Logging a lot of new (band) ones on the low bands
As planned I went out this weekend to try and catch some new band DXCC - so not necessarily atno although I would have enjoyed that bonus.
My focus was on the low bands this time. I did take my hexbeam just in case there were new ones for me to catch on any of the higher bands. In retrospect it was not really worth the effort though. I logged one new DXCC on 20m and three on 15m. I learned I was too late as I could have worked more new ones on 15m but soon after I started (around 15h UTC) the band started to fade.
Apart from the hexbeam I took my recently constructed vertical that acts as end fed half wave on 40m and as a quarter wave on 80m with elevated radials. It turned out the end fed was resonant in part of the 160m band as well. I brought my tuner so I was able to use the whole band with that antenna.
|An evening out on a deserted industrial area - hexbeam and vertical|
Scanning the low bands
The low bands were noisy. The geomagnetic storm I experienced last Wednesday had settled a bit but it was still noisy. Another thing is that with a contest as big as CQWW the rather narrow bands are one big splatter party. This is especially true on 40m.
After spending time on 15m and 20m, logging only a handful of contacts, I turned to 40m around 15:30 UTC. There was not a lot to chase there, so I went down to 160m. It was early for that band but it was easy as I did not have to change anything when switching between 40m and 160m. For 80m I had to change the antenna setup slightly so it took some time to switch to and from that band.
Using my laptop with HRD Logbook I was able to monitor the cluster and see where I could find new ones. HRD shows you whether a DXCC that is spotted is already in your log for that band. Based on that information I switched between the bands. Unfortunately my laptop battery died at some point. I did bring an external battery but forgot the cable. I then relied on just listening around and on the cluster app on my phone. The downside is that I just cannot remember what DXCC I worked on what band.
Moving around across the bands I logged 69 contacts in 12 hours. Not particularly impressive during a contest (I suspect some stations managed more contacts in that period). However they contribute 44 new band DXCC to my collection.
Experiences per band
My 40m antenna was working as I expected. It is not a miracle antenna but I could work what I could copy. This included PY, a new one and the ODX on this band this weekend. I logged him when I had taken down the hexbeam and just wanted to check the low bands for the last time before taking down the vertical. I was happy with that catch. There is however a lot I cannot hear that others apparently can hear - judging from QSOs where I can only copy one side. This vertical end fed is clearly not a match for a beam. Conditions weren't particularly good and QRM was incredible, so I only logged 4 new DXCC on this band. I had hoped to log more new ones to move towards my 5th 100+ DXCC. I was counting on skip to the Caribbean but I only worked 8P.
My 80m antenna was better than I expected. The quarter wave relies on the ground system to work and with only 4 rather short elevated radials I was not expecting a lot. But again I could work almost everything I could hear. ODX this weekend was A6 at more than 5000km and I logged 12 new DXCC on this band. Note that I don't use this band at home and I had only logged 37 DXCC before (mainly on one evening and night in the snow when I joined the PACC for the first time).
On 160m I had only worked one station so far since I got my full license - some nearby german super contest station on CW on a shortened 40m wire antenna. This of course meant that almost all stations I heard were new DXCC on that band. The antenna was resonant but very short for this band (20m). I could work more than I expected but could not work everything I could hear. I noticed some stations had difficulty copying me while I could copy them without a problem. So there is still a lot to improve for this band. Starting with only 1 DXCC this was of course the best scoring band. I added a whopping 28 new DXCC here. ODX on this band was a respectable 2900km into 5B4.