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To: 3830@contesting.com
Subject: [3830] IARU W5KFT(WM5R) SO SSB HP
From: webform@b4h.net
Reply-to: wm5r@arrl.net
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 14:31:56 -0700
List-post: <mailto:3830@contesting.com>
                    IARU HF World Championship

Call: W5KFT
Operator(s): WM5R
Station: W5KFT

Class: SO SSB HP
QTH: South Texas (STX)
Operating Time (hrs): 24

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Mults
  160:   0        9     5
   80:   0       54    10
   40:   0      145    32
   20:   0      822    65
   15:   0      291    29
   10:   0       62     8
Total:   0     1383   148  Total Score = 595,700



W5KFT station:

     Thanks to Bryan W5KFT for letting me use the Ranch this weekend for 
the big IARU contest.  Robert K5PI got things mostly set up for me out there,
even though he himself was operating from N3BB, almost 100 miles away.

     Things didn't go as well as I could have hoped.  Getting laid off from
my job on Thursday didn't exactly lift my spirits.  I get to keep working
there through August, but after that, I'm out of a job.  News like that sort 
of inhibits the "conquer the world" feeling I like to have in big contests.

     I have very limited experience as a single-operator in big HF contests, 
but I feel like each time I do one of these I learn a little more.  I've only
ever tried SO2R once before, in a North American QSO Party a few years ago, 
and I was looking forward to trying it this weekend.

     I headed out for Ranch Friday after work, and got there around 7:30 PM.
I've operated from the Ranch many times, and even as a single-op, but I've 
never actually been in charge of station set-up before, and trying to figure 
out how everything interconnects.  Fortunately, Robert K5PI has written a 
station manual that is very useful for guest operators, and it helped a lot.
The first order of business was to hook up all the coax and power connections.
I didn't realize it at the time, but I never hooked up the coax for the
40M yagis.  I didn't discover this until Saturday night, when the SWR on 40M 
was out of sight in certain combinations on the StackMatch.  For some reason,
it never occurred to me to look and see if I'd forgotten to screw in all 
the coax feeds - I just assumed that something was wrong with the stack, and 
instead used the single rotatable 40M yagi on another tower.  I discovered 
my mistake Sunday morning after concluding a post-contest chat with K5TR
on 3830 kHz.  I don't think I'll make that mistake again.  I also realize 
that I should have checked the SWR on all the antenna combinations on each 
band before I went to sleep Friday night.

     The rest of the set-up time was spent in frustration trying to get 
a Top Ten DXDoubler SO2R switch on load from N3BB (who uses NA and Yaesu 
FT-1000MPs) going with TR-Log and Kenwood TS-850s.  All I could ever get it 
to do was switch headphone audio - nothing I did would get it to switch 
the mic audio.  Another problem was that the PTT out lines for both radios 
were keyed all the time.  I'm sure that if I had had more time to fiddle 
with it, I could have gotten it to work, but around 10:45 PM, I decided 
that I needed sleep if I wanted to survive the contest intact, so I cabled 
it up to use as a headphone audio switch only.  This way, I could listen to 
the second radio and make band change decisions - I just couldn't transmit 
on the second radio.  I got almost seven hours of sleep, which together with 
a two-hour nap on Friday afternoon wasn't too bad.

     Unfortunately, I forgot all about the Beverages.  I had intended to 
hook them up after I got the SO2R box connected, but in my frustration, I
completely forgot about it.  I don't have any listening antennas at my 
modest home station, nor are there listening antennas at the university club
station I've operated at for years.  I've used them before in multi-ops, 
of course, but I've never had to figure out how to hook them up.  I realized
the omission when I made my first band change to 80 meters and had trouble
copying a callsign.  I decided not to spend the time to try to figure out 
how to hook them up, as I was tired enough by then to know that I could 
screw it up.

     I guess conditions weren't so good, but I don't really have much of a 
frame of reference to know.  Twenty meters was the only open band at the 
start of the contest, and in fact would be the only open band for several 
hours.  Maybe a hint of how tough things would be: W1AW/3 calls me just 37 
minutes into the contest!  The QSOs were almost entirely from North America, 
with a few exceptions in the Pacific.  The 1300 hour was especially tough - 
I only worked 81 QSOs after dupes.  Maybe I should have taken breaks from 
CQing to S&P, but I wasn't expecting the number of callers to fall off like 
that.  VK3ADW was a nice catch at 1400 UTC for the special mult.  It was 1302 
UTC before I even heard a signal on 15 meters, and I only made the move to 15
meters at 1507 UTC, over three hours into the contest, when I began to work 
my first Europeans (although the vast majority of QSOs are still in North 
America.)  The rate kicked up with a 113 hour, the second and final 100+ hour 
of the contest for me.

     I made the switch to 10 meters at 1613 UTC, after hearing enough signals 
there on the second radio to feel like I could run a little.  Unfortunately, 
there was a little line noise on 10 meters, coming from the northwest, that 
got worse as the day warmed up.  After 13 QSOs, though, I decided to go back 
to 15 meters, as the rate just wasn't there yet.  Maybe I should have stuck it
out, though.  As the day went on, the line noise came up on 15 meters as well,
but never as bad as it was on 10 meters, and once 15 meters closed, it became 
a non-issue.  My next try at 10 meters was from 1758 UTC to 1829 UTC, and all 
the QSOs were with U.S. stations.  I wasn't even working Canada.  PJ2HQ was 
a nice find, and the only Caribbean station I worked on 10 meters.  I had 
no trouble getting his exchange to fit in my contest logging software!  My 
last 10 meter QSO was at 1913 UTC.

     A quick trip to 20 meters, where I hadn't been in a while, was one of 
the highlights of the weekend.  I heard W4RA call NU1AW (a QSO I also needed,)
receive NU1AW's exchange of "59 IARU," and send his exchange of "59 AC."  
The operator at NU1AW then asked him what "AC" was and did he know his ITU 
zone?  W4RA asked what station this was that he was working, was it really 
NU1AW?  There was a long pause from NU1AW.  I ended up working both W4RA 
and NU1AW on frequency, and I'm sure the NU1AW operator now knows what an 
"AC" exchange in the IARU means!

     I moved VE1JX from 15 meters to 10 meters for the mult at 1858 UTC, and 
bounced back and forth between 10 meters and 15 meters, resulting in only 
a half-dozen more 10 meter QSOs, with almost none of the Canadian zones
I spent most of the 2000 hour on 20 meters, not getting very many callers, 
but forays into 15 meters didn't seem to produce much either.  By 2110 UTC,
as the band was opening up just a little to Europe, it became evident to me 
that I was on the same frequency as an EU HQ station, so I decided to 
S&P and find a new frequency.  I ended up CQing on 14153 kHz, and it was a 
great, clear run frequency, but I still wasn't getting many callers.  A 
short move up to 15 meters from 2121 UTC to 2137 UTC was frustrating, as 
P40HQ was obviously ignoring several stateside callers.  I never did 
work them.  It turned out to be my last trip to 15 meters.  That was probably
a mistake.  The balance of the 2100 hour was on 20 meters.  In the early 
2200 hour I had another frustrating experience of having the band opening to 
Europe slowly, painfully reveal that an EU contester on the same frequency as
me was also calling CQ.

     As usual in a phone contest, I had some amount of harassment on
Something I'd heard about but never actually experienced before occurred at
2332 UTC.  I'd been on 14228 kHz for about five minutes, and someone who 
failed to identify himself came on frequency and told me I was on top of the 
slow scan frequency.  I replied that I asked if the frequency was in use, 
nobody answered, and that I hadn't heard any SSTV on the band at all that 
afternoon.  I got no reply, but a few minutes later, they recorded one of my 
DVK CQs and began replaying it on frequency non-stop.  After about three 
minutes, I decided I needed to move.  I found a new run frequency on 14285.5 
kHz, and a couple of minutes later checked to see what was happening on 
14228 kHz, and they were still playing the recording there.
     In the next hour, I had an even worse jammer problem.  I'd been on 
14285.5 kHz for about 45 minutes when a really loud, broad multi-tone signal 
came up on my frequency at 0015 UTC.  It peaked at about 90 degrees, or the
direction of W4, and it was S9+40.  To the northwest or southwest, it was only

S9.  This was by far the loudest jammer I've heard in a LONG time.  The 
jamming signal slowly decreased in frequency through my passband until at 
0017 UTC it was almost inaudible.  At this point, someone came up on 14285.0 
kHz and began calling someone.  I moved down to 14285.0 kHz, said "The 
frequency is in use.  This is W5KFT," waited a moment, and moved back up to 
14285.5 kHz to call CQ again.  It was kind of hard to make out exactly what 
this guy was saying, but he began talking (or pretending to talk) to his 
buddy, and I heard snippets like "...contesters... we'll see who lasts 
longer."  I go down and again tell him that the frequency is in use and give 
my callsign.  I've not heard him ID.  He stops talking, and the loud jamming 
device is turned on again, coming into my audio passband from the high side 
and slowly decreasing in frequency.  It is maybe three or four kHz wide.  
I'm still working stations through it at a rate of 70+ an hour, even though 
it's REALLY REALLY loud, so I stick with it.  I really hate it when I have 
a nice, good run frequency and someone who thinks it's theirs because they 
have a net there or they made a schedule decides to jam me to get me to move.
It would be one thing if they came on frequency and politely asked me to 
accommodate them, but when they start out with the jamming tactics, it 
really pisses me off, and I can get very stubborn.  A carrier joins the 
jamming signal at 0020 UTC.  The big jamming signal and the carrier both 
stop briefly at 0023 UTC, and I hear the guy on 14285.0 kHz say about three 
sentences to his buddy, still not IDing, and I think maybe he's giving up.  
The entire time, I'm keeping up a 70+ QSO/hour rate.  At 0027 UTC, a carrier 
comes up on frequency, and stays there until 0030 UTC.  It goes away.  Two 
carriers come up at 0032 UTC and stay there until 0037 UTC, when the guy 
is back on 14285.0 kHz calling his buddy again.  The big signal jamming 
device is turned on again at 0046 UTC and left on until some time after 
0052 UTC, when I decide to try to work some of the European HQ stations on 
40M.  I can't remember the last time I've operated an HF phone contest and 
not had an episode of attempted jamming, but this was by far the worst 
example I've experienced in several years.

     The 0100 hour is split between 20 meters (stateside, some EU) and 40
meters (EU, mostly HQ stations.)  Among the EU stations on 40 meters was 
VA3RAC, calling CQ, getting no answers, but not listening up for U.S. 
stations.  I never did hear them again on 40 meters.  The 0200 hour starts 
off kind of slow, with some 40 meters to Europe, and some 20 meters stateside.

Around 0230, though, I start working some Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, and 
other Europeans, mostly from east Europe and Russia.  The opening wasn't 
really strong, though, and I felt that I'd worked through a lot of it by 
0300.  I took a quick trip to 80 meters, a quick S&P pass through 40 meters 
to pick up some more HQ mults, and was back on 20 meters at 0322 UTC.  In 
retrospect, I should never have left, as more eastern Europeans were on the 
band, and I was able to run them again.  I worked 9K2K at 0323 UTC for a 
nice mult, and picked up five European HQ mults on the band in the next 
fifteen minutes.  KL7AC called in at 0341 for another mult, one of only 
three Alaskan stations I heard on the air all weekend.  The opening got 
really good.  By 0345, I had the rate meter at 192!  And they were mostly 
5-pointers!  I worked Europe all through the rest of the 0300 hour, until 
it finally died completely around 0410 UTC.  I ended up with an 88 hour 
after dupes, but I know that had I not forayed down to 80 and 40, I could 
have had a 100+ hour.  I really wish I had had a second radio to go down 
and pick up mults on 40 and 80 instead of having to commit to a complete 
band change.

     In the middle of the 0400 hour, I go to 40 meters and then my second
band change to 80 meters, working an S&P pass and calling CQ again.  I don't 
really know what I'm doing on the low bands, especially when it comes to 
working DX there.  Most of my contesting experience to date has focused on 
learning running skills, mainly on the high bands in multi-ops.  At the top 
of the 0500 hour, I go to 160 meters for the first time for four QSOs and 
three mults.  Back on 20 meters, it's really hard to find a run frequency, 
so I bounce down to 40 meters and run stateside, even though I also have a 
good listening frequency down low.  I was never called by a single European.
At 0539 UTC, I switch to 80 meters, run stateside as best I can, switch 
back to 40 meters 0550 UTC and work another 16 U.S. stations.

     The 0600, 0700, 0800, and 0900 hours are all very similar to one another.
Change to a band, do an S&P pass, find a run frequency, and when the callers 
dry up, switch to the next band.  I tried to be on 160 meters at the top of 
each hour.  I never did find NU1AW on 160 meters.  I know they didn't have a
station there the whole time like W1AW/3 did, but they were never there at
the top of the hours.  Around 0650 UTC, I start feeling really tired, and 
switch to the non-caffeine-free soda.  I should have done that about half an 
hour before I did.  Around 0830 UTC, I find NU1AW on 80 meters and get 
them to work me on 40 meters and then 160 meters.  Around 0900 UTC was a 
frustrating time on 40 meters as HK6ISX and 8N2JHQ were both LOUD, but not 
listening up for stateside.  I eventually worked 8N2JHQ at 0916 UTC, when 
they had finally decided to listen up.  In all, I worked 13 JAs on 40 meters, 
which is more JA QSOs than I worked on any other band.  I had the same 40 
meter split frustration at 1111 UTC with BD5RI, who was also LOUD and not 
listening up for stateside.  When I checked in on him again at 1135 UTC, he 
was listening up, but his signal was much weaker and he couldn't copy me.  
The 1100 hour was by far the slowest - it felt like there was nobody left 
to work.  I did, however, work 7 Europeans that hour, the first European QSOs 
I'd had on that band since 0516 UTC.  But, I finished with a 17 hour, which 
is pretty lousy.

    During the contest, I kept track, though notes in my log, of every QSO
made with an obviously YL voice.  Of 1,423 QSOs, 16 QSOs (1.12% of the total)
were with YLs.  The ARRL is spending a lot of recruiting money on the 8-14 
year old crowd, most of whom have no way of doing anything related to ham 
radio outside of the classroom, and the vast majority of which will drop any 
interest they might have now when they get to high school and college.  But, 
they make for cute, feel-good publicity.  The ARRL is spending a lot of money 
on kids, but there is no organized effort for getting women interested in ham 
radio.  Hell, even 10% of physics PhDs go to women - how can we have only 
1.12% female participation in ham radio?

     I have a lot to learn about being a single-operator in HF contesting.
For one thing, I have to stop being a lid when it comes to station setup.  
I also need to experience more DX and multi-band contests as a single-op.
Being a single-op is more difficult than I imagined it would be.  To those 
who do it well, "chapeau!"

Rate sheet:

  HOUR  160SSB   80SSB   40SSB   20SSB   15SSB   10SSB   TOTAL   ACCUM
  ----  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------   -----   -----
   12       0       0       0     103       0       0     103     103
   13       0       0       0      81       0       0      81     184
   14       0       0       0      94       0       0      94     278
   15       0       0       0       6     107       0     113     391
   16       0       0       0       0      64      13      77     468
   17       0       0       0       0      65       5      70     538
   18       0       0       0       9      14      40      63     601
   19       0       0       0      27      29       4      60     661
   20       0       0       0      38       5       0      43     704
   21       0       0       0      33       7       0      40     744
   22       0       0       0      69       0       0      69     813
   23       0       0       0      62       0       0      62     875

    0       0       0       0      58       0       0      58     933
    1       0       0       7      39       0       0      46     979
    2       0       0       6      68       0       0      74    1053
    3       0      10       5      73       0       0      88    1141
    4       0       5      11      27       0       0      43    1184
    5       4       7      26       6       0       0      43    1227
    6       0       5      13      10       0       0      28    1255
    7       0      14      15       4       0       0      33    1288
    8       3      10       6       1       0       0      20    1308
    9       1       0      26       0       0       0      27    1335
   10       0       3      29       0       0       0      32    1367
   11       1       0       1      14       0       0      16    1383

  TOTAL     9      54     145     822     291      62  

Continent Breakdown:

                   160    80    40    20    15    10    30    17    12    ALL
                   ---    --    --    --    --    --    --    --    --    ---
  USA calls   =      8    48    92   571   230    60     0     0     0   1009
  VE calls    =      1     3     9    62    16     1     0     0     0     92
  N.A. calls  =      0     2     2    14     3     0     0     0     0     21
  S.A. calls  =      0     0    13    22     6     1     0     0     0     42
  Euro calls  =      0     0    11   112    29     0     0     0     0    152
  Afrc calls  =      0     0     0     2     2     0     0     0     0      4
  Asia calls  =      0     0     1    14     0     0     0     0     0     15
  JA calls    =      0     0    13     6     0     0     0     0     0     19
  Ocen calls  =      0     1     4    19     5     0     0     0     0     29

  Unknowns    =      0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0      0

  Total calls =      9    54   145   822   291    62     0     0     0   1383

Multipliers Worked:

04      06      08      arrl    iaru    

02      04      06      07      08      11      61      arrl    iaru    rac

01      06      11      37      61      hrs     r1      scg     zrs     
02      07      13      45      ari     iaru    rcv     srr     
03      08      14      50      arrl    jarl    ref     ttars   
04      09      15      59      darc    pzk     rsgb    veron   

01      09      16      36      56      arabh   edr     oevsv   rep     wia
02      10      18      37      59      ari     erau    pzk     rsgb    zrs
03      11      27      39      60      arm     frr     r2      scg     
04      12      28      45      61      arrl    hrs     rac     sral    
06      13      29      46      62      crag    iaru    rcp     srr     
07      14      30      50      63      crc     lral    rcv     uarl    
08      15      31      55      ac      darc    lrmd    ref     verona  

03      07      11      15      36      62      arrl    irts    ref     veron
04      08      12      27      37      arabh   hrs     r1      rep     zrs
06      09      14      28      61      ari     iaru    rac     sral    

06      07      08      09      arrl    verona

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