With such low solar activity, 10 meters behaves more like a VHF band in that you have to chase specific openings from sporadic-E, TEP, etc. In principle, I like that better than having “guaranteed” contacts at lower frequencies. But, I was also operating at 5 watts QRP, making it doubly challenging.
This was the first time using my “new” 40-year old 7-1000 pF vacuum variable capacitor, and also using a 12V motor to vary the capacitor in real time to center the narrow bandwidth of the antenna. I am using an antenna switcher in reverse to quickly swap back and forth between my transceiver and a miniVNA Pro to set the central frequency. This is already my third magnetic transmitting loop (in addition to about a half-dozen receiving loops for MW/LW in the last few years), so I’m getting fairly proficient at building them and it didn’t take too long to put together a 6-foot circumference antenna optimized for 10-meters. It’s not practical at all for me to have any permanent antennas, so 10-15 feet above ground it all the higher I reasonably go right now.
Unfortunately, sporadic-E was not very cooperative during the 15 hours or so that I was operating out of the 48 hours of the contest. I didn’t hear very many signals, and the only one that was above S5 was the single QSO I made. I and several other AZ stations made a contact in NJ during what I presume was a brief double-hop sporadic-E opening. I did weakly hear a fair number of South American stations (dominated by Brazil), but way too weak for them to have a chance of hearing me.
Being so new at this, it was still enjoyable, at least when I could hear something. I will be further testing my antenna(s) to make sure I really can work at the maximum 100 watts of my transceiver, which should be possible. Although I will still probably do some QRP stuff, it will be a nice change to have a reasonable chance at working the stations I can hear!