2009 ARRL Sweepstakes- SSB

Contest: ARRL Sweepstakes
Date: November 21-23, 2009
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 2100 UTC Saturday, ends 0259 UTC Monday

80 / 14 / 5
40 / 30 / 6
20 / 181 / 45
15 / 42 / 15
TOTAL: 267 QSO / 71 SECT
SCORE: 37,914 (TIME ON: 13 H 38 Mn)

SOAPBOX: With 9 hours of contesting in the bag, it was time to prepare for the SSB version of Sweepstakes. It was up in the air where to start, 15M or 20M. I decided on 20M but after only an hour I jumped to 15M. It was 8 QSOs in on 15M when the neighbor came over and he said he could hear me through the TV and computer speakers. He also said his wireless phones were acting weird. So I vacated 15M, where I was running about 1000w and went back to 20M

I logged my best rate only an hour in at 2100z, 31/hr rate. SSB was going a bit quicker, but I was still taking more time than needed to make a contact. I was unsing Win-Test and had the prefills selected, so I had some idea of what to expect, but did not rely solely on it.

My first sit yielded about 5 hours, at which time moving to 40M and then to 80M caused nothing but pain and heartache, as my XYL was in the garage every QSO wanting to know why she was disconnected from the Internet. So with one QSO on 80M at 0208z I stopped. Well short of my first planned break, but what could do I? How could I operate if I keyed up, even at 100w and disconnected the Internet?

I got up real early, 3am (1100z) and jumped on 40M and 80M to see what I could salvage before the sun came up and 15 and 20M were back on the air. There were no great rates and I did not run any frequencies again. It was all search and pounce,which ended up hurting my final score.

Things only went from bad to worse when my XYL got up. I was using the Alpha 76PA and it was delivering a nice, solid 1000w out, but it was also causing more RF issues in the house. I finally decided to turn the amp off and run with 100w. This seemed to be worthwhile, as I still made many contacts and would only turn the amp on if I had to bust a pileup or make sure a section I had could hear me with the first call.

Unfortunately even barefoot at 100w my wife still complained of latency issues from my operating. No way I can rally verify this was actually the case. I had the Internet up and running and from what I saw, I did not disconnect while running 100w.

Much like CW I had to cut the SSB effort very short…way shorter than I had anticipated because I had taken time off from work on Sunday in order to give it a solid 20-24 hour attempt.

In the end I had a better SSB performance than I did on CW. I operated for 13.5 hours and made 267 QSOs, logging 71 sections for a total of 534 points and a final score of 37,914. All these numbers were an improvement over CW. For that I guess I can pat myself on the back. But even these numbers were a far cry from my intended goals of 400 QSOs and maintaining a 40/hr rate.

For SSB I also spotted EVERYTHING I worked and other stations as I spun the dial, This in hopes of giving my fellow club members a shot at picking up another QSO. This gave me a satisfaction that I was helping our cause to take back the gavel from PVRC.

So with Sweepstakes now over, all but submitting the logs and tallying the points remains. I will look forward to next year and the changes I will have in place in order to achieve a better score and clean sweeps on both CW and phone. This was one of the first contests where I truly learn a lot of valuable information that I can use, not only for SS but other contests that I will participate in this season.

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