In January, we got an invitation from the LA8W/LN8W contest station to join them for one of the tests they were to participate in this spring. We initially planned to join them for the Russian DX, but the contest was deferred due to the ongoing conflict. After some back and forth, the plan was two trips, one to participate in CQ WPX SSB and then a general visit the following weekend.
This blog post is part 1 in a 2 part series covering these two trips. Part 1 will focus on the history of the contest station and cover our participation in the contest. In part 2, we will look at the antenna park and the equipment needed for an operation of this size.
LA8W was established back in the 90s by a handful of interested members, some from the ongoing contest scene in LA4O. The following years consisted of multiple QTHs at multiple locations, though none were ideal, with limitations such as space constraints and lack of equipment.
By 2010, there were three QRV contest stations in Norway; LA8W, LA9Z, and LA3Z. By 2016, LA9Z had been shut down, and LA3Z had lost multiple antennas to a storm. Due to this, they all decided to join forces and set out to make LA8W and Rakkestad the ultimate station. An ambitious goal, but achievable due to the substantial knowledge of the members involved in all previous stations.
LA8W is currently the largest contest station in Norway and holds the Norwegian record for CQ WW SSB MULTI-MULTI, beating the previous record from 2020 (also held by them) by more than double the points.
For the first weekend, LB0VG, LB5DH, and LB5PI made the trip down. They set out on Friday the 25th of March and after an 8-hour drive, spotted a number of antenna towers which was a definitive sign of being at the right place.
We arrived pretty late in the evening and with no contact information other than e-mail, we decided to wander around the premises to spot any signs of life. After ringing the doorbell to what we believed was the living quarters, we met Stig, LA7JO. He explained that everyone was having a nap before the contest and happily showed us around the station and explained the general workings of the place.
The QTH at Rakkestad has several facilities, including multiple beds for overnight stays, toilets and a shower, and a kitchen with the necessary appliances for cooking. It is, in other words, well suited for travelers like ourselves. A nice tradition at LA8W is that they arrange a contest dinner on the evening before long contests, like CQ WPX. Unfortunately, we arrived too late for our contest dinner, while the second group from ARK decided to host their own.
The station consists of 6 radio shacks, each one dedicated to an individual contest HF band. Each shack sports a FLEX-6600 radio, a transistor PA and lots of software to aid in the contesting. More on this in part 2!
At midnight UTC (01:00 CET), operations started from the shack with LB0VG on the 160m band. What followed were 48 intense hours of contesting, with time slots as short as 30 minutes, leaving little time for sleep.
After the dust had settled, we landed on 4472 QSOs, of which the operators from LA1K contributed 1065. For comparison, the total number of QSOs LA1K got between September and now, not including Field Day 2021 was 1284.
Perhaps more interesting was the benefit of the high gain antennas. We got 163 QSOs with CQ WW Zone 25 (Japan and Korea), equivalent to all Japan and Korea QSOs LA1K has gotten counting back to September 2015. If we count the 43 QSOs from Indonesia, we have to go even further back, to April 2014.
The total score of 14 045 384 points even resulted in a new Norwegian record in the MULTI-MULTI category. We enjoyed the experience and are grateful for the opportunity to join LN8W for this weekend. Many thanks from LB0VG, LB5DH, and LB5PI!