ARRL DX SSB 2012: Propagation Cools as ARRL CW Focused Again on Carribean Contesters
Jamie Dupree NS3T
After fantastic worldwide conditions last fall for the CQ WW DX Contests, the sun has not been cooperating so far in 2012, and that was true in the ARRL DX CW test, limiting the best six-band DX propagation to those stations in the Carribean.
And it might well mean the same kind of contest in the ARRL DX SSB, which starts at 0000z March 3 and ends at 2400z on March 4.
It’s not to say that Europe and Asia were absent from ARRL CW – far from it. But 10 meter openings to outside of the Carribean were more limited in nature than what contesters experienced late last year.
Sunspot numbers continue to be just average, nothing like the three digit showings that thrilled contesters last fall, leading to hopes for a fast-paced 2012 in terms of contesting, hopes that now seem a bit far away.
As for the ARRL CW scores, John Barcroft K6AM leads all DX stations for now as he ran up 6.9 million points from ZF2AM in the Cayman Islands from 6,568 raw contacts and 353 mulipliers – as he only missed VE4 on 160 meters.
“Conditions were pretty good overall,” Barcroft said in his 3830 report, noting good openings all day and into the evening on 15 meters, but more spotlight openings of past years on 10 meters.
Barcroft is about 340,000 points ahead of Andy Faber AE6Y, who ran P49Y to 6.6 million points.
The low power category was also dominated by stations in the Carribean, with N3AD the leader from VP2MMM at 4.9 million points.
Back in the US and Canada, the review was mixed – lots of activity, but not the wide open bands many had been hoping for in 2012.
“Interesting conditions,” remarked Scott Redd K0DQ, who operated from WW1WW, notching 6.7 million points for the top single op score so far.
The low power lead is up to the log checkers, as Maury Peiperi W3EF has a lead of just 36,000 points on defending champ Ed Sawyer N1UR, who almost pulled off another top score despite suffering from the flu.
“10M was very poor here considering how fun in was through the end of last year,” Sawyer said on 3830, adding that he found “Friday night 160 and 80 were terrible and even Sat night was only so so.”
“Unlike the CQ WW CW contest, the contest wasn’t quite as much fun, mostly due to the relatively degraded conditions compared to last fall,” said John Dorr K1AR on 3830.
“However, working nearly 3K QSOs is still a good time by any definition,” Dorr added, as he churned out 4.3 million points in the Unlimited category.
An auroral disturbance during the contest didn’t help conditions for some in the northern latitudes, both in Europe and the US and Canada.
“Conditions on the low bands the first night, pretty poor but even poorer was 10 M the second day,” said Mark Pride K1RX, whose Multi-Multi team ran up over 10 million points.
“Oh well,” Pride said on 3830.
The Multi-Multi lead in ARRL CW right now is in the hands of Team W3LPL, but only by 170,000 points over Team K3LR.
W3LPL had 8,073 contacts and 678 mults; K3LR edged them in mults with 683, but had fewer QSO’s at 7,929.
“Its amazing how two top scoring teams can compete for 48 hours under considerably different propagation conditions and submit scores within just one percent of each other,” said Frank Donovan W3LPL afterward.
W3LPL grinded out only 598 contacts on 10 meters; they had almost three times that many in CQ WW CW with 1,786 QSO’s.
For those doing only 10 meters, it was a frustrating weekend.
“It was a tough slog,” said Pete Stafford K2PS, who didn’t find much joy from Washington, D.C.
“I was hoping to reprise my terrific experiences from the recent CQWW and ARRL 10 Meter contests by doing a single band 10 meter, LP effort,” Stafford said on 3830, but he only managed 176 contacts and 67 mults.
But – as a reminder to all of us – while that might not seem like much, it has Stafford at the top of claimed scores in his category.
Down the East Coast to North Carolina, Bill Tippett W4ZV checked in with the best 10 meter single band score, as he found 825 QSO’s and 105 multipliers.
“Aurora Saturday caused some interesting openings over the North Pole and also caused Asia to skew over the South Pacific,” W4ZV reported on 3830.
The 10 meter leaders were in the Carribean as you would expect – with HK1R and J39BS leading the high and low power categories.
Will that be the story for ARRL SSB? The bands may be more like ARRL DX 2011 than last fall, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be a fun time to contest. The ARRL DX SSB Contest begins at 0000z March 3 and ends at 2400z on March 4