Thought I'd share some of the experience in the weekend's contest. This is=20
the first time I've done CQP seriously since 99 and since we're on "firsts"=20=
thought I'd go all the way. So, the radio was a new one (Yaesu FT897); I was=
using a new version of TRLog; this was the first time I'd ever done a=20
signifcant effort with QRP; and it was the first major effort from the new=20
QTH in Upland with the first contest using the Butternut HF6V which is=20
installed on the roof.
So here's the station setup:
Yaesu FT897 running at 5W powered by an Astron supply. Antenna is a Butternu=
HF6V mounted on the roof with its base about 28 feet above ground. One radia=
each for 40, 30, 20, and 10, with a single "radial" made of 3 inch wide=20
copper foil, 50 feet long that stands in for 80 meters. The computer is a 10=
MHz Dell laptop interfaced to the radio for both radio control and for=20
keying. Software is version 6.70 (latest) of TRLog. There's a second compute=
that usually is connected to the internet for real time propagation numbers=20
(flux updated every minute), but I don't bother with packet since I find it=20
more of a distraction than anything else.
I got my hands on the new radio on Wednesday before the contest and spent=20
that evening and Thursday evening figuring out its quirks and setting up the=
menu options (there are 91 of them!) to suit my style. I also got the latest=
version of TRLog (v6.70) on Thursday, so I spent a bit of time that evening=20
checking out any new options, programming the CW memories and figuring out=20
the interface between the computer and the radio. (Since the 897 is so new,=20
Tree hasn't seen one yet, but the interface is the same as the FT817, more o=
Saturday AM I had to take Emily (KF6SGV) to the airport for a trip to the=20
east coast and I was back home about 0800, rarin' to go. The solar numbers=20
were "OK", but with the flux between 150 and 160, a planetary A that was at=20
40 (with a K of 4) until 21Z on Saturday, dropping to 21 for the rest of the=
weekend, and a K that varied between 2 and 3, I knew it was gg to be a bit o=
Conversations on the QRP issue with a few people in the week before the=20
contest had me convinced that I'd spend most of my time doing S&P, and I=20
wondered how well my concentration would hold up since I've become "rate=20
addicted". As it turns out, what everyone says about QRP being a mental game=
is exactly right. Think that you can run and you can. Think that you're=20
"weak" and you will be. The only differences I found between QRP and QRO=20
were: be prepared to call several times if you're trying to get through to a=
desirable mult; and don't even think about trying to hold a frequency agains=
competition. There were several times when I'd be running (well, "walking" i=
more like it) and someone would appear on or within a couple of hundred hert=
of me. Usually it was the likes of N6O who undoubtedly simply couldn't hear=20
me back scatter or short skip. The solution? --- move, and move now; staying=
only wastes time and raises blood pressure.=20
I'd done some research and decided on a goal of 75,000 points for the=20
weekend. The number was chosen to give me a margin of a few thousand over th=
score needed to capture the 2nd place slot for all-time QRP records (1996=20
thru 2001) which was 72,748 set by N6WS in 99. There was no way with my=20
antenna set up that I could challenge N6MU's record of 144K set in 00.
So I started on 15 CW and had a pretty decent hour of 55 with 30 mults.=20
Around 17Z I went to 10 CW in the hopes that it might be usable (even with a=
poor A & K) but the result was a second hour with only 30 Q's in the log.=20
Back to 15 CW at 18Z. Still gg pretty well and I put 32 Q's in the log in=20
about 35 minutes ... Then the totally unexpected happened ...=20
I heard a man's voice saying "Hello?" or something similar. Remember, I'm=20
here alone in the house. Thinking it's a neighbor (the back door to the pati=
is open), I call out "Just a minute, I'll be right there" and untangle mysel=
from headphones and various coffee mugs and step out into the hall ... and=20
what do I see? HOLY HANDCUFFS, BATMAN!! It's a San Bernardino County=20
Sheriff's Deputy, 9mm drawn and pointing my way!
Well, my mama didn't raise no fool! I know when to freeze.
"Hands up", he says ... I do and right now.=20
"Lift your tee shirt", he says. (I'm wearing a long Chicago Bears shirt=20
that's outside my jeans)=20
"With which hand?" I ask, not wanting to make a wrong move.=20
"Doesn't matter" ... I comply.=20
"Turn around" I do.=20
Satisfied that I'm not armed, the 9mm goes back into the holster. WHEW! Then=
we get on to matters of ID and the fact that I actually live here.
This is the ultimate in penalty for RFI. Turns out that on 10 meters, someho=
even 5 watts was enough to turn on the alarm system, and THEN tell the=20
monitoring company that the garage door had been opened (it hadn't). They ha=
called, but I couldn't get to the phone fast enough during my 10M adventure.=
Naturally they aren't going to leave a message (the bad guys hate to be=20
interrupted with phone calls), so when I checked the machine and it was a=20
hang up, I just thought it was the usual solicitor. The alarm company also=20
has my cell phone number and they called that too, but of course I had turne=
it off because who wants to be interrupted with calls during a contest?
Naturally, my next call was to the alarm company to tell them to ignore any=20
alarms for the next 30 hours. "I'm testing some special communications=20
equipment" I tell them. Yeah right!!!
But in the best tradition of Murphy, I "just deal with it" and get back to=20
15M. Albeit I had now lost a half an hour of prime time.
So now it's a matter of slugging it out on 15. It sort of dries up and I go=20
up to 15 SSB at about 1930Z and spend a frustrating hour or so making 25 Q's=
I do pick up three new mults including NH and VE1, so it's not a total loss=
Back to 15 CW, and a move to 20CW at 2130Z. I stay on 20 for an hour and pic=
up 4 more mults including AZ and NM on short skip.
Overall rate is not great. But then I don't really expect it to be. Running=20=
watts to a vertical just "ain't the same" as 1500 watts to a log periodic at=
Back to 15 CW at 2230 ... kinda worked out it seems, 10 CW ten minutes later=
for few Q's then 20 SSB for some S&P. Talk about an exercise in futility ...=
way too many big guys for me to be heard. 20 CW is a bit better, 18 Q's in 1=
minutes. I skip to 15 CW to see if it's still there, one Q, it's not. 15 SSB=
NADA -- one mult and 5 Q's.
Down to 20 CW at 00Z ... Ah, that's better ... Stay there for 90 minutes and=
add 70 Q's and 1 mult. Not a barn burner, but better than I expected given=20
the station setup.
But now, the stomach wins out. Time for something to eat. So I take an hour=20
off and settle down to some really good microwaved stuff! :>)
Back on at 0230Z. Listen to 20 CW ... pretty much gone. Up to 40 CW, my=20
favorite band. However, this is the first time that I've really tried to=20
exercise this antenna on 40 and I really don't know how it's going to play.=20=
stay on 40 for a bit over 2 hours and pick up another 90 odd Q's. So I'm=20
averaging about 40 per hour. Since my "goal planning" said I need to average=
around 26 or 27 per hour for 20 hours, I'm satisfied. In addition, I pick up=
two new mults, VE4 and VE8 (thanks to J, VY1JA for hearing me and calling=20
in!) At 05Z I work WC7S in WY and decide to call it a day.
At bedtime then, I'm at 58.5K points with 400 Q's and 51 mults, substantiall=
ahead of the plan to reach my goal.
Up again at 13Z and on the air at 1320. Now comes the slog ... As a quick=20
summary here are Score, Q's and mults at the beginning of each hour:
14Z 61880 415/52 (got UT)
15Z 67652 453/52
16Z 69524 465/52
17Z 71292 482/52
18Z 73476 497/52
19Z 77327 516/53 (got ND)
20Z 84425 545/55 (RI and finally MS)
I decided to quit at this point. Had just about 20 hours in and only two mor=
hours left anyway.
Final breakdown was:=20
Band=A0 CW Qs=A0 Ph Qs
=A0 160:=A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0=20
=A0=A0 80:=A0 =A0 2=A0 =A0 =A0 0
=A0=A0 40:=A0 106=A0 =A0 =A0 0
=A0=A0 20:=A0 159=A0 =A0=A0 12
=A0=A0 15:=A0 157=A0 =A0=A0 45
=A0=A0 10:=A0=A0 48=A0 =A0=A0 16
=A0 =A0 6:=A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0=20
=A0 =A0 2:=A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0=20
Total:=A0 472=A0 =A0=A0 73=A0 Mults =3D 55=A0 Total Score =3D 84,425
Missed AK, HI, and NV (of all things!)
The end result??
1. More fun than I've had in a contest in a long while (except for FD in=20
Puerto Rico, but that's another whole story) and it re-energized my interest=
in "solo" contesting.
2. The FT897 worked better than I expected. I'm glad that I bought one.
3. As always I discovered some things about the station and a new set up tha=
need fixing, but that's always one of the side benefits.
4. I achieved my point goal (and then some). But I got beaten out of the 2nd=
place all time QRP score by Wes, W3SE who also did QRP and posted a great=20
102K points. That's OK. If I'm going to get beat, I'm glad that it's by a=20
friend and a co-operator at N6ME.
Thanks to everyone for all the Q's. It was a blast!!
73 de Bill, W1HIJ
W6UFT for CQP02
FO8DX for CQ WPX CW in 2001
op at NP4A for FD 2002
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