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ARRL DX Contest, SSB   2018   Mar 3   Claimed Score

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Call: K3ZJ
Operator(s): K3ZJ
Station: K3ZJ

Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 33:27
Location: USA

Summary:   Compare Scores
Total:1074272Total Score875,568


Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club

Comments:     [email]     2018-03-06 02:14:01
I awoke at my Virginia QTH Friday morning with no heat or electricity. No estimate for restoration. Schools and government all closed due to the storm, so no work. So I packed the food from the freezer that would be ruined if thawed and headed to my WV QTH, where I have a freezer and power that rarely fails. I arrived late due to high winds and downed trees along the way, only to find that my 160/80/40 trap dipole had succumbed in the high winds (est. > 75 mph on the mountaintop). I had just raised it to 80 feet the weekend before. What to do? It was freezing (30 F / -2 C) and much too windy to climb the tower to reconstruct the dipole. Eventually, I remembered that my trusty 80-10 OCF dipole with coax was stored in my shed ready for a trip to Denmark later this year. And I still have a pulley with rope below my C31XR from when I tried a low 80M dipole for sweepstakes 3 or 4 years ago. It is far from ideal to have an antenna resonant on 10 & 20 located just 8 feet below a beam for the same bands. And even less ideal to have an antenna for 40 & 80 meters only 40 feet off the ground. But it is better than nothing. Unless I wanted to go single band on 20 or 15, I had to take action. I didn't expect to have a signal strong enough to punch a hole in the QRM on 20, and maybe 15 wouldn't open ... so action it was. After 20M faded out at about 9 pm (local), I ventured into the now-25-degree night and high winds. The shed door broke when the wind caught it while I was searching for the OCF with my flashlight. Finally, I found the antenna and coax, and used some AB-105 tower legs to temporarily prop the door in place. I managed to erect the OCF using the pulley and tied the ends to tree branches that were within my reach. The almost-full moon provided sufficient illumination without my flashlight! I was startled, however, when suddenly I noticed a long row of 25-30 red lights in the distance spaced along the mountaintop to the West on the other side of the Potomac River. They seemed to blink in a pattern. My first thought was that they are sending a message in Morse code. But to whom? After trying to decode the signals, I decided that it might be a code, but it sure wasn't Morse. Then I thought that maybe the lights were on landing alien spaceships. I am, after all, in the middle of "nowhere" on a rural mountaintop in West Virginia. We have bootleggers and drug runners out here, but they don’t use blinking red lights to broadcast their presence. What is going on? Now very awake and alert, but also quite frozen, I rushed inside. After putting more wood in the stove, I worked some 80 and 40 DX while keeping watch for an alien to appear at my door. Would "it" knock, or just come in? Next day I called a friend to help repair the shed door. He explained that over the past year windmills have been constructed to generate electricity along the mountain to the west. And yes, they blink red in some sort of a pattern. So, no aliens. Shed door fixed. And I succeeded in completing some 40 & 80 meter DX QSOs with the OCF just 40 feet high. Not ideal, but it worked "enough" to gain some multipliers. I even made three 160 meter QSOs using the OCF barefoot through the rig's antenna tuner. Not ideal, but 3 multipliers are 3 multipliers. Best moments were working old friend Tony, I0IJ, in Rome. He has returned to radio after many years of silence. And Martti, OH2BH, whom I visited in Finland last year. He called from Kosovo, a new multiplier. Thanks for the QSOs. I hope to see everyone again in the WPX at the end of the month. It will be warmer by then, and maybe I'll have a better antenna for the low bands.