It was with consideration anticipation and excitement as we approached 1600 UTC, Saturday morning and the start of CQP. Unfortunately Mr. Murphy decided to pay a visit no more than 4 minutes before I started calling CQ on 20M. Ken, N6RO happened to catch me calling CQ and said my signal was wide (6 khz). Great I thought, I have been working SSB nearly 2 weeks and I am just finding out about this now. I made some quick changes, but never did get confirmation I cleaned the signal up.
As I started calling CQ as K6B, I was thrilled to have a constant string of hams answering my CQ and QRZ calls. I feel the weeks leading up to the CQP help prepare me for the contest in trying to manage a pile up. Of course still having he hex beam at 20′ I am not able to hear many calls in, or just above the noise level.
My time on Saturday was going to be limited, as my parents were en-route to our house for a weekend visit. I had planned to put 4 hours in to start the contest and a target of 400 QSOs. I came within 5 minutes of my 4 hours, unfortunately I only logged about 188 QSOs. Why? Read on.
The first two hours were strong. I say strong because rarely do I get to work at a 76/rate to start ANY contest. I got lucky, grabbed a frequency and had many contacts. Hour two slowed a bit, but was still over a 60/rate. It was just after the second hour I started getting intermittent power off problems from the Yaesu FT-1000MP. First thought was a wire that was loose and the second thought was a heat issue. Since the rig sits right next to the amp and I was running that at 1200 watts. But the rig was not hot, that I could tell.
When it first happened I powered off the rig and power supply, waited a moment and powered it back up, but the rig did not turn on. I gave it a little “love tap” and it came to life, I was back in business. Unfortunately my success was short lived, as the radio cut out a second and then a third time before I got through 3 hours.
By this time my rate had fallen, I was having trouble finding stations calling CQ that I am not already worked. As for CW, it was terrible. I am not sure why I had so much difficulty making a QSO. It could have been the fact that I was trying to answer California stations on 20M instead of running at the bottom of the hour. I did not feel comfortable enough in my skills to run, so what S&P I found I took, but it didn’t equate to much more than 4 QSOs.
I had planned on an evening operation into the early morning, but with the continued problems of the rig powering off I decided to stop operating for fear I would make the problem worse. So my first CQP was nothing spectacular. I did plan for a much better showing and a minimum of 16 hours, but I did not even come close. So I left the shack very frustrated with the equipment and more so with myself.
To be honest I have not even powered the rig on since Saturday, so am not even sure what my final numbers were. I will get that checked and the information updated. I was surprised at the number of DX station participating in the CQP. I worked 8 EU stations, which was quite exciting for me.