I operated as a single-operator, all-band, low-power (100W) entry in the CQ Magazine Worked All Prefixes (WPX) CW contest using the call sign ZS0HQ.

Propagation, although better this weekend than for the past month or so, was still scratchy. This is typical of our winter months, especially at the bottom end of the sunspot cycle. I’m not entirely sure why, but I suspect that it is the combination of less ionisation (because the sun has gone North) limiting the high bands, while thunderstorms around the equator limit trans-equatorial propagation on the low bands. This is more noticable to operators in the Southern hemisphere, because we have to cross the equator to work the major ham populations in North America, Europe and Japan! I’d be interested in your comments on this.

As a result, most of the contest was search and pounce for me. Probably good practise, since this really isn’t my strong suit. Scratch, scratch, scratch was the name of the game for most of the 34 hours. However at least this did give me an opportunity to use one of my strengths – sheer bloody mindedness, continuing to eke out the QSOs when any sensible mortal would have found something better to do with the weekend!

I used the W1VE live scoreboard (www.getscores.org) for the first time. I think it’s an excellent innovation, although the WriteLog score updater (also by W1VE) had a couple of teething problems. It’s certainly motivating to see how close you are to other stations (and vice versa) when deciding whether to take a break!

Speaking of breaks, I really like the WPX contest’s rule that single ops can’t operate for more than 36 out of the 48 hours of the contest. It is such a luxury to be able to sleep during a contest without feeling guilty about it! In the end I worked 34 of the maximum 36 hours, stopping two hours before the end at midnight local time as I had to go to work the next day and, to be honest, there was no longer much to motivate me – I was pretty sure that I have thoroughly trounced the local competition (I heard ZS6C, ZS6CCW, ZS9Z, ZS6/DL2RMC and my friend Csaba ZS6/HA3LN who kindly came up to give some points), and in the WPX format I didn’t have much of a chance against the North African stations (EA8 etc) who are so much closer to Europe and within the beamwidth of the NA yagis. I had met my target score (1.5 M points) but with 904 QSOs and 2 hours left, I knew that I couldn’;t make the target of 1000 QSOs. So I went to bed instead.

My 3830 summary follows. You can see how I’m doing compared with other “contest score rumours” on the DX Watch contest scoreboard – just look for ZS0HQ.

Call: ZS0HQ
Operator(s): ZS6AA
Station: ZS6AA

Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Johannesburg
Operating Time (hrs): 34

Band QSOs
80: 1
40: 275
20: 360
15: 268
10: 0
Total: 904 Prefixes = 468 Total Score = 1,625,364

Antennas: Force 12 C-31XR tribander @18m (60 ft), Optibeam OB2-40 2-el 40m beam @ 20m (66 ft), 80m dipole.


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