Oh this is going to bring the haters to the fore! Not only is it an 48 hour contest but it’s a 48 hour contest using FT8.
Mind you, as it’s FT8, it only takes up a few kHz of the spectrum in an area that’s not used for SSB or CW so it shouldn’t really bother anyone.
My wife was working all weekend and around lunchtime on Saturday I took a look at the WA7BNM contest calendar and noticed that there was a contest I’d never heard of – The Batavia FT8 contest. I’ve operated in one FT8 contest previously (the ARRL FT8-RU in 2018) and didn’t really have much fun but I had time to spare and the weather was bad so I thought I’d give it a try.
Software has matured since then, conditions are a lot better and I really enjoyed it. Over the weekend I made 300 QSOs of which 83 were to Indonesian stations. I suppose that’s not too surprising seeing as the contest is run by an Indonesian group but before this contest, I only had 55 Indonesian callsigns in my main log.
I have PstRotator running on a server here which keeps my aerial pointed into the wind when it’s gusty. It has another useful tracking mode and although I’m running wsjtx-x on a separate computer, I’ve been able to configure PstRotator so that as soon as I click to work a station using FT8, the aerial turns automatically. It worked flawlessly and kept my hexbeam pointing in the right direction.
Conditions seemed reasonable over the weekend and it got to the stage towards the end of my operating period where I’d simply worked everyone I could hear. I regularly switched from calling CQ on the even to the odd time and vice versa and would often just stop transmitting and look for new callsigns. I switched bands, working stations on 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m (I still don’t have an aerial for 80m) and when I wrapped up, I just wasn’t seeing anyone new.
The map of stations worked shows that things are starting to wake up a bit – The last few contests I’ve dabbled in have been almost exclusively European stations so this is a big change. My average distance per QSO was just under 3,000 miles so not too shabby.
As always, you can see a full breakdown of my entry via my Contest results page. As is to be expected, I got the bulk of my QSOs on 20m but managed a nice chunk on 40m as well with a smattering on 15m and a handful on 10m.
This was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours over the weekend and was a good opportunity to familiarise myself more with the new radio and amplifier. The amp just burbled away nicely all weekend with the fans never going above the lowest level. We had quite a downpour on Saturday afternoon and the hexbeam sailed through it without any issues whatsoever. This is good news because it replicated conditions previously where I’ve had burned out separators due to the corona effect at the end of the driven element.
I have no idea how long it will take for the results to come through for this contest but I’m quite looking forward to seeing them.