2012 CQ World Wide WPX – SSB

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: March 24-25, 2010
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

20 / 50 / 43
TOTAL: 50 QSO / 43 PFX
SCORE: 2,924 (TIME ON: 3 H 37 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I knew better than go into this contest running low power, still I took the chance and did it anyway. Part of the reason was because the rig is a loaner from George, K6GT and I have been “babying it” so nothing happens while it is in my possession. The last thing I need is to damage his rig, so the past few months I have used it, its been all low power. Now low power could have been sufficient IF my backyard were full of towers with big antennas, but that isn’t the case. A single 5-band hex beam at about 40′ was what I had to work with and conditions were okay when the contest started.

On top of the low power I decided to work a single band. Ignoring the suggestion from Stu, K6TU to work 15M I decided on 20M, as I hoped it would stay open later to Asia/Oceania. Not sure if it did or not, as I got tired and went to bed before I had a real chance to check the band conditions to that part of the world.

My score and effort were terrible to say the least. I could hear many stations, but at 100w, which was probably more like 60-70w they couldn’t hear me. I did with SJ2W in Sweden, but that was my sole EU contact. There were a few Caribbean contacts, but 92% of my contacts were from NA. One of those was NR6O, or N6RO, Radio Oakley, which is but a few miles down the road.

Instead of working frustrated through Saturday, I had coordinated with Ken, the station owner and Dean, N6BV to sit and listen with Dean. Thankfully Dean wanted to take a break, so I took over the controls on 15M, attempting to work EU. It was interesting to see how Dean made it look so easy, pulling weak signals and their exchange out of the noise. Maybe it’s something I am not great at, as well as knowing many call signs, due to a lack of experience. Still with the tools on Win-Test, even having a partial call sign will allow you to guess that the suffix of the call you are trying to work.

I gave up 15M after about 2 hours and Dean took control. While I was listening in, Michael, WA6O asked if I wanted to listen to 40M. Now during the day 40M isn’t much, except for local area contacts. I spent about 90 minutes listening to noise, with a contact here and there, even moved a few to 10M. Still it was the experience of working as a team, with many more experienced than myself.One of my other disadvantages, not knowing the Elecraft K3. Still I feel it was good experience and thank N6BV for allowing me to watch, work, listen and learn.

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January 2012 North American QSO Party

Contest:North American QSO Party
Date: January 14-16, 2012
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 0600 UTC Sunday

20 / 2 / 2
15 / 9 / 9
10 / 11 / 9
SCORE: 440 (TIME ON: 43 Mn)

How I wish I could guest operate at a station that has a set up that is conducive to SSB. I enjoy working the mode, but know at 100 watts with a hex beam at 40′ I am going to be very limited in what I can do. Sure, this is a North American contest and 100 watts should be enough power. Yet I struggled for all 43 minutes I logged in the NAQP.

I am beginning to think I have more problems in the shack again. In fact I know I have an RFI issue on 20M, since I was disconnecting all my USB connections when I transmitted. Also I continued face frustrated when I would look at the ALC meter and I am past the limit. This tells me my signal was problem over driven or distorted, but I don’t know. I need to work this out with a NCCC club member. Thankfully I wasn’t using the Alpha 76PA for this contest.

The last issue I could have is a feed line problem. I  need to break out my testing equipment and see if I might need to make repairs or add a new feed line to the hex beam from the shack.

As for the contest itself, I had hoped for 2-3 hours, which is what I committed to when I was placed on NCCC #3 Team. Unfortunately after 43 minutes of spinning the dial I could no longer deal the frustration I was facing and turn off the shack to spend time with my family.

In the limited time I was on, 10M was my best band though out the US. Unfortunately when I came back to the band about 35 minutes later it seemed to have died down and did not result in much. By contrast, 20M for me was terrible. A total of 2 contacts, lots of noise and signals in the muck that try as I might I could not dig out. I did hear a few minor pile ups, but with my limited operating time I was not going to waste it continually calling in hopes I would be heard.

I will continue to participate in this contest and if I get organized, get the time off and the blessing from my wife, I would like to give this a full effort from W6JZH, just down the road. John has a wonderful set up for a single operate (possible SO2R) to use.

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2011 ARRL Sweepstakes – SSB

Contest: ARRL Sweepstakes
Date: November 19-21, 2011
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 2100 UTC Saturday, ends 0259 UTC Monday

20 / 106 / 39
10 / 51 / 16
TOTAL: 157 QSO / 55 SECT
SCORE: 17,270 (TIME ON: 6 H  Mn 22)

SOAPBOX: Dreadful, disappointing and discouraging is the only way I can sum up my (lack of) performance in the ARRL Sweepstakes SSB Contest. I went into the contest handicapped since I lost 15M on my Yaesu FT-1000MP to a Local Unit problem. Although it worked

during SS CW, it failed to work for phone this past weekend. The second problem
I noted about 90 minutes before the start of SS was a noise coming from the
SteppIR BigIR when I turned it on. It didn’t sound as if the sprockets were moving the tape. I decided to open the EHU and lo and behold, the Copper-Beryllium tape has come off the spindle. Now I know why during SS CW when no one could hear me on the low bands. So before the contest even begins I am down to two bands; 10M and 20M. Of course most of the action seemed to be on 10M and 15M.

The first 4 hours were the best of the contest for me, but without the low
bands I didn’t keep the BIC past sundown. No low bands meant time with the
family and thoughts of getting up at sunrise on the east coast for some 20M
activity. Of course I get “railroaded” into take my in-laws to the train
station, only to find out their train was cancelled. I ended up losing most all
of the morning and when I did get on the air, I was done. I logged maybe 2.5
hours and couldn’t do it any longer. I was not having fun on 20M and running as
an ‘A’ I could not be heard by many stations. I finally called it quits at 2053
and tried to fulfill the rest of the afternoon with other thoughts.

I didn’t come close to meeting any goals I set, how could I with no 15M, which
probably hurt me more than 40/80M did. I did try to salvage 40M by quickly
raising a wire to about 20′, but it was really not worth the effort I tried
calling from the local stations after sundown and could still not be heard. But
there is always next year, which I will look forward to. Just need to make sure
the ham gear is in WORKING condition during the summer so I don’t run into
complications during the contest. On a positive note, I did work DE on phone,
which was my last outstanding state for my ARRL Triple Play Award. Now to wait
for the LOTW uploads.

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2011 CQ World Wide WPX – SSB

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: March 26-27, 2010
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

20 / 39 / 29
15 / 76 / 60
10 / 28 / 24
TOTAL: 143 QSO / 113 PFX
SCORE: 36,286 (TIME ON: 4 H 21 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I will consider this 4 hour effort a success, as I surpassed my 2010 totals across the board, which was all I shooting for. Only put in few hours on Saturday and Sunday from about 1900z until 2359z completely missing out on the 40/80M.

Propagation seemed to be very good everywhere, now I wish I would of had more time to put into the contest, but I must reserved my days off for contests that I enjoy a bit more than WPX SSB. Nonetheless I had a great time operating, especially on 10M and 15M. For the second contest in a row, 15M had more activity (for me) than 20M. Part of it was not wanting to battle the pileups and splatter on 20M, so I really only spun through the bands a few times in 4 hours.

As expected SA dominated 10M! It was rare I could not make a QSO with Brazil or Argentina, even got Chile and Uruguay this time around. 15M and 20M were dominated by NA. Usually 15M has been very good to JA, but due to limited operating time I did not spend much time with the antenna pointed that direction. EU came in very well on 20M, which was somewhat surprising given the time. Biggest surprise of the contest came when i worked 6V7D on 15M with a great signal and D4C long path when I was beaming JA. Chalk one up for Sol!

I debated running low power, but already being disadvantaged by the 20? high mast for my 5-band hex beam I did not was to add further frustration to my operating. I did however run unassisted this time. In the past I have used the cluster, but this time going purely S&P I figured I would give it a shot and see how well I could do.

All in all I had a great time, only wish I had some more time off from work or a more conducive work schedule that would allow me 20-30 hours to participate. Regardless I continue to improve each contest and hopefully it will all come together in due time to allow me to put in a real effort resulting in a good score.

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2011 ARRL DX – SSB

Contest: ARRL DX
Date: March 5-6, 201
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

80 / 3 / 3
40 / 14 / 10
20 / 65 / 31
15 / 164 / 50
10 / 69 / 19

TOTAL: 315 QSO / 113 DXC
SCORE: 106,107 (TIME ON: 13 H 24 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I had no intentions of spending 13+ hours in the shack working this contest. Looking back on it now, I am very glad the engagement I had on Sunday was canceled and instead I spent about 11 hours operating. Unlike previous contests I did not set any goals or do any real preparation like I normally do. Instead, it was to go where the Q’s were and this weekend they were on 10M and 15M.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me backtrack. I had hoped to work more contacts/mults in this year’s ARRL DX than I did in 2010. This is typically the goal I sent, but being able to work more than 71 contacts was not much of a goal. It was not until about 2200z on Sunday did I tell my XYL, “Okay I want to get 300 QSOs, 100 DXCC and 100,000 total points.” Needless to say, she looked at me as if I was some sort of idiot. But that was beside the point, after 10 hours of operating on Sunday this was achievable.

At the start of the contest I fully expected to start on 20M, since that is usually my bread and butter band. I was shocked when after the first hour or so and I had no QSOs on 20M, all my contacts early on came from 15M. The first hour was my best rate was 49/hr. Then again being a “lil pistol” I rarely go for rate or holding a frequency. Unfortunately one of my dogs got tunneled under the backyard fence and decided to go on an afternoon walk, so this cut my work on 15M (possibly 20M) short after just an hour.

I would not be back on the air until almost 2300z on Saturday after getting off work. I would start on 10M and make QSOs with PY, LU, CE, JA and KL7 before moving to 20M, which was not great from 6-land. Over the course of the next 2+ hours I would make 50 QSOs on 20M, which spanned the globe from Asia to South American and into the Caribbean, but this would be the most time I would spend on 20M in the entire contest.

Seeing as I had never experienced a solar cycle with sunspots, I was amazed at 10M and 15M. This seemed to be the norm across the board for many operators, as I read over their 3830 soapbox comments. I will consider myself lucky that I was able to work more contacts on 10M than I did on 20M, which has never happened in a contest! I am sure I could have spent more time on Sunday working new multipliers, but it was too hard to pass up a load South American station or JA.

I found myself running back and forth between the shack and the hex beam. Why? Since I have no rotator I was using the “armstrong method” for changing the direction the hex beam was facing and was usually torn between EU, SA and JA throughout most of Sunday.

All my QSOs were S&P, I did not even attempt to run a frequency on any band. So I would usually make three passes through a band working each direction. Of course it only complicated things when I saw an E5, VK or ZL pop up on the band map. The most interesting QSO of the weekend was with E51CG. I was attempting to work EU on 10M and was pointed about 20 degrees and heard E51CG booming a CQ at 5/9+ so I answered. Wow, was I surprised when he answered!

Sunday was dominated by 15M, but unlike many others I will consider myself lucky I was able to work into EU. I had one outstanding opening to Italy starting about 1520z and lasting for about 15 minutes. During that time is when I benefited most from EU working most all of my EU contacts including Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, European Russia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Unfortunately the move to 10M did not yield much in the way of EU contacts, in fact I none of my on that band came from EU. It would end up being SA (67%) dominating 10M for me, while AS and OC both had 12%, the remaining 10% were NA.Overall EU dominated my log as 31% of my contacts were EU, followed closely by AS at 29%. I will consider myself lucky that I got in the JAs when I did on 15M on Saturday afternoon, because Sunday seemed to be nothing by the “East Coast Wall” trying working west into JA and OC.

Looking back at the breakdown by band I continued to switch bands between 10M and 15M for 7 hours until I shut down the shack at 2307z on a high note working KL7AC and KH7DX on 15M followed by ZL3IO and ZL1BYZ on 10M. This also meant many (too many) trips out of the door of the shack to manually move the hex beam to the correct direction. As I sit here now, looking at the Hy-Gain Ham M rotator, I guess I SHOULD get that cleaned up and functional.So that’s it. I have absolutely no complaints when it comes to my performance of the results in this contest. In all honesty, I did not expect much since my DXE 5-Band Hexx Beam is ONLY 6m off the ground. As for 40/80, I only made 17 Qs between the two bands, didn’t put any time on the low bands due to noise and lack of a better antenna (vertical). Thanks to all my friends who were able to hear me and I look forward to WPX! 73.

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