As I became quite active on the bands, I was looking forward to the next big contest (an amateur radio competition) to test my operating skills under stress. IARU HF Championship gave me an ideal opportunity.
As you may have read in my “Me and Amateur Radio” introductory posts, I have already taken part in one big contest – 2006 CQ WW SSB Contest. However, it was my first shot at contesting and I was only operating for a few hours. This time I wanted to take part properly, take it a bit more seriously.
IARU HF Championship is a world wide contest organised by ARRL (American Radio Relay League, main amateur radio organisation in the USA) on behalf of IARU (International Amateur Radio Union). It is on every second weekend in July for full 24 hours – from 12:00noon GMT on Saturday to 11:59am on Sunday. I wanted to try to operate as much as possible, with only short breaks. In the end I spent about 22½ hours at the radio. Honestly, about 5am I was thinking about giving up and going to sleep for at least hour and a half because all the activity dies down around that time and it’s not as easy to find a station not worked before. My hope was to make 1000 contacts, but I found that to be a bit too optimistic ;) Especially because I was too “shy” to call CQ (general call, soliciting contact) with low power (only 100 W). But when I finally started calling CQ on 10 and 15 metres, I found it to be very productive – it saved my score and brought me about 200 contacts in the last few hours.
In the end I only (?) made 623 contacts with a total of 163 multipliers (ITU zones and HQ stations /stations set up by IARU member organisations like RSGB in the UK, ARRL in the USA or CRC in the Czech Republic/) resulting in a claimed score of 275,238. Now let’s just wait and see if I placed reasonably well at least in the low power category in the UK :)
The highlight of the contest was that I finally worked VK (Australia) – and even on two bands! The first contact was with VK4WIA on 20 metres around midnight via long path – it means by aiming away from the station, over the “other side of the globe” :) In certain times, this long path, although being substantially longer (short path to VK is about 17,000 km – long path therefore about 23,000 km), can present much lower attenuation to the signal: 1) it goes more over the oceans, and 2) it goes more over the daylight area of the globe. The other contact was with VK7GK on 40 metres – very surprising for me as I only have rotatable end-loaded dipole quite low over the ground.I made the contact about 6am – if I wanted to go to bed before that, this really cheered me up and gave me new enthusiasm.
I really enjoyed participating in IARU HF and will definitely be looking forward to the next big contest – the earliest being RSGB IOTA Contest on 28/29 July. Hope to meet you there! :-)