I competed in the CW and phone portions of the ARRL DX Contest earlier this year. The CW portion took place February 15-16, 2020, and the phone portion took place March 7-8, 2020. My contest participation is usually casual, and I do not operate for the entire period of the contest. My primary goal during this contest is to work new DX stations.
The ARRL has a page to search contest scores and download copies of certificates earned for contest participation. I usually forget to check, since I never anticipate having a competitive score. When I checked this year, I had a pleasant surprise. In the Single Operator, Low Power category, I placed 3rd in the Georgia Section for both contests!
My preferred method of confirming QSOs is through ARRL’s Logbook of the World. It’s a simple, fast, and easy to use system to confirm contacts and apply for awards. It also saves a ton on postage, since international postage rates are very high. Still, there is something special about receiving a QSL card in the mail after working a rare DX station. In addition to nice keepsakes that have interesting information about the operators and their locations, they are physical proof of the QSOs.
Over the past few months, I have received several new QSL cards. Some are from contacts that took place over a year ago. I have been concentrating on getting confirmations from DX stations in the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. I really enjoy collecting the cards, and believe they add a personal touch to what are usually very brief DX contacts.
Another benefit from collecting QSL cards is that sometimes the envelopes have some cool stamps!
Some new VUCC 50 MHz endorsement stickers for 150, 175, 200, 225 and 250 grids arrived in the mail today. I am currently at 291 grids confirmed in Logbook of the World, so hopefully I’ll be applying for the 275 and 300 stickers soon.
A few days ago I had the great fortune to work Japan on 6 meters. Today, I was fortunate again to be at the radio during a brief 6 meter opening to western Europe. I was able to complete QSOs with 5 stations – 3 in France, 1 in Guernsey, and 1 in England. The opening lasted less than an hour, and I decoded lots of other stations in western and central Europe that I was not able to work. I am very happy to get the 3 new DXCC countries and 5 new grids.
I was very fortunate to be at the radio during a very brief opening to Japan on 6 meters during the early 2300 UTC hour on July 20th. It only lasted for about 10 minutes, but the signals were fairly strong and I was able to work two stations. It was very exciting! I had one confirmed 6 meter QSO with a station in Japan back in June, but it was really nice to also get two new grids today.
The CQ World Wide VHF Contest ran from 1800 UTC (2:00 PM EDT) on Saturday, July 18th, through 2100 UTC (5:00 PM EDT) on Sunday, July 19th. I participated for about 8 hours total at various times on both days. The band conditions were not very good, but there were some short openings to New England, southeastern Canada, the Midwest, and Texas. Despite the less than ideal conditions, I was able to make 56 contacts in 40 different grid squares, for a total score of 2,240.
One of my favorite operating events every year is the 13 Colonies Special Event. This year, the event ran from July 1st through July 7th. The object is to complete QSOs with special event stations in each of the original 13 colonies:
All participants can submit their log sheet to receive a very nice certificate. Confirmed QSOs with each of the 13 K2- colony stations constitutes a “clean sweep”, which is a coveted achievement that is reflected on the certificate. Each station also has a unique QSL card. The stations can appear on all bands and modes. The most difficult station for most U.S. operators is GB13COL, especially when band conditions are unfavorable. Fortunately, GB13COL logs special event contacts for DSTAR (Reflector 063B), DMR (talkgroup 31426), and Yaesu System Fusion (room 28173) contacts. This allows U.S. hams with access to one of those modes an opportunity for a QSO in spite of HF band conditions.
This year I was happy find several of the stations on 6 meters during a great opening on July 5th. I was able to work most of the stations via FT8 on July 5th, along with a few CW and SSB QSOs for a clean sweep. Unfortunately, I was never able to work GB13COL via HF, but I did complete a DSTAR QSO.
Over the Spring and Summer I have been focused mostly on 6 meters, but I also enjoy working DX on the HF bands. I woke up really early this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to check the bands. Most of the bands were dead, with lots of QRN (static) as is usually the case during the Summer. There were some strong FT8 signals on 40m, so I decided to see if there were any DX stations to work. The band was open to the west, into the Pacific, and I was able to work stations in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and New Caledonia. I didn’t get any new countries, but I still get a thrill from QSOs with stations on the other side of the world!
I’ve mostly been focused on collecting new grids on 6 meters for the VUCC Award, but I’ve also managed to add a few new countries toward a 6 meter DXCC Award. I started this season with only two countries (USA and Canada) confirmed. I am now up to 26. While that’s only 26% of the 100 countries needed for the award, I am happy with the progress. It’s not bad considering that I am working with low power and an omni-directional antenna.
I’m most proud of the QSOs with JA0RUG in Japan (6,866 miles) on June 3rd and TF8KY in Iceland (3,262 miles) on June 20th.