This year, the weekend of 24/5 November saw the CQWW CW contest. Although CUWS normally enters the SSB version only, my Morse has been progressing steadily and I felt finally ready for a contest…what better opportunity? Since the VP2MUW team of experienced CW ops was returning hours before the contest began, and since in any case I thought building a team to disappoint with my beginner’s operating was a bad idea, I entered the single-operator category from Woop Woop 3. As a relatively recent licensee, receiving my M0 call in early 2017, I was also eligible for the ‘Rookie’ overlay category. Having set up WinTest for the contest in advance and checking I knew at least vaguely how to drive the shack’s Winkeyer, I left things until Friday; unfortunately, I still had rather a lot of work to do over the weekend, so clearly could not go in for a serious 30+hour stint. I elected to aim for about 10-12 hours operating over the weekend, and chose to enter the 20m QRO class.
I arrived at the shack (later than I would have liked) at around 0845 on Saturday, and began by working the numerous multipliers in Asia before propagation in that direction died; after a couple of hours including my first attempt at running in a contest (at 26wpm or so, extremely leisurely by contrast to some ops—TI7W, for example was running at 43wpm), I decided to go and buy myself a sandwich lunch while waiting for the US path to open properly. On my return, I had a cup of tea and got back to work, soon managing a reasonable run of US stations interrupted only occasionally by frequency-snatchers, only some of whom were warned off with an insistent “QRL QRL”!
I returned at greyline time on Sunday morning to work a few more mults/JAs; in the former I was largely unsuccessful, finding no new zones but a few new countries, but I managed to run through around 50 stations, comprised of many Russian/eastern European stations and a few calls from further afield, including JA.
What I did
- About 9.5hrs operating over two days
- 20m high power
- Logging to Wintest
- Morse via Wintest macros, sent through Winkeyer
- Hand keying for some partials and abbreviated CQs etc (which I never got round to programming in) via a Bencher paddle connected to the Winkeyer.
- FT1000MP with 250Hz filters. DSP minimally used.
What was good
- Logging was largely successful, though I made a few keyboard errors.
- Sending exchanges, most callsigns and some partials via Winkeyer.
- Some partials etc by hand.
- Running in a contest…it’s stressful but not as bad as I’d feared.
What was bad
- Copy accuracy: I was able to copy about every other callsign on the first attempt, even at only 27wpm or so. Most callers were considerate enough to slow down to this speed, though a few attempted to work me at >>35wpm (I feel I can estimate this fairly well since I will happily call people QRQ if they are running fast, especially given the predictable exchange in CQWW DX). One or two succeeded. I found myself sending lots of partials. Predictable given my inexperience and rather as I’d expected—sorry to those whose rates suffered from my ineptitude!
- Hand sending: it’s improving, but I am still prone to make errors when sending by hand at 28wpm (I think I’m slightly better, at least with some messages, at higher speed). On several occasions I released the key too early when sending a short CQ, thus sending “M0W” (three men went to…), so had to correct myself. I also seem to struggle unnecessarily with the humble question mark: never have I sent so many ..–. . or similar!
- Run technique to some extent: this was mostly due to the copying issue. Lack of experience once again largely to blame. I was very confused until after the contest by people whose callsign I had thought I’d copied correctly sending some unexpected characters before the exchange; now I realise this was probably “UR”. I was also not always able to establish when I had copied callsigns correctly; credit due to those who patiently sent “N N” when I had it wrong, and “R R” when I had finally cracked it, but less to those who gave their exchanges even though I had not sent their full callsign and then disappeared!
- Winkeyer occasionally: for some reason, every so often, the keyer speed appeared to jump quite dramatically. I suspect this may be due to the interesting idea of speeding up to send “5NN” as quickly as possible, and somehow periodically failing to slow down again… problem easily solved by wobbling the potentiometer on the front though.
Raw score was 139,050, though I am sure the error rate will be startlingly high (for reasons outlined above). Hopefully I should at least finish with a positive score! Raw score places me 78/145 worldwide, 59/88 in EU and 6/6 in G.
Update: Final score after moderation was 118,104. 5.4% error rate compared to the average of 2.8%; not brilliant, but not as bad as I’d expected! 1st of 3 in G “Rookie QRO 20m single op”—perhaps unsurprisingly—and 11 of 71 in worldwide Rookie QRO (all sub categories). Not as bad as feared!