AA8IA Amateur Radio

Archive for the ‘Sweepstakes’ tag

ARRL SS SSB 2010 Summary

leave a comment

ARRL Diamond Logo
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

Summary:
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

Tagged with , , , ,

ARRL SS CW 2010 Summary

2 comments

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

Tagged with , , , ,