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EY8MM Tajikistan CQ WW DX 2008 CW Story

This year of 2008 was very hard, I was very busy at my work. I failed to put into practice part of my plans of improving the station and installing new antennas. So there were no any serious projects for SSB contest. Entering SSB on LF bands from my QTH seems to be prospectless. I mostly wanted to work missing US states to complete 5BWAS.
But nevertheless at least twice I managed to come to the contest position and put permanent cables. To unroll prior and roll up the cables after each contest is quite a toil. So this problem was fixed. There were metal boxes with antennas matching circuits built, switching devices installed and control wiring arranged. Some cables and wires were tied to poles, some were buried. I also needed to replace antennas support ropes which use to tear at the very unpredictable moment. For that purpose I had 400 m of a good cord bought from RA6LBS.
CQ WW DX 2008  Cables and accessories EY8MM
Transmitting antennas cables which I had to unroll before each contest.
The planned minimum was made although I could not put up 160 and 80 m quads to VK/ZL. This is a very promising direction because there is a lot of multipliers in South East Asia mostly using simple antennas which certainly must be picked up.
I finished CQ WW SSB on 160 with a pitiful result. So much pitiful that it's not worth to mention here. Well, let's achieve high SSB scores on HF bands moreover we are already working at it. Hope that 24-th sun activity cycle is not long in coming. But I'm not going to quit LF bands in CW. It's too much fascinating there.
As usually I began preparing to the contest with setting up goals and analysis. I surveyed my own score of 2003 and an excellent result of UN4L in 2007, when Nickolay have scored the new Asian record, as a reference point. Setting the continental records from zone 17 is not easy when compared to 5B4 or TA. But Nickolay's achievement assured me that we can conquer them.
Back in 2003 I was operating from the same QTH but my antennas were not resonant. I used existing wires and matched it with antenna tuner. There were no receiving antennas that time. So this set up gave me 1258 Q's, 32 zones and 102 countries. But after previous attempts from urban environment this result seemed to be the summit of my desires, especially because I finished World the 3-d, just after the station from EA8 and OH2BH. I have also downloaded UN4L's log for 2007 when Nickolay was World the 4-th with 1637 Q's, 30 zones and 108 countries. Feodor, UK9AA have sent me his 2006 log with 1395 Q's, 30 zones and 99 countries scored.
All logs were carefully investigated. So I came to conclusion that I must reach 1800 Q's with 112 countries and 32 zones. Talking to Nikolay, UN4L I knew that he was seriously preparing to the contest and would try to improve his result. He worked under antennas and readily shared details with me. Thus competition would become more interesting because Nickolay was strongly intended to exceed his record.
By the contest I have had the following antennas: Bi-Square North-South, Bi-Square West-East and 2L quad to Europe. European quad was made within the 160 m quad. I had enough troubles with tuning it and thanks to Igor, DL2KQ for the help. Good European antenna is the most important issue here in Middle Asia because the majority of 3-pointers for us live in Europe. And the better the antenna the higher the result. Hopes to make many Q's with USA from here are flimsy because the path is too complicated and any number would never effect the final score very much. 50 USA calls would always be great. And obviously good signal in Europe is needed to keep the run frequency clear. The more so, that I decided to focus on the number of contacts but not the highest multiplier. This tactics was good for me on 160 last year so I planned to do the same. I decided to work S&P only if I'm forced out of run frequency by some “badly-hearing” European “sat” a top of me. I recalled at the last moment that I had WX0B Stack Match somewhere in my store, which would let me use two transmitting antennas simultaneously or separately. I made it possible using the second switch. It's been a good decision because when radiating in different direction I could at the same time transmit to Europe in order to keep my frequency free of “treacherous invaders”.
Receiving antennas were Beverages in 5 directions from 160 to 320 meters long. Transceiver Icom IC-775DSP and Acom 2000A power amplifier. There also were IC-756PROIII and ACOM1000 ready-to-use. If transceiver was never used, ACOM1000 was a good support when power line voltage dropped below 180 V.
I could not have a proper sleep before the contest like probably many other radio amateurs. First of all because I can not visit Observatory very often so I devoted most of the time to 160 m DX'ing and of course tried to work the only missing state on 80. 160 was full of DX stations that's why sleeping much would be incorrect. During about a week I could sleep only for 3 hours a day. I had to come to work and than come back to polish my set up. It was the most unpleasant moment when 160 m quad fell down and interlaced with 80 m one. A couple of cigarettes at the bottom of a tower, about an hour of meditation and I worked out the plan how to restore my antennas alone within 15 minutes. Unlike in previous years there was no Sasha, EY8CQ with me, my major associate in “crazy projects”. But this year he was busy with private affairs in Russia, so we only phoned each other to give a toasts to us during dinners.
EY8MM CQ WW DX 2008 CW Contest Position
Before the contest.
OUTSET. 00:00-03:00 GMT.
The contest begin at 5 o'clock local. There is not so much time to work in the first morning but this period is usually quite significant and give a good understanding of antennas efficiency and propagation conditions. To keep a proper rate now I have printed out my rate-table of 2003. Well, 00:00. Go!
EY8MM SOSB 80 m 2003.
D1-0000Z --+-- 81/32 --+-- --+-- --+-- --+-- 81/32 81/32
D1-0100Z - 36/11 - - - - 36/11 117/43
D1-0200Z - 8/9 - - - - 8/9 125/52
D1-0300Z - 2/0 - - - - 2/0 127/52 46
And at the very beginning I have made a tactical mistake. I could not take the CQ frequency!
Most of entrants started on 80 and 40 m because HF bands were nearly dead. The band exploded with signals and I had to look for the run frequency. While tuning I tried to call a long distance multipliers though it's not quite right in the beginning, because Big Guns did not work each other yet and to compete with them in Pile Ups is wasting a time. Anyway I need the frequency so I try to call once or twice and move on. The first success – QSO with Yuri, PZ5TT I note in mind as a good sign. Here's the frequency but in 3 QSO's I'm “squeezed out” and have to move on. They usually take frequencies 100-200 Hz apart. But this time it was a zero beat. Move higher and take KP2M comparatively easy. Several kHz up and the frequency is found. Give a CQ on 3545 and begin gaining rate by little. Powerful M/M and M/S club and CIS stations are calling. Double multiplier at 0028 — 5H3EE is calling. “Turn” my Beverages to Africa. Loud Europeans are heard in any case but for the sake of such a multiplier it's worth to spend a time building Beverages. In 10 minutes there are VU2PTT and Igor, TO3R calling. Hurray, I'm heard in Africa!
Rate is growing by little. A lot of well known call-signs. Extremely loud 4L0A. KT1V – another double multiplier and one more good sign. It means that I'm heard in North America. Oh, how much I need in the propagation to there! In the last but one minute RU1A is calling. It's a long time they looked for me! Usually we exchange numbers within the first several minutes. The first hour is over and I have 93 Q's logged. Well, It's been a couple of good multipliers but in the whole this time was not very much productive.
The second hour – callers are more active. There are P3F, EI7M, C4N, EX2A, RW0A, 4O3A logged. Others were mostly Eastern Europe and CIS. But there were no “outstanding” multipliers. Two interesting Q's by the end – with A73A and 4K8M. In all 124 QSO's per the second hour. This is a bit better.
Stations call me for 7 minutes more. But sunrise cutoff the propagation to Europe. Well, nothing can be done, but S&P-ing. So I logged P40W, LN8W, LX7I, OH0X, TF4M, ES5Q, KC1XX, TO4X, J68V, GI0KOW, VY2TT, 5B/AJ2O, ER5WU, E7DX, HC8N, CT9L, IG9X, HI3A. I worked the last two in 15 minutes after the sunrise. As far as CQ-ing is useless I move around the band and pick up everyone I hear. Unexpectedly sometimes, but they answer. With troubles but I have TA4ZA, D4C, SV9CVY and of course UN4L logged. Nickolay has enough callers and I do not interrupt him with the question of how many Q's he gained although it's extremely interesting to me. In about two hours after the sunrise I make the last contact with S57DX and move on looking for Nickolay. He said that he made 500 QSO's... I did as follows:
D1-0000Z --+-- 93/43 --+-- --+-- --+-- --+-- 93/43 93/43
D1-0100Z - 124/19 - - - - 124/19 217/62
D1-0200Z - 42/18 - - - - 42/18 259/80
D1-0300Z - 47/3 - - - - 47/3 306/83
D1-0400Z - 9/1 - - - - 9/1 315/84 33
I don't want to sleep at all being overexcited. But I know for sure that it's better now than any time later. Just make a tea and add some cognac. I settle down and go to sleep.
The second night.
After 10Z I begin hearing stations on the band. Nickolay is working Asians but not very actively. EY7AF is the first one to come back to my CQ. But that is all and I go ahead listening around the band. The stations become louder but my signal is not worth even a “QRZ?” reply. I start CQ-ing at 1115Z and begin working Japanese stations. There are KH6LC and HS0ZDY calling. It's not necessary to bother about the run frequency at this time of a day, so I stop my CQ periodically and browse the band looking for Pacific and Asia multipliers. My signal improved by 12Z and I pick up KG6DX 9M6NA. At 1224 K6NA called over the long path. The life is getting better! There are JA, VK, ZL, K, HL, BY, BV calling. Can not receive DV5PO for a long time. Until 14Z two more multipliers answer my CQ — AH2R and XV4BX. At 1408 a very loud YLxx come to my frequency and I move on looking for another “refuge”. QSO with A45XR do compensate me missing a good frequency. I take 3517 with a decision to fight for it with all of my power. At this time there are Asia and North Europe calling. Many Chinese stations with exotic call-signs like BD8AIB or similar. Denis, K7GK is calling with a good signal for the Long Path. Since that a routine RUN work began. It continued until 17Z when AH0BT came on a bit lower. I had to pick him up and leave. Another frequency found. Rate is increasing by little. At 1814 I hear 3X5A calling. I understand that my multiplier is still too low. At about 19Z I give up CQ-ing and listen around. Everything is sorrowful. The noise is enormous. S-meter shows 6 to 7 S-units with any Beverage. Something is wrong. It was only EA9 I managed to work. Push F12 to come back to CQ frequency. It is not busy. Also very strange... Never before I had such a noise level. Not many stations are calling, that is also strange enough. Put on AUTO CQ and listen to the second receiver to understand what's going on. Hear 8Q7DV working split. But I'm called very bad.
But bit by bit the rate came back although it was very difficult to read stations because of noise. I decided to pay no attention at searching at all because receiving problem has become a real pain. I would never be able to hear several “layers” of calling stations under such a noise level. Almost until 21Z there were no good multipliers. PY2XB called at 2126 and immediately after — XV1X. Not bad – the second station from Vietnam is calling on CQ. At 2250Z USA opened. Several Big Guns and PJ2T. VP5W call a little bit later, making happy longing for multiplier operator.
But in some time I can not resist and go ahead S&P-ing. Within 40 min I gain 3 more new multipliers: 3V8BB, FM5CD 6ATA. C6ATA is coming through weaker than before the test. He called me 3 or 4 times to compare the signal reports. He was 599 all the way. Super good for his Low Power. But today he was only 579 and did not stand out against the noise clearly, which worried me until sunrise.
Having moved apart from C6ATA a bit I give a CQ. Another success – C98LW! Thank you, my friend! The further – the better. KP4MS, 6Y1V, V26K, HI3A, Dima V31WA, YW4D are calling. C6ATA again. Seems like he did not accept the first QSO. But maybe I simply began to interfere with his callers, so I move on searching because of sunrise coming – the best time for “hunting”. As a result, two more multipliers — J88DR and VP2MDG – during half an hour. In 20 min after the sunrise I decide to give a CQ. This decision turned out to be productive as not very loud Americans were calling and valuable multipliers — CW5W, V47NT. An old WRTC friend of mine Luke, ZY7C called also. All stopped at 0330. Enormous noise did not let me hear the stations as on the previous morning.
The second night is over with 1331 Q's and multiplier of 145 logged. I have already improved my score, but how did UN4L do? Again tea with some cognac – and go to sleep...
Having awoke – listen to the radio. There are no stations, but that awful noise is also absent!!! I make a decision to move my planned score up to 2000 Q's. It adds motivation. Well, it's time to go out to inspect antennas.
2 El Quad 80m EY8MM
160 and 80 m quads (inked in).
EY8MM 160m Quad antenna
The side of 160 m quad with feed-line is good visible.
EY8MM Bi Square antenna matching
Bi-Square matching device.
EY8MM Top of the Tower
From a top of the tower which supports my quads.
"Concluding" night.
Antennas are OK'. I begin searching at 10Z. One more important multiplier – UK9AA. Feodor is single band 40, but we have a rule – to find each other and give a multiplier. I pick him up on 40 and we move down to 80. No takers on either band so we exchange the news in SSB. Good JA RUN begin at 1130. A bit later – David, VK3EW. Than ZL1BYZ is calling. As I knew later he could only work four stations. It means that receiving here have come right. Really, the noise was absent completely. The band was clear and it made me happy. USA is calling Long Path. I can distinguish a good signal of K7ZV. Callers were from all the directions until 15Z so I had to change receiving antennas very often. By 1600Z it was already Europe prevailed. Carry on keeping CQ on 3512 and don't give up in front of multiple attempts to take up my frequency. At 1704 I “detect” Africa — ZS2DL gives me double multiplier and 5X1NH one more. Some Europeans also turn out to be multipliers. QSO with Bob, 9M6/N2BB (he was a New One for me on 160 just before the contest). At 21Z the frequency is still “mine”! I'm curious how could I keep it so long. Continue calling multipliers (ZC, 9M2, 7Z) and friends, including Bernie, ZS4TX and Nigel, G3TXF operating OX5AA. I still hold up the frequency. Oh, SU9HP, one more double mult. An hour before the contest is over. Quite unexpectedly weak but stable propagation to USA opens. Northern Beverage drags these weak signals out from beneath the next “frequency invader”. To my surprise tit was MU0FAL. Move down a bit to exchange reports and come back 100 Hz higher. A couple of Q's more during the last minutes. The band died away, that's all!
I met my obligations. I gained 2059 QSO's, 35 zones and 120 countries. Total Score is 818,865 points. Not bad for 80 meters! But I must get ready. By the arrival of a local keeper all of my luggage is packed and ready for loading into the car. They will disassemble Beverages without me. It's time to relax.
After the Battle.
On arrival I first of all send my final score figures to Nickolay, UN4L and submit to 3830 Reflector. I consider that submitting to 3830 is a good style. Anyway it's interesting to see how others did. And always interesting to read these small stories in Comments Box and compare it to your own sensation. UN4L answered very quickly. 1863 Q's and multiplier of 36+113. A bit later I get a message from Martti, OH2BH/TA4ZA who entered the same category. He scored 1750 QSO's.
In two weeks only I could investigate Nickolay's log. A lot I missed because of my “mostly CQ'ing” tactics, but the number of Q's is good enough. Here are EY8MM vs. UN4L comparative charts of rates and number of QSO's. Both results exceed the Asian Record and will probably be useful to someone.
EY8MM UN4L Rates
Rates: EY8MM vs UN4L.
EY8MM QSO Rates CQ WW CW 2008
Number of QSO's: EY8MM vs UN4L.
On December, 9 I was happy to join the traditional meeting of English contestmen which they hold after every CQ WW CW.
G3SXW, G4BWP, G4IRN (Multi-Multi – 3X5A); G3PJT and G3TXF, G3WVG (Multi-Two – P3F and OX5AA); G4TSH and G4BUO, G4PIQ (Multi-Single – G5W and M6T); F5VHY (Single Operator All-Band – TM6X); EY8MM (Single Operator 80m); G0CKV (Single Operator 40m).
Nigel G3TXF, John G4IRN, Laurie G3UML, Fred G4BWP, Dave G4BUO, Paul G4CCZ, Justin G4TSH, Roger G3SXW, Andy G4PIQ, Olof G0CKV, Bob G3PJT, Dennis F5VHY and Nodir EY8MM. © G3TXF
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