As most of you know, 15 can be the most important band in the contest. It will remain open from dawn though sunset, sometimes as late as 0500Z. During peak sunspot years, it has been opened throughout the night, yielding multipliers and QSOs otherwise missed.

Other than 10 meters at the height of the cycle, 15 will provide you with the highest rates. You do not have to be the loudest signal either. Low antennas will perform well when the band is wide open. Below is a general chart of antennas best suited for different times.

TO EUROPE


FOOTAGES

25/50
50/75
75/100
100 +
STACK
0UT OF PHASE
0900 _ 1000Z
1000 _ 1100Z
1100 _ 1200Z
1200 _ 1300Z
1300 _ 1400Z
1400 _ 1500Z
1500 _ 1600Z
1600 _ 1700Z
1700 _ 1800Z
1800 _ 1900Z
1900 _ 2000Z
2000 _ 2100Z

The chart above is based on experience at a number of different stations. It will vary widely based upon location. Only you can know when your particular antenna system will perform at it's best. The idea is to BE FLEXIBLE. If it is possible, put up antennas at different heights. Two tribanders at 50' and 90' will be much more effective than a monobander at 70', since you will have more wave angles to choose from. Also, the out phase position works well during peak sunspot years.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS!!!!

If your system works well and you always feel good on 15, then be aggressive. Establish a run frequency that is CLEAR! You do not have to be at the band edge to get a good frequency. The most important thing is to be able to hear WEAK SIGNALS. If you CQ next to H61S all day and his splatter is 20DB over 9, chances are your rate will suffer. You will constantly be asking for REPEATS. It is much better to sit close to a USA station which is weak on backscatter. If your signal is competitive, you will BOTH run stations effectively, or the weaker one will have to QSY.

If you are not loud enough to run stations on 15, then S&P can be effective, especially when using packet. If you can run on another band, consider using SO2R techniques. CQ on 10, for instance, and work guys in between on 15 S&P. Your rate will increase dramatically.

On CW, even weaker stations can establish a good run. Do not be afraid! Many EU stations are constantly tuning, and you might even get spotted on packet!

Multipliers are keys to success on 15. The m/ms will work 140 150 countries on SSB, ~130 on CW. A good SO will work ~100 110. You must check 15 every hour! (for mults) If you are not using packet, stations are constantly in and out of 15. Many rare mults use 15 as a hunt band while 10 is open. You should be constantly checking for them to arrive. It is usually not a propagation issue. The band is open most of the time. The problem is to find the mults through the loud EU Sigs!

Here is a general guideline on where and when to look for mults:

0900 1000
Loud EU sigs on scatter (east). Some Africa (Z 33)
1000 1100
Band should open to EU
1100 1200
Run EU (*check long path to Asia) Work Russians as much as possible
1200 1300
Run EU/ Look for deep asia (VU)
1300 1400
Run EU and Russia
1400 1500
Run EU
1500 1600
EU Start beaming east for Africa
1600 1700
Africa
1700 1800
Western EU Caribbean
1800 1900
Western EU Caribbean/SA Look for OX/TF
1900 2000
Western EU
2000 2100
British Isles EA8/SA Look North
2100 2200
Asia begins Look for JA opening, Only try to run JA if band wide open
2200 2300
South American Mults
2300 0000
JA should get loud
0000 0100
Check for BY/DU/YB0/H2/BV/HS/9V1
0100 0200
 
0200 0300
JA ends (V73) Check PAC.
0300 0400
ZL/VK and Pacific mults

*Do not get caught in pile ups when propagation is not there. Ex: You can hear KH0 S 7. He is running west coast and JA. You may call him for 1/2 hour with no result. Better to come back later or next day. You might be more productive elsewhere. For the Asia and Pacific mults, it is important to get there early before the bank changes. Try to stay on top of 15 mults. They are easy if you are there at the right time!

de N2NT, Andy

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