The Wakes I Leave...

A Spartan Participant of the CQ WW CW

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Many radio-amateurs view the CQ WW CW Contest (http://www.cqww.com) as one of the most important contests of the year. I have been participating in it since 2013: that year, from Ottawa, Ontario, as VE3DTI (Third VE3 SO QRP ALL), in 2014 from Piriápolis, Uruguay, portable as CX7RT (First CX SO QRP ALL) and last year from Uppsala, Sweden, also portable, as SM5/VE3DTI (Second SM SO QRP 20M). This year, back from home, I decided to operate with my primary callsign: VA3PCJ.

After many years the standard speed for CW in this kind of contests has been around 30 words per minutes. This, of course, is faster than many of us can receive with ears and brain alone, and/or transmit just with brain and fingers. Hence, most participants rely on sophisticated computers running no less sophisticated specialized logging software programs. I like to participate in CW contest using as little apparatus as possible. However, I have to concede that, for someone with my current CW abilities, participating in a CQ WW CW with only a straight key and paper and pencil, although it may lead to a very brave personal experience, it may not necessarily contribute to everybody’s enjoyment. Hence, there need to be limits to the “spartanness” in one’s participation. Here are those I have found acceptable given my style, aims and limitations:

The longest DX QSO was in 15m with LP1H (a club station in Villa La Bolsa, SE of Córdoba, Argentina). According to the “NØ UK’s Maidenhead Grid Distance & Bearing Calculator” (http://www.chris.org/cgi-bin/showdis) the distance between both our grid squares FN25ej and FF78sg is of 8,650.10 km or 5,375.17 miles. Since I was operating with a power output of 5 Watts, this is another QSO that breaks the 1,000 Miles per Watt mark, which is particularly surprising, given prevailing propagation conditions. This QSO was one that required repeated retransmissions of my suffix, and the entire credit for its successful completion goes to my Argentinian colleagues, not only for their superior equipment but also for not surrendering and staying in the QSO until the final QSL.

Another interesting DX QSO was the one with Walter KH6J in 40m. Hawaii is the last State I still need for completing the “eQSL WAS”. I have contacted other stations in Hawaii in the past and several have since confirmed in LoTW (my ARRL QRP WAS and regular ARRL WAS Awards (Mixed and CW) have long been awarded). However, a Hawai QSO has still to be confirmed in eQSL. This QSO took place on Sunday morning, not much later than noon UTC (i.e., with the Sun still over Africa), which allows the assumption that it must have been a regular “night time” short-path 40m propagation across the Andes and half-way the Pacific Ocean.

As usual in these contests there was a large number of QSO’s with IOTA islands, which in this opportunity had representants from five  IARU continents: NA, SA, EU, AF and OC. Only AS was missed for a complete WAC sweep!

Here is the OK2PBQ map (http://ok2pbq.atesystem.cz/prog/qso_map.php) of most of the QRP QSOs claimed in the contest:

Many THX to all who had the equipment, the skill – and mostly the patience! – for decoding my QRP and SWA signal. 73!

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