2014 CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Encouraged by W2LJ post about his plans on participating in upcoming CQ Worldwide DX Contest in QRP CW category, I decided to give it a try as well.

I did not bother turning up the radio on the Friday night and Saturday morning due to extreme pile-ups. The Saturday afternoon, and then Sunday were much calmer so my tiny QRP signal and omni-directional no-gain 31′ long-wire antenna had more chances between the big-guns.

Thanks to the great antennas on the other side of the QSO and great ears/equipment, there usually was no problem making a QSO. I had to QRS and repeat the call two-three times sometime but that was it.

The band conditions were great. I only wish the local noise was lower as I could not hear any JA this time on my long-wire antenna, although they would probably hear me. The farthest station was VK4KW in Australia on 15m. I also added 3 new DXCC entities: 3B8MU (MAURITIUS ISLAND), P33W (CYPRUS), and 4L8A (GEORGIA).

The total count is 179 QSO, 83 countries, and 57,276 points claimed.

5 watts can go a long way

As I wanted to play with the new features in N1MM+, I participated in the ‘assisted’ category – meaning, I could use DX Cluster spots.

My station setup was very basic:

I used my paddles to send the call for the first two-three hours but then my wrist got tired and I started making mistakes so I switched to N1MM+ for sending. All it takes is to press F4 to send a callsign, and then F3 and F2 for the exchange.

The receiver of FT817 gets easily overloaded. I had to switch off AGC a few times and use IF offset dial to get away from strong adjacent local stations and still get that far and weak DX. Also, CwGet was very helpful with narrow filtering out a signal. In addition to ability to decode CW sending, it has a neat feature which lets you listen to a very narrow filtered portion of the 2600 Hz. For that, I used a soundcard interface with a USB soundcard as an input, and my laptop speakers as the output.

As I was operating in ‘assisted’ category, I could use DX Cluster for bandmap and looking for new zone multipliers and new interesting DX. It was a cool part – just click on the callsign (on the bandmap window) or on a square in the zones window and the radio would instantly tune to it – no more fussing with tuning dial:

Now looking forward for the RAC Winter contest on December 27th, 2014.



About va3paw
Ham radio enthusiast, software developer

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