Amateur radio: 10-meter ARRL contest a dud

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!

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2 thoughts on “Amateur radio: 10-meter ARRL contest a dud

  1. Art Jackson (@KA5DWI)

    You should have joined me and visited the AZ LF/MW DX AZ guys in Casa Grande. Only problem was I had a car full of stuff and a 95 pound Golden Retriever before I dropped them off in Anthem. I worked a half a dozen S. Americans Sunday afternoon. N6SS on the other side of the highway dominates 10 Meters when he is on (KW and big beams). I did work some Es on 6 Meters last night to OK, LA and TX. I have also turned back on my PropNET Beacon/Robot on 10M. I will be listening to FMBC this evening for meteors with the RTL-SDR. 73 Art KA5DWI

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    1. azswdxing Post author

      Glad you were able to work S. America. I would have came to the meeting, but I had to be at work Saturday morning. I want to get my 6-meter beam built so I can get in on the winter Es season. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make a big effort on FMBC for the Geminids.

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