ARRL Dx CW Contest

Well, I nearly missed it again! Saturday night I turned on the HF radio and the waterfall in the CW band was going nuts! Jumped in after I checked out the contest calendar and checked the rules and exchanges. The information exchange was signal report (599) and your state for US stations (NC), for the Dx stations it was signal report (599) and the RF wattage used (100 or 700 or 1000 watts). So on CW contests, operators use the “Cut Numbers” which is shorthand for the numbers. Rather than doing all the dits and dahs, they use a letter code that has some of the characteristics of the number. For those that are unaware: for example Zero (- – – – -) is “T” (-). Nine (- – – – .) is “N” (- .). One (. – – – -) is “A” (. -). Here is an article about this. My exchange was “5NN NC” and I got back “5NN 7TT” translated to RST of 599 and 700 watts. The submitted log needs to contain “599 700” for the received message, not the cut numbers.

Number         Normal Code           Cut Number         Result
  1        di dah dah dah dah      di dah                  A
  2        di di dah dah dah       di di dah               U
  3        di di di dah dah        di di di dah            V
  4        di di di di dah         di di di di dah         4
  5        di di di di dit         dit                     E
  6        dah di di di dit        dah di di di dit        6
  7        dah dah di di dit       dah dah dit             G
  8        dah dah dah di dit      dah di dit              D
  9        dah dah dah dah dit     dah dit                 N
  0        dah dah dah dah dah     dah                     T

So using my CW reader and sometimes catching the code, I managed to make 18 contacts from the cacophony of sounds on the 40 meter band. I had a good tight CW filter to separate the stations from each other so I could understand it. I programmed the Macro buttons on the IC7300 to just 5 items:

Macro 1N4PVHCall sign to answer CQ
Macro 25NN NC 5NN NCExchange
Macro 3TU 73Good bye
Macro 4?Repeat please

There are two ways to work a contest: either you “run” a frequency where you sit on one spot in the band and call CQ waiting for others to find you. The other way to to “Search and pounce”. I started at one end of the 40m band and slowly tuned to the other end. I was just scanning and pouncing on a DX station calling CQ (not US or Canada stations as this is a Dx contest). I set the macros in order of use. I would listen carefully and after I got their call sign right, I would answer the calling station with my call sign (Macro 1) and I might hit the button twice to get my call sign out twice. That would increase the chance of them understanding my call. Then listen for them to repeat my call. If they got it wrong, I would hit the #1 macro two or three times and then see if they got it right. Once they did, they would also have sent their exchange message (5NN 7TT). I would then hit Macro 2 that sent my exchange twice. I would then listen for the “TU” for “Thank You” or repeat it if they did a “?”. Once they got it, they would go on to call CQ again for the next contact. Record the QSO in your log. A lot of the contesters like N1MM logger on the PC as it is very capable and it is free. On the Mac, operators are using Skookum Logger as it is also very good.

The end of the contest came quickly for me as I thought Midnight on 2/21 meant Sunday night… wrong! So plans to get up and do more contacts Sunday morning was met with a very quiet band! Should have checked the contest calendar better. Even if you only do a few contacts, please submit a log to the URL in the contest calendar info on that contest. This allows the other guy or gal to get the points from contacting you as well as you get the experience of submitting logs and get points for it. Here is what a submitted log looks like (a text file called a Cabrillo File):

NAME: Fred Flintstone
ADDRESS: 123 Main Street
CREATED-BY: CabConverter 2.05, contest recipe version 1.0, by NE1RD
QSO: 07018 CW 2021-02-21 0719 N4PVH 599 NC IK5ZWU 599 300
QSO: 07024 CW 2021-02-21 0712 N4PVH 599 NC PS2T 599 1000
QSO: 07025 CW 2021-02-21 0711 N4PVH 599 NC YL7X 599 1000
QSO: 07027 CW 2021-02-21 0659 N4PVH 599 NC ZL2AGY 599 500
QSO: 07028 CW 2021-02-21 0652 N4PVH 599 NC OK5Z 599 1000
QSO: 07029 CW 2021-02-21 0651 N4PVH 599 NC OL70DG 599 1000
QSO: 07033 CW 2021-02-21 0646 N4PVH 599 NC LZ9W 599 1000
QSO: 07034 CW 2021-02-21 0642 N4PVH 599 NC ZF1A 599 1000
QSO: 07036 CW 2021-02-21 0640 N4PVH 599 NC HP3SS 599 1000
QSO: 07037 CW 2021-02-21 0049 N4PVH 599 NC OM2VL 599 1000
QSO: 07038 CW 2021-02-21 0046 N4PVH 599 NC DD2D 599 1000
QSO: 07043 CW 2021-02-21 0042 N4PVH 599 NC OQ4U 599 1000
QSO: 07053 CW 2021-02-21 0023 N4PVH 599 NC C4W 599 1000
QSO: 07054 CW 2021-02-21 0021 N4PVH 599 NC IO4X 599 100
QSO: 07054 CW 2021-02-21 0019 N4PVH 599 NC D4Z 599 1000
QSO: 07054 CW 2021-02-21 0017 N4PVH 599 NC DJ7TO 599 700
QSO: 07069 CW 2021-02-20 2327 N4PVH 599 NC CM8JY 599 100
QSO: 07068 CW 2021-02-20 2317 N4PVH 599 NC F5MMX 599 100

For 18 CW contacts (x 3 points each) x 15 multipliers = 810 points if all the contacts are confirmed. Not bad for 90 minutes on the band. I chose to do only one band (40m), not assisted (no CW Skimmer or other software scanners), low power (<150 watts), Single operator with one transmitter puts me in to a small group where I might have a chance of placing slightly above the bottom! BUT WAIT! LOOK AT ALL THE COUNTRIES I CONTACTED! From Peru to Brazil, Europe and all the way to New Zealand. I heard Saudi Arabia but he was working split and I could not get his listening frequency even though he did say “UP” implying 1 KHz up frequency, no luck. Now this is amateur radio fun!

Get out there and hit the ARRL SSB DX contest coming up next: ARRL Inter. DX Contest, SSB: 0000Z, Mar 6 to 2400Z, Mar 7

Have fun and get out there, 73, Peter N4PVH.

Published by n4pvh

A ham since 2002, now finally made it to Extra! President of Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: