Screams in the Night… Just Before Halloween….


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No, not an early ghost, or a witch or a goblin… just the CQ WW SSB raging during a weekend of very poor HF propagation…

After suffering a month ago in the CQ WW RTTY from my QTH in the southern hemisphere, I thought that participating in the SSB counterpart from here up North would be a breath of fresh air…. Well a breath it was, and even more than one…

I knew that propagation was poor with a very low SFI affecting the high bands and a large coronal hole facing the Earth blowing strong solar winds brewing geomagnetic storms resulting in high noise and poor propagation also in the lower bands. Nevertheless, I fired the ICOM 703-Plus, set it at a maximum wattage of 5W, and with the LDG RT-100 tuning remotely the 50+ wire up the maple tree, I started to roll the VFO roaming in the HF bands.

I was working S&P and calling all the stations that I thought I was receiving loud enough for them to also hear my QRP signal. Of those, I estimate that about 15-20% refused to answer my call. I can only presume that either their reception was poorer than their transmission or we both had different take-off angles at out antennas.

I must be getting better diction because I had less trouble passing my callsign than I formerly had. Of the six letters in “VA3PCJ” the one that seemed to cause more trouble was “PAPA”. I tried different countries whose names start with the letter “P”: Peru, Paraguay, Panama (phonetically too close to Canada), Pakistan, Portugal but finally locked into “POLAND”. However, if none works, “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers” never fails…

I was aiming and just a hand-full of contacts, and was surprised when I saw that they started to climb to several dozens. I found 20m to be particularly disappointing, accounting for the absence of DX contacts with Europe and South America but also with the Middle West and the West Coast of North America. On the other hand, I saw several Caribbean stations readily answering my call in 15m and even in the usually tightly closed 10-meter band. One of them, PS5K, was a new DXCC in my logs.

At the end of the contest I was able to claim 67 QRP QSO’s in all the 10m to 80m bands plus 31 DXCC’s and 19 CQ Zones for a total score of 7,500. This was much less than results in previous years but I felt nevertheless rewarded since it was at the cost of an equivalent if not superior effort.

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