WC1M CQWPX SSB SOABHP UN (+blather)
Thu Apr 1 03:22:36 EST 1999
1999 CQ WPX SSB CONTEST
Call used: WC1M Location: NH
Category: Single Op All Band High Power Unassisted
Callsign of Operator: WC1M
Hours of Operation: 24:54
band QSOs points
160 2 5 80M vee tuned
80 171 354 inv vee @65'
40 43 222 4-square
20 594 1544 TH-7 @70'
15 1059 2947 TH-7 @70'
10 124 337 TH-7 @70'
TOTAL 1993 5409 X 748 multipliers = 4,045,932
Club or Team Name: Twin State Radio Club
Equipment: TS950SDX / Alpha 87A
FT-990 / SB-220
When my wife informed me that she was singing in a gala for the local opera
company on Saturday, I knew that babysitting our 3-year old was going to
relegate me to yet another partial effort. I didn't think I'd get to do more
than 15 hours or so, but things worked out better than I thought they would
and I managed to squeeze in a solid 25 hours. One of these days I'm going to
overcome spousal restrictions and lack of stamina and work the maximum
number of hours in a major contest (whereupon a big solar flare will wipe
out the bands for 48 hours...)
Given the premium for low-band contacts, I would have liked to have started
the contest running DX on 40M. Right. Well, I figured I'd probably start
running on 20M and move down to the low bands after a couple of hours. But I
was amazed to find 15M wide open to Asia at 0000 and spent the first two
hours of the contest running JA's at 100+/hr. In fact, my best rate was hour
1, at 125 QSOs. In all, I had seven 100+ hours and 12 above my average of
80/hour. Not great, but not bad. The big problem was motivation. I kept
thinking that since it was going to be a partial effort, it wouldn't matter
a whole lot if I took a little extra time eating that sandwich or glancing
at the TV. By the time I realized that I could do more than 20 hours, I has
already wasted a fair amount of time. I went to bed at 0700 both nights.
Didn't get back on the air until 1430 Saturday and 1200 Sunday. Missed a lot
of good stuff.
For a guy that doesn't like phone much, I feel pretty good about 2K QSOs in
25 hours. Conditions were very good, except on 10M. Couldn't get a run going
there all weekend. Scores from other parts of the country suggest that
perhaps this was a high latitude problem for us New Englanders, but I
haven't seen enough 1-land scores to confirm that. The money band was 15M.
I've never heard it so good, for so many hours, for so many days in a row.
By Saturday afternoon I was seriously considering a shift to 15M
single-band, but just couldn't bear to give up all those 80M contacts I made
on Friday night. Speaking of 80M, it yielded quite a few more contacts than
ARRL DX, mostly domestic though. Tried working split once or twice, but
couldn't get a run going that way. As every U.S. operator knows, the 40M
band plan kills us in phone contests. For all the good it did me, I should
have rewired the 4-square to use only one element or should have stayed away
from 40M entirely so that I could enter the triband/wires category. I expect
to do much better on 40M in the CW portion. 20M was OK, but never quite as
good as 15M.
The high points were having a rare enough prefix to generate nice pileups,
settling in to some real smooth high-rate JA and European runs on 15M, being
told by every other Eastern European that I had a BIG signal (not bad for a
tribander), being called by 3B8, XX9, and a few other nice countries, being
thanked by many stations for the new multiplier.
The low points were realizing that conditions were going to be really good
and I couldn't put in 36 hours, 40M phone, not being able to find a clear
frequency on 20M Sunday, 40M phone, no good openings on 10M, and finally,
40M phone. Oh yeah, there was the time that a certain 3-land station started
running on the frequency I had been using for an hour to run Europeans at
100+/hr. When I told him the frequency was occupied, he said, "I've been
here for hours -- GET OUTTA HERE!" Hmmm. I can understand us not being able
to hear each other before that, but if he really had been there for hours I
should have heard all those Europeans calling him. Maybe he had just gotten
finished with a big Asian run or something. Too tired to fight, I let him
have the frequency. Oh well. Still, there's no reason to be nasty on the
Equipment note: This is the third contest in which I've used two-radios. Up
to this contest, I had been using the TS950SDX to run stations and the
FT-990 for S&P. I figured the '950 was the better radio and was connected to
the bigger amp, so it would be better for running. There was a huge amount
of QRM in this contest, and I finally admitted to myself that the Kenwood,
which is otherwise a fabulous radio, overloads quite a bit in the presence
of strong signals up and down the band. The filter skirts just don't seem to
be steep enough to deal with it. I've always had trouble copying weak
stations with it in both CW and SSB contests, but never had another radio to
compare it with. Surprisingly, I found the '990 to be much better for
running stations under crowded band conditions, even though it has add-on
filters in only one IF. Having only 1000 watts from the SB-220 didn't seem
to hurt the rates much, either. I probably could have done better with the
'950 by turning down the RF gain or using the AIP, but somehow I just can't
bring myself to reduce RF gain in a DX contest. Anyway, for that and various
other reasons, I've decided to swap the '950 for a 1000MP.
I've always liked my callsign, but this time of year I really love it. When
I opened the envelope containing my new license back in 1990, and puzzled
over the strange looking callsign, I had no idea that I would be one of only
26 WC1 stations in the world. That makes this contest extra fun for me.
73, Dick, WC1M
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