Conditions over the previous week have been good, so I decided to put in an effort on the ARRL INT DX CW contest this weekend. I knew from experience that I would not be able to work around the clock since the US and Canada are not typically in range in the morning, so I anticipated being able to get some sleep from about 4 am through early afternoon, which was fine with me. Reviewing recent logs and VOACAP predictions, I mapped out propagation paths and figured where I would point the hexbeam, and more or less stuck to that plan. Over the course of the contest, I put in about 23 hours in the chair.
I was effectively limited to three bands: 15m, 20m, and 40m. Ten was almost uniformly dead, and my 40m loop is very inefficient on 80m. Bands faded in and out more or less as predicted including some good spans of working the west coast on long path in the afternoons.
The bottom line: I had 670 contacts, about 20 of which were dupes. I observed that most of the dupes came late in the event, and assume most were for the sake of either insurance or reality checking that they had worked 5R8SV rather than, say, HR8SV in Honduras. My best band by far was 20m, although I was pleased to have reached some new states and provinces on 40m as well.
My raw score was 218,064, which I thought was not too shabby considering operating low power, with a hexbeam and 40m loop, and in a noisy environment. There were relatively few times that I could hear North American stations and that they could not hear me, so I think an amplifier would not have added much to this contest, although perhaps I would have attracted more stations when I was running.
I had some nice pile-ups but not crazy pileups. Since there is less spotting during a contest, the calls were spread out in time. Given that and tight packing of stations up and down the band, I saw no reason to go to split operation and just chugged on simplex.
My “best DX” in terms of distance would be the western US states; for Canada, I reached as far west as Manitoba. For purposes of completing my QSL collection, reaching SD was a new one for me. WAS remains one state away, Alaska, and unfortunately, this contest does not include KL7 (or KH6) in the definition of North America. Alaska is at extreme range for me, and on long path, there is also the matter of an aurora circle potentially in the way. I have worked a few BC stations, and I hope I can work a KL7 before I have to leave Madagascar in another year and a half or so.