Ken Harker WM5R
2003 ARRL 10 Meter Contest - Phone Only K5TR (WM5R, op. )

The station at K5TR:

Category: Single Operator High Power, Phone Only

Band QSOs DomMults DXMults MMMults
Totals 2502 61 50 0

Claimed score555,888

The ARRL 10 Meter Contest is fast becoming one of my favorite contests. George K5TR was kind enough to host me at his fabulous station in the Texas Hill Country for the third year in a row. This year, we didn't try to hook up a second radio with a listening antenna - I only ever had one radio turned on all weekend.

Of the three ARRL 10 Meter Contests I've done, this was the first in which there was propagation of some sort for a full 36 hours.

Friday evening started off kind of slow, with a 31 QSO hour followed by a 12 QSO hour. I worked 12 VKs and one ZL in the first hour of the contest, as well as a 3D2, a ZK1, and a KH7. In the second hour of the contest, I worked a few South Americans and local Texas stations. Right at 0200 UTC, I worked by first Florida station on Eskip, and the big Eskip opening of the first night began. I had hours of 56, 64, 69, and 77 QSOs, starting with Florida and the Gulf states, but eventually resulting in 27 states from all parts of the country by the end of the evening. The opening had weakened a bit by 0600 UTC, when I was working mostly California stations, and by 0720 UTC, when I shut down for the night, I was still hearing a few W6 stations, mostly in southern California, calling CQ, but I had run out of stations to work. I worked no Japanese (or other Asian) stations that first local evening. When I shut down for the night, I had more QSOs in the log than I did in 2002 at that time.

For some reason, Saturday local morning started off kind of slow for me, but things did eventually begin to pick up. I think there was some Eskip that began around 1500 UTC, that together with the F layer propagation made for some great runs. I made 57 QSOs in the 1400 UTC hour, but things really began to take off in the 1500 UTC hour, the first of eight consecutive hours of over 100 QSOs (193, 210, 187, 121, 106, 112, 140, and 119, respectively.) This was the first time I've ever worked over 200 QSOs in a single clock hour in any contest - I came close last year in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest, but this year I did it!

The vast majority of these QSOs were with W/VE stations. The first European in the log was a DL at 1336 UTC, the second was an F at 1417 UTC, another French station at 1437 UTC, and then an EA at 1441 UTC. By 1945 UTC, I had only worked 22 European stations in six DXCC entities. A nice surprise was being called by a 5U7 station at 1524 UTC. I also worked an EA8 during this morning run. Aside from the occasional Caribbean or South American station, everything was W/VEs until a surprise late QSO with CT station at 2151 UTC, and a real surprise when I was called by an ES station at 2218 UTC. In total, I worked 24 Europeans on day one.

The first Japanese station to call in came shortly thereafter at 2221 UTC. In total, I worked 14 Japanese stations the first night, the last one at 2324 UTC. I also worked a single DU station in this opening. The European "opening" was almost nine times as long as the east Asian opening.

F layer propagation mostly went away right around sunset, 0000 UTC, with the band still open to VKs and ZLs. Fortunately, the Eskip we had all day Saturday stayed around. It wasn't nearly as intense as it had been the local night before, and it was really favoring the southern latitude W/VEs, but it meant that I was able to do hours of 31, 33, 45, 29, 35, 38, and 17 QSOs after dark, which is much more fun than 0 hours. When I went to bed, I had more QSOs in the log than when I shut down for the night in 2002!

The conditions on Sunday were much less favorable than they were on Saturday. I think the Eskip we had on Saturday wasn't there. The band felt long in the early hours, with most W/VEs too weak to work, but more distant stations (like VE9, LU, ZS) loud but, of course, more scarce. The same thing may have happened on Saturday, but with Eskip filling in the gap to more nearby stations. Right around 1400 UTC, I really began to become frustrated and even a little concerned; I was getting very few answers to my CQs, and repeated S&P trips up and down the band were really discouraging - there seemed to be gaps of six or seven unoccupied kHz all over the place, and everyone I could hear was already in the log. At 1422 UTC, though, a TK station answered one of my CQs, and had a respectable signal, the first European of the morning. But the band still felt weird. In any event, the band began to shorten sometime in the 1500 UTC hour, and more W/VE stations began to enter the log again. The morning run was not as intense as the previous morning, with only one hour over 100 QSOs. My next-to-final southern European was an EA7 at 1720 UTC. I worked a few northern Europeans on the polar path, though: an RW1 at 1728 UTC, an SM at 1743 UTC, a YL at 2141 UTC, and an OH at 2142 UTC. The final European in the log was actually a CT station at 2154 UTC, the only southern European station I'd worked in five hours.

There were some nice surprises that called in on Sunday: OX, V7, FK, S9. My rate took a dive in the middle of the afternoon, when I had a few slow hours (42, 45, and 45 QSOs respectively.) I think the Eskip we had all day Saturday wasn't there on Sunday. The rate picked up again in the 2100 UTC hour, with a 102 QSO hour. There might have been brief Eskip in that hour. The first JA of the evening was at 2209 UTC, and the final JA of the contest was at 2327 UTC - again, a much shorter opening than the European opening. F layer propagation started to go away early in the 2300 UTC hour, and without Eskip (and being Monday morning local time in VK/ZL,) there were very few stations left to work. During the last hour of the contest, I made only 10 QSOs.

I really have no idea what to expect 10 meters to be like on the downward side of the solar cycle. Last year, I was psychologically prepared for a terrible, difficult weekend, and was caught completely off-guard by great conditions. This year, I was ready to eke out everything I could, and I was really happy to have a QSO total going to bed on Saturday local evening that was higher than my QSO total in 2002 when I shut down for the evening, even with the drastically less productive openings to EU and JA (for instance, in 2002 I made 127 QSOs with Japan, but this year I made only 28.) Without Eskip on Sunday, though, it was impossible to keep up with last year's Sunday rate, and I finished with 350 fewer QSOs at the end. I worked 33 fewer multipliers despite taking even more frequent search and pounce runs through the bands than I did last year. The much weaker openings to Europe really hurt my multiplier totals.

Interesting note: If you total my VK/ZL/ZK1/FK QSOs, I made exactly as many QSOs (28) as I made with JA stations. That certainly wasn't the case last year.

I really enjoy this contest - it's great fun to run rate and work through the openings. I love working JAs - I wish there were more of them on the air.

I logged 77 dupes.

Contest Logging was done with TR LOG contest logging software. The following reports and log were created using TR LOG's post-contest processor.

Last Updated 26 June 2020