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To: 3830@contesting.com, wc1m@msn.com
Subject: [3830] WPX CW WC1M SOAB HP
From: webform@b4h.net
Reply-to: wc1m@msn.com
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 08:22:02 -0700
List-post: <mailto:3830@contesting.com>
                    CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: WC1M
Operator(s): WC1M
Station: WC1M

Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 14.75
Radios: SO2R

 Band  QSOs
  160:    0
   80:    6
   40:  512
   20:  518
   15:   47
   10:    0
Total: 1083  Prefixes = 535  Total Score = 1,854,310

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club



160M  -  trapped vee @65'
 80M  -  delta loop @75', trapped vee @65'
 40M  -  40-2CD @75', 4-square
 20M  -  4-el @72', C3E @50'
 15M  -  5-el @50', C3E @50'
 10M  -  C3E @50'
 580' NE beverage

 All yagis on separate tubular towers (no vertical stacks)


Orion + Alpha 87A, FT-1000D + Acom 2000A, Writelog, TopTen band decoders 
and switches.


I bailed out early.

I had intended to do a serious effort again this year, but a hardware problem
and a series of circumstances resulted in a choice to bow out early Saturday

The hardware problem was a unique bug between the Ten Tec Orion and Alpha 87A
amp that caused the Orion to stop transmitting and producing audio about every
three QSOs. Very frustrating. At first, the only way to get out of this state
was to reboot the Orion, which takes about ten seconds. After a while, I found
that switching to the second antenna input and transmitting a dit would unlock
the Orion. I even took the time to backup to a previous firmware release, which
put me off the air for about 10-15 minutes. That didn't help. Finally, I
realized that the problem might be due to use of the Orion's QSK keying loop
with the 87A, a combination that had driven a bug in earlier Orion firmware
releases. I switched to the Orion's regular amp keying circuit and the problem
disappeared! (NB: this problem seems to be limited to the unique combination of
the Orion and 87A, and there's a simple workaround -- the 87A's pin diode T/T
switching doesn't require the Orion's keying loop.)

Anyway, I lost at least 50 QSOs during the first hour and realized that I
probably had no shot at winning. It's hard enough to win without stacks and high
antennas. I was demoralized, but kept going until my first off-time at about
0700z. I slept 3 hours or so and got back on the air in the morning in time to
run 20m at 1100z. That was my only 100+ hour. Over the next four hours I worked
several top-tier stations and realized that I was still behind, anywhere from
50-150 QSOs. Also, it was clear that 15m wasn't going to open here, or if it did
the rates would be pretty low. I began to think about packing it in.

It wasn't just the likelihood that I wouldn't finish as high as the last two
years (4th in '02 and 2nd in '03.) Saturday the 29th was our 11th anniversary
and I was feeling guilty about not spending time with my wife that day. She had
agreed, but seemed disappointed. Also, I had wanted to climb Mt. Jefferson in
the White Mountains on Memorial Day, but had agreed to give that up to spend a
day with my family since I wasn't doing that on Saturday or Sunday. So, I
started thinking about having a date with my wife on Saturday night and spending
the rest of the time Saturday and Sunday with my wife and daughter. That way, I
could climb the mountain on Monday. As the rate dropped on Saturday morning,
that plan started sounding a whole lot better to me than slogging it out for the
rest of the contest.

There was another factor: accumulated stress and fatigue. Most of the month of
May was taken up with moving my mother from New York City to an assisted living
facility near my QTH in Western New Hampshire. Given my mother's frail
condition, worsening cognitive abilities and inability to make decisions, this
turned out to be a major undertaking. In addition to countless phone calls to
settle details and get medical and prescription issues taken care of, I had to
do three round-trip drives to NYC (265 miles each way) to move my mother and the
stuff she has accumulated for decades. I finished the major portion of the move
the week before WPX, then hopped a plane for Seattle to help deal with various
intense situations going on at one of my startup companies. So, there was a lot
of motivation to give myself a break!

The only thing that kept me going through the month of May was being in the best
physical shape I've been in since 1991. Since January 1, I've lost nearly 45 lbs
using a healthy, low-calorie diet of my own design. Halfway through the diet, my
cholesterol had dropped 50 points, too. I feel great, and actually felt pretty
good during the contest, too. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep the weight off and
eat sensibly from now on. I'd like to see how being healthier affects contest
performance. It certainly helped my mountain climbing performance on Memorial
Day -- I made it up Mt. Jefferson twenty minutes ahead of guidebook time and
maybe ten minutes ahead of a pair of 20-somethings! Needless to say, this felt
terrific at age 50.

Leaving the contest also allowed me to do a long-promised tower project for my
friend, W1ECT, on Sunday. I squeezed out just enough time to replace a broken
TIC ring motor for him and straighten out the TH-7 that had gotten skewed and
tangled up in coax as a result of the motor failure. I also had enough time to
climb his house-mounted TV tower to install a long mast and show him how to use
my chainsaw to dispose of some deadfall in his front yard. All of that felt
better than grinding out QSOs.

When I decided to bail out, at 1500z on Saturday, I had about 850 QSOs. It's
likely that had I continued I would have made the top ten, though probably not
the upper half. It was hard to walk away from a likely top-ten finish in my
second favorite contest (WW is tops), but all-in-all I'm glad I did. Hopefully,
next time I do this contest I'll have a new tower up and a much more powerful
set of antennas. I'll be going for a win!

73, Dick WC1M

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