This weekend was the ARRL DX CW contest.┬áMy goal this year was to make more than 3000 QSOs. Last year’s effort fell slightly short with 2972 Qs claimed (2954 after checking), 432 claimed mults (418 after checking) and a final claimed score of 3,771,468 (3,689,268 post-checking). My final QSO total beat the target, although with relatively poor conditions on the low bands the number of multipliers was slightly down on last year.

Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 40

Band QSOs Mults

160: 45 29
80: 269 58
40: 609 85
20: 830 89
15: 746 86
10: 671 81
Total: 3170 428 Total Score = 4,066,428

QSOs by hour - all bands.

QSOs by hour – all bands.

Looking at the rates, it’s clear where I went multiplier hunting for long stretches of the early evening and into the night. It’s easy after the event to see that perhaps more running on 40 or even 80 on Saturday night would have been a good idea. The last hour before a sleep break on Saturday gave a decent run rate on 40, perhaps should have done this earlier in the night as well.

I’m always amazed by folks who can write post-contest reports with great detail for the entire contest about what bands they worked, how the bands sounded, etc. At the end of day 2, I can hardly remember what day 1 was like! A few things did stick in my mind, though. My strategy last year was to spend plenty of time on 160 and 80, with 88 Q / 49 mult on 160 and 370 Q / 72 mult on 80 m. This year’s totals were 45 / 29 and 269 / 58 – way down on 2013. The low bands were very noisy early on Friday night into Saturday morning and I’d thought the totals would be really lousy. However, around 2 am local I checked 160 again. The noise had dropped off, and looking at the P3 bandscope there were lots of little spikes all across the band as signals from EU started popping up and so the multiplier totals started creeping up also. Another nice memory is of the good openings into Asia. I’m topographically-challenged towards Japan, so it’s unusual for me to be able to run JAs but this was possible both days. Still, the rates to JA were not great and so in the end I’d usually turn the beam back to EU. At the end of two days there were still plenty of new callers from EU, a seemingly-endless pool of stations, with my top-ten entities this year being Germany, European Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, England, Netherlands, Hungary and Slovenia.

2014 ARRL-DX-CW K3EL - Top 10 Countries - All m (3194 Qs)

This is very similar to 2013, with a couple of switches in places. Slovenia pushed the Swedes out of tenth place this year – amazing, considering the huge ice storm in Slovenia only a couple of weeks ago. I expected to hear very few S50 stations because they’d all have lost antennas, but no, they were out in force. If there was a prize for number of Qs/population amongst my top-ten countries, Slovenia would win by a long margin!

My thanks once more to the support team (XYL) who is very good at providing meals and caffeinated beverages to me at the radio.

K3/Acom 2000a
Steppir @ 42′ – 3 ele 10-20 m dipole 40 m, 80 m delta loop, 160 m inv-L; K9AY and shared apex loops for RX.
N1MM logger

So what to do next year? A better 40 m tx antenna would be good. Perhaps a delta loop or half-square oriented towards EU? Or a four square? SO2R? More caffeine and less sleep?