ARRL Sweepstakes, CW
Operator(s): W5JLP, AA5BT, KM5TY, WM5R
Operating Time (hrs): 24
Total: 654 x 79 = 103,332
Club: Central Texas DX and Contest Club (CTDXCC)
University of Texas Amateur Radio Club N5XU
Force-12 C-4 @ 100', rotatable
80 meter dipole @ 100', fixed N/S
Optimus PRO-50MX headset
TR LOG 6.59
This is a significantly better result for us than I had anticipated before
the contest. We do not have any crack CW contest operators active in the
club anymore. Last year, I operated much of the contest going just 15WPM
or so high up in the bands, working every QRP station on the continent,
and struggling the entire time. This year, the bulk of our operating was
done by Johanna W5JLP, who was operating comfortably at 20WPM by the end of
the contest. Johanna made at least 500 of our QSOs.
We began thinking about a sweep early Sunday, as Derek AA5BT had done
a few hours of search and pounce Saturday night (about the only time we
weren't CQing) and had gotten all but nine or ten of the sections worked.
Idaho and Alberta took a disconcertingly long time to work, but by the
early afternoon, we were down to three sections needed: SC, VT, and MAR.
As it turns out, we worked at least two SC stations, and I was able to get
through to a VE9 on 15 who was just incredibly weak here, but we never
did find a Vermont station. I'm sure none were CQing at all on Sunday,
and I guess we just weren't attractive enough for one of them to call us.
As someone whose CW skills are still substantially below those of the
average CW contester, it continues to be very frustrating to be called
by stations averaging 25-30% faster than my sending speed. Another big
frustration was really poor CW signals. I noticed a lot more stations
with a "Farnsworth-like" approach to CW, where the signal might have been
at 22WPM, but the spacing was at like 32WPM. To my ears, this is not
helpful. In fact, it made copying really difficult, especially with the
weaker signals. Every single time, when someone slowed down to my speed
and had a good keying waveform and normal weighting and spacing, the QSO
happened without a hitch. Unfortunately, most of the time I had to ask for
fills, which just slowed both of us down.
One prominent 0-land contester answered my 15WPM CQ at 30WPM. I figured
out his call after hearing it three times, and sent him my exchange at
15WPM. He then proceeded to send me his exchange at 30WPM. I asked him
_three times_ to "QRS AGN," and each time he sent it at exactly the same
speed, so I had to give up and call CQ again. This was the worst behavior
I experienced all weekend, but at least 2/3 of the stations that called
me did so at speeds 25-30% faster than I was sending, and required
time-wasting fills. Although I resorted to it rarely, _only one_ of the
stations that called me and I asked to QRS actually did so.
It was good to hear a few other college and university clubs on the air,
especially those that are avoiding the hated "school radio club" category.
I imagine we'll hear many more on for phone, and it will be interesting to
see if the trend of fewer and fewer college and university clubs being
active in the Sweepstakes (in any category) since the creation of the
school radio club category continues.
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