HA1CA Zoli and HA1DRJ Szabolcs, who work in Macedonia, raised the idea at a HAM farewell party held in Salgotarjan, that we have possibility to use the QTH of Stip radio club during CQWW contest. Zoli, who has already worked several times from there drafted the possibilities:
- there is an eager, hospitable local team
- there is a good QTH (during that time out of usage airport, 5 km from the city and relatively far from the high mountains (which mountains are characteristic for the country))
- Set up of the local team: TH6DXX (up15m), delta loop 40m (USA, JA), delta loop 80m (USA), inverted V dipole 160m, SB220 and a borrowed Alpha.
This was the basis.
Additionally ideas what can we prepare based on the circumstances and what can we take. As the idea collection started we could identify picture of a serious contest station. To this greatly contributed the monobander yagis, 80 m Titanex antenna and Alpha PA offered by HA1AG Zoli, and parts received from HA2SX Pepe.
The planning continued on the mailing list offered by HA6OI Zoli. The conditions developed continuously: who can come, what and how can we carry. The Hungarian organisation was managed by HA3OV Anti, the Macedonian by HA1CA Zoli. Based on the technical equipment and the number of operators it become clear if we do not want to be bored we need to work in multi-multi. Meantime the requested call sign was approved: Z38N.
One week before the contest all piece of the picture packed. Hungarian participants: HA1CA, HA1DRJ, HA1RS, HA3NU, HA3OV, HA6ND, HA6NQ, HA6OI, HA6PX. We had the antennas, equipment, PAs, PCs, poles and other accessories. TS950s, PCs, TFT monitors, rotators, high power parts from HG6N team, FT1000MP, PA, pole, ropes, rotator from HA3KNA team, PAs, antenna accessories (beverage, radial materials etc.) from HG1Z team, computer parts from HA6OI, antennas from HA1AG. So, altogether 2 fully shipped buses carried them.
The first team travelled on Monday by 2 mikrobus, HA6OI and I arrived on Wednesday. The start was a bit difficult, because the Hungarian border policeman seeing the monitors "in pile" announced that this is already a commercial quantity and it can not pass the Serbian border. We started to think (since the usually applied declaration paper seemed to be not sufficient), what, how can we solve asap. HA8KW Fecó, guided as via traps of the offices, disregarding the time need, in Szeged. After 8 (!) hour combat, finally without any extra paper (so the officer turned its head away in order not to see anything), the team finally passed the border. According to the plan the team spent Monday evening at Skopje houses of HA1CA and HA1DRJ and installation of the station would have been started on Tuesday, though due to technical reasons it postponed to Wednesday. We spent Tuesday with sightseeing, excursion, and arrived to the QTH, located about 80 km from the capital, late night.
This beautiful canyon is next to Skopje.
The task was beautiful: you have an empty room, an enormous free pampas, so conjure a station from it in 3 days, which can cope the contest on international level. By Wednesday night, when I arrived with HA6OI the 21 and 28 yagis had already been installed and the 14 yagi had been assembled. At 23 arrived to the hotel, which was on the closer side to the airport of the city, so we didn't need to tackle the city traffic. HA1CA arranged that the kitchen opened even at 00:30 and prepared a huge mixed meat for us. By Thursday the "awaited" rain arrived, so phrases, like "it must be surely a good antenna" came, and "in good weather the mug can also install antenna" and the more and more of our clothes became wet the more we called "pálinka time" (pálinka=Hungarian speciality, a kind of spirit) whoop, and our hosts learned this phrase quickly and adopted as well. The local team (Z31GX/Z35X Chris, Z36W Venco, Z35T Ozren, Z32ID Igor) helped us keenly in antenna installation.
Building of Titanex:
Erected by a support pole to avoid break
The outcome worked well...
In spite of the rain the work proceeded well, we finished the installation of the 14 yagi, the 80 m Titanex vertical with its 32 radials and the workplaces were mainly finished. Afternoon "I could not stand up against the stimulation" that someone "voluntarily" should test the techniques so I sat for a 45 min. on 21. The result was promising, made couple of USA with quite good reports. Z36W escorted us to the hotel and based on his recommendation we tasted the local specialty called Pastrmalija, which we renamed as boot based on its shape.
We had a lot of work inside as well in order to prepare the workplaces
By Friday the weather repeated itself, but we continued the combat heroically. Local amateurs pulled out the 2 beverages, and we installed a 2 element phase feed vertical towards USA (with 32-32 radials). We finished the set up of equipment by late evening; Wintest, PA, etc. were put into operation for all workplaces. After it, I managed to sit at the rig for a bit longer time.
The 40 m 2el vertical was finished by Friday evening:
We were keen to know, how the 2 el vertical works. Well, good. Both transmitting and receiving side gave 2 S extra compared to delta loop in USA, furthermore we could receive close stations better as well. This was backed by 450 QSO made during 3 hours before the contest. On 80 m Titanex was also better than delta loop. The soil was inevitably more advantageous for such antennas, squelched due to the rain and we could notice salt-spots on our shoes.
We really accustomed to the conditions, when both beverage was stolen by Sunday morning.
the contest started superbly, in spite of outage of 1st half hour on 40 m, especially 80 m went well. After 2.5 hours we reached 1000 QSO and 8:30, at the operator change, we were already at 2500. Unfortunately upper bands were in their usual "form", 14 was bad, 21 missed Japanese, 28 started too late. Though, QSO counter spin continuously. HA6PX type filters and commercial filters worked very well, interference was minimal between bands. Additional gain was that we managed to install the antennas 20-30 meters from each other so they were not radiating into the each other in the main direction. By 15:30 we reached 5000 QSO, but the God of propagation was not ready to support us, because shortly after the darkening 14 stopped. Though we hoped that in the southern the upper band could be open longer. Unfortunately we had such propagation, that stations in the west could benefit from the better propagation, not us. Regardless, we logged more than 7000 QSO by midnight.
The QSOs didn't spin so quickly next day, we reached 10.000 by 14:30, which itself is not so bad, but it was visible that we shall have less multiplier than wished. Finally Wintest counter stopped at 11717 QSO and about 16,5 million points when finished the contest. 7MHz was the top band with its 3228 QSO, but 2433 QSO on 80 m is not too bad, which is merely 6 QSO less than the 20 m result. Unfortunately multiplier hunting was the bottleneck, since a PA would have been needed, and in addition we had to run out to the other side of the building for rotating TH6DXX which is on the opposite side, at the original location of Z37M QTH.
The result after 48 hours is the following:
160: 1188 Q
80: 2433 Q
40: 3228 Q
20: 2439 Q
15: 1790 Q
10: 641 Q
677 DXCC, 188 zones and 16.5 million points
So we fulfilled the plan, had more QSO than the last year's EU 1st LZ9W, though this result may be enough only for the 2nd-3rd place in EU.
The antenna farm, unfortunately the Titanex and the 2 el vertical is not visible here
After contest finished we slept a couple of hours, and came the dismantling of the station, which went smootlier than planned, so after 14:00 we could return to the hotel for a small rest. In the evening we went to the city center with our hosts, where visited shortly the radio club. After we had a joint farewell dinner, where evaluated the events of the previous days and by consuming some glasses of beer strengthened the amateur friendship.
Local amateurs thanked the equipment that Gyuri HA6ND offered for them (TFT monitor, PC, koax etc.), we thanked the opportunity for the contesting and said god bye with the hope that we can repeat the joint contesting.
Feco HA8KW waited the team with a tasty fish soup at his home near the Hungarian border.
We would like to say thank you for altruist amateur-mates who helped the expedition:
team of Z37M, HA1AG, HA1CA, HA1DRJ, HA1UF, HA2SX, HA3FIN, HA6NY, HA6OL, HA8KW, HA9AX