Last night after I had enough of writing software code I decided to turn on 160 meters. There was a contest going on, the CQ 160 meter CW contest. I like 160 meter contests for some reason. There’s something just a bit different about them. I have a decent, though modest antenna, an inverted L running about 30 feet vertically and 65 feet horizontally, with a six foot long loading coil on a piece of 1.5 inch PVC pipe. I have only eight or so radials, short by this band’s standards, but the antenna works rather well. My experiences with this antenna lead me to believe that a lot of people could do 160 meters if they just attempted to build an antenna like this, even on space-challenged lots. The antenna I have could fit in a quarter acre property. But I digress.
I turned on 160 and got my contest program going. I did the usual search-and-pounce starting from the bottom of the band and worked my way up. It was like shooting fish in a barrel, and I was starting to get bored with it. What the heck, let’s park somewhere and call CQ. I worked a few stations in the next 10 minutes and then it was like someone opened the floodgates. I had three, four, or five guys calling me each round. Amazingly I was able to pluck stations out of the pileup most of the time with no problem. This was going on for what seemed like an eternity. I started watching my rate meter and it hit 258 QSOs per hour at the peak and later settled down to around 150. This went on for about 45 minutes. I was in shock over the number of stations and how it was just relentless, but somehow I just went into overdrive and commanded the frequency. I’m not rare DX and I don’t have a super big signal on this band, but it was like everyone wanted me. The pileup started to subside and settled down to a few QSOs here and there and I was getting tired from a long day. I wished I had planned to make a serious effort in this contest; it probably would have been fun to start rested up right at dark when the band opened and work the band until the wee hours of the morning, maybe even attempting to crank up the CW speed up a bit.
All in all, I was really pleased with my performance with this unexpected pileup. Recently I have been training with Morse Runner while on business trips, mainly to break up the monotony of long flights. I can tell this practice has made a difference in my ability to manage pileups, pick out stations from the chaos, and rack up the QSOs. This could get interesting.