Monday, October 11, 2010

Three VKs into the log for the CW Oceania contest

I cannot say it enough. Working VK from my QTH, with my set-up, is quite an achievement. No two ways about it. Up until last weekend, I had but five contacts into VK on HF, including the well-known VK3MO, Ian in Melbourne, who blasts into Europe most evenings with his 20 element (4x5 stacked beams) pointing at us.

Last weekend the CW portion of the Oceania contest was on. Disappointed with just one VK contact in the SSB portion the previous weekend (could I have expected any more with 100 watts and a vertical, really?), I set out to get at least another VK into the log, and perhaps a ZL which would be a first.

Unfortunately, no ZLs made it into the log and when 20m closed to VK I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen for me. But as a result of sitting at the radio all evening on Saturday and calling at every opportunity, I eventually worked no less than three VKs. Whew! The first was VK3TDX, Steve in Victoria. When I finished working him, I spotted him on the cluster with the remarks, "At last ! Thanks !" Today, I received the following nice email from Steve:
Hi Tony

I see you gave me a spot on the cluster this weekend with the comment "At last ! Thanks!"
I guess this means you had to work hard to get me? I have to chuckle at this because in my former life in the USA as NF6V I simply could never get a QSO with Ireland! Year after year I just never heard nor could ever make it through to any EI station. When I finally got one I had to wait several years before I could get a QSL so I know what it can be like to struggle for a contact.

It's unusual for us usually lonely guys down under in VK to be "desired" and to be on stage for pileups. It was quite frustrating for me because I wanted to work everybody but sometimes the pile was just too manysignals to hear anything so we all suffered. Even the big guns with big signals sometimes can't be pulled out because they are often on the same exact frequency as me so they cover each other up. I can give you a tidbit of advice that when you're in a pileup call a little high or low in freq (maybe 100 Hz using your TX offset). Even in the biggest pileups a weaker signal that's distinctively a different pitch from the rest can be pulled out. I just figured out this trick for the next time I'm one of the guys in the crowd trying to break through.

Thanks again for the spot and I'm happy we made the contact.


Steve VK3TDX

Well I can tell you Dr OM Steve that the pleasure was all mine. Really really great to get the VK prefix in my log especially as I am using just a random wire only 25 feet up in a small garden. I also logged VK6DXI and VK2MI.

Some good advice there on working a simplex pile-up. Experienced CW ops will know that split pile-ups, especially where the DX station is listening over a few KCs of the band, are much easier to break than those awful simplex pile-ups where the DX station is greeted with a great wall of noise. My "cheat" in Steve's case, if you could call it a cheat, was to slow down my calling. I normally call a DX station at about 25-30wpm but for Oceania, given the strength of the pile-ups, I slowed right down to about 10wpm. Turns out at least two of the VKs heard me as the intensity of the pile-up died away after the initial cacophony.

I was disappointed not to get the first ZL into my log, but there's always another time for that. Also I could not hear Oceania on 80 metres, somewhat not surprisingly.

Anyway, to Steve I say thanks million and it's great to have you in the log.


  1. Morning Anthony, nice to see an email with advice from the experienced. Good work getting the VK and it gives me hope with my attic dipole.

  2. Hmmmm, must try that.100hz off...

  3. Hi there Anthony, just remebers me of my first with ZL. That was in 1988 on 11m. I was calling for JA and got ZL instead. Imagine how happy I was. You will get to ZL for shure, just a little patience...73, Bas


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