Well, what an interesting weekend that was. I hadn't planned to take part in the ARRL CW contest, for various reasons, including the fact that I have a young family and I am only learning to use a CW paddle having just acquired it a week ago. In fact, on Friday night I switched off the radio at midnight, just as the contest was beginning, and went to bed.
On Saturday morning, however, I found myself up early and listening on the bands and noticed a lot of CW on 15m so I started belting away and opened a new contest file on SD (Super-Duper) and before long, I was working the contest. I managed to notch up a fair few contacts in various spurts of activity on Saturday and Sunday. I worked four bands - 80m, 40m, 20m and 15m, with more QSOs on the lower bands than the higher ones. In fact I'd say I had less than 20 on 80m. I finished last night, Sunday, with 252 contacts and over 84,000 points, which is not bad for a rookie low-power station. As I often say, it's incredible what you can do with 100 watts and a 30-year-old vertical !
I maintained good contact throughout on 2 metres with the local "big" contest station, EI2JD (Thos) in Clogherhead. He finished with about 670 contacts and 500,000 points. A fantastic performance which demonstrates the level the larger stations operate at.
I'm enjoying the CW. I've a long way to go before I can have a QSO at 25 wpm, especially on receive, but that will build up slowly over time. I would strongly advise anyone with a licence to try the morse because it does open up a whole new area of the hobby, and in some respects, a whole new world.
Somehow on Saturday I managed to find time to help Tony EI4DIB construct and erect a 6m dipole at my QTH!! It was a more hands-on installation than usual. I helped cut the aluminium to the right length and soldered the plug onto the coax - yes, big deal eh? Three cheers for Anthony! When we tried the dipole with my Icom 706MkII we found the SWR to be flat on 50.150 and a good bit up and down, so I was delighted. I made my first ever contact on 6m shortly afterwards. Not surprisingly, it was EI2JD, who turned his beam towards me and we exchanged 59 reports. I'm looking forward to hearing some openings on 6m and to working into Europe and, who knows, maybe beyond, in time to come . . .