Call: W2IRT
Operator(s):  
Station: W2IRT

Added: 31/Oct/2011
Contest: CQ WORLDWIDE DX CONTEST, SSB
Class: SOAB(A) HP
QTH: NNJ
Operating time: 20.0

Summary: 
 Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
------------------------------
  160:    2     2        2
   80:   91    15       55
   40:  111    20       61
   20:  184    37       84
   15:  129    27       78
   10:  307    24       99
------------------------------
Total:  824   125      379  
Total Score = 1,180,872 Club: Soapbox: It was the best of times, it was the
worst of times. 10m was on fire from
the get-go. Things were going along
swimmingly the first overnight, though
a little slow on 80 (and nothing
really on 160). Lots of life on 40 but
even 20 was open long after it had
shut down in previous years. Called it
a night at 3am, grabbed a few hours'
sleep and started to pick up mults
like mad just around dawn; first on 15
then up to 10. The green spots were
turning red, the red spots were
turning blue and the blue ones were
turning grey in quantities I'd never
done before. All S&P. And such a
winter-wonderland quality, I observed
through the floor-to-ceiling shack
windows! It was truly magical, both
inside the shack and out. Dark
Magic, it turned out. Starting just
after 1pm, my SWR started to go nuts
on 10 and 15. 20 was marginally better
but only just. By 2:15, I was over 6:1
on the two upper bands. My MFJ tuner
could match it after a lot of tweaking
but at the price of 2-3 minutes
between QSOs. I was getting real-world
signals of 55 where I'm normally
30-over. I walked outside and looked
up and what should have been a nice
forest of silvery-aluminum elements
looked like a convention of white PVC
pipe 70 feet in the air. My 80m wire
was about 1" thick. Snow falling at a
rate of 2" per hour at that time. I
made the best of 20 and picked it as
clean as I could but the going was
tough. Tried running but I was just
not loud enough to hold a frequency.
10 and 15 were hopeless. Broken, I
broke for dinner. Roast Beast wasn't
as tasty knowing I was getting my head
handed to me on the upper bands. Got a
scare at about 5pm when the power
failed for around 20 minutes but it
came back, and so did I. 40 turned
out to be pretty good, although the
tuner got a real workout there, too;
at least I was making plenty of Q's.
80 was a different story. I went out
and knocked snow off the wires but
because of forecast high-winds, I'd
brought the tower down to about 55'
instead of 70, and the little limp
wire just wouldn't play. Back to 40,
then. I was making some good headway
until 11:20pm on Saturday night, and
that's when the wheels fell off. We
went dark and stayed dark until 1:34
pm on Monday afternoon. We don't own a
genny and one couldnt be found for
love or money at any store within 200
miles, so that was that. CQWW ended, I
failed to make DXCC on even a single
band and my score was a dismal 1.18M;
about a third to a quarter of what I'd
hoped for. The next day I woke to the
discover the loss of half my 80m vee
(which, if I'd used stouter wire,
would have taken the tower over with
it when the falling tree limb hit it).
Our beautiful 100+ year-old oaks all
suffered severe damage, too. Inside
the shack was mostly good, but I had
minor video-card trouble that caused
my second monitor to go out more than
a few times. A high-powered auto-tuner
would have been worth its weight in
gold, though. The Mark V, the amp,
computer and ancillary gear were all
very well-behaved. Big kudos to my
AL-1200 that fought into 2:1 and even
3:1 at 1200W and never complained
once. Hopefully ARRL-SSB in March
will make up for this bitter
disappointment.