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ARRL SS CW 2010 Summary

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ARRL Diamond Logo
The 2010 ARRL Sweepstakes CW has come and gone. This was my first time working this contest.

Being a NA-only contest, it provides a huge opportunity for those with very modest stations to make a large number of contacts and to work many many states and Canadian prefixes. In this contest QRO and QRP operators alike, with directional antennas or low slung wires, can have tons of fun.

I’m one of those with a modest station, and I can tell you now that this contest was a blast. Going into it I wasn’t that enthused. After all, I am more interested in getting DX confirmations than NA confirmations for awards. Plus, I went into this with the mindset that there would be a ton of activity on 20/15m compared to 40/80m, despite having been told beforehand that for us in W8 40/80m would be the bread and butter bands. Don’t get me wrong, there was quite a bit of activity on 15/20m, but 80m definitely was the band for me to increase the Q-count.

As noted in a previous post, the exchange is more significant in this contest as there is [more] meaningful data in the exchange than simply an RST or Serial #. Each Exchange contains five elements:

  • Serial Number : must be given out consecutively
  • Precedence : The category you are competing in, such as low-power, high-power, QRP, multi-op, school club, or unlimited
  • Callsign : Yes, you have to include your callsign in the exchange as well
  • Check : this is the first year you were licensed
  • ARRL / RAC Section

Where a typical exchange might be 5NN MIKE OH or 005 OH, instead you’ve got 001 A AA8IA 91 OH.

Two other interesting things about this contest are (1) you can only work each station once in the whole contest and (2) the mults, which are the ARRL and RAC sections, only count as a multiplier once. This means that no matter how good you are, you’ll never have more than 80 mults in this contest. And, even the very best of contesters would rarely reach 255,000 points (I think 255K is the record). Couple this with the fact that there are so many participants, you can obviously see that it can be very competitive with many stations having scores extremely close to others.

Some reading this may already know that 10m is one of my favorite bands. Well, there was very little activity on 10m that I heard. Of course, I only checked briefly on two or three occasions. I wasn’t using packet or RBN to get spots, so if there was any significant opening on 10m to Ohio I didn’t know about it. I don’t think there was though. At any rate, I knew early on that 10m wasn’t going to yield mults and Qs so I didn’t waste my time on it. I did work 15m and 20m for periods on both Saturday and Sunday. 40m is a band I don’t really like. I can’t explain it. I just haven’t learned how to read it yet, so I’m always jumping on that band wondering what I’m going to hear. In this contest it was usually a station that i worked on 20/15m earlier in the day or that I could work on 80m later in the evening. So I made 80m my priority. It worked out well for me.

Early Sunday morning I got up the nerve to CQ on 80m, but it wasn’t very productive. I was also very tired and just felt like I wanted to sleep. I didn’t have a high enough QSO count to be satisfied, so I had almost given up on reaching 500 Qs. The only thing that kept me going on Sunday was the fact that Hal W1NN had suggested to me that if I would work 24 hours of the contest I could likely get 700 Qs. Late Sunday morning, after I had already slept 8 hours and knew I was going to spend a few hours with the family on Sunday, I didn’t have high hopes. Well, later in the evening I noticed that my QSO count was creeping up faster than I had expected. It wasn’t moving along at a pace that would allow me to make 500 Qs by end of contest though. I was prepared to be disappointed with an end result below 500 Qs. As luck would have it, somewhere beeen 1.0 and 1.5 hours before the end of the contest I decided to CQ. This turned out to be a wise thing to do. My CQing time was very productive [in comparison to all of my previous attempts at running in a contest]. I don’t remember what my rate was [and it likely wouldn’t be impressive to many], but it was damned good for me. Things were moving along nicely with stations continuing to call in, and before I knew it I was at 500 Qs. I was extremely pleased at this time. I continued on until the last available second and managed a total of 520 Qs.

I didn’t get a clean sweep — meaning, I did not work all 80 sections. I missed NWT and NL. I had heard VY1EI a couple times during the contests and attempted to reach him, but he was having pileup troubles and appeared to be overwhelmed. Everybody and there mother wanted him for a mult.

520 Qs, 78 sections — I don’t think that is too shabby for my first SS CW. I think 520 Qs is my all-time high QSO count in any contest thus far. And, I did it in 17 hours. Based upon those figures, I think Hal was spot on when he predicted I could work 700 Qs in 24 hours. So, happy as I may be, I’ll be kicking myself until next November because I didn’t push myself to work 24 hours.

This contest was pure fun! I worked a dozen or so of the MRRC gang. I worked all states. achieved my highest QSO count in a contest ever. I reached my highest sustained hour rate when CQing. My modest station had no problem working anything I heard [except for VY1IE’s pileup]. And, I was able to sleep and spend time with the family. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

For next year I’m going to set a lofty goal. I’m not sure what it will be yet, but it’ll be at least 700 Qs. That’ll require me to be feeling my best. I’ll also need to work 24 hours of the contest. And, I’ll just have to take every opportunity to learn from every contest between now and Nov 2011. It’s doable though, even on my wires.

Thanks to all of the stations who worked me, and thanks to the ARRL for putting on such a great contest. In two weeks is SS SSB – I’ll be there, but it won’t be the same as SS CW!

My Results:

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH
Operating Time (hrs): 17

Summary:
Band QSOs
————
160: 0
80: 325
40: 75
20: 60
15: 60
10: 0
————
Total: 520 Sections = 78 Total Score = 81,120

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

November 10th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Contesting

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Ohio QSO Party 2010 – Summary

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(subliminal message – If you operated the OhQP this year, and especially if you were an Ohio station, please upload your logs to Logbook of the World (LOTW) and eQSL. Many people worked this contest in the hopes of getting a rare Ohio county confirmation. Do your part and upload your logs. It’s not difficult. If you want to know more about LOTW and eQSL, click on the link at the top of this page)

I put a tremendous amount of thought into OhQP 2010 operations from my home this year. That’s not to say that I put enough effort into optimizing my antenna system. I did not. However, I did manage to at least get the 80m dipole up in inverted-V fashion. It sure is a good thing, because I actually made more Qs on 80m than anywhere else.

80m was rocking, both on CW and SSB. Unfortunate for me is the fact that I didn’t take into account how important SSB operations would be if i wanted to reach as many stations as possible. My 80m Vee tuned fine on CW but would not tune on SSB. I could not resist the temptation to operate [at reduced power levels] on 80m SSB even though I couldn’t come anywhere close to tuning the SSB portion. I made quite a few 80m SSB Qs, all things considered. But, next year I will be sure to have an antenna that easily tunes on 80m CW and SSB. Even with my situation on 80m SSB, stations seemed to copy me without a problem.

40m was a bust band for me. Apparently I didn’t know when the right time was to get on 40m. I made some 40m CW QSOs, but I didn’t make any 40m SSB Qs. And I see that a lot of other Ohio stations made significantly higher numbers of Qs on 40m. So I was definitely doing something wrong there. There were RTTY contests going on, and 40m CW was a hard place to operate. I heard some CW mixed in with the RTTY, but in the cases where I did I tried to avoid making a contact. I wanted to be friendly to the RTTY contesting guys. Too bad there was a RTTY contest on the same day as the OhQP though. This did affect things.

20m was alright. On only operated CW on 20m. Not sure why I didn’t bother to seek out SSB contacts.

I made 1 QSO on 15m. 15m/10m were pretty much deader than a doornail.

  1. There were a ton of Ohio stations on the air. Kenny [K2KW] did an excellent job with PR for this event.
  2. Weather was beautiful in all of Ohio for the contest
  3. QRN was at a minimum [at least for me] in Ohio

    I did a lot of CQing. It was effective. The problem is that I obviously didn’t know when to quit. Well, I knew there were many times when I should quit, but I didn’t. At those times I either should have checked other bands or SSB, or I should have QSY’d to a fresh frequency. Failing to adjust when rates were really low was a fatal flaw for me.

    Another fatal flaw of mine was that I didn’t choose the right band for the right time in order to maximize my Qs on all the workable bands.

    I also failed to look for the mobiles until the very end. This meant that I didn’t get a chance to work any of the mobiles/rovers when they were moving around East Ohio. The exception is K8RYU — Ralph did a fantastic job and I was able to work 3 counties on 80m with him. The mobile ops are all fantastic. They can copy fast/slow, without the need for repeats. In the end I was able to pick up a couple of county mults from the mobiles. If I had been on the ball, I’d probably have been able to snag K8MR and KC8YJJ on one or more bands/modes while they were in BELM / CARR / HARR / COLU / TUSC.

    Lastly, I failed to think ahead regarding the significant amount of SSB activity that would be occurring. This is probably because I usually run CW-only and because I usually have a piss poor setup for SSB. As it turns out though, low power aside, I actually have a good SSB setup now. I definitely need to get the 80m Vee to work on 80m SSB.

    In the end, I’m a bit disappointed with myself. Failure to pay attention caused me to not get any Qs for most of Eastern Ohio. I heard COSH and TUSC, but they weren’t CQing when I heard them and I never managed to catch up with them when they were CQing. Not even sure if they did CQ.

    I had a great time this year. I’m sure it is my best ever OhQP score. But even before the contest was over I new I made too many fatal mistakes and that had I given proper forethought to things I could have increased my score a bit and gotten the close counties. I also know there were some errors in my logs. I guarantine it won’t be a prisitine log, which is going to hurt my score.

    I saw the 3830 reports of quite a few out-of-state stations that did a phenomenal job, including working various OH mobiles 10-15 times.

    Thanks to all of the Ohio and out-of-state stations that worked me.

    My Results


    Ohio QSO Party

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

    Class: Single Op LP
    QTH: Toronto OH
    Operating Time (hrs): 12

    Summary:
    Band CW Qs Ph Qs
    --------------------
    80: 160 39
    40: 47 0
    20: 39 0
    15: 1 0
    10: 0 0
    --------------------
    Total: 247 39 CW Mults = 86 Ph Mults = 32 Total Score = 62,894

    What counties I did not work: ALLE , ASHT , BELM , BROW , CARR , COSH , DEFI , GREE , HARD , HARR , HIGH , HOCK , JACK , LAWR , MAHO , MARI , MIAM , MONR , MORG , MUSK , NOBL , PAUL , PERR , PIKE , PORT , STAR , TUSC , WYAN . 28 counties not worked! What the hell? Now, think about how many of those had mobile operations that I missed. I heard a station in BELM (probably mobile) but they were gone before I had a chance to throw out my call and find out their call. I heard [but did not work] COSH and MUSK.

    K9TM reports having not worked 8 counties. And out of those 8 counties he did not work, I worked 3 of them and heard 2 of them. That means that at the very least, there were operations in 85 of the 88 counties. So I missed at least 25 counties that I could have worked but didn’t.

    I worked 35 or 36 states. K9TM worked 47 states. So I wasn’t too far off. I didn’t do much on 40m or 20m. Had I put in more effort on CW/SSB on those bands, I probably could have picked up a few more states.

    I worked a few DX stations including IK2, G3, four DLs, HP9, OK2, and SP5.

    To sum it all up, I should have worked more 40m CW and I should have worked 40m SSB and 80m SSB. I should have made sure the Vee tuned on 80m SSB before the contest started and should have rectified that problem if it didn’t. I should have paid attention to the mobile routes / timelines so as to be able to catch some more mobiles in the “rare” counties.

Written by Mike

August 30th, 2010 at 10:21 am