This year's ARRL 10 Meter Contest reminded me a lot of a VHF contest. I think as many as three-fourths of my QSOs with W/VE stations were on Eskip. When that is the case, just like in a VHF contest, you never know where the Eskip is going to be favorable. Last year, Texas was probably the best place to be; this year it looks like the north central United States had the best propagation. Congratulations to W0SD for his huge score!
I have never had as good a start to the ARRL 10 Meter Contest as I had this year. The Eskip was great right from the start. By 0016 UTC, I had TR Log's rate meter at 276 QSOs/hour! The 181 QSO first first hour was the best first hour I've ever had in this contest. By the time the band really closed on Friday night, I had over 550 QSOs in the log, by far the most I've ever had after the first night of the contest. I worked some DX on Friday night - just a few QSOs with South America and the Caribbean, but some good conditions to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. The band was open until just after 0600 UTC.
Saturday and Sunday, unfortunately, were quite different. There was Eskip both days, but nothing like what I got on Friday night. Both mornings, my first QSO came much later in the day than it had in recent years. Instead of hearing the PY/LU crowd first, the earliest signals I copied this year on both mornings were from HK. I worked a few Africans on both days, but never heard a European signal. The closest I got to East Asia was hearing a YC call me, but I was unable to pull out the call sign from the noise. On Saturday night and Sunday, in particular, the Eskip would get very focused, and I would work seven or eight QSOs in a row to stations in the same multiplier. This could get frustrating, as I worked station after station in Maryland, but never heard Delaware, then I worked dozens of stations in Minnesota and never heard Manitoba.
One of the phone contesting skills I would like to think that I have learned well by now is the ability to decode almost any kind of accent, including the non-native-English varieties. On Sunday morning, though, I came across ZX5J on the second radio, and I swear he sounded like he was saying "Sugar Five Three Japan". I listened for a while and eventually it got to the point where it sounded like "Zulu Xray Five Japan" again every time. It was weird.
The K5TR station worked really well this weekend. There was more line noise than usual, and a different kind of noise that might have been solar noise, or something, but it seemed to move around slowly and take out 10-15 kHz of the band wherever it was. George put the second radio on a 10 meter vertical dipole, raised about 20 feet off the ground. I couldn't really hear well on that antenna when the run radio was transmitting, but it was extremely useful to have. It worked really, really well, and the omnidirectionality helped me find a few nice stations and openings earlier than I otherwise would have found them. I made lots of second radio QSOs, and only a few times had to switch to the yagis to complete a QSO or bust a pileup with the higher gain antennas.
It was frustrating on Saturday to work P40K and receive a serial number 500 lower than my QSO total at the time, only to hear her slowly catch up to and then surpass my number over the next several hours. I think northern South America must have had really good propagation into W/VE this year.
I missed Delaware and Alaska in the United States, and several Canadian provinces and territories, including Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The only two DX multipliers heard but not worked were a YC who called me, but whose call I could not entirely get out of the noise, and FM5AN, who must have had a packet pileup by the time I found him - I went back four or five times to try to get him, he always had multiple stations calling, and I never heard him call a station west of the Mississippi.
One highlight of the contest included working ZL6QH in the 1800 UTC hour, which seems very early to me - they gave me a very respectable QSO number, right in line with PJ2T and ZX5J at the time. Also on Saturday, a VA7 station called in and told me he was working me on a 10 meter HT! I only had one jammer this contest, who told me to "shut the ---- up", but he wasn't very loud or persistent.
Thanks again to George for hosting me at his station this weekend.
Contest Logging was done with TR LOG contest logging software. The following reports and log were created using TR LOG's post-contest processor.
Last Updated 14 April 2016