ZL Festival

Being able to start setting up the station on the weekend before the contest allowed for some extras. So, the tower with 40m beam had already been cranked out and a second double zepp at 16m broadside to North America had been installed. The aim had been to test if such a dipole would give an advantage over the regular dipole towards the US. This dipole is fed with ladder line and got an overkill L-match at the bottom. An additional 1×6 antenna switch had been installed in the attic in order to switch between regular and add-on dipole. It has been quite some effort. However, it paid off eventually. It gave just a little bit of signal improvement in the order of 1..3 db which made a few times the difference of ‘in log’ instead of just ‘heard’. I’m now thinking of a bit more of a permanent installation. 

I arrived at the station on Thursday afternoon and finished all outside installation work till dawn. So, I had to just setup the station inside since the size of the shack doesn’t allow for a permanent installation of the SO2R setup. However, the installation got some important upgrades over the last year. There is a new permanent computer with a descent monitor and some industrial Ethernet to serial links to avoid all the Window issues related to USB and RS232 interfaces. Additionally, there is a new version of the antenna coupler control boxes. They are still not finished but much nicer now. I re-worked a serial link cable because I thought it had two pins exchanged. However, that hadn’t been the case, I just set the baud rate wrongly. So, the cable had been re-re-worked. Eventually, all the interfaces, transceivers and the computer worked at around midnight leaving me the Friday for fine-tuning and installation of  a second monitor to have more display space available and clean up working view. Additionally, I precooked the meals for the weekend to relieve my parents a bit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good rest before the contest start due to a sick headache. The latter bothered me quite a bit also during the first hours into the contest.

Starting to work stations at 160m with interlaced three pointers on 40m allows to avoids the 80m craziness at the contest start. I always check the 20m band frequently and the conditions into the Pacific seemed to be pretty well allowing to work an unbelievable six times ZL till sunrise. This keeps the high spirits up. Highlight of the night had been catching PJ2T starting to CQ on 160m and getting them into the log before the crowd arrived. This has been a  new band slot for me. Normally, staying at 80m quite a bit after sunrise allows to collect a few Caribbean multipliers when most of the guys are already gone to the high bands. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out his time. I just got TI7W (N6MJ) on 80m. Nobody else around. However, ZM4T and KL7RA went into the log easily on 7 MHz. It could have been worse. The 15m conditions were quite good that morning. 3B, VK, a few JAs and even both BY zones were easily worked. Then it is just time to wait for the 20m opening to the US. This is done by working everything on 20m, 15m, and 10m as well as harvesting the 40m EU multipliers. 10m didn’t really open, just something here and there: 3B, VK, EA, and EA8. That morning I had to pay the prize for not resting well before the contest. Unfortunately, the performance of the operator hasn’t been as good as it should have been. It got better in the afternoon when the rate picks up with the bands open to North America. I made to excursion down to the low bands. I checked for the 40m long path opening to the US West Coast since the zone 3 multiplier is always hard to get and could pick up N7DX as well as the JA multiplier. In addition I wanted to see if I could hear ZL on 80m. ZM4T showed up and I could hear them reasonably well with nobody else on the frequency. I cranked up the radio to 100W and worked them since I still needed the ZL band slot. Big mistake. Back at nominal power I got ‘DM2M?’ and then the next spot must have hit and the usual cacophony started on the frequency and I’m not sure of being in the log. Next time I’ll try to be a bit more clever and work the contest contact first … Getting the zone 3 multiplier took quite some effort. Luckily, the high bands stayed open a bit open after sunset and eventually VA7DX went into the log followed right away by N7DX. However, there havn’t been any stations from further south. The low bands later on allowed for good rates and I even called CQ for a while. I decided to break at around 1am to get some well needed sleep. I just wanted to rest for about 3 hours but the somehow i missed the alarm clock and it became a good hour more. The good thing was that I never felt tired for the rest of the contest but i might have missed a couple of QSOs. That morning I picked up Caribbeans on 80m I hadn’t heard the day before. Even LX went into the log. This guys pile up was insane. I waited for more than half an hour until it made sense to call myself. The second day went along as the first one and I netted more than 1900 QSOs. Still remarkable is the fact that the zone 3 guys had outstanding signals that afternoon. I have never heard California that loud. The fight of those juicy multipliers is still fierce since there aren’t as much out there due to the travel restrictions. I gave up a couple of times since I couldn’t justify to waste that much time, e.g. LX and IS on 160m as well as quite a number on 40m. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with the overall result as well as the performance of the station. Key to this had been the fact that there hadn’t been any technical issues but a short period when the RBN stopped delivering skimmer spots during day two. However, the service returned within a couple of minutes. Nothing, I could do about it anyway. It is always a pleasure and brings fond memories to re-connect to personal friends out there. Just to name a few: NP4Z (KL9A), TI7W (N6MJ), NX6T (w/ N6KI and the rest of the San Diego gang), 9G5FI (DL2RMC), and ZM4T (ZL3IO, ZL4YL) 

The continuous work over the years has been improving the station quite a bit. The optimal antenna state for the size of the property has been almost reached. Just missing the second double zepp, a reasonable receive antenna for the low bands to fight the noise encountered sometimes. A larger investment would be to have a skimmer setup. However, the largest improvement possible is still the operators performance. I’ll try to work on it …  

Last but not least, I would like to thank DL2LSM and XYL for the logistical and moral support. Without your support theses results wouldn’t been possible. 

Preliminary Result:

Call:  DM2M
Operator: DK3WE
Class: SO All Band Assisted QRP
Rig:   2x K3 (5W)
Ant:   2x20m Dipole @20m, 2x25m Dipole @16m, spider beam @20m, 
40m shortened 2 el. @17m, 160m Inverted-L 15m high QTH: @DL2LSM, JO61GH Summary:
Total Score: 3425 * (121 + 373) = 1.691.950

Band   QSOs  Points   Zones   Countries
160     305    347      12       52
 80     583    767      16       72
 40     356    678      25       82
 20     359    812      29       89
 15     307    756      28       61
 10      32     65      11       17
Total  1942   3425     121      373


This entry was posted on Monday, December 6th, 2021 at 4:26 pm and is filed under HF Contesting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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