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ARRL DX Contest, CW (2019)

ARRL DX Contest, CW - 2019

Call: NR4M
Station: NR4M

Class: M/M HP
QTH: Central VA
Operating Time (hrs): 48

  Band  QSOs  Mults
   160:  358    80
    80: 1018   105
    40: 1633   116
    20: 1860   119
    15:  633    96
    10:   26     8
Total: 5528   524  Total Score = 8,595,696

Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club


*** Warning *** Long verbiage follows...

Well, as they say, 'Another one in the books'.

I found this to be an enjoyable contest, for a change.  With the contest being the next weekend after the CQ WPX RTTY contest, most of the station work we could do was done prior to that contest.  This made the week between contests much less stressful for me.

We had some handicaps going into the contest, but, for a change, this time we were not lacking in good operators.  We have nine stations here and never seem to have enough operators to fill all the operating positions when needed.  That is never a good thing.  But, this year I believe there must have been some sort of 'celestial alignment', which gave us a large, (and always hungry), crew.

Recently, there had been a bunch of work done to the low band receiving antennas and it has really paid off for us.  Thanks to the help of Mike, K4GMH, who made up the PC boards, new Beverage switching boxes were built, giving us much better antenna to antenna isolation, and reliability.

Since 4 Beverages are shared on 160, 80 and 40, receive band pass filters, were built, or re-built, tweaked and documented.  I'm a bit OCD about things and I can attest that MANY hours of adjusting and toroid winding, were used getting these filters 'just right'.  Still can't say it was worth the effort I put into it, but the whole low band Beverage system is working super good.  The 160 - 8 circle was also an outstanding performer, and when used in diversity mode with the Beverages, it was just plain 'awesome'.

I still have four rotators down for various reasons, which is not a good thing, but we have plans, and are working thru the problems.

Our 40 meter OWA stack developed a high SWR condition toward the end of the RTTY
contest last weekend,   We thought it was fixed mid week, but it wasn't.
Sunday afternoon, N3AC and I, went out and finally got it fixed.   It was just
above freezing with about a 10 mph cold wind, but Dave climbed the tower, found the problem and fixed it.  Unfortunately, there was only about 4 hours left in the contest when got the top antenna working again.  90% of the 40 meter operation was done with the 100 foot OWA and the Moxon at 70 feet. Kind of amazed we did as good as we did on 40.

This year, we had 3 ops that were new to the Goat Farm.  Iian, AD5XI / M0PCB, Steve, NY3A, and Rick, N1RM (No One Remembers Me...) joined the goat herders, fit right in and 'hit the ground running'.  It was a pleasure to have them with us.

Because we've never really had enough ops, there is never any real 'assignment'
to a particular station.  It was always determined by the particular ops available and the operating needs.  This year, we were able to have WS6X, Jim and Dave,  N3AC (recently ex KK4XX) man 160 meters almost exclusively and they did an OUTSTANDING job.  That team gave us the most countries (80) ever worked on 160, in this contest!

Larry, K7SV, was the main guy on 80 meters.  Sometime during the night the four square became very 'mediocre'.  During daylight hours , Dave, N3AC, and Ken,
K4ZW, tracked it down to a connector that had a mechanical failure.    (Note to
self:  ONLY, ONLY, ONLY use Amphenol...)  Larry racked up a bunch of Q's using the four square and the 4 element delta loop array strung between two 190 foot towers.  There is no second, or mult station on 80; just the one rig.

On forty meters, which can be called 'Chip's band', Chip, N2YO shared the duties with several of the other guys, alternating between the run station and the mult station, as they wanted.  That must have worked, as they turned in a good score, especially being a bit 'antenna challenged', with the loss of the high antenna.

Twenty meters was a work horse as usual and was in good shape most of the time.

  There was one period at about 2300Z ±, where it seemed that everything died for a while.  I was expecting some sort of solar event to have happened, but obviously, it all worked out in the end.  Many people shared the duties between the 20 meter run and mult positions.

Fifteen was a bit tougher, as between lighting damage and ring rotator pots skipping teeth in the gear train and losing calibration, we really didn't have any antenna that could be easily turned.  Thank goodness they were pointing at EU.  Again, many ops took turn helping out between the run and mult stations.

10 was a bit of a joke.  We only made a small handful of contacts during the whole weekend.  The only exciting thing I heard on 10, was out of the nothingness, EI7M answered our, ever continuous, lonely CQ.  He was a LOUD S-7 signal, that surprised everyone.  Boom/boom, in and out.  He was the only EU even heard!  Maybe it was propagation of the bottom of an airliner at 35,000
feet?   A one-time, 20 second propagation window?

Plenty to eat, as usual.  For a snack, I bought some raw, green peanuts and made boiled peanuts.  (it's a Southern thing; you wouldn't understand...)  At least,
*I*  liked them.  Platter of roast beef, turkey and ham sandwiches.  Make a large
pot of 'contest Chili',   Platter of peeled shrimp, Racks of smoked, dry rubbed
ribs, nuts, chips, cookies and such.  Several ops brought things to share, so we really had a load of foot do eat.  There are rumors of Rum and Coke, but I know nothing...

Overall, I like the propagation we encountered.  Low bands seemed to really good.

Anyway, that's the long story, and we didn't quite work WAS, even though there were many willing and trying, to help.

73 de Steve, NR4M and the rest of the Goat Farm gang.


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