AA8IA Amateur Radio

ARRL Sweepstakes CW – This Weekend


ARRL Diamond Logo
The CW portion of the ARRL November Sweepstakes is this weekend, Saturday, Nov 6, 2100Z to Monday, Nov 8, 0259Z.

I haven’t operated in the SS before. It’s a domestic contest, meaning that this is a contest for North Americans (US / Canada / possessions). We work each other. In the contesting community this seems to be a very popular contest. I’m unsure of the reason for it being so popular, but apparently there are ops who only dust off their radios twice a year, in November, to work the CW [and SSB] Sweepstakes. Go figure. Personally, I think the WPX contests are more fun. But there is no doubt that as long as everything goes as planned I will have a great time. I’m not averse to working Florida, California and Texas for the millionth time.

Although the contest window is 30 hours, those competing aren’t allowed to operate more than 24 hours. Off Times are 30 minutes. If you operate off and on for the whole 30-hour period, you must have enough off time to equal 6 hours — and if you want your time off to count as bonafide off time, your off periods have to be 30 minutes or more in length.

One thing unique in this contest is the fact that you don’t have per-band multipliers. There are 80 ARRL and RAC sections. These are your multipliers. If you first worked OH on 80m, then it OH doesn’t count as a mult on any other band. So, in the end the most # of mults you will have is 80. If you work all 80 sections you have a “clean sweep.” You get two points per QSO. So, even for the most competitive station you likely would never see a score above 250,000.

Another unique thing about this contest is the exchange. It isn’t your typical RST SEC or SERIAL SEC exchange but rather an exchange that looks like this:

### A AA8IA 91 OH

That’s a fairly ‘complicated’ exchange as far as contest exchanges go. I’ll be interested to see how many stations omit their callsign in the exchange simply because they presume the person they are passing the info to already has the callsign. I’d be even more interested to see how an op responds if I send back CALL? because they omitted their call in the exchange. They’d probably send back “FU” :)

I’ll leave it up to you to read the rules of the contest to learn more about it. They can be found at http://www.arrl.org/sweepstakes

Should be a fun contest. I’ve got 50 states worked, not on all bands though. But just a basic WAS is all I give a damn about, so I’m not in it to collect new states / provinces. I’ll be in it just for fun.

I’d anticipate it to be a really fun contest where everyone can make more than a handful of contacts simply because it is stateside. So if you are running a 20m wire in your attic and QRP, your’e still going to have fun.

Hope to see you on!

(notes for myself)

  • Saturday 5 PM EDT to Sunday 10 PM EST
  • Work each station only once in whole contest
  • Mults are not per-band
  • Exchange: ### A AA8IA 91 OH
  • practice Friday night at 10:30 PM Eastern

Written by Mike

November 5th, 2010 at 8:28 am

Posted in Contesting

3 Responses to 'ARRL Sweepstakes CW – This Weekend'

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  1. As to the “why so popular”… it’s the ease at which the contest is begun and the levelness of the playing field. Yeah there are some bigger guns than others but everybody is in there.

    And a second theory of mine: since the exchange includes the call, there’s never any need to listen for 5 to 10 minutes (sometimes more!) wondering “what the heck is this guy’s call?” like happens in say WPX or other DX contests with the big guns. I swear, some WPX’s I can only ID the DX by his defective keying. I’m not making that up. As a result the contest is fast paced for everyone, and not lopsided to optimize things for the big guns.

    Yes, some multipliers are more rare than others, and yes, there is some value (even little scorewise) to a “sweep”, but the overall activity and continuous pace is what is most welcome.

    IMHO: Even more fun that the sweepstakes, is the NAQP. There the contest is shorter, you get credit for working the same station on multiple bands, and most of all the playing field is even more level (100W limit).

    As to ommitting the callsign in the exchange… I’ve seen some contesting software packages that can let it happen but is actually quite rare. I’d guess less than 1%. I agree, it’s not in the spirit of the contest exchange to let it slide.

    Tim N3QE

    8 Nov 10 at 2:02 PM

  2. Tim,

    As far as not having to wait 5-10 minutes waiting to know the CQing stations call, I agree completely. That didn’t even cross my mind during the contest, but now that you have mentioned it I really enjoyed not having to chase down a callsign because the CQing station didn’t throw it out often enough. That can be so fatiguing, and at least in my case has cost me many a cumulative hour of precious contest time being suckered into waiting for the station to throw out their call again.

    I failed to get NWT and NL; however, I had heard Eric VY1EI quite a few times during the contest with a decent signal, but he was managing some huge pileups and I did not have the patience to try and wait it out for an opportunity. If I would have ran assisted I probably would have gotten a sweep, but I preferred to not use packet/RBN.

    I had more fun in the NAQP, but I think only because I was feeling better. I’d like to see a DX contest where you can only work a station once in the whole contest. I think that would really even the playing field for those of us who have very modest stations.

    I dont’ have the stamina to work a 24 / 36 / 48 hour contest. I think 18 hours is about my maximum. Although, if the whole contest were 36 hours instead of 24, I could have managed 24 hours of time in the chair.

    I think you’re less than 1% figure is spot on. Only two stations that I worked failed to include their call in the exchange.

    I was very surprised how fast I caught on to this exchange. I didn’t end up CQing on a crowded band until the tail end. Looking back, I’m sorry that I didn’t get the nerve to CQ sooner. Obviously if you’re one who is confident enough to CQ during the contest you are likely going to make more Qs than the guy who only S&Ps.


    8 Nov 10 at 2:59 PM

  3. I agree about the Stamina thing. Sunday morning at 3 AM (really 4AM before the time change) my rate was still high (80M and 40M were both hopping) but my brain was completely fried. I slept for about 3-4 hours and came back to 40M going strong in the morning. If somehow I could’ve not slept for those hours but kept going maybe I could’ve picked up another 150 QSO’s (all hypothetical because my brain was fried!!!).

    The NAQP is much easier stamina-wise.

    Tim N3QE

    9 Nov 10 at 10:51 AM

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