[3830] Why QRP? -- W0UN Sweepstakes

John Brosnahan broz at csn.net
Tue Nov 4 07:39:16 EST 1997

W0UN (K9AN, op)  ARRL SS CW   QRP   Colorado section

918 qsos   77 mults  141,372 points    24 hours of operation

(missed Mar and NWT)   

(check of 71 was Steve's year of first licensing--mine is 59)


After almost seven years of doing single-band DX contests from the
(now, not so) new location, I decided to try to get things ready for an
all-band effort.  This was long overdue but the delays were due to many
personal issues, such as a divorce, loss of both of my parents, business
issues, etc over the last few years.

Steve, K9AN, has been staying with me for the last few months while
we work on new equipment for his upcoming research project and he was
very interested in getting my tribanders assembled and installed and it
seemed like a good idea to let him have a go at Sweepstakes as a reward 
for all of his efforts.

The weekend before SS (CQWW phone) saw Denver's second largest blizzard
in history.  We got about 2 ft of snow here during the contest but with 5 ft
drifts due to the 35 mph winds that lasted the entire weekend.  So the
time that had been allocated for building all of the various switching
and matching hardware to allow full functionality of the tribanders was
used to shovel snow instead.  I had gotten my Ford F-250 snowplow,
with chains on all four wheels, stuck in a snow drift on Saturday of CQWW
when I tried to blast a drift in the driveway that was over the hood.  I
didn't get the truck dug out and the driveway open until Monday even though 
I worked all day Sunday shoveling and snow blowing.

So Saturday morning of SS saw me still installing the feedlines on the 
towers in 25 to 30 mph winds.  The temperature was not all that cold but
the wind chill made it pretty miserable.  Finally got the outside work done
about 2 hours before the test and still had to kludge some sort of box
to spray and, since we had already given up on finishing any impedance
matching box for the tribanders, we just decided to parallel everything and
take the high VSWR.  Too high to allow the amps to not fault and even so
high that the rig was not happy running at full power.  At that point QRP
seemed the only answer that would allow the rig to run without folding
back power to protect itself.

Steve is relatively new to contesting and had never done Sweepstakes
before.  I had done one serious SS effort in my life and it doesn't really
count since it was a M/S as a NOVICE under my old call of KN0UTX
back in 1959.  73 QSOs and crystal control do not make for much of a
foundation for strategy.  So using our motto of "Strategy? -- We don't need
no stinkin' strategy!" we decided to do QRP.  And we thought it might
be some sort of refuge from the two radio crowd since I had not yet
implemented all the hardware needed to make a two-radio setup.

On Friday evening before the contest Steve had tried QRP on the 
80M antenna with everyone he called CQed in his face.  Not a very 
good sign.  This antenna was only put up to listen on 3830 a year
earlier although it had been used to work a couple of DX stations
including an FH through a European pileup the week before.  So it
works for DX but doesn't do much for domestic stuff, at least not with
QRP.   Added to the problems was the receive IMD it seemed to
generate on Friday night.  An inspection on Saturday morning revealed
nothing obvious, although the inspection was pretty cursory due to the
high winds and the wind chill factor.  So, again, in keeping with our 
philosphy, we decided that  "80M?, we don't need no stinkin' 80M!" and 
went on with the panic-mode wiring of the station--getting it set up about
10 minutes before the start of the contest.


The GOOD news:  Steve did 924/77 for 141,372 breaking the all-time
QRP record of KP4/KA9FOX of 132,240 set in 1994.

The BAD news:  K5TJ showed up in QRP this year and hosed us
with 1071/79 for a total of 169,218.  A very impressive score, but that
is exactly what one would expect from Jeff.

So the first all band and first domestic contest from the W0UN farm was a 
record breaking effort but a very decided also-ran score.   If Jeff would
done any other category this would have been a spectacular first outing for 
both Steve and the station!


Two-radio operation may be even more important in QRP than any other 
class since the run rates are so much slower it should be possible to
to use the second radio to an even greater advantage.  And with the
capability to do S&P on two bands at once it really seems obvious (now)
that we should have had two radios!  Jeff had 280 QSOs on his 2nd radio--
or about 25% of his total!

The 80M sloper needs to be repaired and augmented with a low dipole.
Steve managed only 15 QSOs on 80M--mostly east coast!  Jeff had 160 
QSOs on 80M.  It seems that a domestic antenna is mandatory on 80M
--especially for QRP work.

Does make one wonder what might have been if Steve had had a second
radio and a decent 80M antenna--but then this is exactly what makes one 
say "wait 'til next year".  

Congratulations to Jeff, K5TJ, for an outstanding job and also congratulations
to Steve, K9AN, for a great job for his first ever SS.  I guess I will have
get serious about domestic contests and not just limit my station work 
to the DX tests.  And maybe we can work on some "stinkin' strategy"
for the next one!

73  John  W0UN

Addendum for the trivia oriented--the ORIGINAL QUOTE was NOT from
Cheech and Chong. "Badges, we don't need no stinkin' badges" was from 
the movie  "The Treasure of Sierra Madre". The quote was spoken by
the bandit leader to Humphrey Bogart in an unforgettable scene. The
bandido first appears as a face in the middle of a giant sombrero in his
reflection in the water of a quiet stream. He looms above and behind
Bogart who is washing his face there from the desert dust in the hot
Mexican highlands, as he deserts his partners with all their gold. In
explaining his presence, the bandido says that he and his muchachos are
Federales. Bogie is skeptical and answers, "Well, if you're Federales,
where are your badges?". In the best single moment of good acting, in a
film filled with good actors, the chef de bandido's face transforms
itself from an ingratiating toothy greaser grin, into animal curiousity,
then cunning and then ferocity as he says" "Badches? BADCHES? We don't
need no stinking BADCHES", and before the last word leaves his cracked,
tobacco-spittle-dripping lips, he slays Bogie on the spot with a blunt
instrument. Almost unbelievably, the badito was played by an on location
pick-up, a non-actor named Alfonso Bedoya who then went on to play
several absolutely great character parts, among which was one in my
all-time favorite adventure movie, "The Black Swan", with Tyrone Power
and Jack Hawkins. Alfonso died young from an overdosing on pleasure 
and women in Hollywood.  (trivia courtesy of W0KUF)

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