Tuesday, 14 February 2017
PACC 2017 review
Event: PACC 2017
Section: LOW power SSB
Logger: N1MM+ latest version
Station: Icom IC-706MK2G at 100W
Antenna 1: 84m horizontal loop @7m agl
Antenna 2: Coppertape vertical (7,1m) @9m agl
Antenna 3: 10m HB9CV @6m agl
I worked QRP in the last 2 years, a choice I had to make as I was not able to participate full time. This year I was able to spend more time in the PACC contest and so I choose the low power (100W) section. Unfortenately I was not able to start at time and when I started I had the idea there was no one on the bands. Watching the time I knew the contest has started but propagation was just that bad. The first hours of the contest was hard work. The only station that could be worked easily was TL8TT (Central Africa Republic) on 20m, 17m and 15m a first 2017 ATNO for me.
Then it occured to me that my output power was less as normal I suspected the voicekeyer and when I disconnected it everything was allright again. It gave me also problems with RF on my modulation on 15m. I had those problems before and last week I soldered a isolation transformer in the audioline just to prevent these things. I removed the transformer, connected everything like it was before and next problem was a big hum on the modulation. Opened the voicekeyer again checking every connection, couldn't see anything wrong, still a large hum. I didn't want to do the rest of the contest without a voicekeyer as most of the time I would call CQ especially deep into the night. I went on a half hour calling including hum, at least the modulation was ok. But I was not really happy with the situation so after opening it a third time I had the idea the printboard was not in good position and might be having a connection with the alu box chassis it is in. Not shure about that, but I took especially care to have it in good position when closing the box again and this time all problems were over. Of course this took me more as a hour valuable contest time. At sunset I just had 75 QSOs in my log a absolute minimum, that means only 15 QSOs in a hour average. My hopes for a reasonable score were gone.
Still it was not only disaster in the radioshack, I worked my share of DX in the mean time. Invaluable multipliers were the contacts with TL8TT on 20 and 15m (probabely not counting for the contest), PJ4DX (Bonaire), PY5AB (Brazil) and K3ZO/WX3B (USA) on 15m. I even worked a second multiplier on 10m with PY5QW (Brazil), again proof that my 10m HB9CV is amazing! When it went dark 20m became dead soon and the low bands came to life slowly. 40m didn't show the best ever although some contacts were made there despite of the RTTY QRM. 80m was quiet even at the best time slot (19:30 UTC) and I moved to 160m which was quite open to my surprise. I started to call CQ after a small S&P and it amazed me how many came back to my tiny signal. Even 5B4AIF on Cyprus answered my call (worked him on all bands except 10), I'd call that DX for my modest setup (160m only on the vertical). As you can see in the graph the rate jumps skyhigh midnight to fall down quickly after. I went to bed at 01:30 UTC and was there again at 6 UTC. I don't think I would have made many QSOs at nighttime, although you never know. I did 99% running at 80m and best DX that got back to me was PJ4DX (Bonaire) and K6ND (near Boston USA) as always 80m was my best band by far with 227 QSO made.
Some things during this contest that should not occur:
* N1MM+ disconnected the radio when I quickly tuned over the band. Or jumped with the keyboard from station to station in the bandmap. It just lost the connection and I had to reset to get connection again. It happened at least 10 times and not during transmit (no RFI). Connection between N1MM+ and the radio always has been a issue here and it seems it gets worse in every new update. I don't know what causes this, HRD never gives me a problem.
* I mysteriously lost some logged calls. I know for shure I logged them and the next moment I log another station the station before that QSO is gone. Happened 3 times so I lost 3 QSOs. Can't remember their calls. There was at least one UA that I lost. Not shure what is the cause of this as well???
* I worked a lot of dupes. Oh yes they were in my log and I don't argue when contesting, I just logged them. 10 dupes in a reply on my CQ!!! Never worked 10 dupes ever in a contest! Anyway, 2 QSOs gives at least 50/50 chance I am in the log with a correct call.
I learn from every PACC contest. Sometimes you got luck, sometimes it is just stupidity and sometimes you really can't do anything about it.
Looking forward to the next time....