Did you get on the radio for this contest? If so, I don’t need to tell you how poor conditions were, or the hundreds of other people that thought the same thing.

Aside from challenging propagation, there were some highlights.

What the low bands take away, 20m gives back.

I wouldn’t say 20m was fantastic, but it was the best band of the bunch. Europe opened late and closed early. Unfortunately, EU runs only lasted about an hour each day, and accounted for 312 of my 704 Q total. Could have been worse. Asia accounted for 274 Q’s.

Signals were very good while the band was open, with numerous 100 watt and even 5 watt stations making the trip. Congratulations to these QRP stations that are in my log: F5BEG, OK2FD, JR4DAH, JQ1NGT, JK1TCV, JH1APZ, JH1MDJ, and YB0ANN.

40m could have been better – much better.

Okay, it wasn’t all bad. Sticking with the QRP theme, I worked a number of QRP and 10 watt stations. Propagation into VK seemed especially good with 155 stations worked. That compares with only 82 Asian stations.

QRP station JH1APZ worked me on 20m and 40m. Other QRP ops JR2MWV, YB0AWL, and VK5IS made it too. On a weekend where conditions challenged everyone to one degree or another, running QRP was a bold move, but VK shined again with several entry level, 10 watt, 2X4 call signs in my log.

Congratulations to VK2FSAV, VK4FOMP, VK2FJAY, VK3FLES, VK3FONZ, VK2FHRK, VK3FRCS, and VK3FDZE. These stations are only allowed to run 10 watts maximum power output on HF, and I suspect many had modest antennas.

Let’s not bother with 80m and 160m.

These two bands proved to be the most challenging of all, except 10m. As a side note, will 10m ever open up again? Feels like an eternity since my last DX QSO.

Of the few stations worked, most were multipliers, so a huge thank you to those stations. Best DX on 160m was YV1KK. Best DX on 80m was FK/JG1XMV or maybe VK4QH. Thanks to all that pulled me out!

15m provided much needed mults.

Even though I had zero runs, the band was open and it was nice to work those DX stations. South America provided the bulk of my Qs with 66 of 87. North America accounted for 14, while Oceania was 6.

Onward and upward.

It was tough to keep BIC (butt in chair) all weekend. There were many times my rate didn’t justify grinding it out when sleep was more important. As a result, I estimate another 100 to 150 Qs may have been possible, but given such poor conditions it didn’t seem worthwhile.

The solar roulette wheel was bound to throw a stinker at us at some point, landing squarely on a contest weekend. Let’s hope for better luck next time!

73, Mitch, K7RL

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