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ARRL SS SSB 2010 Summary

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SSB contesting isn’t fun. Listening to multiple SSB signals mixing in close proximity is simply monotonous. Trying to find a place to park and call CQ, especially when you have a very modest station and aren’t running an amp, isn’t easy. Compared to CW where you could potentially have 5+ stations in a kilohertz of bandwidth and be able to copy those stations with a 100-200 hz filter, it’s very difficult to filter out ~2.5 Khz SSB signals in close proximity. There were many times that I wanted to call CQ but couldn’t find a spot. Sure, I could find a spot where I could manage to filter out enough adjacent signal damage to be able to call CQ, but my TX signal would have been wide enough that it would create a lot of problem for those adjacent stations if they weren’t able to equally filter out my signal. Besides that, I have no reason to believe my signal was narrow or pleasant. I was running the audio EQ and speech processing, although I didn’t have my mic gain up any further than 25. Most of the time I couldn’t bring myself to park in between two stations knowing that some part of my signal was really going to cause problems for them. I know, the rules are different for contesting and part of contesting is learning to cope with signals covering up what you are trying to copy.

On 80m, I spent a lot of time tuning… and if I went up past 3650 I really couldn’t tune at all. It was potluck above 3650 with high SWR and much of my power lost. I still made contacts up there though. At one point on Saturday night I did CQ on 3610 late at night and was fairly successful. Certainly not the rate of a true contester, but I had a long string of contacts. I probably could have repeated this Sunday if i had wanted to.

I always have a lot that I”m thinking about during a contest, much of which may be interesting if I were to write it down. By the time I am ready to post on here, it is all nearly forgotten.

It was great to put a voice to many of the ops I’ve worked in previous CW contests. It was also nice when quite a few of them recognized my call and took a moment to say hi. The 7-land guys are a friendly bunch, notably K7IA (and yes, IA calls are the best) and KI7MT. Took a nice break on 80m when Bill, KB3LIX, called in and we shot the shit for a few minutes. Bill runs a similar setup to me, so if we both put in the same amount of time and effort we often seem to find ourselves close in score. Of course, he obviously has more stamina and ambition than me, because I typically have the lower score!

SSB was also annoying because of all of the pre-recorded messages. In at least one case the pre-recorded CQ was a YL and then when I threw out my call an OM answered. A lot of people set up a pre-recorded macro for P CALL CK SEC, and they most did a great job of verbalizing their SN and then hitting the exchange macro to auto the rest of it without losing the rhythm. I only had my CQ pre-recorded, and I ended up not using it because it sounded so much different than my live voice did.

There were a couple of occasions where people were acting like jackasses. I’ll omit the callsigns, but let’s just say that I heard an exchange between a 0-call OM and a 6-call YL where the OM was ranting to the YL about her splattering and was lecturing her in the middle of the contest on spectral purity. She had moved up the band after his initial complaint, but apparently that wasn’t far enough for him because he could still hear her. So he challenged her to stay on the frequency she moved to and see what happens. She did, throwing out a CQ. Instantly he started CQing every time she did and was pissing and moaning for 5+ minutes about how she needs to move farther away from him “or else.” The only word that comes to mind for this performance is “asshole.” The YL eventually relinquished that part of spectrum to the OM. My suggestion to the OM is to relax, take a deep breath, step away for a minute. Way to serious, when it requires you to become a jackass towards other ops. Incidentally, the OM was using someone else’s station. Me thinketh he should be banished to his own basement station for a few contests until he learns to be cordial. He was a pisspoor representation of an amateur radio op on that day.

Overall I had fun. However, I only worked about 12 hours of the contest and definitely was tired of listening to the SSB — and my voice was fading fast. I eventually just decided that I’d spend the Sunday time with the family, which I ended up enjoying much more.

BTW, if you ever hear me on SSB and I sound like shit, let me know. I don’t know of an easy way to make sure my SSB is sounding decent. Mic Gain was set at 24, but I was using audio EQ and the speech processor. It seems that without using EQ and the speech processor, people were hearing a 2 or 3 when I was saying an 8. Anyway, if my signal sounds bad, let me know.

I got to work some MRRCers, which was nice. Although, I heard many more than I worked.

Thankfully CQWW CW is this coming weekend, so I can recover from the SSB insanity of this past weekend.

My Results:

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, SSB

Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90QL
Operating Time (hrs): 11.5

Band QSOs
160: 0
80: 195
40: 47
20: 30
15: 48
10: 0
Total: 320 Sections = 76 Total Score = 48,640

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

November 23rd, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Contesting

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