Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One For the Record Book? Best Conditions In Maybe a Decade for ARRL 10 Meter Test

One For the Record Book? Best Conditions In Maybe a Decade for ARRL 10 Meter Test

After years of 10 Meter contests where conditions sounded more like 6 meters, the 2011 version of the ARRL 10 Meter test could turn out to be a record breaking affair, as the sun continues to light up one of the most popular ham radio bands in the entire world.
"I think it's going to be a fascinating contest," said Fred Laun K3ZO, who said he fully expects "a real zoo" with contesters spread out all over the band.

On Tuesday, Laun was one of many thinking long path, as he worked a Hong Kong station on 10 meters; he told radio-sport.net that he fully expects a repeat of CQ WW CW, when in his words, the band just "exploded."

"At 1300z, it just suddenly opened, with amazing, crushing signals," said Laun, who has seen just a few contests in his years on the bands.

"The 10 Meter contest is going to be awesome," said Pete Stafford K2PS, who will again be handing out the Washington, D.C. multiplier this year.

Why all the great hope for this contest? It's all in the propagation, which just hasn't favored 10 meters for a number of years.

There is no better evidence of how long it has been since the bands were truly "open" for one of these contests than by looking at the ARRL 10 Meter world records - and the answer is obvious.

The mark for Single Operator High Power Mixed was set by Jim Neiger N6TJ from ZD8Z in 2002
The low power mark at WP2Z (AG8L op) happened in 2000
The low power SSB only mark by VP2EXX has stood since 1990
K1TO's world mark for CW only low power was set in 2002
The CW only high power mark was set in 1999 by OH0XX at PZ5JR
The Multi-Single record by VP5K was made in 2000
It is very possible that a number of those marks and othe records could well be in danger this coming weekend.

Just take a look at the sunspot figures just before the ARRL 10 Meter Contest in recent years:

2011 - 154
2010 - 48
2009 - 0
2008 - 0
2007 - 13
2006 - 43
2005 - 91
2004 - 43
2003 - 115
2002 - 144
2001 - 214
As you can see, it's been a long time since contesters have seen conditions like this for a 10 Meter Contest.

Back at the end of October, there were stations up to, and above 29 MHz in the phone portion of the band in CQ WW SSB - and in CQ WW CW, stations were spread out a huge chunk of the CW band on 10 meters.

It would seem that we might get a repeat of exactly that this coming weekend, with everyone focused on just 10 meters.

The ARRL 10 Meter Contest begins at 0000z December 10 and ends at 2400 December 11

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