CQ Worldwide SSB 2018 from the Man Cave

Location: Man Cave in Berwick-upon-Tweed

Contest: CQ Worldwide SSB, 48 hours over October 27 and 28, 2018

Contest Software Used: N1MM

Portable operation: No

Radio: Elecraft KX3, PX3 Panadapter and Hardrock 50  operating at 50 watts SSB

Antenna: Cirro Mazzoni Baby Loop

Bands used: 40m, 20m, 15m

Hike:  None….I sat for ~16 hours (it was fun!) spread out over Saturday and Sunday

Solo operation: Just me operating as M0SNA

Recommend: Yes

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2018

The party started at  1am Saturday morning but at that instant I was deep in my slumber. It’s not that I have overslept but as a non serious participant, being armed with a water pistol for a radio station, showing up early can be futile, frustrating and unnecessary.

Maybe before delving into the potentially boring aspects of a ham radio contest, it’s worth going on a quick pictorial tour of Berwick upon Tweed, the Man Cave’s uber location.

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Berwick upon Tweed, North Sea on right. Man Cave is just right of the pointy tower mid picture
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Moonrise over Tweed river looking toward the North Sea
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Sunset over the river Tweed. The bridge is a marvel of Victorian engineering
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and just a little further north is this piece of paradise, St Abbs Head

All in all, Berwick upon Tweed and the Scottish borders are really quite a wonderful place to be. One aspect of enhancing that for me is to be able to operate radio, beyond my active pursuit of Summits on the Air (SOTA), at home.

Returning to the Man Cave and my contest; maybe non serious is selling myself short as I definitely had goals but very realistically these didn’t include a high score. Just wasn’t going to happen with 50 watts and a magnetic loop, which given it’s design has me transmitting at around 20 watts.  For voice, that is close to nothing and definitely nothing compared to hundreds or possibly thousands of watts emanating from East European, Italian and North American stations with real contest antennas.

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These are real contest station antennas!! VY2TT at PEI, Canada that I operated at in July 2018

One very real goal was to see how well the loop performed now that it was mounted permanently at 2.2 meters off the ground and had a motor driven rotator to point it toward areas of interest.

Like kids collecting stamps, hams like to collect verification of contact with as many countries as possible. Some are really easy but the more exotic, further away ones are a little like having a Victorian Penny Black stamp, rare and much coveted. The definition of countries gets stretched out to around 335 for us radio stamp collectors and includes a series of obscure places that are typified by inhabitants generally being non human. Think South Sandwich Island deep in the South Atlantic where the ham population hovers around zero. It’s a Penny Black.

My goal was to see how many of the 335 “countries” aka DXCC Entities I could nab and of course the most important goal was to have fun.

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Sitting atop a concrete block…Ciro Mazzoni 10-40m Baby Loop

 

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Motors adjust the relationship of the fins that create an electronic capacitor. Rotator at bottom swivels antenna through 360 degrees to point to New York, Paris, Moscow or wherever

Helium gas helps…..M0SNA, my new call sign isn’t punchy enough

Mike Zero Sierra, November, Alpha lacks punch on the air and is easily lost in the noise.  I discovered mimicking the effects of helium gas helped a lot by stepping up my voice a few octaves. I also discovered the perils of departing from the NATO standard alphabet we use. For example, trying to get a bit of punch by using Mexico instead of Mike generated a lot of excitement as I was Kilo Zero Sierra November Alpha and hence a US station. Substituting Nancy or Norway for November, a month that seem to stump some people, also met with mixed results. This may not seem like a big deal but for a “Penny Blacks” to be valid both mine and the others stations logs must have each others calls signs accurately tabulated or not banana.

50 watts a bust….500 watts would be a huge help!

No surprise here and I came into the contest knowing this as my Viking foray a couple of weeks back made it painfully obvious. 50 watts in of itself isn’t the major issue but more any loop by design is inefficient and effectively loses slightly more that half the power from my radio. In effect, I’m only transmitting about 20 watts. Next trip back from California will include an RF amplifier of substance. Now we talking, no more knife to a gun fight.

Rotating the loop makes a noticeable difference 

No surprise and it did seem to improve the performance of my water pistol station (I didn’t even have a knife in this fight!).

Hearing low to the horizon distant signals is encouraging for a loop

I could hear Thailand, India, Reunion Island and Bonaire and Brazil. Definitely encouraging to hear stations five thousand miles out and more.

New postage stamps,small and large are equally exciting 

Cape Verde (D4C) was a thrill as was Morocco, Oman and Turkey. Closer to home, nabbing Andorra tucked away in the Pyrenees seemed a treat as was the little Principality of Luxembourg. I felt I went on a vacation contacting hams in fifty plus different countries over 16 hours!

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 8.11.41 PM
~3,100 miles to Cape Verde on 40m. It was tough for D4C to hear my super weak signal
Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 8.09.40 PM
Furthest contact was ~4,200 miles with N5DX in Arkansas, USA on 15m

Ciro Mazzoni Baby Loop continued to struggle to find a resonant point for the chosen frequency and really seem to lose valuable time sometimes only to find the calling station has disappeared once Im ready. This is possibly the single biggest draw back to a Loop as a contest antenna.

California sucks, it’s just better here!  

While I’ve been a ham for many years, I’ve only really been active in the last few primarily in the Western US. With six to eight thousand miles of empty ocean to my west and south and primarily US operators to my east, operating from my Laguna Beach home which is flanked by hills definitely isn’t filled with exotic foreign callsigns. My signal weak, medium or strong struggles to get too far and reaching Europe, Africa or the central Asia is simply a pipe dream.

An equivalent radius, one thousand, two thousand miles etc nets a lot more ham stations from the Man Cave than it does from Lala-land.   It’s just better here!

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Laguna Beach….might be a tough radio place but its a hell of great place
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Laguna Beach

The passion continues

I believe a passion driven life makes for one that is potentially more fulfilling. Radio to me is simply magic and that sense of magic continues today as much as it did when I was a kid. The fact that a collection of electric components, a bit of metal acting as an antenna and electric power to light this up and launch a signal reaching around the world is simply miraculous. Unseen, unfelt and only heard by those who’ve been initiated, that’s the definition of magic!

 

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Man cave operating position

 

Fun but the results were anemic….and surprisingly the least efficient band turned out to be most productive!

  • 15m – 35 contacts
  • 20m – 44 contacts
  • 40m – 71 contacts

IMG_4082

 

Call Date Slot DXCC QSL Zone Delete
S52OT 2018-10-27 15:09:47 15M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
YL2SW 2018-10-27 15:08:06 15M PH (SSB) LATVIA W 15
P3ZW 2018-10-27 15:03:34 15M PH (SSB) CYPRUS W 20
N5DX 2018-10-27 14:35:43 15M PH (SSB) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA W 4
K1RX 2018-10-27 14:33:18 15M PH (SSB) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V 5
N2SR 2018-10-27 14:28:18 15M PH (SSB) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V 5
KC1XX 2018-10-27 14:25:35 15M PH (SSB) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA W 5
K5ZD 2018-10-27 14:19:45 15M PH (SSB) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V 5
CN2CO 2018-10-27 12:37:18 15M PH (SSB) MOROCCO W 33
HZ1SK 2018-10-27 12:36:17 15M PH (SSB) SAUDI ARABIA W 21
YT9X 2018-10-27 12:35:04 15M PH (SSB) SERBIA V 15
TC0F 2018-10-27 12:27:10 15M PH (SSB) TURKEY W 20
UA4CC 2018-10-27 12:25:33 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
LZ9W 2018-10-27 12:18:53 15M PH (SSB) BULGARIA W 20
YP0C 2018-10-27 12:17:17 15M PH (SSB) ROMANIA V 20
SZ3P 2018-10-27 12:16:40 15M PH (SSB) GREECE W 20
A44A 2018-10-27 12:15:04 15M PH (SSB) OMAN W 21
IR8P 2018-10-27 12:12:56 15M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
SX2X 2018-10-27 12:11:22 15M PH (SSB) GREECE W 20
J42L 2018-10-27 10:13:00 15M PH (SSB) GREECE V 20
UT7HA 2018-10-27 10:05:44 15M PH (SSB) UKRAINE V 16
LZ5R 2018-10-27 10:04:20 15M PH (SSB) BULGARIA W 20
RD4F 2018-10-27 10:02:22 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
UY3Y 2018-10-27 10:01:55 15M PH (SSB) UKRAINE W 16
UZ2I 2018-10-27 10:00:51 15M PH (SSB) UKRAINE W 16
P33W 2018-10-27 09:09:49 15M PH (SSB) CYPRUS W 20
UW1M 2018-10-27 09:04:49 15M PH (SSB) UKRAINE W 16
RA3XM 2018-10-27 08:54:19 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
RL4A 2018-10-27 08:48:59 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
RT5Z 2018-10-27 08:47:11 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
C4A 2018-10-27 08:43:04 15M PH (SSB) CYPRUS W 20
UA4M 2018-10-27 08:42:08 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
R2VA 2018-10-27 08:40:22 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
CQ3W 2018-10-27 08:33:16 15M PH (SSB) MADEIRA ISLANDS V 33
R7AB 2018-10-27 08:24:01 15M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA V 16

 

Call Date Slot DXCC QSL Zone Delete
S53EO 2018-10-28 08:36:36 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
S52OT 2018-10-28 08:35:39 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
9A7Y 2018-10-28 08:33:54 20M PH (SSB) CROATIA V 15
CN2CO 2018-10-28 08:28:19 20M PH (SSB) MOROCCO W 33
S50C 2018-10-28 08:17:48 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
CT9ABO 2018-10-28 08:16:49 20M PH (SSB) MADEIRA ISLANDS W 33
YT1A 2018-10-28 08:08:57 20M PH (SSB) SERBIA W 15
EE5T 2018-10-28 08:02:47 20M PH (SSB) SPAIN W 14
UW1M 2018-10-27 16:08:09 20M PH (SSB) UKRAINE W 16
HG7T 2018-10-27 16:06:39 20M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
IZ4COW 2018-10-27 15:37:23 20M PH (SSB) ITALY V 15
SN8B 2018-10-27 15:36:05 20M PH (SSB) POLAND W 15
OK2D 2018-10-27 15:31:46 20M PH (SSB) CZECH REPUBLIC W 15
I1NVU 2018-10-27 15:31:06 20M PH (SSB) ITALY V 15
CR6P 2018-10-27 15:29:32 20M PH (SSB) PORTUGAL W 14
OM7RU 2018-10-27 15:27:22 20M PH (SSB) SLOVAK REPUBLIC W 15
IR2L 2018-10-27 15:26:06 20M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
S53K 2018-10-27 15:24:30 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
S52NR 2018-10-27 15:21:35 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
SO100ZHP 2018-10-27 15:19:58 20M PH (SSB) POLAND W 15
R7KZ 2018-10-27 15:15:58 20M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
IK2YCW 2018-10-27 15:14:28 20M PH (SSB) ITALY V 15
YL2SW 2018-10-27 15:13:10 20M PH (SSB) LATVIA W 15
LY2MM 2018-10-27 14:14:11 20M PH (SSB) LITHUANIA V 15
EA5ON 2018-10-27 14:05:29 20M PH (SSB) SPAIN W 14
HG4F 2018-10-27 14:03:17 20M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
UW5Y 2018-10-27 12:53:39 20M PH (SSB) UKRAINE W 16
S51A 2018-10-27 12:51:41 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
IR4M 2018-10-27 12:49:11 20M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
S50G 2018-10-27 12:46:58 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
IR4X 2018-10-27 12:44:49 20M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
S57DX 2018-10-27 12:43:02 20M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
YL3CW 2018-10-27 10:38:20 20M PH (SSB) LATVIA W 15
SO4R 2018-10-27 10:36:36 20M PH (SSB) POLAND W 15
OH8X 2018-10-27 10:35:17 20M PH (SSB) FINLAND W 15
LY2J 2018-10-27 10:32:41 20M PH (SSB) LITHUANIA V 15
4U1A 2018-10-27 10:27:20 20M PH (SSB) AUSTRIA W 15
HA9A 2018-10-27 10:21:11 20M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
IO5O 2018-10-27 09:26:55 20M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
OM2Y 2018-10-27 09:20:46 20M PH (SSB) SLOVAK REPUBLIC W 15
E7DX 2018-10-27 09:17:56 20M PH (SSB) BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA W 15
HA3DX 2018-10-27 07:44:11 20M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
9A7A 2018-10-27 07:41:47 20M PH (SSB) CROATIA V 15
9A9A 2018-10-27 07:37:20 20M PH (SSB) CROATIA W 15

 

Call Date Slot DXCC QSL Zone Delete
F4DVX 2018-10-28 05:25:06 40M PH (SSB) FRANCE V 14
9A1TT 2018-10-28 05:06:48 40M PH (SSB) CROATIA W 15
LY1FW 2018-10-28 05:05:28 40M PH (SSB) LITHUANIA W 15
HG6N 2018-10-28 04:35:31 40M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
DF0HQ 2018-10-28 03:55:29 40M PH (SSB) FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY W 14
OL7T 2018-10-28 03:50:21 40M PH (SSB) CZECH REPUBLIC W 15
OK7GU 2018-10-28 03:49:21 40M PH (SSB) CZECH REPUBLIC V 15
DA2X 2018-10-28 03:46:59 40M PH (SSB) FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY W 14
R7AB 2018-10-28 03:45:55 40M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA V 16
SO7M 2018-10-28 03:39:14 40M PH (SSB) POLAND W 15
II2S 2018-10-28 03:37:13 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
SN3A 2018-10-28 03:34:59 40M PH (SSB) POLAND W 15
OK5Z 2018-10-28 03:25:16 40M PH (SSB) CZECH REPUBLIC V 15
IR8P 2018-10-28 03:23:00 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
C37NL 2018-10-28 03:19:28 40M PH (SSB) ANDORRA V 14
LY5W 2018-10-28 03:12:35 40M PH (SSB) LITHUANIA V 15
UA4S 2018-10-28 03:06:06 40M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
RA3Y 2018-10-28 03:01:36 40M PH (SSB) EUROPEAN RUSSIA W 16
LY2KA 2018-10-28 03:00:03 40M PH (SSB) LITHUANIA W 15
HG7T 2018-10-28 02:56:50 40M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
S50C 2018-10-28 02:55:16 40M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
9A5Y 2018-10-28 02:48:08 40M PH (SSB) CROATIA V 15
LC1U 2018-10-27 07:28:45 40M PH (SSB) NORWAY W 14
OM7JG 2018-10-27 07:24:48 40M PH (SSB) SLOVAK REPUBLIC W 15
OR2M 2018-10-27 07:20:45 40M PH (SSB) BELGIUM V 14
DP6T 2018-10-27 07:17:00 40M PH (SSB) FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY V 14
CR5E 2018-10-27 07:10:49 40M PH (SSB) PORTUGAL W 14
CN3A 2018-10-27 07:09:10 40M PH (SSB) MOROCCO W 33
ED9E 2018-10-27 06:56:06 40M PH (SSB) CEUTA & MELILLA W 33
LX7I 2018-10-27 06:48:42 40M PH (SSB) LUXEMBOURG W 14
D4C 2018-10-27 06:43:51 40M PH (SSB) CAPE VERDE W 35
OG60F 2018-10-27 06:27:49 40M PH (SSB) FINLAND V 15
LY2J 2018-10-27 06:23:39 40M PH (SSB) LITHUANIA V 15
IR9W 2018-10-27 05:57:17 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
C31LK 2018-10-27 05:56:06 40M PH (SSB) ANDORRA V 14
YL2SM 2018-10-27 05:49:36 40M PH (SSB) LATVIA W 15
US1Q 2018-10-27 05:32:49 40M PH (SSB) UKRAINE W 16
IK2YCW 2018-10-27 05:26:43 40M PH (SSB) ITALY V 15
ED3M 2018-10-27 05:21:00 40M PH (SSB) SPAIN W 14
E7DX 2018-10-27 05:12:36 40M PH (SSB) BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA W 15
YT1HA 2018-10-27 05:10:02 40M PH (SSB) SERBIA W 15
S54K 2018-10-27 04:55:44 40M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
SP8K 2018-10-27 04:52:19 40M PH (SSB) POLAND W 15
YP0C 2018-10-27 04:45:13 40M PH (SSB) ROMANIA V 20
DL0AO 2018-10-27 04:44:16 40M PH (SSB) FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY W 14
UW5ZM 2018-10-27 04:35:01 40M PH (SSB) UKRAINE V 16
IR4M 2018-10-27 04:32:00 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
YT0W 2018-10-27 04:29:23 40M PH (SSB) SERBIA W 15
LZ5RC 2018-10-27 04:16:29 40M PH (SSB) BULGARIA W 20
LZ9W 2018-10-27 04:15:08 40M PH (SSB) BULGARIA W 20
EF8R 2018-10-27 04:07:59 40M PH (SSB) CANARY ISLANDS V 33
IR6T 2018-10-27 03:58:36 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
S56Y 2018-10-27 03:42:48 40M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
HB9H 2018-10-27 03:30:46 40M PH (SSB) SWITZERLAND W 14
HG8R 2018-10-27 03:23:05 40M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
CR6P 2018-10-27 03:21:05 40M PH (SSB) PORTUGAL W 14
TM2T 2018-10-27 03:10:59 40M PH (SSB) FRANCE W 14
IU4FLO 2018-10-27 03:05:36 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
9A7A 2018-10-27 03:02:40 40M PH (SSB) CROATIA V 15
S54ZZ 2018-10-27 02:50:23 40M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
ES9C 2018-10-27 02:48:40 40M PH (SSB) ESTONIA W 15
OK1CF 2018-10-27 02:43:58 40M PH (SSB) CZECH REPUBLIC V 15
HA8M 2018-10-27 02:41:14 40M PH (SSB) HUNGARY W 15
IQ4FA 2018-10-27 02:39:56 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
S53M 2018-10-27 02:38:26 40M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
UT0W 2018-10-27 02:32:06 40M PH (SSB) UKRAINE W 16
S56X 2018-10-27 02:30:14 40M PH (SSB) SLOVENIA W 15
IR4X 2018-10-27 02:26:04 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
IR2L 2018-10-27 02:21:45 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
IO5O 2018-10-27 02:18:09 40M PH (SSB) ITALY W 15
SN8B 2018-10-27 02:15:23 40M PH (SSB) POLAND W 15

 

3 comments

  1. Your man-cave location looks really terrific. Although I know that very green looking grass means rain, probably lots of it. Scotland is such a great place.
    How does this loop compare with the Alex loop?
    You have it right; have fun and don’t worry about the score. Without a real contest station fun is the best thing to have. Another great posting which I enjoyed very much.

    Like

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