CQ WW SSB 2019

Beware of Hang Nails!

If you’ve been following my site, you know I added some new hardware to the station this summer, including a new 2 element 80m beam. Since then, I’ve been looking forward to giving it a serious workout in CQ WW. But would you believe a week before the contest, a finger nail on my index finger tore slightly? No big deal, right? Happens all the time. What does this have to do with CQ WW?

By Wednesday, the top of my finger was painfully swollen, and I mean SERIOUS pain and swelling. Went to the doctor and he prescribed antibiotics for an infection. Infection? From a hang nail? By Friday, my finger was not only seriously painful, but black, blue, purple, white and extremely swollen. It was hard to concentrate on anything else except my painful finger!

So, hours before the contest started, the doctor cut it open and put a giant gauze wrap on it (which made it feel so much better, BTW). Hmmm. Guess I won’t be using that finger this weekend, but I still have four others on that hand. Cool.

Tough Conditions


Conditions leading up to the contest were fantastic. A start time on Tuesday or Wednesday would have been perfect! When Friday rolled around, things took a steep nose dive. K of 5, A of 29? Honestly, these were the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced in CQ WW. One of the lowest recorded SFI’s, coupled with a nasty A and K index took its toll. My score certainly reflects it. It’s the lowest score I’ve ever achieved as a SOAB HP entry.

The usual bread and butter 20m band rationed its portions this weekend. Europe was very poor. Didn’t start hearing EU until about 9:00 am local both mornings. The best part of the opening lasted about 1 to 1.5 hours both days – tops.

When the big guns are S7 to S8, you know modest stations have zero chance of making it, and that’s exactly what happened. Second and third tier stations were locked out. Runs mostly sputtered and S&P ruled the day. Saturday heavily favored southern EU, with most northern EU weak or non-existent. It improved a little on Sunday, with bigger signals from northern EU.

Ran into Larry, N7DD, late Sunday on 20m, and we swapped horror stories about the band. Even sunny, southern Arizona didn’t totally escape the solar death grip.

40m wasn’t much better with very little EU, and lackluster Asia openings. A quick QSO with Dan, W7WA, confirmed it wasn’t just me and my station experiencing it. In fact, 80m was better to JA than 40m, at least the first night when my tower was actually pointed to Asia – explanation to follow.

Bertha Unchained

Chain that Turns Bertha

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime about half way into the contest, the chain that turns my tower fell off. I suspect it was too loose and simply fell off.

As I’m operating, the motor is turning, and the controller tells me it’s turning, but the tower is not turning. It wasn’t until I looked out the window Sunday morning at first daylight that I noticed it.

The tower was stuck at 100 degrees for god knows how long. That means all of my Asia operating Sunday night was a giant waste of time! I was able to mount the chain back to the tower and get it turning again in time for the remaining Asia opening on 40m, and the short EU opening on 20m.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Although, this is not how I wanted my CQ WW effort to go, it was fun nevertheless. Do I wish my finger wasn’t infected? Do I wish the solar storm didn’t hit just in time for the contest? Do I wish the chain that turns my tower didn’t fall off? Do I wish I would have noticed the chain fell off much sooner? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But hey, you win some, you lose some.

Go Alex!

Highlights included: Working Alex, KU1CW, operating from 3W9A with a nice signal; working a loud ZS1SBW and 9K2K long path on 40m Sunday morning for two new countries and zones; a better than expected opening on 15m, with Sunday the better day; and working many friends from around the globe.

Thanks to all for the Qs, and especially the guys that traveled to exotic locations to provide the rare ones.

Congratulations to NO6T(KI6RRN) for a big west coast score.

73, Mitch, K7RL

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