The higher HF bands are not dead! We all expected reduced propagation in 2015, but CQ DX Marathon participants went against the odds and came up as winners. Compared to 2014, participation increased 25%, total QSOs were up over 8% and more countries were available. We were not surprised that 2015 was a record-breaking year, with many all-time high score records broken. The 10-, 12-, and 15-meter bands accounted for over 50% of all QSOs — very similar to 2014. Tenmeter-only submissions were double those of 2014. Overall, there was a 50% increase in participants chasing singleband or single-mode awards. Much of the increase in participation came from the many new DX Marathon participants in Brazil and Turkey. In addition, participation in Limited Class, introduced last year, was up substantially, with over 25% of logs claiming Limited Class. If you run 100 watts and a small Yagi or equivalent, check out Limited Class.
As a result of the good conditions and increased participation, many new alltime high scores were set: Unlimited Class, Limited Class, Phone, three continental records, nine zone records, 15 country records plus the club score record. Many of these records were significantly broken and will be hard to surpass in the future. One of the reasons so many records were broken was the availability of workable entities. Over 300 entities plus 40 zones were available in 2015 — the highest number ever since the Marathon has been run. We thank the many expeditions to rare locations. CW continues to be the most popular mode used in the Marathon, but the percentage of CW QSOs was slightly lower in 2015, due mainly to a significant increase in digital QSOs.
And the Winners Are …
Since 2008, Oms, PY5EG, has been a major participant and supporter of the Marathon, including plaque sponsorship through the Araucaria DX Group. Oms holds six all-time record high DX Marathon scores <www.dxmarathon/Records> and shared the Unlimited Class overall record high score of 330 with OM3EY — until 2015. Oms has now set the bar very high with an incredible score of 336! He missed only four entities that were active in 2015 — we can only imagine the hours Oms spent working DX. He also submitted a perfect log with no errors. Following Oms in Unlimited Class was Tony, IKØOZD, the 2014 DX Marathon Unlimited Class winner, at 333 points, a new European record. In third place was Serge, R6YY, at 329 points — a new Russian and new Zone 16 record. There was a three-way tie between OM3EY, K2TQC, and NØUN for fourth place at 328 points, with the final order determined by the earliest date of the last entity QSO.
A new record high score was also set in Limited Class by John, OM5XX, with a score of 319 — very impressive for only 100 watts. NØAH and SP3NYC were second and third, respectively, with scores of 296 and 290. In Formula Class, Joe, W4TV, has taken top honors with a score of 293. Joe uses a dipole and inverted-V antennas from his Florida QTH. Joe has come in second the previous three years, so it is great to finally see his call at the top of Formula Class. Completing the top three positions were N4RI and W2NK in second and third place, respectively. In the 5-watt Formula Class, Dan, WG5G, retains his first place title with a score of 283. Dan was first in the QRP class in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and second in 2011. Congratulations on this great accomplishment. Rounding out the top three were OK2FD at 274 points and longtime DX Marathon participant W8QZA at 255 points.
In 2015, we added awards for top mode scores for each continent in addition to the worldwide top mode awards. Initially the continental mode winners received certificates, but we have now changed the CW winners in Europe and North America to plaques (see sidebar). We welcome and thank our new sponsors! With a 50% increase in single-mode submissions, there was a significant increase in competition for those awards. Lada, OK2PAY, came out on top of the CW pileup with a score of 312 to take the CW plaque. Erik, K9EU, was second with a score of 298 and winner of the new North American CW plaque. In 3rd place was Norm, W4QN, with a score of 297. Wayne, NØUN, really topped everyone with his incredible score of 328 on phone. He broke the previous record – whichhe held – by 5 points. Gert, PA2LO, last year’s phone winner, was second this year with a score of 305. Ed, EA8AXT, was third with a score of 287. For the digital modes, Piero, IK5FKF, claims top honors with a score of 258. This is Piero’s third first-place digital finish — congratulations! AA8R at 249 points and IKØPEA at 242 points rounded out the top three digital scores.
As participation in the CQ DX Marathon grows each year, we continue to expand our award program. We are pleased to announce two new plaques to be awarded each year. Beginning with the 2015 results, we will award plaques to the highest CW only scores in North America and in Europe. We welcome HamSupply.com as a new sponsor for the North American CW plaque. The inaugural plaque goes to Erik, K9EU. We also welcome the CW Operators Club as the sponsor of the European CW Plaque. OK2PAY is the inaugural winner and he also took top CW worldwide honors.
BOLD = Plaque Winners * = Certificate Winners Callsign is followed by Score
Note: Top scorers in some zones received Plaques or Country Certificates.
Plaques are also awarded to the top score on each of the 10- through 80-meter bands plus the top score on each continent. In the single-band competitions, there was a very tight race on 20 meters between DX Marathon veteran Bob, W9KNI, and newcomer Marvin, VE3VEE. In the end, Marvin took top honors, just one point ahead of Bob. Of interest, Marvin’s station is 100% remote. No new band records were set in 2015, but with top scores of 262, 284, and 300 (10, 12, and 15 meters respectively), the higher bands clearly produced a lot of DX. Many of the continental battles were also very close, with A65CA on top in Asia with a score 322, just one point ahead of last year’s winner, JE1FQV. Dunia, EA8MT, once again took top Africa honors, but EA8AXT was only 2 points behind. The battle in North America was particularly close with both K2TQC and NØUN finishing with scores of 328. In the case of ties, we use the earliest date of the last entity worked to determine placement. Certificates will once again will be given to the top scorer in each country and zone, plus the top scorers on the 6-and 160-meter bands. Late last year, we added certificates for high scores in each U.S. call district for each of the four main classes plus the high score in each VE call area. Also new this year are certificates for the high single-mode score in each Continent for each of the three modes. In all, there are many certificates now available. (All certificates for all CQ contests are now provided in digital form only, due to prohibitive costs for printing and mailing. – ed.)
Club competition was very exciting in 2015, with the Araucaria DX Group in Brazil setting a new club record with an amassed score of 10,359. The top three club positions were all held by PY clubs. The Carolina DX Association and the Northern Illinois DX Association placed 4th and 5th, respectively. Don’t forget to include your club name on your 2016 DX Marathon submission.
Callsign is followed by score * = Certificate Winners
Note: Top scorers in some countries received plaques.
Correct Your Errors
Each year the DX Marathon website publishes a large amount of information to help participants minimize errors in their submissions. The Helpful Hints page can be accessed from the DX Marathon home page. In 2015, we published 3,881 callsign exceptions and notes to help every participant reduce the number of errors in their submissions. Unfortunately, many people are not utilizing this valuable resource. Callsign prefixes seem to multiply every year and very few logging programs will properly determine the DX location and/or CQ Zone from just the callsign. We encourage everyone to utilize the information we collect from many sources.
Perhaps due to the many first-time participants, the overall error rate in the 2015 Marathon was 2.5% — an increase over last year’s 2% rate. It is always difficult to reduce someone’s score due to simple errors, but proper logging is critical for a successful DX Marathon submission. Scoring is computerized, so please watch “0” (zero) vs. “O” (Oh), “1” (one) vs. “I” (Letter I) or “l” (lower case letter L), and other similarities. Only 16% of entrants submitted error-free logs.
The highest error category in 2015 was “Wrong Country.” In other words, the callsign of the DX station was logged correctly, but that callsign was submitted for the wrong country. Since the majority of participants use computer logging, the logging software is likely assigning the wrong country to the callsign. Assigning the wrong country to a callsign accounted for 28% of all errors — a large number. If your logging program has a callsign database, be sure to update it on a regular basis. Many prefixes (such as FO, E5, VK9 and others) do not indicate a country, so each callsign must be investigated. “Wrong Zone” accounted for 23% of all errors. Similar to Wrong Country, the DX callsign was logged correctly, but the wrong zone was assigned to the prefix. The largest source of zone errors, 30%, comes from U.S. callsigns. Current FCC rules do not require hams to change prefixes when moving. It is not unusual to have a KL7 living in Florida or a W2 living in California. Please check each U.S. callsign carefully to make sure the zone matches the QTH, not the callsign prefix. Together, “Wrong Country” and “Wrong Zone” account for over 50% of all errors — errors that can easily be avoided with up-to-date country databases.
Busted calls were the second highest error category, accounting for 24% of all subtractions. The majority of the busted callsigns were due to bad spots on the DX spotting networks. Most errors are not intentional, but the number of DX spots with callsign errors is increasing every year. Listen carefully to each DX station to make sure it is really who you think it is and that the call matches the spot. Although my personal score does not count in the Marathon, I participate each year to feel the pulse of the contest. I was very surprised when the computer subtracted two points off my score. Upon investigation, I found I had clicked on a DX spot to populate my logging program without listening to the callsign being sent. Sure enough, the spot was wrong. The other major error category was “Invalid Callsign,” which can occur for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, pirate activity was lower in 2015 and accounted for only 31 lost points.
As part of this issue, you will find a complete listing of all scores plus a listing of the Top Scores in all available categories. The DX Marathon website will include additional information and details on the 2015 results plus photos of plaque winners as they become available. For any questions or comments about the DX Marathon, please contact the author. Thank you for your participation in 2015 and best of luck in 2016!
*Program Manager, CQ DX Marathon e-mail: <k9el>