Over the years, I've developed an aversion to having anything to do with major HF SSB contests unless I've got at least a beam antenna. Of course, you don't *need* a beam antenna and you *can* make contacts and good ones at that, with a dipole or vertical and perhaps 100w or less. The trouble is that each contact seems to go something like this
DX Station: QRZ Contest
Me (enthusiastically): Golf Four Victor Xray Echo
DX Station: QRZ the X-RAY
Me: Golf Four Victor Xray Echo
DX Station: Gee Four Vee Ex I you're five nine twenty eight.
Me (starting to lose enthusiasm for this): No, it's Golf Four Victor Xray Echo, Golf Four Victor Xray Echo, OK?
DX Station: QSL, Golf Four Victor Xray India you're five nine twenty eight. What's my report?
Me (thinking why did I bother....): No, the last letter is Echo, Echo Echo. Like Espana, Ecuador, Elephant (actually, I've never used Elephant as a phonetic, but I might now I've thought of it)... QSL
DX Station: QSL - Golf Four Victor Xray Echo - you're five nine twenty eight OK?
Me: Roger roger (Thinking thank heavens for that...) you're five nine one four. OK?
Disclaimer: I'm not singling out zone 28 stations! I was just listening to one last night. They're super operators with great ears...
So, you can see that each contact, even with a semi decent setup is a bit of a trial of patience and I have learned it's not good for my blood pressure. I'm quite happy to accept that I could put up a bigger antenna (but then it works ok most of the time for CW and data contacts) and that perhaps my voice isn't that clear (well, sorry, I'm stuck with that).
It's not that I don't like contests - I love hearing the activity generated, and I love hearing DX coming through from all parts of the globe. I'm inclined to think, though that there is now so much interference and general aggro that anyone with a normal suburban station is unlikely to have a great time in the major SSB events (CW and data are usually better options).
Anyway, that's a long way of telling you that I didn't have any contest QSOs over the weekend. Still, I did have a listen on 7MHz last night about 2100z and very interesting it was too. In between the very loud Europeans there was some great DX from the Far and Middle East. JA3YGP (from memory) and 9K2HN were doing great business and good signals on the vertical and there was an Indonesian station coming through too..
Having switched the HF rig on, I listened around a little more. The 5MHz channels were quiet, though I did hear some Spanish fishermen on 5398khz! Listened on 27.555MHz too - someone told me recently that this is a CB frequency that shows activity even when the 28MHz amateur band is quiet. Not much doing there, though I heard some meteor bursts!
It was nice to listen on HF again though. I realise that I have missed playing HF recently, although not shouting Elephant at contest stations!