It was a busy few days prior to the contest getting the new antenna system operational and determining the matching network requirements for 160 through 10 metres. Then a few days before contest start the RF output on my transmitter dropped significantly. After several hours troubleshooting the problem was found to be a poor connection on the PA driver board. The board was built ten or more years ago and it has taken this long for the problem to manifest itself. Fortunately no component failure although I do have spares for the transistors if needed. I like to say that if you build it you can fix it and that’s still true even though it’s getting harder and harder to see some of the circuitry.
The contest started and my first couple of contacts made no sense. Turned out that I’d selected CQWWCW instead of CQWPXCW so scrap the first QSOs and start again. Glenn noted in a previous post that 20m on Friday evening was really hopping and I had no problem working pretty much everything I heard. I concluded that not having the beam was no major disadvantage.
One thing I found aggravating was so so many of the eastern EU stations were sending at 30wpm or more. With signals coming through the aurora zone the resulting distortion made copy incredibly difficult and in some cases I didn’t bother. If only they’d slow down we’d all make more Qs.
With such a good start I figured I would make 500Qs or more without too much trouble. Not so alas. Daytime on the high bands were very slow and to me there’s no satisfaction in CQ’ing and making one contact every few minutes. Night gives the S8 noise on 80m and maybe S6 on 40m. Even during the day noise on 20m can be S4 or 5 at times and not much different on 15m.
A lot of time was spent tidying up the L matching networks and I now have what by my standards is a nice looking ATU. One variable capacitor and one rotary inductor both of WW2 vintage, and one switch to move the capacitor from one side of the inductor to the other. The antenna comes into the radio room on 450 ohm balanced line so a current balun was made to go between it and the ATU, installed in the ATU enclosure.
I finished the contest with a little over 400 contacts for a score of 313,600 points. Results were posted on 3830 and I listed IslandHF Radio association as the club.