Endless rates on 10 and 15 meter, antenna repairs in the rain and way too little sleep. The four operator team consisting of Björn SM0MDG, Patrik SM0MLZ, Ulf SM0NOR and our Icelandic host Jón TF3ZA broke the Multi Operator/Single Station Zone 40 record in CQWW SSB 2012.
Entering a major Contest from Iceland was an idea we had tossed around for quite some time and it finally became reality with the help of TF3ZA who I had met a year earlier during the JX5O Jan Mayen 2011 expedition. Together we decided to enter the CQWW SSB Contest and take a shot at the Zone 40 record. This is our story.
Jón TF3ZA had arranged for us to use the Icelandic Radio Amateur’s club station, TF3IRA, located on the beach by the end of the domestic airport runway in the outskirts of Reykjavik. The location is perfect for DX’ing and the club station is a well maintained and clean installation, but lacks a multiplier radio setup and the low band antennas needed.
To make the necessary preparations the team arrived one day early to set up the FT 1000 MKV multiplier radio, install an extra Acom 1011 amplifier, add band pass filters and deploy low band transmit and receive antennas. The work began early Friday morning with tuning of the 80 meter antenna that Gudmi TF3SG had borrowed us and put in place before our arrival. In addition we built a 20 meter tall 160 meter transmit vertical with material provided by Benni TF3CY. To get good RX on low bands we deployed two remote switchable RX Pennants, one facing NA and the other facing AS and EU.
As always, the preparations took more time than we had estimated, but at 20:00 we were ready and headed downtown for a very nice team dinner in Reykjavik. While in the car heading back for the club station we noticed a light rain over Reykjavik, but we had no worries as all antenna work was completed and we only had some indoor preparations left to do.
Returning quite late back to the station we realized that there would be very little time for practice running before the start of the contest. What made thing even more “exiting” was the discovery of not being able to log contacts in Win-Test! With the clock approaching midnight our nervousness increased while struggling with the logger before finding the solution just two minutes before the start of contest.
Patrik kicked off with a instant run on 20 meter and we had planned to put the multiplier station on 40 meter at the start, but as we got distracted by the logging issues we had not tuned up the Acom amplifier yet. We had test run the 40 meter vertical using the radio barefoot in advance, but when applying high power we noticed that the SWR went off the charts and we soon realized that it was cased by the rain. At this point Benni TF3CY climbs up on the roof to check out the vertical and its connections.
Benni was not able to locate the problem with the 40 meter vertical, so Jón and Björn went outside to build a new vertical. The rain was poring down and as we had a limited amount of coax cable available, we decided to place the 40 meter antenna close to the 80 meter vertical so we could share its cable. The vertical is completed at 03:30 and we put the running station on 40 meter at this time. By now the team is exhausted, the planned schedule is abandoned and it ts decided that we run without the multi station the first night so that the morning operators could get a little rest.
We kicked off the contest at midnight with a run on 20 meter logging mostly NA but also some SA and EU, then moving to 40 at 03:30. At 06:00 we went on 80 meter for an hour and a half.
Our first run on 10 meter started right after 10:00 UTC on Saturday morning and lasted for two hours with mostly EU and some NA and rates between 200 to 300. After the run on 10 dried up we moved to 15 meter for a four hour run with a great rate. At 16:45 we tried 20 meter for an hour but rate was lower so we went back to 15 which kept us busy until 20:45 UTC. What a great first day! Before we finally went on low bands for the night we had logged almost 20:00 contacts on high bands keeping an average at almost 200 throughout the day.
Sunday was amazing, from 9:30 to 19:30 we were having a constant rate over 200 working only 15 and 10 meter bands. The longest non-stop run was on 10 meter between 13:00 and 18:20. The high demand for TF certainly boosted our rate on 10, but 15 meter was also in great shape providing a total of 2122 contacts, the most contacts of any band.
The final (claimed) score of 7,763,826 points breaks the TF record from 1980 held by TF3IRA and is more than double the final score of the Zone 40 record from 1992 by JW5E. Contesting under the aurora oval have its challenges, but we were lucky to experience good propagation on higher bands enabling us to achieve our goals.
Band QSOs Zones Countries ------------------------------ 160: 8 3 8 80: 424 16 71 40: 735 25 91 20: 1004 31 97 15: 2101 29 116 10: 1547 27 109 ------------------------------ Total: 5819 131 492 Total Score = 7,763,826
Being able to enter the CQWW SSB Contest from TF3IRA’s club station was a fantastic experience and the team wants to thank IRA and its chairman Jónas TF3JB for welcoming us to use their club station. We also thank Gudmi TF3SG for lending us the majestic 80 meter vertical, and Benni TF3CY who provided us with tons of material to build the 160 meter vertical and also helped us set up the station.