As the frequent readers of this blog know I don’t own an amplifier and I like to contest. So what’s the solution to still be competitive a contest? Yes, enter the low power (100W) or the QRP-class (10W).
Every year the UBA-section DST of Diest organises the UBA Spring contest in 4 parts (each on a different sunday morning 0800-1200 local time) : 80m SSB, 80m CW, 6m and 2m.
In the UBA Spring contest there is no LP-class so I went for the 10W-class in the 80m SSB-part.
During the contest I had a pretty good feeling, not too much trouble to keep a run frequency for some time with my power down 10 to 20 dB from most of the other stations. The antenna (an inverted V dipole) must have been pretty good for working local stations!
I never published the antenna story but now seems to be a good time!
I know all you guys have your stations ready many weeks before the contest! I decided to pull up the inverted-V dipole the day before the contest but as it rained all day I only started about an hour before sunset. Pulling up an antenna and tweaking it for good VSWR can be done in 30 minutes can’t it?
After some measuring I found the dip in VSWR to be around 3590 KHz so after a fast calculation I decided the antenna was about 1.30m short on each side. About 15 minutes before dark I added 1.30m of wire to both sides of the antenna and when I came back in the shack the VSWR-dip was nowhere to be found in the 80m-band 🙁
Now what could be the problem I wondered, bad coax? a bad connection somewhere? After checking all connections at least 3 times it was way after dark and I still hadn’t found what caused this high VSWR so I decided to go to bed and not participate in the contest the next morning. I know… ‘quitters never win and winners never quit’ but I decided to quit at that time…
It’s only at about 5 o’clock in the morning I suddenly woke up and realised my stupid mistake. Of course, the antenna wasn’t short it was LONG! So I jumped out of bed and now shortened both sides of the antenna with 2.60m. You can read the results in the rest of this post!
In the results (pdf) you can see my score is about 33% higher as that of the runner-up in QRP-class but my score would also place me 13th in the list of the QRO-stations. Of course it’s not my fault there were only 6 competitors in QRP. A lot of stations seem to prefer to try and beat the 1KW+ stations using 100W 😉
In the title I wrote ‘I won my first contest’ but I was lying, it’s my second win… in 1999 I won the 80m SSB ON-contest (part of a similar series of sunday-morning contests in fall) entering as an SWL (ONL9120). I already had my full HAM-licence since 1995 but I wanted to feel for myself how easy or how hard it would be to seriously participate in a contest as an SWL.