Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ARRL 160m 2014

Two radio setup for the ARRL 160m contest.
K3 on right, K2 on left.
For the 2013 running of the ARRL 160m, I put in more operating hours than ever before, but I fell short of my personal best set in 2010. For 2014, I wanted to make sure that I set a new record.

Two radios would allow me to call CQ while I am scanning the band for other stations. I had used two radios in 2013, but it proved to be ineffective.

The inverted-L is my only 160m antenna. That would go to the K3. What I needed was some type of receiving antenna for the K2. The 80/40m dipole wouldn't cut it, as I found in 2013.

I had intended to set up some K9AY loops, and I've been working on a push-button controller for it. That project ran into a snag at the last minute, so some creativity was in order. I ended up stringing a 150 foot "Beverage" antenna into the woods. At such a short length and unterminated, it's not a true Beverage, but it did allow me to receive with the K2.

The two-radio setup was configured in haste about an hour before the contest. While the K3 continued to overload the K2 even with the receiving antenna, I used the K2 to populate the band-map while CQing. This did not produce a significant change in the number of Qs, but it did allow me to listen to other parts of the band during the slowest periods.

Started the contest at 2201z and continued all night to 1230z, right at sunrise. The all-night shift was tough, but netted 544 Qs and 68 multipliers. Conditions seemed good but not great. Worked 47 states - all but AK, HI and MT. Early part of the contest was nearly all CQing, with short sessions of S & P to look for mults, as well as when rates got slow after 0600z.

Second night started at 2210z until 0456z. It might have been better to stay on until 0600z, but I was exhausted. Got back on at 1040z, and switched off at 1240z. That's over 23 hours of contest time. There are only 28 hours of darkness in this part of the world at this time of year, and I was on the air for 22 of them.

Passed 700 Qs around 0430z the second night -- which put me into personal record territory. What I needed was mults. In my previous best, I had 78 mults. However, there was no DX to be found. I heard no Europeans, and very little from the Caribbean. Worked XE, PJ2 and ZF. Heard a V3, but he did not hear my calls.

Very hard the second night to decide between calling CQ and S & P. I ended up mostly S & P, because the rate was slightly better.

Found missing mults the second night, with MT, LAX, SCV, SV, MAR and WTX. With three countries that makes 74. Total 745 QSOs for a total score of 111,148.

I really feel like I am pushing the limits of what can be done with 100 watts and 1500 feet of wire suspended from trees. Score might be a little higher if I had stayed up the second night.

This contest is always a blast. See you next year.

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