It was a good weekend on the bands, but today was rather special. Most of the weekend's contacts were made on the higher bands, which is somewhat unsurprising given the very high sunspot numbers. (Today the sunspot number is 282!). But today's two very special contacts were on 80 metres, which is a difficult band for me. I use either my Butternut HF6V vertical or a severely dog-legged 80m inverted v dipole with a maximum height of 30 feet at the apex.
I got up early to see if I could work the J88HL dxpedition in St. Vincent on 80m CW as a new country on that band. I could see they were active on 3.525 on the Reverse Beacon Network, but when I got to the radio I could hear nothing. I sat for a while listening on frequency while doing other things on the computer. Nothing. Not one bip.
A short time later, around 7.20am, I decided against all odds to try to listen to XR0ZR in Juan Fernandez on the same band, same mode. I thought I could hear him very weakly on my dipole, but I had a lot of QRN here and I didn't rate my chances of hearing him properly, never mind work him. But for some reason I sat on the QRG and went about doing a few bits and pieces on the computer.
|My four slots in XR0ZR's log, including 80m CW!!!|
Around 7.45am, I could hear him with a lot of QSB and flutter, and some of the time I could hear his full call "XR0ZR UP". A few EU stations, mostly G and DL, were calling him exactly 2 Khz up. So I decided to put on the Acom 1000 linear and call on that frequency.
After only a couple of minutes, I thought I could hear "KC 5NN" but nothing else. I called again. This time, I listened on the sub receiver and there was nobody else calling him on 2Khz up. I thought I heard "KC 5NN" again, so I gave "RR EI2KC EI2KC 5NN 5NN TU". Unsure as to whether it was a good QSO or not, I decided to log it as a precaution, and to try to work them again.
At the local time got nearer to 8am, XR0ZR came up in strength, but faded out about five minutes past and went into the noise. At that stage, with all Europe in daylight, I must have been the last one hearing him!
This afternoon I decided to check their online log, and, much to my surprise and delight, my 80m CW QSO is in their log! That was DXCC #133 on 80 metres.
But it didn't end there! Tonight, having waited for several nights for the chance, I finally worked Z81X in South Sudan on 80m CW. He has had huge pile-ups for the past few nights on 80 CW, but tonight his pile-up seemed to die down after an hour or so. I finally nabbed my chance. I could hear that he was listening about 1.5 Khz up so called him there. It took several tries to get him. He sent "EI2?" and I gave my call several times. I heard nothing. I gave my call twice again. I thought I heard "2KC 5NN". So I gave the call again and 5NN. And eventually I heard "EI2KC 5NN". This time I gave several RRRs and several 5NNs and TU.
Two new countries on 80 metres in one day. Not bad for a very severely dog-legged antenna that's not up high enough!!
Here are some highlights from the weekend:
St. Vincent - Eight slots, including 40m SSB.
Fernando de Noronha - 10m SSB - new country on 10m
Banaba - 20m SSB and 17m CW before they went QRT
American Samoa - 20m CW for a brand new DXCC, #301!
Guatemala - 12m CW, new one on 12.
Myanmar - 15m CW - only my second ever QSO with this rare DXCC.
Swaziland - 10m and 12m CW.
Reunion Island - 17m CW and a new one on 17 metres.
Juan Fernandez - 15m SSB and 80m CW
South Sudan - 80m CW - new DXCC on 80m, #134!