QSO365 wrapup

There is a blog entry with the following details on but in order to keep it fairly visible I thought it would be a good idea to replicate that post as a page in the blog.  If you want to read the blog from the beginning you should start here.

I completed the challenge again in 2018, scroll down to read a copy of my blog post regarding that challenge.

And yes, I did it again in 2021 where my challenge was ten QSOs/day.  You can scroll down to see my wrap up blog post.

QSO365 statistics and final review of 2011

To start with I’ll post the basic statistics for the entire year of 2011. It should be noted that these figures only include contacts made using G6NHU so any QSOs had by GR6NHU aren’t included.

QSOs made: 4138
Unique QSOs made: 3045
Average QSOs per day: 11.3
Days missed: 0 <– This is the most important statistic, it means that QSO365 was a success.

DXCC entities worked: 159
New DXCC entities worked: 103

Total DXCC worked: 162
Total DXCC confirmed on LoTW: 117

The year started off quite slowly and picked up when the bands began to open as we came out of the winter months. The figures above aren’t representative of April and May because I was using my special Royal Wedding callsign GR6NHU for some time during them.

My logbook has now been completely uploaded to this site for people to search (courtesy of Pete, 2E0SQL), you can access it by clicking here. All QSOs have also been uploaded to LoTW, eQSL and ClubLog.

One of the highlights for me was working some of the DXPeditions over the year, specifically T32C, TU2T and ST0R. I’ve missed others but it was very good to get those three in my logbook this year. I’ve also enjoyed writing the blog on a regular basis. Things were difficult when I suffered from a near lightning strike but I managed to get through that, luckily I’d already had a QSO on the morning of the strike before going to work.

I’ve been asked if I’m going to repeat the project with a ‘QSO366’ in 2012 (it’s a leap year, hence the 366) but it’s not something I’m keen to continue. I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve learned a lot but in some ways it’s been quite a tie. I’ve had to rush home from events in order to make the daily QSO and it’s not always been the most convenient thing to do. Plus I also want to completely strip and rebuild the shack and that’s not something it’s possible to do when one has to make a QSO every day. It will be difficult to get out of the habit though, on the 1st January I automatically switched the radio on and had three QSOs, to Finland, Cameroon and Belarus!

Looking ahead I want to continue working new DXCC entities and increasing my totals. I guess my long term goal is for a full five band DXCC but that’s still some way in the future. In the meantime my closest goal is to get the Worked All States (WAS) award and I’m only a few States away from doing that.

I need to improve my aerial system for the lower bands. At the moment the lowest band I can comfortably work is 40m so I really need to get something for 80m. A simple long wire really isn’t enough for me and I’m looking to see if I can make a full size horizontal loop fit in my garden.

I’ll continue to update the blog but it certainly won’t contain the sort of detail as last year. I’ll post about new countries worked and other milestones but don’t expect anywhere near as many entries as before. The QSO365 Twitter account will automatically post about updates so you can spot them that way or subscribe to the blog using the button over on the right at the bottom.

I’ve run my logbook through qrz.com and produced a map of all the stations I’ve worked this year who have their location details available. Out of the 4138 QSOs, I’ve been able to map 3333 of them. Click the image for a full size version.

3333 of the 4138 stations worked as part of QSO365

3333 of the 4138 stations worked as part of QSO365

I’m often asked how I produce the maps I post here. My logging software (Aether) allows me to export a file in .kml format which is for Google Earth. It’s possible to load that file into Google Maps and that’s what I do. I then screenshot the image from Google Maps.

QSO365 #2 is complete – A QSO per day in 2018

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.

Top ten countries worked during QSO365 #2

Top ten countries worked during QSO365 #2

Number of QSOs made per band during QSO365 #2

Number of QSOs made per band during QSO365 #2

Continents worked by percentage during QSO365 #2

Continents worked by percentage during QSO365 #2

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.

Mode breakdown of contacts made during QSO365 #2

Mode breakdown of contacts made during QSO365 #2

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.

QSO365 #3 is complete – Ten QSOs per day in 2021

I’ll kick off with the statistics for the whole of 2021 and then go into the details.

QSOs made: 8,265
Unique QSOs made: 5,776
Average QSOs per day: 22.6
Days missed: 0 <- This is the most important statistic, it means that QSO365 #3 was a success.

DXCC entities worked: 168
New DXCC entities worked: 1
Total DXCC worked and confirmed: 282

I wanted a bit more of a challenge in 2021 so because it was the tenth anniversary of my original QSO365, I decided that my goal would be to make ten QSOs per day, not just one. Not an average of ten/day, an actual ten contacts per day. Tenth anniversary, ten QSOs. It made sense to me at the time.

I very quickly settled into a routine which served me well throughout the year. I’d get up, go through my morning ablutions and then sit in the shack for half an hour or so and play FT8 before starting work. Some days I’d switch the wireless on at lunchtime for a while but the majority of my weekday QSOs were in the morning. This worked well for me and I made some very nice contacts during grey line propagation.

With Solar cycle 25 picking up, conditions in 2021 have been getting better with the last couple of months showing some real improvements. It’s been a long time since the SSN and SFI have both been over 100 and it’s been good to see them both well into three figures recently. I’m hopeful that cycle 25 is going to be a good one.

A noticeable highlight of the year was at the end of September when I worked around 25 VK/ZL stations one after another on 20m long path.

My aerials have remained constant throughout 2021, I still have my Hexbeam for 40m through 6m and a dipole for 30. The Hexbeam developed a slight fault which meant it wasn’t working properly for CQ WW SSB so I couldn’t make a decent entry on my favourite band (15m). However, I had it fixed for CQ WW CW and enjoyed working 15m that weekend.

The rest of my station has undergone significant changes during the year, replacing my TS-590SG with a TS-890S, upgrading to an Acom 1500 amplifier, adding an LP-700 station monitor and picking up an Icom IC-9700 for VHF/UHF/23cms.

Around 80% of my contacts in 2021 were made using digital modes. About 70% of the total were FT8/FT4, 10% were a mixture of RTTY and PSK with the remaining 20% split between SSB and CW. I operated in sixteen contests during the year and you can see more details about those in my Contest results page.

While I’m on the subject of different modes, it’s disappointing to see the amount of bot stations running FT8. These are fully automated stations with no operator needed. They have some very obvious traits which are easy to spot and I see them almost every day. FT8 is a mode which splits opinions down the middle, some people enjoy operating it and other people don’t. As someone who has always enjoyed working data modes, I like it but I don’t like the idea of switching a station on in the morning and leaving it all day to see what it works. To me, that just isn’t in the spirit of amateur radio and should be discouraged.

In 2021 I operated with three callsigns. I used my normal call, my special short contest callsign and I ran a special event station in April for a week which accounted for around 700 contacts.

Here’s a graph showing the top ten countries worked in 2021. Note that JA is right up there at #8 with 319 QSOs. Almost half of these were made on 17m where Japan was the country I worked the most. That’s quite a surprise but not perhaps as much of a surprise when I see that JA is the third most country I worked on 30m with 117 Qs.

Top ten countries worked during QSO365 #3

Here’s a breakdown of the number of QSOs worked by band. I’m really pleased with this as it’s a good mix and unlike previous years, it shows I didn’t concentrate on just one or two bands.

Number of QSOs made per band during QSO365 #3

When it comes to continents worked throughout the year, it’s no surprise to see that Europe is still the highest by a long way and it’s disappointing that North America is down from my previous QSO365. If I’d been able to make a proper entry into CQ WW SSB, I think that figure would have been a lot higher because although propagation was good, I was unable to make a decent entry due to problems with the Hexbeam.

Continents worked by percentage during QSO365 #3

During the year I updated my DXCC totals, had three new certificates, for 40m, 30m and 12m and additional endorsements issued for multiple other bands and modes. All time new ones are rare to come by these days with 5W1SA (Samoa) being the only new one in 2021. I did manage to add quite a lot of new band/mode slots though.

G6NHU DXCC total

I worked 943 grid squares and all 40 CQ zones in 2021. I also made a few skeds in the last couple of months of the year and completed Worked All States (WAS) on 17m and 20m. It’s not an award I’m particularly bothered about applying for but it’s nice to know I’ve completed it. I already have full WAS but it’s interesting to see that I worked 49 out of the 50 states in 2021, just missing out on Mississippi.

The last time I did these statistics after QSO365 #2 in 2018, I noted that I made ten QSOs with VK. That increased to 50 in 2021 and I worked ZL 14 times.

Whilst I understand that these overall figures and statistics may not be considered much by some people, I’m very happy with what I’ve done in 2021 from my relatively modest urban station. As much as I enjoy playing radio, the important thing is to have a good balance of things in my life and after all, radio is a hobby.

To wrap up, here’s a map showing the majority of QSOs made during 2021 (it’s not totally complete, not all stations share their locations) generated by the log analyser, SH5.

Map of stations worked during QSO365 #3