This weekend amateur operators around the United States participate in the ARRL sponsored Sweepstakes. It’s a two part contest (of sorts) using the operating modes CW and SSB in two separate weekend. There are many individual awards, of which I won last year for my ‘section’ (East Bay) give my precedence (power) in the contest (read 2010 Sweepstakes Award). More importantly is the club competition, which each member of their respective club participates in.
I was surprised and pleased to be rewarded with a certificate after last year’s contest. You can read my write up last year’s contest, but based off that information and predicted solar conditions, my score should be better than what I achieved last year. Usually I figure an increase in score by 20-25%. Based off my 366 QSOs last year I figure 439 QSOs this year, but am setting a goal of 500 QSOs and another “clean sweep” working all 80 ARRL sections and Canadian provinces.
Unfortunately I am at a bit of a disadvantage and the contest as not even started. I lost 15M on my Yaesu FT-1000MP, possibly a Local Unit program as diagnosed by Wa4GEG. This leaves me with 10M and 20M through the entire contest. 15M should have some good openings east for stations on the west coast, so I could lose out on quite a few points by not being able to use this band.
Conversely I missed out on many points last year by not operating on 40/80M on Saturday night (PDT), so what I lose by not operating on 15M I hope to gain working on 40M and 80M. Hopefully this holds true and I can and when I break for the evening I will have close to 300 QSOs already recorded, which would be only 66 off my total of last year.
Of course I am looking at it optimistically. If conditions due hold and we experience no rain (noise/static) then I will need to really work 40/80M, which aren’t my best bands, but the low bands are needed to have success. Between the 2 bands last year I recorded only 89 QSOs, I hope to double that output this year to 175 QSOs.
With no contacts on 10M in 2010, this band could replace 15M for me, which saw 48 QSOs last year. I am planning 75 QSOs this year and depending on how the band holds maybe even an increase over that number. No matter how I look at it my “BIC” time will be equal to or better than last year. I put in just under 16.5 hours, missing 23-10z and calling it quits at just prior to 03z on Sunday.
I have moved the hex beam and now approach 40′ in height, which seems to be the optimal height for this antenna. I am now able to get the hex just above the roof pitch, which should be a plus. I also installed a replacement rotator on the mast a few days ago and aligned the antenna. Unfortunately there won’t be much moving the antenna in SS this weekend.
The only other event I have this weekend is a soccer game at 14z (9AM) Sunday morning, which will take 4 hours of my required time off. I hope to work 20 hours, but realistically it will probably end up somewhere between 16.5 and 18 hours when I turn off the radio and call it finished. Regardless I look to have a good time, which is the main factor in participating in a radio contest.