Long setup time
Setting up took more time than usual. This was caused by a bit of damage control I still had to do after the mast crashed down during the PACC contest. Of course there was a new mast support to install and I brought my C-Pole for 40m for the first time.
I arrived in the reserve at 15h local time but logged the first contact only at 16h - J8 on 20m for a new band DXCC. After listening around for other DX I only encountered VU4 but the zoo was enormous - not something I was going to waste my time on.
Just before 16:30 I started calling CQ on 20m using my mono band End Fed (vertically on a fibreglass pole) and my Hexbeam pointing towards NA. After about one hour things started to quiet down and I scanned the bands for new DX to catch. I found 3B8 on 10m and added that one to the log to reach 200 DXCCs. One of the targets for this year but clearly not very a very ambitious one.
Tuning my new C-Pole for 40m
Then it was time to go down to 40m. This was a time consuming switch as the new C-Pole antenna I brought turned out to be a bit too short. I tried it above my roof at home one night after constructing it and there it was okay, but having it in the field and on a different height clearly has a lot of effect on the resonance frequency. I do not take any tuning devices with me when I go /P as I am careful to always take resonant antennas (I do not like the idea of wasting valuable radiation energy when /P) so I had to fix this - it was resonant around 7.4Mhz, "slightly" off.
Fortunately I brought extra wire and randomly added some lengths to both legs of the folded dipole. With some luck I got it to resonate in the relevant portion of the band.
With a resonant antenna I was ready for some serious WWFF activity again - 40m is always a popular band for WWFF chasers in EU. However it turned out the band was a terrible mess. It was crowded and QRM was S8-9 all over the band with a spiking signal (electric fence?) every second of 9+10. Great!
I logged 5 contacts before giving up and returning to a higher band - 15m this time using only the hexbeam.
15m was not particularly busy and was slowly closing while it was getting dark outside. I was planning to go back to 40m hoping the QRM would die out a bit. Before that however I packed up the hexbeam and all other stuff I was not going to use and definitely would have a hard time finding in the dark.
Trying 40m for a second time with a nice surprise
Around 20:20 local time I was back on 40m but to my disappointment it was still one big sea of QRM all over the place. However there were quite a number of strong signals (above QRM level) around so I gave it a try anyway and logged 56 contacts in the following 40 minutes.
Half way during this session on 40m a very peculiar thing happened. I got a call from a station that I heard to be something like ?K7AC. Now you have to imagine that it was a terrible QRM mess and that I had been logging EU contacts only. So I initially thought it was IK7AC - although the OM was definitely not Italian. When he repeated his call a couple of times I could only conclude that it was VK7AC - peaking S9 with me. He gave me 57.
Before this contact my ODX on 40m was TG - just a bit over half the distance - that I worked using my full size inverted V (my favourite DX antenna on 40m until this day) and more power - 300 in stead of the 90W I was using now. A nice surprise that completely wiped out my frustration about the band condition.
At 21h I called it a day - completely exhausted from pulling stations through the constant noise. I packed up the last bits and went back home.
All in all I logged 175 contacts from 40 DXCCs, including a lot of familiar call signs and some fellow FF national coordinators. Noteworthy DX included - VK7 (duh!), 3B8, 5R8, J8, ZS6 (on the side of the hexbeam) and a couple of stations in central USA. Not as much as I hoped to catch with the extra hassle of installing the hexbeam but enough highlights to travel home satisfied.