No Sweepstakes

It was a weekend I was looking forward to, as it brings a particularly enjoyable contest called the ARRL Sweepstakes. It’s actually the first part of a 2 part contest, this weekend participants use CW (Morse code) to make contacts with as many stations as possible in North America while trying to achieve a “clean sweep.” This year, the Ontario section has been broken into 3 separate sections, so operators must now work 83 ARRL/RAC sections. I have been fortunate to get achieve a clean sweep once in 6 tries (combined between CW and SSB) over the last 3 years.

Unfortunately due to the lack of people at work, no one signed up for my weekend shifts, so I won’t be participating in Sweepstakes for the first time since 2009. I was hoping to work the CW contest (this weekend) more so than the SSB contest starting November 17 since I was able to win my section the last 2 years, running low power (100 watts). While I haven’t done much contesting the past 6 months, I was looking forward to work on a combined total of 1000 QSOs (contacts). The last 2 years I was able to break the 500 contact mark, but was not able to put in enough time to double those numbers.

Chances are I high I will skip out on the SSB portion of this contest and wait in lie for the CQWW DX CW contest that starts on November 24. Its another contest that I enjoy operating in, but haven’t put in much over about 6 hours in this contest the past 3 years. It’s a long contest as well, 48 hours and trying to juggle work and family life when you have a 6 year old can be challenging. Hopefully my work schedule allows me that time to get at least 20-24 hours in. This would allow me to work some DX stations (outside the USA).

The only other contest I might consider this year will be the ARRL 10-Meter contest in December. It’s another one that is enjoy and you don’t have to spend a lot of time in to generate contacts. So not much radio left for me this year but I am disappointed to be missing Sweepstakes this year.

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2012 CQP Weekend

This weekend is the California QSO Party, sponsored by the Northern California Contest Club. It’s a contest where everyone participating works as many stations from California as possible. This is the rare time that operators want to work a W6 station. It’s a 30 hour contest, of which I will be able to work 24 hours. The contest begins at 16z (9am) Saturday, October 6 and ends at 22z (3pm) on October 7. Last year I put only put in 8 hours before running into Mr. Murphy, which ended my contest

I had planned to work most of the contest but suffered radio issues with my Yaesu FT-1000MP and lost 15M. The other bands were nowhere near as hot, so I shut things down and hoped to return when 40/80M open. Unfortunately as I got set to start I could not hear anything on the low bands. Not even N6O, just 3 miles down could not hear me. This was my final effort for 2011 CQP. Going back to the 2010 CQP I had power issues with the rig, which cut my contest to just under 4 hours, in my inaugural year participating in the contest.

Last year I was assigned K6B by the FCC to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the NCCC. I got the permission to extend using this call sign for the 2011 CQP. Each of the prior years I have operated as a single op, high power. This year I will be a single operator, but looking at running low power (200 w) for the contest. That could change and probably should since it is one of those rare times where people want to talk to me! Might make it more enjoyable as well.

Currently I am negotiating to get Sunday off from work in order to extend my operating period from 10-12 hours to 20-22 hours. I really have no plan as to where I will start or how I will operate. I will look to improve my 2011 totals, which were 382 total QSOs, of which 41 were CW. I am going to make more of an effort to secure CW QSOs. My goal this year will be to work all 58 counties. I ended up 7 counties short last year. With any luck doubling my operating time should award me with those missing 7 QSOs.

If I can’t secure time off on Sunday, then I will log about 10 hours during CQP. I will give the station a once over today and repair one radial for the SteppIR. I will run some power through the Alpha 76PA to make sure all if as it should be and be ready to go when I get home early from work tomorrow. I will miss the start of the contest by about 90 minutes.

Regardless of what happens, it will be a great operating time during CQP that kicks off the new contest season. Looking ahead (and time permitting) I will participate in ARRL Sweepstakes and CQWW DX CW in November.

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August 2012 North American QSO Party – CW

Contest: North American QSO Party
Date: August 4-5, 2012
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 0600 UTC Sunday

SOLAR CONDX: A=7, K=3, SFI=139, SSN=160

BAND/QSO/MULTS

20 / 153 / 45
15 / 111 / 38
10 / 4 / 2
TOTAL: 268 QSO / 85 MULTS
SCORE: 22,780 (TIME ON: 7 H 29 Mn)

SOAPBOX: This was a last minute decision to participate in the North American QSO Party. It’s contest format that I enjoy though, only 12 hours (single operator works 10 hours), a quick exchange providing name and state and everyone is running 100 watts. While NCCC sponsored a few practice sessions, I skipped those but made sure my antennas and rig were ready for the contest come 18z, Saturday morning.

I took a quick check of my August, 2011 NAQP results and thought about my goal. I was hoping to get 8-10 hours of BIC (butt in chair) and unofficially set my goal at 300 QSOs. That would equate to a 30 rate over the course of 10 hours. that rate would be higher if I was more competent in running a frequency as opposed to staying in search and pounce for nearly the entire contest.

I started on 10M and made 2 quick contacts, but for much of the contest 10M was closed. I would finish the band with 4 QSO. Conversely, with the sun scheduled to set at 0310z, 20M would be open quite a while. As it happened, I did not make to 10 hours, let alone 8 hours, so all my contacts were on 15M and 20M.

I went heavy on 15M to start the first few hours and was rewarded with a 46 and a 49 rate the first two hours. Without looking in past contests, I don’t remember another contest were I had two hours over 45 per hour. What was even more impressive to me, I had 5 of the first 6 hours over 30 per hour. As the afternoon wore on activity on 15M seemed to decline, but 20M picked up.

While conditions weren’t as good on 20M as they were on 15M the bands were crowded, as I exceeded my targets from 2011 from 18z until 01z. 20M ended up being my money band with 153 QSOs and 45 mults. The mult number was no better than 2011, but I could of easily continued to operate and get in a minimum of 8 hours.

I don’t believe I would of had any problems reaching my goal of 300 QSO. I stopped with 268 (2 dupes) and with 4.5 hours to go when I shut the shack down. 20M was still very active, especially the East Coast, but I had yet to move to 40M, which would have provided new mults and at least 30 QSOs. Still I had a great time participating and helping NCCC #4 in the team competition. Thanks to all for the contacts.

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RTTY WPX Award

RTTY WPX Award using MMTTYA small pat on the back for myself as I achieved another award from a radio contest back in February. During the weekend of February 11-12, the CQ World Wide RTTY WPX took place. This is a 48 hour contest, in which you make contact with as many different operators as possible that have unique prefixes. This was also the first time I decided to work a contest on a single band, I chose 15 meters (21 MHz) for the RTTY contest based on propagation data and recommendations from members in the NCCC.

While my score wasn’t all that impressive and I was a bit discouraged with how my final numbers came out. I was hoping for 300 QSO (contacts) but ended up with only 203. When the log checking was complete after the contest that number had decreased to 197 valid contacts and 157 prefixes for a final score of 59,817 total points. I did provide a complete write up at the conclusion of WPX.

While the award was for most contacts on 15 meters in the 6th district. It’s actually a minor achievement, which I will chalk up to a learning experience. There are some contests that I cannot afford to work the entire time, limiting my operation to a single band decreases the time I need to be in front of the radio. Then again, I don’t enter contests to win, but to improve my operating and have some fun. If I happen to win paperwork, great!

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2012 ARRL Field Day

Contest: ARRL Field Day
Date: June 23-24, 2011
Mode: Mixed
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 2059 UTC Sunday

BAND/SSB/CW/DIGI
20 / 6 / 17 / 2
15 / 0 / 5 / 0
SCORE: 96 (TIME ON: 1 H 06 Mn)

SOAPBOX: It’s not really an event I look forward to since it’s not a “true” contest, yet many treat it as such. That is not the reason why I am not fond of Field Day. Last year I operated ‘1E’ or emergency power using a portable generator. With all the problems I encountered I only hung around for about 3 hours, got bored and turn the radio off. This year, I was hoping to use FD as a stepping stone to better my ability to run a frequency, but that never happened. I did spend about 5 minutes on 20M and only received 1 call that I could not pull out of the noise. Conditions were rather sloppy and after 30 QSOs I called it quits. For me radio should be enjoyable and during this time period I was not having fun. Why continue?

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