in 1992 after receiving the novice ticket pictured to the left in the mailbox, the first contact that I had was on 10 meters CW with an Elmer of mine (N5CB - sk). The sunspot cycle at that time was declining however it was not uncommon for the band to be wide open at night and was nearly always open during the day. I had a Uniden HR-2510 - 10 meter rig in my truck at the time with a 150 - 200 watt amplifier feeding a 102" steel whip that I had cut to resonance. I was mainly active in the early mornings on my way to P.T. (U.S. Army) and after work on the ride home. 10 meters was a blast back then. I could routinely count on holding a QSO with many of the same stations every morning and evening on my short commute.
10 meter activity these days is a joke compared to its heyday of many previous sunspot cycles, yet from time to time the band will be open (for the lack of a better term) and you can still work a few DX contacts, but pretty much it is a band that I do not even waste my time on.
Knowing that the ARRL 10 meter Contest was coming up in December I decided I would give it a go with SSB only HP class, limited. I am now glad that I did. Although I am making no claims of great activity I was none the less very surprised that there was any activity at all. MN, WI, and IL contacts to my location were relentless. Other areas would open occasionally and afford access to about 30 of the 50 states for me and my modest setup as well as some South American, Mexico, and various other locales.
I did spend a good amount of time (14 hrs) in operation and the payoff should have been a little better as far as I am concerned but considering I am not a very good contestor to begin with, the resulting preliminary score 32,760 points was not too bad since I did not expect to work many stations at all. Instead, I worked 364 +/- stations. That score paled in comparison of some of the other SECC scores posted such as Jeff, W4DD, who would post results of 102,912 +/- points with 768 Q's in about the same amount of time. Guess that will really show the difffernce in a 5 ele yagi at 90' vs a HexBeam at 30' or so in height. Regardless I was proud of the performance of my HexBeam as I always am whether it be 20m, 17m, or even 10m. Anyone looking for a good 6 band HexBeam (20m - 6m) they could not do better than the one offered by K4HEX.com in my opinion.
I would say that there is always next year but chances are that the cycle will be at an even worse point and propogation will be essentially non existent. Then again, I could again be very surprised.