News from the Valley (Winter Contest)

Despite COVID-19 (and generally miserable shortwave propagation), four members of the Kings Co. ARC (three of whom are also in HARC) decided to get together for the 24-h RAC Winter Contest. Since 2006, hams in both HARC and KCARC have gathered for the annual Canada Day and Canada Winter RAC contests at the house and radio shack of Fred (VE1FA) and Helen (VA1YL) Archibald in metropolitan Canard, (just south of Canning). The shack/workshop is fairly roomy, allowing lots of snacks, chairs, and kibitzers. This time Wayne VE1BAB and Bob VE1RSM made up the foursome. We four meet frequently, so consider ourselves in a common bubble.

On 19-20 December 2020 we ran the Winter Contest as a mixed (SSB + CW) multi-op, single transmitter at 500-700W station in the MOST-HP class. A new RAC rule allowed us to use a second transmitter to work new multipliers only, but we stuck to a single TX. As always, we used two antennas; a 486’ circumference delta horizontal loop 48-54’ above ground, and a Mosley Classic 33 tri-bander at 53’. Sometimes we run as VE1LD (KCARC’s call) but this time we ran as VE1RAC. As usual, we logged with N1MM, optimized by our expert Bob.

Fred + Helen started at 8PM local on Dec. 19th, joined by Bob a little later, and we worked ‘till about 1 AM. Bands 80 and 160 were surprisingly good! As all of us are approaching old geezerdom, we then shut down for the night. Wayne and Bob arrived on the 20th, and we ended up working 15 of the 24h of the contest.

Propagation was spotty: 10m never opened and 15m was very weak, but 20, 40, 80, and 160 varied from poor to magic patches (in amongst the QSB) of amazingly good prop!

Results: 1088 total QSOs 651 SSB (Fred + Helen), 437 CW (Wayne + Bob)

  • 76 multipliers, 38 CW and 38 SSB
  • worked all provinces and territories except Nunavut (VY0)
  • Max QSO rates: 4 Qs/min for 1 minute, 2.3 Qs /minute for 1 hour (138 Qs/hr)
  • Total score: 489,592 Amazingly, considering conditions and where we are in the sunspot cycle, this was our best score ever in the Canada Winter Contest!

Problems?? Nothing tests a station like being in a contest, and though our current station has been tweaked and peaked for years, we did have a new problem which certainly cost us lot of points: the logging computer seized up several times. The problem was that I (Fred) had replaced the 12” computer screen with a 23” screen, which acted as an improved HF antenna, dumping too much of the radio’s RF energy into the logging computer on 20m.

Why do we do this twice a year? (1.) It’s nice and social, both in the shack and on the air. (2.) It keeps us sharp and improves our radio skills. (3.) It improves the station. (4.) It’s fun!

PS If you would like to join us (after we’re vaccinated) for the Canada Day or Winter contests, let Fred or Helen know!

De Fred VE1FA