CQ World Wide DX CW 2018

This last weekend was the CQ World Wide DX CW Contest and I decided at short notice that I’d spend some time operating.  I was planning on being out for most of the day on Saturday but had nothing arranged for Sunday which would give me a few hours.

I actually managed half an hour or so on Saturday morning before going out and then another hour in the evening when we got home before tea and then after watching Strictly (yes, I know) as well as a good few hours on Sunday.

I’m not a big CW operator so this isn’t a serious entry.  I have worked well over 200 DXCC entities using Morse code but I’ve always treated it as just another data mode.  I use software to transmit and have a couple of software decoders running.  They’re far from perfect though so the mark one earball does get used regularly.  By operating purely in search and pounce mode, it’s relatively straightforward as I have time to make sure I’ve successfully read what’s been transmitted.

My technique was simple, start at the bottom of each band and tune through, working everything I can hear.  I wasn’t chasing multipliers in any form, either DXCC entities or CQ zones and that’s very obvious when I look at my totals.  I worked just 14 zones but did manage to work 56 entities and made a total of 323 QSOs with one duplicate.  My average rate over the time I spent operating was 34 QSOs/hour which I appreciate is poor compared to many others.  It’s good enough for me though.

As to be expected at this point in the solar cycle, the majority of my Qs were to European stations but perhaps surprisingly, the single country where I worked the most people was the USA with 61 contacts. This is largely down to 20m on Sunday afternoon where I seemed to tune the band and just work one after another.

I was also very pleased to work two new countries on 40m – US Virgin Islands and Bonaire which take my total on 40m up to 98 worked.  I will get DXCC on that band and then that’ll just leave me 80m before I can claim 5BDXCC.  I suspect that’s a good few years away though.

Most of my QSOs were on 20m which is hardly surprising considering the times of day I was operating and the fact that my aerial for 20m is significantly better than for the lower bands and I can run more power on the HF bands than the LF ones because my smartuner is rated at relatively low power for CW.

This was the first CW contest where I’ve used my special contest callsign for any more than a few minutes and I have to say that I’m impressed as to how well it seems to cut through pileups.  There were a few times I was calling along with a whole bunch of other stations and a quick blast of the callsign really did seem to get through quickly.  I didn’t struggle to work anyone at all.

It was a fun contest.  I won’t win anything but it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a dull weekend in November.  My full log and analysis can be seen on my Contest Results page.

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