Picked up a copy of CQ VHF at the local Books A Million.
Front cover photo of Ken, KP4XS inside his unique shack with a nice writeup
inside. Plus Ken wrote one of the issue's feature articles. Way-to-go CQ
OK, so why am I posting this on the contest reflector? There are several
items that may be of interest to both HF and VHF contesters. Some have been
the subject of previous threads/postings.
Contest related articles: Antennas and Deed Restrictions; "Incoming" - An
Introduction to Meteor Scatter; "CQ Scatter" - A Meteor Scatter Operating
Primer; "Crazy Marine 93" (contest expedition to grid square CM-93); "CPR"
for Drowned Radios; and Basics - Grid Squares.
73 & good reading,
Henry Pollock - WB4HFL
>From firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Grant) Sat Jul 20 04:10:00 1996
From: email@example.com (Doug Grant) (Doug Grant)
Subject: WARNING - LONG MESSAGES FOLLOW!
THis is a warning -
the next 2 messages from me will be, ahem, rather lengthy rambles about my
If you really aren't interested in the ambiance of the events surrounding the
contest, or the notes I took during the contest, DO NOT READ THE NEXT TWO
MESSAGES FROM "firstname.lastname@example.org" with SUBJECT fields of K1DG WRTC - SOCIAL and
K1DG WRTC - CONTEST.
Perhaps someone will copy them to a Web page, or arrange for printing on paper.
Doug K1DG (1/2 of W6I)
>From email@example.com (Doug Grant) Sat Jul 20 04:12:00 1996
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Grant) (Doug Grant)
Subject: K1DG WRTC - SOCIAL
WRTC Social Memories
I arrived a bit earlier than planned, having made an earlier connection in
Chicago. When I got to SF, I picked up the rental car and drove to the Motel 6.
Several of the guys were standing around the reception area and recognized me
as I drove in. Gree
all the boys and registered, then went back to the airport to pick up K5ZD and
K1AR. While looking for them, I hear "Hey, DG!" across the baggage claim area,
and it's WX3N also looking for those guys and hoping they have a ride for him.
When AR steps
side the baggage claim area, the first car he spots is a white stretch limo. He
looks to me with a hopeful expression, but sorry John, it's the Chevy over
We pull into the Motel, and the socializing revs up for a few hours. Most of
the guys are pretty relaxed, but there are a few notable exceptions. One guy in
particular is so wound up people are wondering if he'll make it all the way to
ing a breakdown. Then the buses show up to take us to the Coyote Point
barbecue. When we get there, the crowd is huge. It's a reunion for the WRTC-90
gang, a place to meet the new guys, and seeing old friends of all sorts. Over
there, some of the DX vi
ors are taking FCC exams. K7SS is collecting autographs on his sweatshirt; I
like the idea, and do the same with a T-shirt over the next few days.
My sister Georgia (KE6KRT) and her husband Paul are there, and I introduce him
as my "other" brother-in-law. I think they are amazed as all these guys stop by
our table to say hello - it seems everyone there knows me and John. I pause for
a moment and
lize that WZ6Z, ON4UN, and I are coincidentally sitting at the same table. That
meant that 3 of the 4 guys who kept the "Lithuania Emergency Net" going a
while back were at one table (only N4ZC was missing...).
I decide to begin collecting interesting anecdotes in my usual Dayton notebook,
but I stop after about 30 minutes. I simply cannot keep up with all the
interactions, and decide to rely on my memory. One thing I remember is some guy
with a T-shirt that
d "Second Place is the First Loser". Yeah, I suppose you could look at it that
way. But I think there were a lot of non-losers there. N2AA is wearing a
T-shirt that says "Loud is Good". I agree with that one!
When we all go back to the hotel, the party goes until well past midnight. N2IC
(who drove out from CO with radios worth more than his car) told of being
tailgated by "some jerk" who turned out to be UA6HZ/WJ1R. UA9BA is trying to
find someone who can
nk as much vodka as he can (only AI6V is close...). K8CC says he was practicing
on the plane ride to SF with NA in practice mode. Some guy kept staring at him
from the row behind him. After a while, the stranger said "I know what you're
doing", and in
duced himself as Krassy, AA1ND/LZ1SA, one of the Bulgarian team members.
Later, the hotel sprinkler goes off to water the lawn, and lots of the boys get
real wet real fast.
I have a project at work that requires me to meet with some people from a
Silicon Valley company. Since I am in W6, I decide to take this day to "do
lunch" with them, rather than log yet another cross-country plane flight for
one meeting. Someone annou
s that the stock market has croaked because HP announced poor earnings. I check
my favorite stock, and it's down almost 25% in one day. Somehow I don't mind
too much. But maybe if the lunch thing goes well...
Someone recalls K5ZD saying he'd be happy to come in 5th in this contest. We
turn the placemat at our table into a 5th-place certificate and present it to
him ("Now go home"). KR0Y remarks that there are more Europeans in the
restaurant than on the ban
After breakfast, I drive up to my sister's place and pick up my 940, her
antenna tuner, and then off to the lunch thing. After lunch, I drive over to
KD6UO's remote station in Alameda and pick up the IC781 he has agreed to lend
us. Things are on schedu
and then I drive up to Martinez for the Shell Oil party.
Again, when the buses arrive, it's non-stop yakking among judges, competitors,
staff, and even regular locals who just wanted to drop by and rub elbows with
the boys. After it ends, we head back to the Motel 6, and it's another late
We are told to meet for the pre-Contest briefing at 8:45 AM. The judges finally
finish their meeting at 10 and we go in. While waiting, I share nightmares with
WX3N. I have dreamed that after operating in the WRTC on CW for a while and
with the first 1
Qs in the log, John decides we should go to phone. We then realize that we
have left the mike at the Motel 6, and I speed off to get it. On the way to the
car, I bump into AA6MC, who tells me that the team at his QTH has 2500 Qs
already. I panic. Then
Dave's nightmare is that for some reason he and ZD forget to operate phone
during the contest.
John and I decide to work the head games. We put on our gold medals from 1990
when we make our entrance. The response is a mix of boos and catcalls (which we
expect) and several guys who just want to see the medals. The games are
reversed when N6TV inv
s John and me up to the front of the room to present us with ear-wax removal
kits, in recognition of our advancing ages and obviously deteriorated hearing
skills. Then we are invited to draw the first station assignment envelope. We
have drawn S50R as
judge and KK6WP in Berkeley as our station. Leo gets our other envelope - the
sealed one with the callsign. While the remaining drawings are going on, we
call WP's wife, and tell her that we'll be there after 2 PM. Then off to lunch.
Driving to WP is a long haul through Friday afternoon EBay traffic. As we pull
off the freeway and head East into Berkeley, we see hills in the distance and
pray that we'll be either on top of, or on the other side of the hills. But we
run out of road.
e station is well short of the top of the hill. It's a residential
neighborhood, and there's a 2-element Gem quad on a crank-up mast with one of
those WRTC 40M dipoles hanging under it, inverted-vee style.
We get there at 3, and set up the radios and computer. My brain is fried. I
assemble the A/B relay system four times before I think I have it right. We
test for interference from Radio A into the spotting rig, and it's moderate. We
play with filters, t
rs, etc., and arrive at a reasonable solution. We make a few Qs, comparing with
a few other anonymous WRTCers on 15 to K7SV and NA4K. They say we're "about
equal". It's frustrating to use KK6WP's call and tell everyone my name is
Steve, but we've been
ned not to use our real identities on the air at all.
After setting up, our host recommends a nearby Thai restaurant and we go there
for dinner. Then we pick up some groceries for the contest, and go back to the
station to check out 20M. N6Ek, who lives several blocks away, drops by to let
us know that he
be active, but is willing to turn off the amp or change bands if he gets in
our way. What a nice guy! Even gives us his phone number to call! We hear and
work a few weak UA9s, and even a UR4. Then we hear whoever is at N6BT's station
*running* those a
s. Bedtime is 10 PM tonite - we need *some* sleep.
Saturday - The Contest
The alarm goes off at 4 AM. AR goes down to make some coffee, and we wake Leo.
At 4:30 AM, over coffee, we tell Leo we need our callsign - he opens the
envelope and we are W6I. We get CT ready, then play around a bit with WP's call
on 40 until the cloc
icks over to 1200Z. CQ TEST....
(the contest diary is in another message)
06Z. It's over. 2200+ Qs. Some real fast runs, and some cool mults near the
end. We figure we did OK. Pack it all up, thank Steve and his wife, then head
back to the Motel 6. On the way back, we try to figure out how we did. We ran
pretty well most of
contest, but there were a few slow times. The multiplier might be low - some
good ones, but we realize we didn't pass much. We can't even guess how the
other guys did, since we didn't do a lot of listening to them (most of the WRTC
stations were weak
each other), but we decide we're in the Top 5. Gotta be.
Then we arrive at the Motel 6. The first guys we talk to have about 200 Qs more
than we do. As we make our way to our room, several more teams have more Qs
than us, and higher scores (although there are rumors of bugs in CT and NA
scoring). There are
unch of scores around 600K (we have 590K before the checking). Everyone is
astounded at the rumor from Jeff and Dan. Over 750K?! Are you serious? By the
time we get to the room, we figure top 5 is out of reach, and top ten is going
to be tough. Sheesh!
at happened? Maybe we should have used the ear-wax removal kits.
One of the judges stumbles into the restaurant and mutters something about the
final scores being done, after an all-nighter. Won't tell us who won, but I
spot him winking at KR0Y.
Breakfast with Jeff reveals the secret of his and Danny's success -
multipliers! They passed everything they could to every open band. Jeff tells
us about passing VKs and KH6s from 20 to 15 to 10. He asks if we got all the LU
zones on 15 (didn't even
w there was more than one!). Another secret emerges: Dan is an old hand at the
IARU - he actually *knows* these zones. They had a good station (WA6AHF) and
did everything right with it. They worked hard, and won it deservedly.
Congratulations, guys! Yo
re the "best of the best" now.
Other guys talk about how great 10 was. Huh? We had to struggle to break 100 Qs
on 10 - some guys had over 300! Nearly everyone relates how well they *thought*
they did until they got back to the Motel 6. Just goes to show you that we all
had a really
d time running guys!
Sunday afternoon is the pool party, and the beer is flowing freely. Pizza from
W6OAT's pizza joint arrives in four or five shipments, and disappears
instantly. I am nearing a sweep on my T-shirt (someone says I am working them
"shirt path"). Need to fi
VE3IY, JE3MAS, and ZS6EZ. ZS6NW tells me EZ is down with the flu, so we go
roust him out of bed to join the party (and sign the shirt). I have brought a
half-dozen New Hamsphire T-shirts for trading. By the end fo the party, I have
swapped for shirts f
PY, PY0, ZS, YL, Z2 (ZS6NW had one with him), and LZ.
Late in the day, the scores are finally posted, and it's official: Dan and Jeff
have won, KM9P and K4BAI are second, N2IC and K6LL place third. Then it's off
to change and go to the Awards Banquet.
It's a buffet-style affair at the Stanford Faculty Club. I meet up with my
sister, "other" brother-in-law, and Kitty, WB8TDA, a blind YL op who did 15
with me on FD 11 years ago when she lived in Boston. Great CW op. You guys in
the Bay Area need to in
e her to some multi-op stations!
After dinner, various recognitions are accorded those who contributed to the
success of the event, including the organizers of WRTC-90 in Seattle. WA7NIN
got up to say a few words about the display of camaraderie he had witnessed
over the previous few
s, and how much it impressed him. The video crew got it all.
Then the awards were presented - in addition to the gold, silver, and bronze
medals, additional plaques were awarded for highest QSO total (BAI/P) , highest
multiplier (Y/TO), and lowest unique rate (VE7NTT/VE7CC). In announcing the
results, K4VX remin
everyone that the decision of the judges is final, and anyone who wants to
quibble about their score should (and here I am quoting) "Get a life!". Well
Then we're headed back to the Motel 6. The JAs have arranged for some sushi and
various other JA delicacies. I learn that JE3MAS has left the Motel, and is now
in SF with his family. I figure that I can always meet him next time I go to
Osaka on busine
and have him sign the shirt there. Then I find out he's moved to Jamaica - I
can't justify a business trip there, so it is going to be hard to make a sweep.
But I have learned my lesson from KR0Y. I will *not* give up. I *will* get the
mult somehow. T
yakking in the courtyard lasts until 1 AM.
We arise at 6:00 AM to get the 7:00 bus to SF to take a ferry across the Bay,
then a bus to Napa Valley. It's cold and gray, then warms up when we get to
Robert Mondavi (W7?). N2AA is now wearing a T-shirt that says "Real Loud is
Better". I agree with
t one too. Lunch is at the V. Sattui (6WO?) winery, and then we visit the St.
Supery (K7?) facility. After three wine tastings and lunch, we are all fading,
and the bus ride back is pretty quiet. Did you know that most wineries make
both red and white
es? All three we toured told us that...
Monday night, the Slovenians throw a bash. I get VE3IY to sign the shirt. We
all wear our callsign badges, but change our prefixes to S5 in appreciation.
More friendships are formed, others renewed. I am still meeting people for the
first time, right u
ntil fading out at 1:30 AM.
AR and ZD talk me into giving them a ride to the airport for their 9 AM flights
- my flight is not until 1:30 PM. I call MAS at his hotel in SF, and yes, he
will meet me at 11:00 AM to sign my shirt. I drop off AR and ZD, then go back
to the Motel 6 to
nish packing. I drop off the radio at my sister's house for shipment back to
NH, then head to the city for my sked with MAS. Right on time, we hook up and
he signs in for the sweep. Back to the airport, return the rental car, then
back to NH.
It was great. Really. The gang who organized it all pulled off a major
logistics, finance, and political event. A lot of time and effort went into it.
There was a lot of talk about when and where the next one will be held, and
speculation on which coun
could organize it. K7SS accepted the task of chairing the steering committee
to figure it out. If you think you have a way to do the next one, contact him.
from-hills/line-noise/your-favorite-excuse-here identical, as hoped? Not
really. It's probably impossible to accomplish that, short of building 54
tions with verticals on the same stretch of beach or desert somewhere. What is
true is that the range of station capabilities was much tighter than in any
other contest. Nobody had a huge advantage over anyone else. Period. The
WRTC-96 organizers did a
ell as could be reasonably expected, and they are to be commended for an
Everyone had an equal probability of drawing a TH7 looking over salt water or a
TA33 in a valley, or something in between. The screen saver at our station
host's PC said "Do the best you can with what you have", and I don't think he
put it there just f
the contest. We all did the best we could with what we had. And had a ball
Lots of people asked me how WRTC-96 in SF compared to WRTC-90 in Seattle. All I
can say is that it was different. Not better, not worse; just different.
Seattle was a "first" and there can never be another "first". I think that
maybe I got to know th
ther competitors better in Seattle, since there were fewer of them. Maybe it
was the fascination with the USSR teams who were almost all visiting the U.S.
for the first time. I dunno if the stations were any more equal in Seattle;
probably not. There w
more activity in WRTC-96, and the longer hours provided a few more interesting
openings. The whole event was just as much fun (results aside, of course!) as
the first one.
Sure, it was a bit of a let-down after winning in 1990. But I look at it this
way: I got to spend a whole week with over 100 of the best contesters in the
world. We ate together, we drank together, we swam together, we laughed
together. We rode the bus
together. We compared lives together. We all got to operate a contest together,
yet separately; a special contest set up just for us; to compete against each
other, yet to share together. You guys out there who supported the event by
working us were a
a part of it. You'll all get nice cards and some of you will get awards for
your efforts. The rates were great, and the memories will last a lifetime.
Can't ask for a much better time than that.