In the pre-dawn morning, just after the dog was fed and the first pot of coffee brewed, I switched on the Eagle and took a quick spin down the 40 meter band. Nothing. Dead. Quiet. 80 meters revealed considerable activity and I was a relieved to have some evidence that the antenna was still standing.
Since I was going lower anyway, I decided to listen on 160 – the TopBand. Wow. Lots of signals, all calling CQ TEST. A quick check online confirmed that this weekend was the CQ 160 CW Contest.
My antenna is actually short for 80 meters, nowhere near what’s required for 160. But the auto-tuner in the Eagle is nothing if not forgiving and a fellow can only listen to so many CQ’s without giving in to temptation.
For forty-five minutes I managed to search and pounce on eight different stations in seven different states for a whopping total of 56 points. But I was pleased to work stations in WI, VA, WV, SC, TN, KY, and AR with practically no antenna as I don’t have many states confirmed on 160.
As darkness gave way to dawn, I could hear the CQ’s sliding lower in the noise and decided not to push my luck and thought it poor form to make these guys work hard to hear my peanut-whistle. I popped back up to 40 meters where activity had started picking up and promptly worked a YN4 at 7011.
But the moment had passed and I was ready for more coffee. I pulled the switch and mopped up the paperwork with a fresh cuppa. That was enough radio for me today. I’m never going to be one of those operators with 20 or 30 thousand contacts in the log. An hour of chair time is a long time for me — three or fours hours an eternity.
Still, wading into a contest with no ambition towards a particular score is a fine business way to begin a Sunday morning in my log-book.