Well, that was a Blast! SSCW 2014 was everything I thought it would be -
lots of fun, lots of challenges and many old and new friends to work. More
details below, but first, here's my numbers:
Hours Operated = 23 (see "Ugly" comments below).
Band QSOs Pts Sec
3.5 15 30 0
7 477 954 8
14 429 858 64
21 202 404 11
28 12 24 0
Total 1135 2270 83
ARRL SS CW - 2014-11-01 2100Z to 2014-11-03 0300Z - 1172 QSOs
NX4N Max Rates:
2014-11-02 0158Z - 4.0 per minute (1 minute(s)), 240 per hour by NX4N
2014-11-02 0159Z - 2.2 per minute (10 minute(s)), 132 per hour by NX4N
2014-11-02 0453Z - 1.5 per minute (60 minute(s)), 90 per hour by NX4N
This was my 2nd serious SS attempt (the other in 2012) in 22 years,
including 15 years of QRT; sure have missed it!
Thanks to the ongoing kindness of the Tampa ARC, I was again allowed to use
their clubhouse for sweepstakes - no attic dipoles for this contest op!
I brought my K3, KPA500 and old-as-dirt-original-two-tube Alpha 76A (that
sucker can still put out 1300 watts!). I also brought a DXD (my first time
operating SO2R), PC's and an auto antenna tuner for the C31 (see below).
TARC provided an IC-7600 and 3 towers with the following antennas:
* Force 12 240N @ 130',
* Force 12 C31-XR @120' (but high SWR on 15m and 10m) -this was my 20m run
* 80m Dipole @ 90'
Tower 2: Force 12 C19-XR @ 70' - this was my run antenna for 15m and 10m.
Tower 3: Force 12 XR-5; not a bad little antenna for S&P.
TARC has a super clubhouse - really the best I've ever seen. And just super
FB folks too!
Anyway, I spent 8+ hours Friday setting up a completely functional SO2R
station from scratch - quite a chore. I ran 'mixed HP/LP due to the SWR
issues. For running with quick QSY capability I put both amps on the K3,
one for each antenna output- Alpha for big runs and KPA500 for quick
QSY's. For S&P I ran the IC-7600 barefoot. I was actually quite happy of
this little setup; that said one more amp and a fully functional C31XR
would have made a difference
Now onto the good part - operating!
I got to the TARC clubhouse about 2.5 hours before the contest, inflating
an air mattress, making final station preparations, checking out the bands
and pumping up the operator into a froth.
At 2100z I hit the ground running - I felt really strong those first 11
hours or so and was *very* happy with my rates (nearly 800 QSO's and all
but ND and NE in the log). I was no more than 100-120 QSO's behind the
'Big Boys' - and actually ahead of a few; I was one happy camper when I hit
the hay. The C31XR and 240N with my trusty ol' Alpha made dominating
signals on 20m and 40m, and I leveraged both bands accordingly. My 15m
signal was 'ok', but certainly nothing special - man, I wish the C31 worked
on 15m and 10m. But good ops work with what they have and that is what I
tried to emulate. S&P was good for barefoot, but I could tell that having
an amp would have made a difference.
Sunday was another matter entirely - good heavens, I was bone tired and I
just saw my mojo slip away as the day progressed. Much less aggressive
with my rates and S&P work on the 2nd radio; Did not sleep well, perhaps
too much caffeine? At 55 I am hardly and OT but I am certainly not the
strong young Op I used to be.
- Saturday Optimism
- A great Tampa ARC offer to use their clubhouse and antenna farm - thanks!
- Deep, fast runs on 20m and 40m. The Fun and Run was in high gear.
- Learning SO2R on the fly and actually seeing myself improve during the
contest; I'm hooked!
- Gators beat Georgia (nearly always held on SSCW weekend)
- 1.5 hours of light, caffeine-laced 'sleep.
- C'mon, really, no Sunday casual operators? Hello? CQ? Anyone? Only
- High number of Dupes calling me. N1MM said I logged just three QSO's shy
of 1200 in 23 hours but the actual total was much less. I wonder if NX4N
is such a rare prefix and folks want an insurance QSO? :-)
- Losing my contest mojo Sunday
- Did I mention Sunday?
- I was soooo tired Sunday that I misread N1MM operating time and quit an
hour early - OUCH! By the time I realized it, I had disassembled some of
the station and was simply too tired to put it back together. Almost too
embarrassed to report this but it actually happened :-(
- I was clearly out-hustled Sunday and saw my best competitive effort from
Saturday fade away. Oh well, opportunity for improvement next year.
- Sunday afternoon finding world-class ops, N5TJ, K1TO, N6RO and NF4A come
on the scene as 'fresh meat'. I was astounded to hear them each work a
horrendous pileup of desperate full-timers with adeptness that I could only
dream of doing. Truly enjoyable to listen to these guys who make it seem
- Working so many of you that I have worked in Sweepstakes since I was a
teenager 40+ years ago. In fact, Paul K5RT and I were teens in Orlando
together and it is just way-cool to still QSO with him in SS.
- Borrowing an idea from friend N4BP, I improved upon the infamous
''operator bucket' idea by adding kitty litter...I'll leave the remaining
details to your imaginations but I did not budge from that operator chair
Well, that about sums it up. Congrats to all the participants and thanks
to each of you who worked me and put up with my newbie-SO2R shenanigans.
Hope to CU in SSCW 2015!
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