RSGB Commonwealth Contest, CW
Call: ZL6QH
Operator(s): ZL1AZE
Class: Open HP
Operating Time (hrs): 22

Band QSOs
80: 83
40: 212
20: 177
15: 30
10: 5
Total: 507 Total Score = 6,530

Conditions were not good, possibly the worst that I have experienced since I started entering this contest from ZL6QH. Fortunately the poor conditions were more than offset by additional VK/ZL activity associated with the team contest. It turns out that the raw score of 6530 is the best that I have achieved since 2002, mainly due to the extra bonus points from VK and ZL stations.

As expected for this part of the solar cycle, the 10M band was lifeless, although I was pleasantly surprised to find and work VE7CC at 2315z. The only other QSOs on this band were with local ZL stations.

The 15M band was not much better with DX QSOs being limited to the South Pacific area, a few VE stations, VU2UR, and ZC4VJ (1st QSO in the log at the start of the contest). I could not find any trace of G signals.

Even 20M failed to deliver this year. The short path opening to UK on Saturday night was not as good as usual and closed early. Neither the long path nor short path to UK opened properly on Sunday evening although I did manage to work a string of very weak G stations using ESP techniques! The path to North America was also marginal with only 20 VE stations making it into the log on this band. The good news is that the short path to Africa was open around 0530z and it was relatively easy to add 9J2BO and 7Q7BP to the log.

Most of the action was on 40M. The first QSOs with UK via the short path on Sunday morning were with GM3POI at around 1505z and then with G4BUO a few minutes later. I did hear ZS/G3LZQ with a weak signal around 0530z but unfortunately he followed a QSY request to 80M before I could attract his attention :-(

Conditions on 80M were fair but plagued by strong atmospheric noise which made it difficult to copy weaker signals. Some of the rarer catches were V25XF, VP8NO, VP8KF and J88DR. The Sunday evening long path to UK is normally more reliable than the morning short path but this year the morning seemed to be more productive. I ended up logging 18 G QSOs in the morning and only an additional 8 in the evening - GM3POI was first in the log around 1635z.

The poor conditions on the high bands made for slow going during the day and I found myself dozing off on several occasions. Jet lag from a trip to EU a few days earlier did not help! Anyhow it was a still a lot of fun and I hope to be back for more in future years.

Thanks to RSGB for running the contest, Bob G3PJT for initiating the team event, Frank ZL2BR for organising the ZL team, the Wellington Amateur Radio Club for the use of the ZL6QH station, and to everyone for the QSOs.

Posted by ZL1AZE on March 12, 2007