Paul Liu BG7JSQ
The IARU Headquarters contest, although it is for fun, it after all represents a nation’s image in the international ham community, so a sense of honor and responsibility. This is the second time I participate in the HQ contest, again 10 meters CW, again with BA7IA veteran as partner.
BA4ALC had posted in tabular form a complete list of China's previous headquarter contests, one can compared the results at a glance. On 10-meter CW most years are a little more than 100 QSOs, and the best is 2004 in Nanjing, finishing 188 QSO, 568 points. Now in the solar cycle 23 and 24 junction, for over a week the sunspot index SSN are zero, nothing. The higher band propagation is not very satisfactory. In the week before the contest and in different time slots of the day I monitored for a few days the Beacons, only on 15 meters, can barely hear Japan and Russia. On 10 meters, even JA2IGY is lost without a trace. According to my last year's experience, the 10-meter CW competition will be a very easy game, within 24 hours there is a lot of time to rest, so feel very relax and enjoying the race.
Installing the antenna
Like each contest, Saturday morning we first pulled up the banner of fighting - 2008 IARU HF contest banner. BA7NQ planed to have all the antennae up there a week ahead of schedule, but heavy rain stopped us from doing so. A five elements 10-meter mono yagi was setup in the morning of the contest day. Fortunately, the kickoff time for IARU is UTC12: 00 (BJT20: 00), so there was sufficient time for the installation, and this time the weather is perfect so the process is very smoothly. The start and ending time of the HQ contest is very convenient for China. But right before the contest start that afternoon, 7IA had a fancy idea: in response to 10 meters disadvantage of poor propagation, despite of a YAGI, a GP will help capture the signal from any of the direction, so we wouldn’t missing any possible openings the band can offer. Just do it! Immediately from the arsenal (actually among the debris in the kitchen) we took out of the six-band R6000, strip all other bands element and made a 10-meter GP. Everything is ready, very good, very calmly.
It is estimated that the 10 meters band after 20:00(BJT)is like a chicken ribs, not much meat! So expectations are not high. But two minutes after the start, a JA6 station jumps out loud and everybody surprised, there IS a propagation! But what followed was a 10 minutes silence. It seems that the concept is everything: contesters “believe” there was no conditions on 10 meters, so everybody went to a more popular bands, such as 20 and 40 meters. This has decided that a 10-meter operator in the low ebb of solar activity must endure loneliness and need to adhere to the victory. I admired 7IA's perseverance, the first night he stick to his position, and made more than 80 QSO on 10 meters with those occasionally searching for the band and surprised to "discovered" the B7HQ! Veteran BA7JK gave us a helping hand, he is used to hand key and also hand-written records but this time play with the keyboard, worthy of admiration. This is a good start, with a better outlook for the daylight time of the second day.
Competition progressed smoothly, although occasionally there will be a half-hour embarrassment without a single QSO. When this situation occurs, to sweep the streets is a means of relaxation. There was a time even sweep the streets have not heard a station! Like to thank BA1EO, BD4IZL, BA6QH, and other Bravo stations, in the most boring and depressing times to response our call and give us a lot of moral support. Regretted not to take recording, otherwise you guys really should listen to your signals and how loud it is!
Little trick for the contest: in a not very heavily contested band, choose your CQ frequency in the low-end and a convenient integer frequency, which was conducive to casual frequency searchers to found you soon, so to enhance the number of QSOs. The effect of this trick in the second day of the contest's kinda obvious.
Europe on 10!
When we entered the dark night hours, the European land is buzzling! Wacthing the spots with a large number of EU, one can only expects some miracles. At that time my illusion is that if Europe even once opened, at least I can make some good HQ station contacts. The next day about the end of the contest, first we get Russia, Ukraine, but quickly goes down. one hour before the end, and finally a dream come true: Germany, Italy, France, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland and other signals came in but extremely weak, many are sending question mark on my frequency, it is estimated that the other side also have difficulties with us. Finally I worked SN0HQ, DA0HQ, EF8U, and get some HQ points. The Europe opening has continued through the end of the contest, and the last one is YO4AAC, probably this hand key veteran wants to become the last B7HQ contest contact, repeatedly sending his call sign and signal report, and seems reluctant to bid farewell. At last the 2008 IARU B7HQ (10CW) contest ended with three times of QRT. The results, we completed a total of 355 QSO, 1140 point, a new record.
With the high-band propagation still poor, North America on 10 meter remains a dream. We also failed to contact Africa during the HQ contest on 10. Why I believe probably is not because there is no propagtion, but can not grasp the window of opening, combined with the scarcity of Africa stations. Several times in the contest I pointed the antenna into ZS and each time allocating more than 10 minutes of time, still no contact, bad luck. Believe that with the development of solar cycle 24, 10-meter band will be the major scoring band for all the contests.
There is no doubt, HAMCAP’s author is a genius. However, if one totally dependents on its forecast, may have to suffer! Using HAMCAP, we successfully forecast at 15:00 on 14th afternoon for the opening of Central Asia. But towards the end of the contest the opening to Europe is an accident, HAMCAP have no response. As an old saying goes: Heaven is not predictable. Right!