G3TXF : CQWW 160m CW Contest : Jan 2009
It's been several years since G3TXF last had a reasonable go at CQ-WW CW 160m Contest. The 160m antenna was pretty much the same as used during recent CQ-WW CW Contests. A horizontal dipole is fed at 90ft above the ground. Although both sides usually droop down somewhat, this year the average height was probably over 60ft, thanks to using a second 80ft tower to support the mid-point of one side of the antenna. 160m DX-antenna purists will no doubt argue that I am wasting my time with this sort of 'cloud-warmer' antenna. And they are probably right too! One day I'll get a vertical on 160m.

However the major change in the shack was the arrival of a brand-new Elecraft K3. Thanks to the recently collapsed value of the UK Pound, the K3 has turned out to be by far the most expensive transceiver that I have ever purchased. But after two days of working in a major contest with the K3, I am beginning to appreciate what a fantastic rig the K3 really is for CW contesting. Even amongst the pandamonium of Top Band during a DX contest, all the signals on the K3 sounded crisp and clear. However I'm still learning how to use the K3. There are loads of contest-relevant features on it, but it does take a while to get used to them. CQWW 160m Contest was an excellent opportunity to use my new K3 in earnest for the first time. My ever-faithful FT-1k Mark V was demoted to being just a passive stand-by radio sitting, unused for the whole weekend, on the shack floor.

The openings to W6/W7 on both mornings were great. More W6/W7 were worked on the Saturday than on the Sunday. Conditions may have not been quite so good on the Sunday. Nevertheless VE7SV went into the log at 0833z and NN7ZZ in Utah at 0846z on Sunday. Sunrise at the West of England contest QTH was about 0805z. Not only were there the numerous W6/W7 but there are also two KL7s (KL7HBK and KL7RA) in the log.

Was this really a "Topband contest"? Forty years ago, the height of DX on 160m was being able to work an OK/OL station on CW with a 10-watt home-made transmitter. How Topband has changed!

Extension pole on 80ft Versatower used to lift centre of 160m dipole to just over 90ft.

There were a number of gotaways such as HD2A and CE1/K7CA who were both good signals at times, but who couldn't hear me. OK, maybe if the antenna at my end had been a vertical, then things could have been different. Worked XE1RCS for an all-time new one on 160m, only to be called by XE2S a few minutes later. UK9AA was also a gotaway despite being a good signal. Various TAs were heard, but not worked. Many thanks to Johnny LA5IIA for putting much-wanted 4U1UN on Topband during the first few hours of the Contest. Also an all-time new one for G3TXF!

Although I was Single-Op-Assisted with the cluster running for much of the time, it was usually a half-hearted Single-Op-Assisted, because most spots that came up were just ignored. The wild uncontrolled blind-calling that usually occurs after a good mult comes up on the cluster does not make it worth the effort to hop over to the 'spot' frequency. Just stay where you are, happily CQing and hope that some mult calls you instead! Searching for mults that haven't just been spotted is a more relaxing past-time.
The new K3 takes up less space on the operating table than the associated computery (Win-Test on laptop and cluster on PC).
G3TXF : CQWW 160m CW 2009 : Single-Op Assisted

1,051 QSOs, 73 DXCC, 49 States/Provinces (missed DC, ID, NV, WA, WY, KS, ND and VO2, VE4, VE5, VE6, VE8, VY0 and VY1.)

Claimed score : 779,580 pts

QRV for about 25 hours : in the shack from the start at 22z through to 09z on the Saturday. Back again at 17z and worked through until 21.30z (went to bed early because of a cold/'flu) but was back up at 04z on Sunday. Again worked through to breakfast at 09z.

Started the final session on Sunday at 17z and went through to the end at 22z.

The small changes to the CQWW-160m rules are most welcome: i.e the 22z start-time as well as the replacing of the vacuous "country identifier" by a CQ Zone in the exchange. Only one station (a Swiss) was heard giving his exchange ("HB") in the old style!

DX . . EU .
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160m dipole with centre of one side was held at 80ft. The average height was about 60ft.