Thoughts and observations on the 2024 Canada Day Contest

Organized by Radio Amateurs of Canada I have been a regular participant in this contest pretty much every year since it started, which if my memory is correct would have been back in the 1980s. In the early days I sometimes used SSB but now it’s CW only.

I had great expectations that with the large number of sunspots and a high solar flux this year would give excellent propagation, but alas this was not to be. On the Friday before the contest there was a major geomagnetic disturbance which wiped out propagation, and even though propagation slowly improved the contest was not the success it could have been.

The contest started at 5pm local time on Monday 30th June (zero hours Zulu time I July) and I got going on 20m. There wasn’t the wall to wall number of stations I was expecting and hoping for but contacts were slow and steady. I was using the IslandHF call VA7IHF and noticed that people were asking for repeats, or were slow to respond to my calling them. I concluded that there aren’t a huge number of Canadian contest stations and the US contest operators not having heard VA7IHF in past contests were puzzled. I have used VA7IHF in a previous RAC contest and experienced the same issue.

When I applied for the call VA7IHF I knew it could be difficult for CW with all those dits and this has been proven to be the case. Think of VA7IHF – dit dit dit dah dit dah dah dah did did dit dit dit dit dit dit dit dit dit dah dit. N1MM is a wonderful contest logging program and one its many features is the ability to automatically send words or characters at a slower (or faster) rate than the rest of the exchange,

I then changed the CQ macro so the letter H in the call was sent at a lower speed. Roger VE7AP was active in the contest and has confirmed the call was easier to copy. Plus, I didn’t get asked for so many call repeats.

Anyway, returning to Friday evening and 20m the going was slow but reasonably steady. I periodically switched to 15m but didn’t see any activity on the bandscope so if there was any it was buried in the noise. Close to sunset I moved to 40m which was very busy and made quite a few contacts. Then to 80 where there wasn’t a lot of activity but CQ’ing brought a few out of the woodwork. I decided to call it quits for the evening with something like 200 QSOs in the log, but before doing so spent 15 minutes CQ’ing on 160m, 1825Khz, but no callers.

I thought that with 200 Qs in the log for Monday evening that by 5pm Tuesday when the contest ended I’d have 400 maybe 500 contacts. No such luck. I got up around 6am Tuesday morning and listened on 40m. Nothing heard except VK2IM in Australia with a reasonable signal and in the log after one call. Then Roger VE7AP. A couple more and nothing heard so it was over to 20m. Things were slow going but one of the things that surprised me was to receive calls from Europe from Romania to Ireland including Hungary, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium and England. Not many mind you but surprisingly strong.

A little time on 15m where I did make a few contacts and also ten where I heard nothing except VE7DZ at UVic. I listened to VE7DZ cq’ing for several minutes with no callers so I didn’t spend any more time on the band. Back to 20 metres where again it was slow going. I took a break and then got back on about an hour before the contest ended where to my surprise 20m was quite busy. Ten minutes before contest end I worked VA7MM who then suggested we QSY to 160m where we worked each other with excellent ground wave signals from Victoria to Coquitlam.

I finished the contest with 328 contacts. Disappointing really but the geomagnetic disturbance was a major impediment. A high residential noise level does not help either. There have been RAC contests in past years where during the afternoon I would cq and have a long line up of stations wanting to work me but not this year. I’ve been active through several solar cycles and have never experienced as many solar disturbances as during this cycle. If I had spent more time I could have made more contacts but it’s not really fun when contacts are few and far between. I don’t have the energy I used to have or to put it another way my get up and go has long since got up and gone.

That’s another RAC contest behind us and only six months to go before the RAC winter contest. Well done all IslandHF members who operated in the contest, VE7UBA Alan, VE7NRO Pierre, VA7HC Glenn, Roger VE7AP, and Joseph VA7YJJ.

Any IslandHF member on the island can request use of the VA7IHF call, just follow the process on the website to get authorized.

73, es cul

Brian VE7JKZ (VA7IHF op)

2 replies
  1. Alan
    Alan says:

    Brian – thanks for the excellent write-up. I just ‘dabbled’ in the contest, but worked you on 15 and 20.
    VA7IHF is indeed a difficult callsign to copy in CW, though not as bad as W7EEE. What was he thinking?
    There is a public database of regular contesters. Once my call was in it, I noticed an improvement in people recognizing me. I suggest you get VA7IHF added to it.



  2. Brian VE7JKZ
    Brian VE7JKZ says:

    Tnx for the contacts Alan. Yes, I always uplog logs to supercheckpartial so VA7IHF should be there. The worst callsign I ever encountered was shortly after I got licenced. It was a reply to a shaky CW CQ of mine and when I eventuallty sorted it out it was something like EI5SH. Sent on a bug from what I recall.

    Brian VE7JKZ


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