I was so happy that I've received my licence prior to the winter holidays and I could get on the air from Hungary as HA/HB9GIU!
From home, I've used my new FT-991A transceiver, powered by an MFJ-4230MVP and connected to a home-brew λ /4 vertical wire antenna that we had built together with HA7GN.
This was an excellent antenna built on a fishing rod with 4 radials, and dimensioned to the 20 m band. The SWR was below 1.2 at resonance frequency, and below 1.5 through the entire 20 meters band. Some interference in the "shack" required to exchange the USB cable between the radio and the laptop to a better shielded one. Otherwise CAT control for the digi modes malfunctioned when using output power exceeding ~20W. An additional 1:1 balun helped to fully reduce interference at the end.
But the real highlight was HA7GN's station in the Mátra Mountains!! Have a look at this! :)
It was an excellent learning opportunity and lots of fun! Altogether 100 QSOs have been collected during the holidays as HA/HB9GIU in the mixture of PSK32/PSK64 and SSB modes. The longest distance was 7643 km, which will most likely be a challenge for me to beat from my QTH in Switzerland. :)
I've found "The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy" from N0HFF very useful to get started and to find your own path to learn Morse code in a successful and enjoyable way. It is available for free download in multiple languages here.
There are several different tools out there that teach you Morse Code. My number one recommendation is lcwo.net, which is also available in several languages, and offers a great variety of different options to practice. It is very easy to start with and to proceed step-by-step in a systematic way. I'm far from being proficient in CW yet, but could successfully learn all the 41 standard characters, while getting prepared for the ham exams recently.
The chosen category of this year became the Single Op Assissted 20m High. It was my second entry in this category and the first time from my hilltop QTH. Last year I operated form the rental house in Matraszentlaszlo (812m asl) from where I participated in the past seven major contests.
The whole thing started with the preassembly of the KT36XA (M2) sometime in July. The antenna arrived a lot earlier than expected; in about a month after the order placed. The boys went with my wife for a few days summer holiday to the grandma enabling me to free up some time after work to sort the components. The whole house was empty for a few days so I used the place in the living room..
I have limited space on the yard at home so needed to assemble the antenna on a temporary "mast" to see if all components arrived, they fit and work OK, and get a basic understanding of how long it was going to take to reassemble it on the hill. When it was complete I did a quick check with an antenna analyzer and my HF rig. Everything must be fitted as per the factory specs diescribed in the manual giving not much potential for additional adjustments. Regardless of the low testing hights the antenna performed decently promising not much surprises for the later installations. Before dismantling to shipping sizes I carefully marked the corresponding pieces. I had to learn in the past several years that assembling my antennas twice on a decent sunny day takes always less time than doing it only once (saying "it is so trivial..") on a cold windy day up on the hill.
In the meanwhile I did some inspection of the other antenna components; my old 4L monoband Yagi which I built some years ago based on the specs of OH8LQ. Before the KT36 it was my primary contest antenna on 20m. Due to the rental QTH in the past I needed to build and dismantle all my antennas before/after the event. It was very very tiring. Many cases finished just by the start of the contest.. best case only no sleep.
This year was going to be different!!!
The land was cleared off bushes during the summer, and by September the service road and fences have been built.
Then I could finally install the two 20m crankup masts and the security system.
One weekend before the WW DX SSB I put up both antennas as I used to do it - alone. The weather was like in September, never best time to do it. In the neighborhood a group of young people were having a weekend party; cooking a very delicious stew on open fire. My creatures pulled their attention and they kindly invited me for the lunch.
The coming weekends were mostly spent with something unusual: finetuning the station setup and improving ergonomics in the caravan.
In the meantime I always had in mind; it is going smooth..too much smooth.
Then the K9W weekend came..
When rare expeditions are on air I feel the urge to get the first contact asap and then wait a few days to work them again on other bands if possible. The first weekend is always crazy due to the QRMers and the high traffic, but it is difficult to stay away, if I see on the cluster they are out there. I sweared so many times I will rather be with my family instead.. My home QTH antenna is always half way erected to avoid trouble at high winds. When expeditions are on air I used to lift it up to its total height. This was taking place November 3rd; while working with the winch by a bad move I managed to get my left hand biceps completely torn off. That time it was not very painful actually, till I got to see the doctor who said that the thing needs a surgery and an arm fixing for 4-6 weeks. Ooh, Yees..this is what I was waiting for.. Current lifestyle does not let much of a rest with the two small kids (3,5 years and 6 months old) and high season at work 80km away from home..
For a moment I gave up the plans to go for the contest, too. But, that took for a moment only. A few days experience with my "wood-hand" in our busy life gave me the confidence that it will work out..
The WW weekend was extremely painful though. Ergonomics were not ready for my one-handed mode in the 44 hours of operation. I was not able to sleep Friday night before the contest and jumped into the first 27 hours with headache..again, but that seems to me normal by now after all those previous contests. I always get so excited the night before that could not get any sleep most of the cases.
My running rates were not going beyond 3 QSO/min or occassionally to 4 QSO/min due to my temporary limited abilities.
Other than the internet connection on Sunday everything was working smoothly. I use RBN since a while when entering assissted mode. Having most of the multipliers collected on Saturday did not feel the urge to go for additional mults on Sunday when there was no 3G connection for the entire day. The final score seemed to be degraded by approximately 50k points due to the missed potential mults. Improving the 3G signal strenght by an external logperiodic will be a task for next year. Or maybe a local SDR and a CW skimmer.. I will see. The two large indexable aerials; with the simultaneous multiple direction beaming towards Asia and North America plus the perfect location were paying off though. The final claimed score is 882,000 points with 2,405 contacts, 37 zones, and 140 countries, hoping to be enough for a World 6th, Europe 3rd and a new Hungarian record.
This is the contest I can hardly wait to begin every year and it takes only for a weekend. This is also the one of with the winter arrives and HAM radio goes to standby a bit till the end of February when the next challenge is due; ARRL International DX CW. CU in the bands!
Till that it is time to be with my lovely ones who let me live this crazy hobby.