Florida QSO Party
Operator(s): K1XX W1MD
Class: M/SMixed LP
Operating Time (hrs): 20
Band CW Qs Ph Qs
40: 148 1
20: 1514 196
15: 485 38
10: 9 3
Total: 2156 238 CW Mults = 74 Ph Mults = 42 Total Score = 1,055,600
Club: Florida Contest Group
Well, there must have been free beer and oysters someplace in the Panhandle this
weekend. It seemed the place to be for the mobiles.
What can I say about the FQP? W1MD and I got hooked on it 5 years ago and are
already talking about our strategy for year 6.
This weekend was another hoot, especially since propagation was reasonably good
and the QSOs seemed bottomless at times. (More about that later.)
After 2013's FQP, I purchased a new Subaru to replace my ancient Honda CRV. I
figured that I'd get a lot of push back from my wife if I told her I wanted to
drill a hole in the center of the roof like I'd done with the Honda. So not
long after purchasing the Subaru, I acquired a roughly 4 foot by 4 foot
aluminum plate and mounted it on custom-cut pieces of pressure-treated wood
mounted to the roof racks. The Tarheel II antenna went smack in the center of
that plate. After 2014's FQP, I knew that I had a winning antenna. Virtually
all of the ignition-type noise was also eliminated and what remains is easily
handled by my K3. For this year, I modified the Tarheel to raise the coil
another 18 inches above the aluminum plate. I think I've finally reached my
limit on antenna improvements. Or, maybe not.
However, both Marty and I felt that improving the operator's situation would
help with the score. So, I did add a small table behind the front passenger's
seat to hold the keyboard/mouse/paddle. Taking that to an extreme, I even
mounted a small LCD monitor to the back of the passenger's seat. The operating
laptop simply went on the floor. It was much easier on the operator and we
operated this way for quite some time until some problems cropped up that
forced us to abandon the LCD and keyboard. Back to the laptop only, but riding
on the new table. BTW, I used a small 100-watt dc-ac inverter to power the
monitor. The 2 laptops (navigating and operating), K3, and antenna controller
were fed by 12 volts.
This year, we drove from Melbourne to Pensacola on Friday with a planned start
in Escambia on Saturday. We did not try to maximize counties like we had last
year with 55. Rather, we wanted to hit the rarer Panhandle counties and then
zoom south to Monroe for another QSO fest. Saturday went pretty much as
planned, except for Escambia. Note to self... check out the starting location
beforehand. In a word, it sucked! The noise was terrible and we made only
about a dozen contacts before moving on.
Only a few things stood out during the first day. As already mentioned, the
pileups with tremendous (or maybe horrendous). Band/mode selection was a bit
of a challenge. When to change? Near the end of the first hour, I had a JA
call in on 15! Seemed strange, but he was in the clear and the call was solid.
Great drive through Calhoun, Bay, Franklin, & Liberty counties. No June
bugs, no rain. In Liberty we took a planned detour through the Apalachicola
National Forest to pick up Wakulla county. Fifteen miles on unpaved dirt road.
Good thing we had a radio that worked. Breakdown there and it's a very long,
lonely walk. Funniest thing, to me at least, was seeing a Stop sign where an
essentially cow path intersected with our unpaved highway. Government at its
best I guess. I mentioned earlier that I'd modified my Tarheel to raise the
coil. It's 13 feet, 6 inches to the very top of the whip. In Wakulla I found
the branch that is 13 feet above the road! Sure got Marty's and my attention.
The whip now has a nice little kink in it near the top. Good thing we were
going 30'ish miles an hour.
Sunday was also equally a blur with a couple of exceptions. Since I won't be
at Dayton, I'll admit to W4NX that it was me that "missed the exit."
Didn't really miss an exit, but it was easier for Marty to send that. The
highway crosses a corner of DeSoto county and I didn't stop in time. I had to
get off the highway, double back and try again. Cost us about 20-25 minutes.
Band/mode changing was even more of a challenge on Sunday because 10 showed a
bit of life. It was a good thing that more than one station wasn't in the
Monroe-Collier-Dade corner at the same time. K3s or not, 20 yard spacing would
have been tough to handle. The home stretch between the Miami area and
Melbourne was a run fest for Marty. It was 150+ hour after hour. It's that
time of day when conditions are great and signals are loud.
I'll end this message on a bit of a sour note. To reinforce what a couple of
other folks have said... the pileups were terrible. People kept calling and
calling and calling, all at roughly the same speed, and virtually everyone zero
beat. The ten percent "good ops" got through by not zero beating and
timing their calls. Twenty to forty Hertz is all you need. Wait until after
the masses have stopped their initial call and then send yours. Just to single
out a few, and certainly not all, but folks like N5DO, K5YAA, K9PG, NT2A got
through more on skill than brute force. Oh, and K9NW got through by skill and
the fact that he was loud all the time! Marty put it well one time when he
told folks to spread out a little.
Next year we also plan to record the whole event. It has been suggested that
maybe we'll work with the KCDX CW contest folks and submit a portion of the
recording for use in the suites!! You ain't heard nothin' until you've been on
the receiving end of an FQP CW pileup at 75 MPH with 20-30 stations calling
with 1 Hz separation and all at the same speed. I'll also add that most of the
list below made it in the log as many times as they did because they were
savvy' pileup folks and called low or high (as little as 40 Hz was all that was
needed) and or with a certain speed (K5YAA :)). And, although N3DXX isn't on the
list below I ABSOLUTELY could pull him out every time. Nothing like DXX at 40
The top guys with more than 30 Qs were:
K6LA(32) <<<< even made it on 10
This is a great event. It's a challenge in many different ways and we
really look forward to it. Thanks to everyone for calling in, zero beat
or not. And last, thanks to our constant foil, Bobby Ann, WA1Z, who we
trade light-hearted barbs with every contest.
73 and plan for next year.
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