Since LA1K’s QTH is in the loft of the Student Society in Trondheim, our radio activities cause quite a bit of interference for the other equipment located in the building. The multiple venues housed often have lots of various PA equipment, which despite our continuing efforts prove difficult to maintain a healthy RF relationship with. This means our chances of fully participating in longer radio contests during the school semesters are quite slim.

This week was Easter break and the house is closed for visitors all week, as students usually travel home to their families. Inspired by our recent trip to the LN8W contest station, we wanted to try our luck and participate in a 24-hour contest. For the few of us still in town, this was the perfect opportunity to join the OK/OM DX SSB contest, starting at April 9th at 12:00 UTC.

We started the morning by cranking up the HF mast and spreading out the radials from our BigIR antenna, which has been QRT for some time. Although the BigIR antenna was a nice change of scenery when we originally set it up a couple of years ago, the radials we prepared proved to be difficult to keep out as they prohibited people from accessing the roof safely. After a short discussion with our local grumbler (Tormod / LA2HMA), we were allowed to leave the radials on the roof during the 24 hours of the contest.

A problem we have often encountered when operating from the shack is that background noise tends to be very audible for ourselves, but also for the operator on the other end. This has a lot to do with our choice of headsets, the Koss SB-40, which has a built-in dynamic microphone. During the contest, we tried a number of different combinations and gathered some insight into what our ideal microphone and headphone combo would look like.

A variation of the different microphone and headphone combos we tested during the contest
Photo: LB0VG

First up on the schedule was LB9WI and LB1DJ on the 20-meter and 40-meter band, respectively. After a bit of trouble with a faulty log template (it wouldn’t let us run non-OK/OM stations), we were up and running after about 30 minutes into the contest.

The contest schedule
(with a special thanks to all the operators on the night shift)

The first hours of the contest went beautifully on the 20-meter band. A pile-up of operators appeared quickly, and the band was packed to the brim. LB1DJ didn’t have as much luck on the 40-meter band, and for the most part, sat calling out into nothingness.

From left: LB9WI, LB1DJ, LB4FI
Photo: LB0VG

What followed were 24 hours of contesting, with people coming and going according to the contest schedule. Unfortunately, we started experiencing a lot of mysterious interference on both the 20-meter and 40-meter band, which made it difficult to hear people answering our CQ. Sunday morning we had the most terrible conditions of the whole 24-hour period. We tried to turn off all electrical equipment in our QTH, with no luck. Turning the antenna away from Europe seemed to remove most of the interfering noise, so that’s what we did for the last few hours of the contest.

Mysterious noise on the 20-meter band
Photo: LB9WI

On Sunday, at 14:00 local time, the results were in – 535 QSOs, 141 of them from OK/OM stations. Since no one participated in this category last year, we don’t have anything to compare it to. Nevertheless, we were quite happy with the results.

Results from the competition, per operator and per band

Afterwards, all of the participants showed up for the promised Norwegian porridge and hot dogs, a classic! LB5PI had also made a delicious contest cake, a fine LA1K tradition.

Nothing like some porridge and hot dogs after a 24-hour radio contest!
From left: LB8LI, LB2BI, LB0VG, LB9WI, LB1DJ, LB5EJ, LB4FI
Photo: LB5PI

Thanks to LB0VG, LB1DJ, LB1HH, LB2BI, LB5EJ, LB5FJ, LB5PI, LB6GH, LB8LI and LB9WI for participation in the contest, and LB4FI for checking up on the night-operators during the long hours.