For some years now, whilst CUWS has been regularly fielding teams for the major phone contests in the amateur radio contesting calendar, there has been little representation in CW contests. This is regarded as a shame by some but it also gives an opportunity to those who are active on the CW parts of the bands to use the G6UW shack both for some contesting practice and to give their own callsigns a QRO airing and to try and nab a few new ones for their country totals.
CQWW CW is generally regarded as the biggest CW contest of the year and there are many expeditions to rare and semi-rare countries all over the world. Often, these expeditions involve taking large antennas and amplifiers to these countries making them easy pickings when combined with G6UW’s large antennas. After some negotiations with other CUWS members keen to have a go in the 2006 contest, it was decided that I should have the Saturday to work what I could.
The original intention had been to travel up on the Friday night and be ready for the start of the contest. It became clear in the week leading up to the contest that this would not be feasible as work committments meant that an arrival in Cambridge would not be possible before 2100 and an 80m antenna would have to be set up in the dark as there is no permanent one currently at the shack. Taking this into account, I decided that it was best to get a good night’s sleep at home on the Friday then head up the next morning. Waking the next morning, I discovered that there was a serious accident on the route to Cambridge I normally use. I waited a little for this to clear then headed north.
The shack is pretty well set up for getting on the air with win-test and the rig interfaces permanently ready. In addition to this, I had use of a microham microkeyer to provide keying from the keyboard.
As time was short and the main aim was to expand my DXCC totals, I decided to go for Single-Op All Band Assisted High Power so that I could use the packet to sniff out the juicier stations. Things started off well with lots of DX audible even though winds forced me to keep the tower wound down. However, within 20 minutes of starting, a squally shower swept through accompanied by thunder and lighting. The only thing to do was to unplug everything in the shack and power down until the storm had passed. This took a good 40 minutes and there were several lightning strikes in the fields surrounding the shack. Once the lightning had passed, things were back up and running again quickly. Conditions were reasonable for the most part and 15m was open to the US and other parts of the world. The best DX worked on 15m was VK9AA for an all time new country at around 1330z. Small runs were possible to the states at times but these did not sustain for very long and the band opened and closed several times. There were also problems with the microkeyer at times which meant some of the keying had to be sent manually. The problem was eventually traced to RF getting into the USB lead from the PC to the microham and a well wrapped ferrite ring seemed to cure this.
In the end, I didn’t operate too long after sunset due to other things coming up and the final totals were as follows:
For only a few hours work, this seemed reasonably successful with a reasonable score and a total of 82 unique DXCC worked which included 7 all time new entities and numerous new band/countries worked. Others also reported successes in the contest with good conditions on the higher bands (although sadly there was not much on 10m).
There is an increasing interest in CW among the active members who join our contest entries and hopefully, it will not be too long until we can mount a major multi-op entry into a big CW contest again.