2008 Commonwealth Contest


Call: ZS6AA
Operator(s): ZS6AA
Station: ZS6AA

Class: Open HP
QTH: Johannesburg
Operating Time (hrs): 20
Radios: SO2R

Band QSOs
80: 7
40: 156
20: 122
15: 209
10: 15
Total: 509 Total Score = 5,800

Club: Team Africa

My station is set up for low power contesting, but not within the antenna restrictions of the Restricted class, so I spent the morning connecting up an FL-2100B to give my signal more punch for an Open Class entry. Due to my antenna switching and SO2R filtering, the linear had to be manually band-switched by changing coax jumpers. I initially set it up for 80m but later used it on 40m and 20m as well.

The contest started well, with a nice opening to the UK on 15m for much of Saturday afternoon, and even a very brief opening (8 QSOs) on 10m. There was a lot of thunderstorm activity and I eventually had to give up my run with a hurried “QRT LIGHTNING” as the thunder crashes became deafening through the headphones. I was off for about an hour, which was a pity since the rate had been quite good – I managed 207 QSOs (40% of my total) in the first six hours.

20m was disappointing on Saturday evening, with only a short run of about 40 minutes yielding 47 QSOs, plus a few from S&P. 40m and 80m were very noisy due to static from the thunderstorm which was still active a few kilometers away. I tried to run on 40m, but found that although my signal was strong enough to attract a small pile-up, I couldn’t make out individual calls in the pileup due to all the QRN. So I would work a few S&P, then try to run, then give up the run because I couldn’t make out the calls, then S&P for a while again – quite frustrating.

I tried 80m a few times during the evening using a new end-fed dipole in an inverted “L” configuration. The results were disappointing, with only 7 QSOs in total, but this may not be a fair reflection on the antenna. I eventually went for a nap at 3am local time, hoping that things would be better in the morning. This proved to be a mistake as propagation was horrible on Sunday – from 6am until noon I managed only 51 QSOs, mostly to Australia and Asia. The high point was working the VU headquarters station VU2UR on 15m and my honorary African team mate VU2LYX on 20m. I also managed to double my 10m tally to a grand total of 15 stations!

It was an honour to be invited to captain Team Africa for its first appearance in the contest. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the brief messages of encouragement when working team members, and the added motivation of wanting to do as well as possible for the team.
Commonwealth Contest Rate


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