I received a nice email from Anibal, 5K3R, after the WPX SSB contest. I enjoyed his passion, enthusiasm, and joy for the contest and wanted to share it with you. Here is Anibal, 5K3R:
WPX contest, in my opinion is the most fun contest we have. Its the time for the fancy calls to take a ride, actually it was the main reason why I decided to ask for a special call: 5K3R. Following you will read some thoughts about my participation, unexpected situations, etc.
Preparation for the wpx ssb started for me in the previous week. I decided to add new features to my shack previous to the event; I went to a brief risk analysis in order to mitigate any hazard. First one was “Lack of AC”. From time to time is easy to notice in Bogota some small lack of AC, just a matter of few seconds or couple of minutes. Form the the transmission point of view it can be reduced to the fact of missing couple of DX and some of those could be easily multipliers. Besides this, there is one important fact: log integrity. Logs can easily get damage or can be partially lost if suddenly the AC just goes away!!!
Based on this, I decided to move from my desktop to my net book, although, log backup were performed during at least every couple of hours. So now is ok, let’s assume the data is going to be properly saved but how can we keep our signal on air?
I decided to participate as a LP so my 12VDC power supplied must accompanied with a BBU capability. Having a lack of budget I just connected in parallel a 12VDC@7Ah battery which is nothing to handle 100 Watts operation but I made calculation and I could manage at least two hours with about 25 watts, this is 6dB under 100Watts but is for sure “better than be off the air”.
That weekend I was going to be 100% by my own at home, without any help, so there was a need to have all needed food in advance. I have prepared on Friday some roasted chicken, rice and salad. Beside this, plenty of fruits were available at the shack, including water, orange juice and coffee. Table at the shack is big enough to accommodate and also be reached without stopping the contest.
Friday finally arrived:
My wife had to travel from Colombia to Uruguay that day. She was also going with our 3 year old daughter (that is why I said I was 100% by my own). She had to take care of some paper issues in Montevideo so, after lunch we went to the airport, she made all needed checking, there was a need to “equalize” luggage weight” as usual and after that she moved to immigration.
I was already on my way back to home and I got a call from my wife saying that immigration was asking for a “father permit” in order to allow Luciana (our daughter) to travel. Just two hour left for the flight to leave so I moved to the Town Hall and filled all needed papers and went back to the airport. It was a stressed situation but we managed to get all needed papers and they finally got onto the plane.
Back at home I could not sleep the couple of hours before as I planned. I was not planning to work the low bands, but just 15m, so impact was minimum. I just turn on the radio on 15m and made some QSO 1 hour before the contest starts, mainly for waking and warming up purpose! It is so great how the fun starts a couple of hours before the test. People are sharing their expectations or just promising they will pass to give you 59 plus the number, brotherhood can be filled, is a very nice sensation.
Last year, I have attended a webinar performed by “Potomac Valley Radio Club”, presenter was Randy Thompson, and during the presentation he shared some important aspects regarding “how to approach the WPX contest” (this is webinar es available at their web http://www.pvrc.org/webinar/webinars.htm). I ended up with two main words: Clear target and Fun! For the first one I went as recommended through all the data available at the WPX page, checked out all previous World and South American Records, focusing on 15m bands. After analysis decided to beat Pedro’s record (HK3JJH) who placed it back in 2002. At that time he made 2.4M points and worked around 600 prefixes. It was not a South American Record, but just a Colombian one. Regarding the second, it was a matter of keeping focused but also relaxing and enjoying every single QSO, keeping in mind what is behind each QSO, there was another operator who must probably was also struggling against some challenges or just relaxing and just chasing new DXCC from his shack.
The first night:
Well, for us, in Colombia (-5 UTC) the party starts at 7:00 PM Local time. I moved up as the starting hour arrived and turned off the radio at 23:00 hours (Local time) with around 220 QSO and 200 prefixes. Propagation was not that good as we expected but there is one basic fact: “if it is bad, is bad for all” so it was going impact all participants. It was just the first night and there was still a long way to go.
The first day:
The day started at 6:00 AM (local time). I went to the kitchen, prepared and ate my breakfast, and also a fresh coffee for the whole day. I went to the shack and started out pointing my homemade hexbeam to Europe, as per R1 band allocation, I decided to start around 21,144. Propagation was again not the best and besides this a rainy and stormy day accompanied me and forced to shut down the whole stuff. I took this decition when one lightning beated a couple of Km from my home but I noticed at the shack when the radio automatically turned off for around half second so, there was no need to put the whole thing on risk.
I went again on air at the time that propagation get open with US so moved the antenna to the North and started to work those fellows. It was also very interesting to see how propagation switched from the US to the Pacific. It become intermittent up to the point where I did not hear any longer both of them but just station from South America. As usual, I have worked most of the Argentinian and Brazilian stations. Operation Finished arund 10:40 local time with around 700 QSO and less than 500 prefix.
The second and last day: “the day”:
Again, 6:00 AM at the kitchen feeding my body and preparing all needed drinks and started as I did the day before. Pointed the “umbrella” to Europe and this time propagation was much better. There was much more stations than Saturday, must probably because Sunday is culturally a day off so there was much more people chasing for a new country. Beside this, propagation was definitely good, this time it helped a lot.
On Sunday morning, my initial target was still so far away, to be honest I did not have a hope to overpass it but I keeped struggling and moving forward. As the morning goes, I ended up with a huge European pile up who helped me to move from 800 to 1100 QSO. US pile up started more less at 2:00PM and the hopes came back when I saw my score around 2.1MM and there was still 6 hours to go!. These fellows were logged more or less from 1100 to the final amount of QSO: 1437.
There is no doubt, Sunday was the best day, around 80% of the QSO handled with Europe were new prefix and also a lot of rare callsigns from US came out on late Sunday
Previous WPX SSB experience was performed on 2011 with my previous calll: HK3ARR. I enter at that time as SOSB 20m QRP and I ended up first SA and 2nd WW. It was a big step to move from Phone-QRP to Low Power. When performing on QRP mode, you need to keep frustration out, this is the first fact. This is clearly noticed when calling someone who is arriving with s9 and he does not reply to you. Overall results are positive, 1437 QSO, 733 prefixes, total of 3.069.000 points (claimed score), there is nothing to regret and as you can see the target was beated and there was a lot of fun during the whole event!
Anibal Dos Ramos,
HK3R – 5K3R