[3830] SS CW K3KU Single Op LP

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Wed Nov 5 19:37:53 EST 2003

                    ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW

Call: K3KU
Operator(s): K3KU
Station: K3KU

Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 3:55

 Band  QSOs
   80:   55
   40:   58
   20:   47
   15:   34
Total:  194  Sections = 62  Total Score = 24,056

Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club


A different kind of maximum effort this year.  About two months ago lightning
hit the tree that held up the center of dipole, neatly cleaving the ceramic
insulator and blowing away some of the feed line.  (Fortunately, inside damage
was only blown telephone service, blown cable TV service, blown burglar alarm,
and one tripped GFI -- which might be what saved the computer.  Rig was still in
boxes under the workbench.)  Had to take the antenna down that Sunday, and that
was the last day I had available for ham radio until the weekend of SS CW.

The week before SS, as the chance of taking a day off disappeared, I tried to
figure out if I should spend a few hours as a guest op at friend K2PBS down the
block, or if I could maybe get an antenna up early Sunday morning. (I don't do
Saturdays, and we had friend's birthday party Saturday night.  And, yes, I
thought about putting the antenna up in the dark.)  Friday brought an urgent
need for automobile maintenance (why is all that transmission fluid in the
carport??).  Saturday night, at the party, we got a message that my wife's
mother had fallen and broken her wrist.  So, Sunday morning became dedicated to
getting my wife up to her mom.  I expected I could be home by about noon (10
hours left in the SS).  Still had to deal with the car's transmission, and with
not having an antenna.  Guest op looked better and better.

I freed up some time for SS by doing the car Saturday night.  Got to bed at 1:30
AM, up at 5:30.  Drive two hours out and two hours back to drop off wife. 
Decided to try putting up an antenna.  Decided on a 3/2-wave dipole for 40
meters, fed with about 30 feet of RG-58 and 20 feet of window-pane open-wire: it
would fit between the trees; it was easy to make from the available pieces; it
might actually work; the trusty Millen Transmatch Junior would keep the
transmitter happy.  I got it up about 4 PM (thanks, daughter, for the help in
measuring the pieces of copperweld), set up the folding table, assembled the
rig, got the paper logs and dupe sheet and the pencils, and was QRV at 2150Z. 
Took a 45 minute break at 2315Z for dinner with my daughter, then operated to
the end.

When I started I was tired, dirty, and completely unprepared mentally.  I felt
like I had already operated the whole contest.  I was sending and logging almost
on instinct, and I had to work hard at things like "remember to log his
section".  I found myself copying the CW in my head, then trying to translate
from my head to the log while I was trying to copy the next part of the
exchange.  It took me a while to get into the ear-to-log mode.

With everybody else doing SO2R, I figured that, as fresh meat with only five
hours left, with any reaonable signal I should be able to call CQ.  It sort-of
worked on 20 and 40 and even on 80, where the former antenna was mostly a
worm-baker.  (On 15 I S&Ped up and down the band a couple of times, figuring
that there was no chance for an East Coaster witn no beam.)  I was surprised,
though, that CQing did not work better.  Some of the biggest guns did not find
me. (If WP3R had been a little sharper, he might have won by 104 QSOs instead of
only 103.)  Like some other op's, I noticed that the Q-guys were quite adept at
finding the new CQers, and that there would be little bursts of responses that
seemed to result from packet spots.  (Although I thought about it during some of
these bursts, I was not mentally coherent enough to notice how many A and B
stations were in them; see "tired", above.)

Getting called by K7ABV (MT) for QSO #5, and later by NP2B was cheering.  I
spent so much time on the higher bands that I began to worry about picking up
the Northeast multipliers.  Maybe they'll show up here on 40.... Ah!  Here's
W1SRD.  What?!?! SV?!?  Grrr.  Ah, now it's W1XE.  CO?!?!  What are you doing in
Colorado???  And there were many others. 2's in W5-land; 7's in W0-land; 3's in
VA; 4's in MD.  At least K1TN signed /5, cleverly avoiding confusion.  OTOH, it
does fit with SS's being the contest where you actually have to copy the

As always, nice to work old friends and all the regulars.  Even nicer to see the
several new calls.  And thanks to everybody who does a write-up for this
reflector or for the ARRL soapbox.  Reading them is as much fun as working the

So, a lot of outside stress, 4 hours of building to get four hours of SS CW,
physically and mentally exhausted, still have to take out the garbage and wash
the dishes, and get up for work at 4:30AM.  LET'S DO IT AGAIN!

73, Art K3KU

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