CQ WW RTTY 2011 – What a contest!

A more appropriate title would have been “The Magic of 10 meters”!
Haven’t we waited long enough for propagation to get better? The contest gave us more than we bargained for. It was all about 10 meters. I haven”t experienced such fantastic conditions on 10 meters since 1989.

I have had to work with a faulty azimuth indicator for the rotator for some time now. This meant that I had to run out and visually check if the antenna was pointed in the direction I wanted. So, I kluged up a wireless network camera pointed up at the antenna so that I did not have to run out every time I turned the antenna. Worked well after sunset too as there was enough ambient light that lit up the antenna.


I experienced two power outages which lasted 3 hours through the 48 hour period. One outage was at noon on Saturday, when I could not hear too many stations. This allowed me to get out of the shack and have lunch with the family. The second one was around 1900 local time on Sunday when activity was really good on 15 meters.

However, back to the topic of interest – 10 meters. It was amazing to hear stations on 10 meters as early at 0800 local time on Saturday. And the band got better through the day till it dropped off at around 2100 local time.  On the other hand, I was disappointed not to hear and work as many JA stations as I usually used to in the previous years. On 10 meters, I was expecting a long run of JA’s but they were not there. I did not work too many of them on the other bands too. Wonder where all the excellent ops from JA were during the contest?

We had the usual suspects from VU on the contest. Prasad/VU2PTT was doing a part-time effort this time. Heard him S&P through the weekend. We also had Nandu/VU2NKS out there, but I did not hear him as often as I used to. Not sure if he was on a part-time effort too. I worked Aravind/VU2ABS who was on his second WW RTTY contest and he was having a good time on 40 meters. Ramesh/VU2RMS was there too and so was old-timer and regular contester Arasu/VU2UR. It was great to hear and work Arasu on RTTY for the first time.

In the course of the contest, I managed to work Greenland (OX4OK) for an all time new one! I was thrilled to be called by CO3JN for another all time new one. It was also nice to work JW7QIA from Svalbard, 9H3IP from Malta and OJ0X from Market Reef. It’a a pity I could not hear any station from the elusive Zone 6.

The runs on 10 meters and 15 meters into North America were longer than the previous contest. As is always the case, when the bands open up to NA, EU is still quite strong here. So, run rates dropped as I attempted to untangle the numerous folks who were calling. I am pretty certain there were quite a few stations from NA who may have called and not gotten through. I am sorry, but it was a mess of signals out here. You also have the usual “gentlemen” who keep calling you even after you have called another station and are listening for his report. And then, there are others who decide to call CQ by straddling your mark and space signals. No filter can get rid of these guys.

After the contest, I was also told by a friend that there was a comment about me on the spotting network. I searched for an found a note from AD1C saying “He can’t hear me”. All I can say is that that remark is factually correct and it’s a pity I could not hear him while I worked a host of other stations from NA at that time. Bad luck ol’man. I hope to work you on the other contests.

And then there were the folks who had  a lot of patience and kept plugging away to work me. VE5MX was one of them. On his numerous attempts, I knew there was someone there and his patience finally paid when I was able to copy his full callsign and report. Thank you for the QSO and the multiplier! The other was Fred/K7SCX, who made many attempts and made it through all the qrm. It is always a pleasure to work such folks. CO3JN too made it through after many attempts. Thank you!

My raw, unchecked score is 1,285,462. This was an all-band, high-power, non-assisted effort.

With 10 meters and 15 meters in the condition they were in, rest duratuions got reduced, it was a tiring weekend. It was like  jet-lag on Monday and I cannot figure out how I managed to get to work and be coherent too!

Lastly, thanks to all of you who worked me and had the patience to get through the pileups we had when the bands were peaking.

Now, to gear up to give it a shot on the CQ WW Phone later this month. It’s a pity that we have the first ever F1 Grand Prix in India on the same weekend. I will have to watch the highlights after the contest. I haven’t done any serious phone contesting for a couple of decades now, so it’ is possible I will sound like a novice out there!


Monkeying around…

It was an unusually rainy morning and it took some persuasion to get out and get to work. On the way, I received a call from the XYL and she told me that we had a problem; a monkey was sitting atop my antenna tower. He was comfortably settled at the mount point of the HF yagi and was trying to shake the tower. When the XYL tried to scare him away, he got very agitated and went on to wrench off my 5/8th VHF GP. He then hurled the fiberglass-clad radiating element at her! No injuries, but my antenna count is down by one. This must be a monkey’s version of road-rage!

The VHF GP with the radiating element missing.

The ripped off fiberglass enclosed element

On inspection this morning, he seems to have vented his fury only on the VHF antenna and seems to have left the others alone. However, I will have to lower the tower and make a closer visual inspection this weekend. Thankfully, I did not bump into this antenna-throwing primate up there!

Time to install my new MA-3000 VHF/UHF collinear!

India on 6M?

An amendment to the rules allows VU hams to operate on 6m – the “Magic Band”. However, before all of us had a chance to settle down after the initial euphoria, we realized that the licensing authority in India, in their own wisdom, have allowed 6m operation on FM only! The skewed logic that we later heard was that 6m was considered VHF and hams would have to use FM only.

However, this restriction to operate on other modes on 6m has not affected an individual from blatantly operating on CW on 6m. Needless to say, this operation has been evoking a lot of interest from DXers worldwide and I suspect a lot of them are working this VU in a “work first, worry later” mode. A discussion was initiated on the VUHams Yahoo group about this “illegal” operation on 6m and a lot of folks were pretty vocal that this was an abuse of the privileges we have. The ham in question actually responded to the group with an apology and feigned ignorance of what the rules allow. And, this is an experienced ham known to the DX community! Unfortunately, the same ham is being spotted on 6m on CW even now.

Anyway, the Amateur Radio Society of India has taken up the issue of 6m operation on other modes with the regulatory authority. Initial feedback that we hear is that the request will be considered and we VU’s will be given privileges to operate on CW and SSB on 6m soon. A few of us are getting down to home-brewing our antennas for the “Magic Band”

Till then , I suggest that Dxers do not waste their time and money (yes, quite a bit of it is being demanded for a QSL card for those illegal QSO’s).