A L B A N I A '94
Z A 1 A - CQ WW WPX CW
Almost every active DXer and contester sure still remember Vitek, ZA1AJ (ex ZA/OK2PSZ). He was very active on all bands, CW, SSB and RTTY as well. Oneday, during one of our dozens of QSOs, Vitek told me: "Don't be so lazy! Don't sit still at home! CQ WPX CW contest is comming up - come to Albania! "
It took me a second to decide - YES. Although Albania was not one of "TOP 10 needed" at that time, I was sure, it should be a nice trip which I will never forgot. The only thing I was worry about were antennas there, as Vitek used to have only a 6-band vertical and some dipoles - not too much for a serious contesting.
A few days before my departure Vitek told me : "We (+Olli, OH1MKT/ZA1AB) found and put up a 3 el. 3-bander here. It works great. And, BTW, Your ZA-licence is O.K." ;-)))
As I used 6 el. monobanders in couple of past contests, I thought myself something about "great working" 3-bander.....well, sure better then the vertical...
May 20th - the trip started. We flew from Prague via Vienna, Austria. Although Vienna - Tirana is some 850 km, the flight took 2,5 hours by very small aircraft. Late evening we landed at Rinas Airport - an airport with unbelievably hunch-backet runway. A small problem occured with a local customs officer when he saw my baggage. Not everybody having a pair of 3-500Z as a baggage (especially in Albania :-) ), and he had, of course, no idea, what is transmitting tube and what it should be good for. Vitek solved this problem very quickly and no money were needed to close customers's eyes. After about one hour of night-driving in "wild traffic" on dark roads we were finally at Vitek's home.
Welcoming was great, as is usual for Vitek and his wife Jana. Vitek gave me my licence - nr. 49! As we were discusing (and drinking, of course), there was no time for pile-up, so I did only a few QSOs that evening.
Switched the radio on next morning. 20m was open. I gave a short CQ-call and - tremendous pile-up started. What a difference compare to the Central EU! Rates were well over 200 Qs/hour, peaked at 363 on SSB and 282 on CW! Not too bad, I said. Vitek was right - the beam worked really well.
I met Olli "Opa" OH1MKT/ZA1AB that day. He is a nice guy. Later he brought his TS-850 and joined us for the contest.
Next days I was not very active. It was too hot to sit at the radio, so we spent time by sight-seeing arround and bathing in the sea.
On Thursday we visited Mike, ZA1MH (K5KWG). We met Vlado, Z32KV here also. Mike gave us a simple terminal software, to we showed up on RTTY that evening.
We also visited "Telekomi Shqiptar" (Albanian PTT) several times trying to get some rare prefix for the contest. As it looked not too bad after our first visit, finally it failed and we got permission to use "only" old-known ZA1A call-sign.
It was decided, I'll start the action. As we had no 2nd set-up and packet DX-cluster as well, the strategy was straight forward - work as many QSOs as possible - by other words - run the pile-up as long as possible. Also the multiplayer system is much easier compare to the CQ WW contests, so we decided to no waste time by searching for a few multies.
Starting on 20. Signals were not too strong, but pile-up started immediately. Pity that signals faded down quickly, so we continued on 40/80. Band-change was a matter of seconds.
At 04 Z 20m opened to West Coast. It's Olli's time and the Q's number quickly increasing.
07-12Z - changing 15/10m. We use the adventage of our QTH and short-skip. Almost EU...
12Z - 1/4 of the contest - 984Q's / 630K points
12 -13:30Z - a short 20m East Coast opening
13:30 - 19Z - changing 15/20. A few JA's on 15, but almost EU again.
19Z - QSY to 40m - EU, but better 2 point then 1 point QSO.
20:30Z - I can't believe that 20 is closed. Tunning up and down, but only a few signals at the noise level. What to do? Trying to call CQ. A few U.S. comming back at S5-7, but then - JA's. Signals are extremelly strong and very fluttered while beaming exactly to the North. A great pile-up with no QRM! WOW, what a fun! It's unbelievable. During pile-up quickly checking band again - quiet! What a pity that band is finally closing at 22Z.
22Z - until morning 40/80 again.
24Z - half of the contest - 1946 Q's / 2+ M points
05:30 - 20 opens much later, but no signals from U.S. :-(
09:45Z - Es opening on 10 - EU, EU, EU...
12Z - 3/4 of the contest - 2670 Q's / 3M2 points
12 - 16:30 changing 20/15, but rates are going quickly down as well as the condx
16:30 - trying 40m. Although the sun is well above the horizont, JA's are quite strong.
21:00 - a weak 20m U.S. opening
22:30 - it's time to go to 160m. QRN is terrible, nobody likes it, but Vitek is doing his best and adding some multies.
23:10 - finishing on 80m, trying to reach 4M5 points and 3400 Q's. The first we did, the second not, missing just a few Q's.
24Z - THE END - tired, but satisfied. It's time for champagne!
Next day nobody wanted to see HAM-shack. After necessary log-check, we went to the sea to bath. It's hot and water is warm. What a relax!
Leaving Tirana on Tuesday and landing in Prague that evening, to be back in QRL next day ;-(
Thanks to great and warm hospitality of Vitek and Jana it was a real nice trip. Trip I will never forgot.
ZA1A - CQ WPX 1994 CW - FINAL RESULT
3el. 3-band Yagi,
Delta Loop - 40m,
Inv. Vee´s 80/160,
Olli, ZA1AB/OH1MKT, Vitek, ZA1AJ/OK2ZV