ZL6FF is the New Zealand flagship of the Fists Club, a world-wide bunch of radio amateurs who are into morse telegraphy (CW).

On the agenda was the Coast to Coast activity where you can work in CW anything that moves. This event is supposed to be friendly and low-key (so to speak). The C2C runs over 24 hours, and to complete a QSO, there is quite a bit to send: report, name, state or country and Fists number or power level.

Unfortunately, chief operator Ralph ZL2AOH and visiting op Nigel ZL2TX were both out of action, so it fell to Wilbert ZL2BSJ to put ZL6FF on the air from Quartz Hill.

At 06:00 on Sunday, it was an early start. The bands were a bit flat ... nothing much was happening even after 40 minutes of calling CQ...until it was realised that - out in the paddock - the Rhombic had been disconnected from it's open wire feeders. Marvellous what those antenna tuners will load into!

Having changed to a working antenna on the patch-panel, ZL6FF went looking for the US on 20 m. The band still sounded suspiciously quiet and the few USA Fists were weak, but on narrow-bandwidth modes such as CW, almost anything is workable. The 20 m USA long path was firmly closed, however, and by midday there were only 20 stations in the log. Fists Station operator John at VK2FDU/4 confirmed that things weren't much better across the ditch.

Club stations like ZL6FF are supposed to call 'CQ C2C' and often the people who called - while keen to work DX - did not know the exchange. Having to explain it to them dragged things out a bit, but the ZL6FF philosophy was that it all added up to quality band-noise.

By Sunday mid-afternoon 20 m was dry with only 50 QSOs logged, and 15 and 10 m remained closed. The operator was becoming concerned about being accused of 'slacking on the job'...so the operation moved to 40 m.

This band went very well into Europe on the long path, but not many Fists were worked as the run-frequency went crazy. Clearly, European pile-ups don't do 'low-key'...they are more into down-key! Anyway, lots of Eu ops reported '80 W' or '100 W' and verticals, windoms, G5RVs and dipoles. All were excellent copy - as long as the pack stood by. Best DX: DK1VD running 5W into a vertical, arm-chair copy at 559.

Quartz Hill contester Chris Tran ZL1CT called in from Invergordon signing M3WOJ while the 40 m band petered out to Europe...and roared into life to the USA! The American opening (at East Coast sunrise) was even better, with competitive stations up to 20 dB over S-9 and people with 100 W and dipoles still S9 copy.

At 12:46 UTC W3RSR in Pennsylvania - reporting'5 W' - was logged and ZL6FF went QRT with 217 QSOs in the log.

Wilbert, ZL2BSJ

Posted by ZL1AZE on October 03, 2006