8P9JG (W2SC op) ARRL CW (Very Long)
tgeorgen at ppdpost.ks.symbios.com
Mon Mar 2 14:43:00 EST 1998
ARRL INTERNATIONAL DX CONTEST -- 1998
Call: 8P9JG (W2SC op) Country: Barbados
Mode: CW Category: Single Operator High Power
BAND QSO QSO PTS STATES/PROV
160 270 810 46 Inverted Vee
80 600 1800 57 Inverted Vee
40 1201 3603 57 3L at 90'
20 1264 3792 57 TH6DXX @ 60'
15 1163 3489 56 TH6DXX @ 60'
10 1378 4134 58 5L @ 100'
Totals 5876 17628 331 = 5,834,868
It seems that all of my post contest writeups start
the same way about being very busy at work. Unfortunately,
this one is no different but I am hoping that this is as
bad as it gets.
About one month prior to the contest, I was informed that
the company I work for was going to be put up for sale. The
next thirty days were a blur of documentation preparation,
investment banker meetings, and grueling due diligence by
multiple parties. The process culminated with bids being
submitted on the same day I left for Barbados. I had arranged
for my cell phone to be operational in 8P so I could be contacted
to deal with the endless issues. Finally, on the Thursday before
the contest, while eating lunch on a veranda overlooking the
capital city, I got the call from the CEO indicating that the
deal had been closed and would be announced that evening. When
I put down the phone I said to my wife, "Maybe we shouldn't order
any more drinks, I may be unemployed."
The remainder of the afternoon was spent coordinating communication
at the plant. The next morning, Friday, it was announced in my
absence. I was called at 1 PM with news that all had gone well.
I then turned off the phone and it was time to contest even though
I was emotionally exhausted.
This was my first major contest from the outside the US and was
not sure what to expect in terms of fatigue, propagation, and rates.
In retrospect, I expected it to be much easier than it turned out
to be and it is clear that I have much to learn about operating
from the Caribbean.
The station has a full suite of antennas but I shipped my own
FT1000, TL922, and computer. The TL-922 did not want to work
when I first set it up but the symptoms pointed to a bad interlock
switch. Fiddling with the switch did indeed return the amp to
life and all was well all weekend. The only antenna work that
needed to be done was to run the beverage. Unfortunately, my
host did not want it run until Friday morning as it had to cross
a sugar cane field and it was harvest season. He sent one of his
staff out to help on Friday and everything was set by 10 AM. I
normally do not like to do any work on the day of a contest but
there was no choice. Once this was complete, I went to the beach
with my wife and spent most of the time on the phone. I finally
went back to the cottage to rest before the start of the contest
but I was too excited to get any sleep.
I decided to start on 20 and wanted to warm up a little before
the start but I had no keyer. I tried to make a few QSO's using
keyboard mode just to get the frequency warmed up. It worked OK
until K4BAI stopped by attempted to have a conversation. My
feeble typing made that a most difficult QSO.
The contest started of fast and the first two hours each had 203 Q's.
I worked my way through 80 and eventually to 160 at 3Z. I didn't know
what to expect from 160 since it is hardly my favorite band and I
was concerned that 8P might be too far away (1600 miles from W4) but I
managed a quick 112 Q's in about 45 minutes. By 4Z I had touched
40, 80, and 160 and was pleased with the results. I broke through
the 1000 QSO level around 530Z and things were going great until
730Z when the pace fell through the floor. I desparately moved from
band to band but had a difficult time sustaining any runs,
particularly on 80 and 160. 160 just seemed to get more and more
noisy as the night wore on.
W1WEF/PJ9C had given me his rate sheet from last year and I could see
that his rate had fallen in these hours but was nowhere as bad as
what I was experiencing. I began to wonder if my signal had some
type of problem, possibly the amp was bad, etc.
Eventually, the sun came up. As an East Coast operator, this is a
major motivator as it means that big rates await. However, the rate
on 20 as it just starts to open to Europe was far from spectacular.
Evidently, the East Coasters are looking to Europe and the West
Coast is still looking JA on 40. Clearly, I went to 20 too soon
while there was still some 40 meter time left. I should have known
better and avoided this blunder.
Already, past the point of no return on 20, I tried a couple trips
up to 15 to no avail. Finally, around 1315Z, 15 started to pick
up and I finally had a decent hour. Not knowing what to expect
from 10, I jumped up there at 1420Z and the band exploded. I made
370 Q's in the next 100 minutes, including a QRATE best 60 minutes
While the rate on 10 was good, the band was short and the pace started
to slip slightly and I decided to go back to 15 which was then wide
open and the rate picked up again. I had missed most multipliers on
10 west of the Mississippi so I knew I had to return in case there
was no opening the next day. 10 was still red hot but was open to
the entire US and high rates continued. By 20Z, I had worked almost
1150 Q's in the previous 6 hours.
Eventually, the rate slowed somewhat and it was time to cycle back
through 15 and 20 before settling in for a night on the low bands.
At the halfway point I had 3663 Q's and was on track for a personal
goal of 6000 Q's. I don't believe in setting precontest goals as
they are impossible to predict. Even in process goals are fickle
as I was to find out.
Saturday night proved to be immensely frustrating as 80 and 160 were
nearly total washouts. On 160, I could tell that I was weak. Stations
that were perfectly readable were sending my call and exchanges
multiple times. I knew this was a bad sign. In fact, I felt that I
could hear them better than they could hear me. Those in the US
may disagree if they tried to work me but I sure felt that I was
hearing better than I was transmitting. It is amazing to hear 160
from the other side with the wide disparity in signal strengths and
the lack of correlation between loud signals and "big gun" status.
However, a couple of big guns did stand out in the form of AA0RS,
and N2RM. KQ2M also had a notable signal.
With 80 and 160 being complete struggles, most of the time was spent on
40. Once again 730Z crept around and every QSO was work. Around 8Z,
fatigue was starting to catch up to me. Those who single op know
the routine. Your body is screaming for sleep and your brain starts
to race to the point where concentration becomes impossible and you
start asking "Why am I here", "Why am I doing this." Every contest
has its wall and I had hit mine. What I have learned is that the
"wall" cannot be overcome but it can be mitigated. I have found that
taking a 15 minute nap will stop my mind from racing and buy a couple
of hours before it starts again. Hopefully, by then the rate picks up
or the sun rises and adrenaline takes over.
I went to the bedroom where my wife was sleeping and grabbed her
alarm clock and layed down on the couch with the clock on my chest.
After 10 minutes I woke up, turned off the clock, and started to
operate again. After about a dozen CQ's with no answer, I decided
to grab another half hour of sleep. When I awoke, I started to
get some answers, albeit not that many, and it was time to push on.
Only 15 hours to go!
Although discouraged with the rate, I just pressed on not knowing
what else to try. I wondered if I should have run around calling
guys to increase the rate. Eventually, I decided not to do that
since I could not convince myself I would really generate any
incremental Q's. Once again, I botched the 40/20 transition and
had slow going on 20. My goal of 6000 was long gone and I set my
sights on doing 100/hr from 14Z on and finishing with 5700.
As with the day before, I popped back and forth between 10 and 15
trying to catch some final multipliers. I eventually got all of the
easy ones and the rate was better than I expected. The QSO goal
was broken and reset to 5900 as I gave it everything I had to push
on until the end. Looking at the last 4 hours, it was clear that
fatigue has caught up to me. W3ZZ in a recent post talked about
losing touch with reality when deprived of sleep. I know the feeling
well and this contest was no different.
0Z rolled around and I fell short of 5900 Q's but was sure glad
the contest was over. I turned the radio to 3830 and it was time
to try and get out of the chair for only the fourth or fifth time
all weekend. While the antennas were great, the operating position
was grossly uncomfortable. Over the course of the weekend, the
heat, humidity, exterior painting of the cottage, and the chair
took their toll on my body. However, the worst item was the operating
bench. There was a wood bar near floor level that was in the
exact wrong position. I was too short to put my feet on the other
side and too tall to put my feet on top (my thighs hit the table) so
my insteps were against the bar all weekend. When the contest was
over, my feet hurt so bad that my wife had to help me to the couch.
When I finally had the courage to take off my socks, my feet were
blown up like balloons and my feet are not attractive to begin with.
On 3830, V26B and KP3P(?) were collecting Caribbean scores but I did
not have the energy to walk back to the radio and screw in the
My wife went out to get Kentucky Fried Chicken (really) and I had
dinner and went to bed. At 6AM I was up again and in the sugar
cane field rolling up the beverage just as it became light.
Overall, I am reasonably pleased with my first 48 hour effort from
outside the US. I clearly made some mistakes and there is considerable
room for improvement. I would like to thank K4FJ for his precontest
support and Jagan, my host, for allowing me to use the station.
All of the antennas looked and worked great with all feedlines and
cables well labeled.
I think I am hooked on this DX stuff and looking for a place for
next year. Any ideas?
Thanks to all who worked me and made the contest so much fun.
73, Tom W2SC
tom.georgens at symbios.com
BREAKDOWN QSO/mults 8P9JG ARRL INTERNATIONAL DX CONTEST Single Operator
HOUR 160 80 40 20 15 10 HR TOT CUM TOT
0 ..... ..... ..... 203/44 ..... ..... 203/44 203/44
1 . . 132/40 71/3 . . 203/43 406/87
2 . 127/37 62/3 . . . 189/40 595/127
3 112/34 33/2 . . . . 145/36 740/163
4 . 89/8 87/2 . . . 176/10 916/173
5 66/9 83/5 . . . . 149/14 1065/187
6 . 45/1 117/5 . . . 162/6 1227/193
7 9/0 51/0 51/1 . . . 111/1 1338/194
8 18/1 37/1 50/3 ..... ..... ..... 105/5 1443/199
9 6/0 22/1 45/0 . . . 73/1 1516/200
10 . 12/1 31/0 16/0 . . 59/1 1575/201
11 . . 22/0 57/2 9/8 . 88/10 1663/211
12 . . . 85/3 5/2 . 90/5 1753/216
13 . . . . 144/24 . 144/24 1897/240
14 . . . . 38/2 151/30 189/32 2086/272
15 . . . . . 201/7 201/7 2287/279
16 ..... ..... ..... ..... 63/8 104/2 167/10 2454/289
17 . . . . 201/9 . 201/9 2655/298
18 . . . . 188/1 . 188/1 2843/299
19 . . . . 1/0 180/11 181/11 3024/310
20 . . . 9/1 22/0 136/5 167/6 3191/316
21 . . . 153/2 10/0 . 163/2 3354/318
22 . . . 69/1 79/0 . 148/1 3502/319
23 . . . 161/1 . . 161/1 3663/320
0 ..... ..... ..... 130/0 ..... ..... 130/0 3793/320
1 19/1 3/0 . 76/0 . . 98/1 3891/321
2 3/0 . 146/1 . . . 149/1 4040/322
3 . . 117/0 . . . 117/0 4157/322
4 18/1 6/0 74/0 . . . 98/1 4255/323
5 7/0 . 83/0 . . . 90/0 4345/323
6 7/0 66/1 . . . . 73/1 4418/324
7 5/0 . 36/0 . . . 41/0 4459/324
8 ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... 4459/324
9 . 20/0 15/1 . . . 35/1 4494/325
10 . 6/0 38/0 . . . 44/0 4538/325
11 . . 37/0 9/0 2/0 . 48/0 4586/325
12 . . 2/0 7/0 29/0 . 38/0 4624/325
13 . . . . 70/1 . 70/1 4694/326
14 . . . . 6/0 100/1 106/1 4800/327
15 . . . . 1/1 81/0 82/1 4882/328
16 ..... ..... ..... ..... 128/0 ..... 128/0 5010/328
17 . . . . 38/0 99/1 137/1 5147/329
18 . . . . . 143/1 143/1 5290/330
19 . . . . . 138/0 138/0 5428/330
20 . . . . 73/0 45/0 118/0 5546/330
21 . . . 60/0 56/0 . 116/0 5662/330
22 . . . 127/0 . . 127/0 5789/330
23 . . 56/1 31/0 . . 87/1 5876/331
DAY1 211/44 499/56 597/54 824/57 760/54 772/55 ..... 3663/320
DAY2 59/2 101/1 604/3 440/0 403/2 606/3 . 2213/11
TOT 270/46 600/57 1201/57 1264/57 1163/56 1378/58 . 5876/331
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