Contest: ARRL Sweepstakes
Date: November 7-8, 2010
Period: Starts 2100 UTC Saturday, ends 0259 UTC Monday
40 / 45 / 5
20 / 230 / 57
15/ 48 / 5
TOTAL: 366 QSO / 80 SECT
SCORE: 58,560 (TIME ON: 16 H 26 Mn)
SOAPBOX: First off, the most important goal set, was achieved. I had fun, if it was not I would not have spent nearly 17 hours operating, even giving up prime operating time 2 hours into the contest to go to Thanksgiving dinner (some 3 weeks early). With that out of the way, I had set a goal of 400 QSO and 64,000 points, while I came up short on both of those, I did achieve my first “Clean Sweep” operating SS for only the second time (first time was in 2009). Unlike last year, where I operated as a “U” (or unlimited, using spotting) this year I chose the “A” precedence and ran low power (not over 150 watts).
I can;’t make any excuses for how Sweepstakes began. I was ready and had planning only to S&P for the entire contest, as my running abilities on CW are not good. Being a contest in which you must copy a serial number, precedence, callsign, check digit and a section, it takes me multiple times (on occasion) to get all the information down. I usually put a 30 rate as my target rate, but I only achieved that figure (31/hr) in the first hour of the contest on 20M.
After just 2 hours I had only made 56 QSOs before walking out of the shack, something I regret doing now, as I probably could have talked the XYL into one more hour before I left to join her and my son at the in laws for dinner. But why dwell on that? My second mistake was not coming home and getting more “butt in the chair” time. Instead of getting on 80M or “rallying” with NCCC members I decided to call it a night and went to bed with the intentions of being up early on Sunday morning.
I believe I was up just prior to 4am, made some coffee and warmed up the shack. I configured the BigIR and off we went. I spent the better part of 2 hours on 80M and made 41 QSO picking up some important mults, such as NNY, ENY and WV, which I needed for my ARRL Triple Play Award. I decided to move to 40M just a few minutes prior to 14z but didn’t spend an hour of the band before moving to 20M. I did add 5 mults on 40M including WNY and PAC.
For me 20M was the money band, then again it seems every contest this band ends up being my top band. The stations worked flawlessly as I had no problems with rig, key, antenna, computer for logging program. After moving from 40M, I remained on 20M for nearly 3 hours before jumping to check the action on 15M at 1745z. Interesting note I logged VE5DX (SK), VY1EI (NT) and VE4DR (MB) inside of 27 minutes with no pile ups. A few hours later it would be VO1TA on 15M again to record NL.
The “clean sweep” was starting to look possible. I had already locked down sections I did not record last year, but I was fearing DE or worse SB would be my downfall. At 2104 I logged W3NX and got my DE, a few contacts later I worked N8NA and then WW3DE. Another section that eluded me much of the contest was ID, but I logged N7ZN a few QSOs after DE and that left me with 2 sections remaining; NE and SB.
Earlier in the day while spinning through 20M I had heard KA3DRR, but he could not hear my call and there was a fair number of signals coming at him, I decide to keep moving through 20M and figured I would catch him or another SB (not sure there was one) later in the contest. As luck would have it I heard KA3DRR calling around 00z and decided to stick around since this would put me to 79 sections worked if I could log him. It wasn’t but about 2 minutes and 3 calls later I had SB in the books. That left me with NE. Of all the sections; NL, NT, DE I was left with NE to find in S&P. But as more luck would have it, I found W0KT calling CQ 4 minutes later up the band on 14.084 and logged him to record my first ARRL “Clean Sweep!” This was great my first sweep in only my second SSCW event.
But the question still at hand, would I meet or exceed my goal of 400 QSOs? In the end I would end up 24 QSOs short. I looked at the clock, but I had forgot to set my clocks back an hour, so when I shut down the shack at 0232, I thought I was at the end, when in reality I had another hour to operate. My stupidity and error or not moving back my clocks cost me my goal of 400 QSOs. I would finish with 366 QSOs, 80 SECT for 732 points and a final score of 58,560.
When comparing this to 2009 I improved my QSO count by 40% (218 vs 366). I also increased my sections from 70 in 2009 to all 80 (and the clean sweep) this year. So while I gave up some prime time operating early in the contest, I left I made a good comeback, not only to improve my score but walk away with a smile and a clean sweep, knowing I did my part in an attempt to take back the gavel from the PVRC.