So with my PSU fixed I thought I would try my luck in the ARRL 10-meter contest. I have never participated in a contest before, but with 10 meters so hot nowadays I’d thought I’d give it a try. Murphy reared its head, so with the wife and kids all sick there was lots of housework to do and too little time behind the set. But I did sneak in an hour or four over two days. My goal: to practise my CW skills. My thought was that doing many short exchanges would give me enough practice to get a little more fluent with the key. So I started out on Saturday morning answering CQs, but nobody came back to me. Fiddled with my side tone, checked my signal with another receiver, no problems found. After four tries I gave up and went up to the SSB portion. Great fun: one Brazilian after another and my first Argentinian on 10 meters. Great to have the comfort of 100 Watts – makes life a lot easier.
Sunday morning the sunspots were lower, but I did manage a couple of State side stations. But it irked me that I hadn’t logged one CW QSO, so I tried again in the afternoon. Found a strong enough signal from Japan and after the second try it worked. Europe was okay and I did log one Dutch station: PI4TUE, the station of the University of Eindhoven, very close to my place of birth.
I had to stop there, but when I came back I switched to SSB again. Worked some Europeans and then, all of a sudden, CX2DDP. via long path. These kind of QSOs are fun though short and I guess Hector Rubens was as surprised as I was. After 75 QSOs I called it a day, which that was right when the band was closing. I’m not in for the numbers, so I am already happy with so many QSOs. I worked 32 different entities in SSB and six in CW, so a grant total of 38 multiplier points. Indeed, no contest for die-hard contesting hams and I doubt that I will often enter other contests.
But the best thing about this contest was that I got my private language student to do a QSO. He is a 16 year old, very shy boy, whom I teach English on Saturday afternoons. He just graduated from high school and he now goes to polytech, which give us a common interest: electronics. Every week I show him some radio related stuff, so this week it was how a QSO is being done. After showing him the ropes and teaching him the NATO alphabet I let him answer CQs with my call sign. He soon found out that you have to open your mouth and speak slowly, clearly and – when using SSB – loudly. Unfortunately these are traits that most Asians don’t possess. But he found it very “cool” that you could call all the way to Europe so he made an effort and in the end he managed a QSO on his own with JA7BEW. He will soon know more about electronics than I, so the exam for a radio licence will be a piece of cake then. Another ham in the making. Who says contests have no use?