Monday, November 30, 2015

CQ Worldwide DX Contest 2015

       Well this year's CW Worldwide DX CW Contest has come and gone. Thousands probably slept the sleep of the dead after being deprived of rest over the 48-hour contest period, eyes bloodshot from staring at receiver dials, stomachs aching from the acid of too much coffee and loads of snacks eaten in lieu of taking time for full meals and the ionosphere healing itself after being assaulted and heated by many times its usual portion of RF launched from backyards around the world. Ears are sore from headphones being pushed tightly over ears as if that would help a weak signal to be heard and foreheads may be raw from being held down on operating desks as if the operators could somehow concentrate more deeply on pulling callsigns out of the noise in an attempt to use sheer willpower to pull a signal up just one more db.  Muscles are sore from tightening as keyboards were tapped or keying paddles swung as if that extra effort would add to the strength of the RF to push signals through massive pileups.  Fingers are raw from keying with writing fingers on those of us who still use pen and scratch paper to write down tentative callsign identifications now having a callous not seen since high school days of writing term papers  before computers.
       The CQWW is a massive collective effort to heat the ionosphere and get as many callsigns, zones and DX entities in a log in one weekend as possible. For many, it also involved  the usual preparation of checking antennas, maybe putting up "temporary" antennas with wives assured they would come down and return the yard to its previous uncluttered state " after the contest" with the operator hoping he could stretch that long enough so the temporary structure would be considered part of the " new normal".  For still others, it had meant months of planning trips to isolated areas to become the sought one in the bottom of those massive pileups.
       For some of us who would spend the weekend listening in the SWL mode without being able or desiring to transmit it would mean many of these same things, with the concentration just on listening.  For all, there is the hope of logging all 40 zones, hundreds of countries and running up a score in the millions,  with the secret hope that in addition to the glory of the weekend, perhaps  a few missing entities would be added to the total overall country list, or at the very least, to the list of countries for a given band.
       The weekend was marked with particularly good prop with low noise on the lower bands, at least here in Texas.  Friday night saw the high bands hot for the first hour, with DX being logged here from the Pacific on both ten and fifteen meters.  The promise was short lived, however, as both bands folded up like a cheap tent the first hour, with 20 meters starting to fail shortly thereafter.
       Any frowns of disappointment were wiped out, however, by phenomenal conditions on forty meters.  Listening in the search mode starting at the bottom of the band turned up great signals from Europe and the Middle East early, many pushing through the big gun US East Coast stations at the bottom of the band,  leading to it taking well over an hour to get above the bottom 25 kHz of the band logging many great catches. Signals extended above 7100.  After that,  80 meters was just as good, as any left over absorption in the D layer of the ionosphere faded away allowing even Mid East signals to come through with the energy often reserved for  10 or 15 meters.  I ended up spending so much time on 40 and 80 that by the time I got down to 160 meters, the sun was already rising in Europe and I perhaps missed some opportunities.
       After a two and a half hour nap, I got back in front of the dials Saturday morning Texas Time checking the low bands for Pacific and Asia signals and they were there in force.  Interestingly, some Asian stations were logged only on 80 or 40 for the weekend. The one disappointment was no Australian signals on 80 meters. Signals from both East and West Malaysia were logged on 40, with some Asian signals coming in as late as 9 AM local time with the sun well up.
       When the last of the JA's had dropped to the noise level on 40,  a check of the upper bands showed ten meters already hot to Europe.  Like the low bands the night before, the signals just kept pouring in, with the  band being refused to be " worked out" until well after noon. Signals of unbelievable signal strength from Europe, Western Asia and Africa pushed the S meters of the FT-757GX, Icom R-75 and the venerable Drake 2B I used for the weekend well above S-9.  In fact, by the time ten began to yield few new callsigns, 15 and 20 had shifted away from Europe and to South America and the Pacific.  It would mean a shift in strategy for the next morning to start with 15 and 20 after the low bands folded to get the needed Europeans on those two bands.
       Saturday night turned out not to be a repeat of Friday night on the low bands, with 40 and 80 not being nearly as hot and 160 disappointing without a lot of good copyable European signals.
       All in all, from an SWL standpoint it was a highly successful weekend., with two new overall countries being added to the master " heard " list and several new band-countries added on 40 and 80.  The big thrill of the weekend came with the logging of A52R from Bhutan on 15 meters about 2100 GMT Sunday.  There is always something special about hearing signals from that part of the world that gives one a sense of wonder and mental pictures of the exotic.
       This was a weekend not for the faint of heart or those turning on the radio for listening to programs.  It is a weekend for digging in the dirt of noise and pushing through the crowds to pull out a new one, or to log DX from JA and other entities until the log is gorged. It is a weekend for those who know how to copy CW to put things into the log that those who listen to broadcasts can but hope and dream about.  It is about a shameless wallowing in a veritable sea of DX, picking them off in a target rich environment. It is a weekend with so much over indulgence in RF that one will almost not want to turn on the radio for days.Well, almost.
       For me, it means being very pleased with a special new vertical antenna put up " just for the weekend"  that got an extra good ground from a weekend of rain that provided the grounding without lightning and static.  The vertical provided the great loggings on 40 and 20 meters, being 5/8's wave high on 20 and just a little too long  for 40, but nothing the Dentron Super Super tuner could not handled matching.  The slopers and ground planes provided the RF for the receivers on 160,80, 15 and 10 meters.
       Stats are still being worked out, but initially it looks like over 1500 stations logged in 127 countries ( or "DX entities" for the purists) and 37 zones. Well, I did my best to create an RF "low pressure zone" in the neighborhood by pulling in as much RF as possible to protect the neighbors from the excess RF being launched into the air by all those amateur stations transmitting over the weekend.
       Was the indulgence in one of the primo DX contests of the year enough to assuage the appetite for DX and playing with the radios for at least awhile?  I guess so.  But then there are a few DXpeditions planned for the holidays coming up, there is the new schedule of broadcast stations to check out. And there is the 160 meter contest next month and the ARRL DX contest early next year...

       73 and good DX!!

DX entities logged  with notations on which bands they were heard.

Japan 160, 80, 40,20, 15,10
New Zealand 40, 15
Madeira Island 10,20
Canada 160,80.40,20,15,10
Senegal 80,20,40
Brazil 10,15,20,40
Peru 10,20
Uruguay 10, 15,20
South Africa 10,15,20
Hungary 40,20,15,10
Slovenia 80,40,20,15,10
Canary Islands 80,40,20,15,10
Aruba 160,80,40,20,15,10
Spain 80,40,20,15,10
Germany 80,40,20,15,10
Slovak Republic 80,40,20,15,10
Russia ( European) 40,20,15,10
Azores Islands 40,15
Moldova 40
France 80,40,20,15,10
Cyprus 40,20
Czech Republic 80,40,20,15,10
Belgium 40,20
Scotland 40,20
Ireland 20
Poland 80,40,20
Serbia 80,40,20
Bulgaria 40, 20
Switzerland 80,40,20
Cuba 80,40,20,15,10
Albania 15, 40
Italy 80,40,20,15,10
Wales 40
Iceland 15, 20
Croatia 80,40,20,15
Morocco 10, 40
Gibralter 40
England 80,40,20,15,10
Corsica 80, 10
Montenegro 20, 40
Greece 40
Venezuela 20, 15
Hawaii 160, 80,40, 20, 15, 10
Puerto Rico 40,20,15,10
Curacao 160, 80,40,20,15,10
Sweden 15, 20, 80
Netherlands 80, 40, 20
Dominican Republic 80,15,10
Shetland Islands 40
Portugal 10,20,80
Bonaire 160,80,40,20,15,10
Mexico 160,80,40,20,15,10
Marianas Islands 80, 15
Philippines 80
Asiatic Russia 80,40,20,15,10
China 80,40,20
Hong Kong 40,20
Kazakhstan 40
Vietnam 40
Thailand 40,20
Georgia 40
East Malaysia 40
West Malaysia 40
Colombia 10
Mozambique 15
Cayman Islands 15, 20
Martinique 10,15,20
Cape Verde 20,15,10
Madagascar 15,10
Barbados 10
Finland 10,15,20
Argentina 10,15,20
Belize 20,15,10
Suriname 10,15
Zambia 10
Costa Rica 10, 15
Chile 10
Ascension Island 10, 15, 20
Rodriguez Island 15
Virgin Islands 15
Australia 15, 20, 40
Guadalupe Island 15, 20
Anguilla 15
French Polynesia 15
Trinidad 15
Honduras 15
Aland Island 20
Alaska 20,15
Fiji 15
Guam 15,20
French Guiana 20
Maldives 20
Norway 20
Bahamas 20, 80
Bermuda 160, 20
Turks and Caicos 15
Svalbard 20
San Andres 20
Antarctica 20
Oman 20
Qatar 20
Micronesia 80
South Korea 80
Romania 20
Ukraine 20
Denmark 20
Lithuania 20
Jordan 20
Israel 20
Latvia 20
Bosnia 20
Kuwait 20
Belarus 15
Grenada 15
Northern Ireland 15
Estonia 15
Luxembourg 15
Paraguay 15
Rwanda 15
Nicaragua 10
Saba & St Eustatius 10
Easter Island 15
St Lucia 15
St Kitts 10
Saudi Arabia 20
Greenland 15
Bhutan 15

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