The ARRL 160 Meter CW contest is a great "no time limit - 42 hrs" contest to participate in near the end of the contest season and before the holidays get going in full swing.  The 160 Meter contest is held during the first weekend of December each year.  Winter is the best time of year for 160 meters due to low atmospheric noise.  It is also known as a night time band to work DX just after sunset until just before sunrise.  In fact, the 160 meter band (1800-2000 MHz) is the oldest amateur radio band(aka: The Top Band2)

Another challenge with 160m is the real estate required to install a simple wire antenna ... The Carolina Windom and Dipole used last year each required more than 250 feet of space to install!

Last year (our first time out on 160m) we did extremely well with a 2nd place finish in TN, 2nd place in the ARRL Delta Division, and 9th place overall among W/VE (U.S. and Canada). Some of the TLARC members decided to have a go at it again this year. The location we selected this year was at Randy's (WK9M) QTH in Wind River, Loudon, TN. We knew right up front that installing a 160 Meter antenna was going to be a challenge... but we love challenges! 

The QTH is situated in a subdivision with almost no trees available to use as antenna supports.  Furthermore, amateur radio antennas in a subdivision are typically frowned upon.  Therefore, we opted to install the wire antenna (265-ft long Carolina Windom) under the cover of darkness just as the sun went down on Friday evening, and we would take it down just before local sunrise (emphasis on stealth and camouflage). 


We opted to connect the antenna center support to the apex of the house (coaxial entry point) up at 20 ft and oriented the antenna due North/South.  The antenna insulator ends were attached to rope with a 4 ft metal fence stake on the short-end and a 4 ft ground rod on the long-end (antenna dimensions3). The longer end of the wire was stretched out along sloped ground so we supported the end of the wire with a yard rake to ensure it was suspended greater than 4 ft above ground. The station setup is listed in table 1.

Table 1. Station Description:





Kenwood TS-890



Carolina Windom 160 


CW Keyer



Transmission Line



Logging Program

Amateur Contact Log/ARRL 160 Meter Contest Log 4.6



Friday Night:

TLARC members WK9M, AC6ZM, KF4DKW andKV4XY embarked in the Multi-Operator, Low-Power category with a Single Transmitter: Kenwood TS-890.   Yes folks, this is the NEWLY released Kenwood rig and we made the 1st contact with it Friday evening on 160. 

                                                              Randy's new Kenwood TS-890

AC6ZM had the pleasure of logging the first official QSO with this beautiful rig.  The antenna took less than an hour to install with two people despite fumbling around in the darkness with rain showers.  At least the ground was soggy so pounding in a ground rod to hold the end of the antenna was almost effortless.  Despite the storms settling in around the region the noise level was not that bad in Loundon. 

We got on-the-air at 1900 local and we quickly worked several ARRL sections: IL, IN, EPA, TN, VA, NC, Bermuda (which was the only DX we could hear), WI, MI, MN, and a few VE (Canadians).  We stopped operating around 2300 because we started hearing many dupes and the noise was starting to climb.  We saw several spots for the 6th and 7th call areas, some Europe, and PR but just couldn't hear them. 

                   The ONLY one missing is YOU!                                                    (and the audio clip)

We stopped just short of 100 QSO's in the log and left the operating position happy that we made contacts with a compromise antenna. 

We operated operating under the club call KN4DUA (AC6ZM, WK9M) the first night. That concluded the first effort on Friday night.

Saturday Night

The evening started with Randy WK9M, David KF4DKW, and Sam KV4XY at the operating position with Juan AC6ZM showing up later in the evening.  Night two had better-than-normal catering provided by our host.  Check out the food assortment!

                                         The Chuck Wagon                                                                         Sam:  "Drinks on ME!"

Operating conditions were horrible with constant static crashes from the thunder storms and associated static crashes in the region.  We could never get a decent run, but we did manage to log a few more DX in the Caribbean.  Never did work the Europeans, though. 

Unofficial Score: 12,691 points!
We did manage to work a few more multipliers but those to were a real struggle to work and get in the log. The static crashes were blanking out the entire spectrum and was reflected on the waterfall of the TS-890.  The roofing filters are top notch on this rig and certainly contributed to us being able to copy the weaker stations.  Shown here below is a shot of the computer logging screen that we normally use (Amateur Contact Log):

The antenna was dismantled in the dark and in the fog this time.  Overall, after reading the contesting blog reflectors it was evident that many operators experienced similar conditions.  We made a decent effort at getting on-the-air, learned a few things, and shared time together for some contesting fun.  We are looking forward to participating in the 160 Meter Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge4 happening later this month on December 29/30 ... Will you be with us? :) 

73, Juan, AC6ZM


Foot Notes:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/160-meter_band

2. "Top band" possibly refers to the position of 2000 kHz very nearly at the top of the medium frequency band (MF); it is the highest amateur band (lowest frequencies) within MF.

3. http://www.radioworks.com/ccw160.html

4. https://www.kkn.net/stew/


George Heron, N2APB

Pages Last Updated: Dec 4, 2018