought I would be relying on the lower bands, ie 160m through to 30m and my aerial for those bands isn’t very efficient. All I have is an inverted L with a Smartuner at the base with very few ground radials.
I was wrong. I completed my second QSO365 challenge with relative ease and there are two main reasons for this. The first is that after being made redundant in early 2017, I started a new job which involved working from home. This means that it’s been a lot easier for me to pop out of my home office at lunch time or during breaks and spend a few minutes in the shack making contacts. I’ve also been able to quickly make a couple of QSOs early in the morning before I started work whereas in 2011, I only had limited time on weekdays and came perilously close to failing a few times.
The second reason is the main one and regular readers have probably already guessed what it is. Love it or hate it, I almost certainly wouldn’t have completed this challenge without FT8. There has been much written about FT8 over the last eighteen months or so and I’m not going to drag that all up but I have no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t used it, I wouldn’t be writing this today. A similar thing happened in 2011 where JT65 was my saviour and without that, I wouldn’t have completed the original QSO365.
In 2018 I used three callsigns – My main G6NHU, my special short contest callsign M7P and for a very limited period, I operated with GR6NHU to celebrate the Royal Wedding for three days in May. Here are some pretty graphs, statistics and figures which take into account all three callsigns.
It’s not surprising to see that I’ve worked nearly three times as many European stations as the rest of the world put together or that 20m is the band I’ve used the most – When I’ve worked contests this year, I’ve spent a lot of time on 20m just because it’s the most active band that I’ve got a decent aerial for. Outside of contests, I’ve worked a lot of stations on 17m FT8 and that’s clear from the figures above.
The top ten countries are no real surprise either – Russia, Germany and the USA are the top three, closely followed by Ukraine, Italy, Spain and Poland. I’m pleased to have worked 67 JAs in 2018 and it’s always nice to see VK in the log although there were only ten instances. I’m disappointed not to have worked ZL this year as the last time it appears in my log is back in 2014 when I had a sked on 40m JT65 with Pete, ZK2iK who I met soon after when he visited the UK and we exchanged QSL cards in person over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.
As explained earlier, data contacts were a significant proportion of my QSOs during 2018 but they’re not just FT8. As well as around 2,200 FT8 contacts, I’ve made nearly 600 QSOs using RTTY, just under 100 using PSK31/63/125 and a handful with JT9/JT65.
Around 350 of my contacts were using SSB and the final 450 or so were made with Morse code (CW).
This year I’ve spent some time chasing QSL cards for 40m and as a result of this, I’m now at 98 DXCC entities worked and confirmed on that band with only two more needed for 40m DXCC. The inverted L doesn’t work well on 40m so I want to remove it next year and install a full size dipole to help me pick up those final two countries and then it’ll be time to concentrate on 80m for 5BDXCC. In 2018 I added thirty new countries on 30m, a dozen or so new ones on 80m and around twenty on 160m.
As grid chasing appears to be a growing thing on HF nowadays, I can report that I worked 761 different squares in 2018. I did start chasing new ones towards the end of the year towards a specific award but will post more about that later.
I can confidently say that I won’t be repeating this in 2019 but I’ll still try and get on the radio as much as I can. Although the challenge wasn’t difficult in 2018, it’ll be nice not to have to fire the wireless up every single day.