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Mon Feb 21 05:59:12 PST 2011

                    ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: K5ZD
Operator(s): KM3T
Station: K5ZD

Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 40.5
Radios: SO2R

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  160:   46    35
   80:  521    76
   40:  929    87
   20: 1208    91
   15:  822    86
   10:   84    52
Total: 3610   427  Total Score = 4,624,410

Club: Yankee Clipper Contest Club


Station: See http://k5zd.com
Equipment: 2xElecraft K3, Alpha 76A, Ameritron AL-1200, W5XD Keyer Box (SO2R)
Software: Win-Test 4.7

Thanks to Randy for opening the station to me.  It's been a while since my last
SOAB adventure and my first serious SOAB in ARRL CW - lots of fun!

First time using Win-Test in SO2R configuration - used it with Randy's W5XD box
and it "just worked."  Spent a couple hours Friday afternoon getting dialed in
to the Win-Test SO2R-specific keystrokes.  Just a basic, simple SO2R setup -
less moving parts = good.  We use Win-Test now and KC1XX and I've used it on
some DX trips - seriously industrial-grade contest software.  Very stable and
few surprises.

Biggest disappointment was my total off time - Friday night a bad thunderstorm
cell moved through and decided it best to disconnect all antennas - two
separate off times due to that and so lost around 35-40 minutes of prime run
time on 40.  The major part was self-induced Saturday night...went off for a
nap at 0100Z and my alarm (iPhone) was not switched off silent.  Whoops.  Used
to getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night and my body took over.  So was off from
0100-0800Z Sunday morning and missed many Qs and many mults on 40/80/160
combined.  Lesson learned.  Two alarms.  Loud ones.  I estimate I am down
around 600-700 Qs and 40-50 mults just due to off time, so it was costly.  I am
in the best physical shape I have ever been in and I thought that would help -
perhaps it helped in some other immeasurable way, but not with sleep.

Conditions seemed great - no idea what the solar flare this past week might
have done to conditions.  Moved a few mults - special thanks to NH2T (N2NL) who
called in on 40m Saturday morning and moved to 80 with me.  Tough one from here
unless conditions are right.   Also to 3B8/F6HMJ who moved from 15 to 20 -
thanks! And thanks to all the other DX who moved bands to help with mults -
MUCH appreciated.  10m was open skew path both days but on Sunday morning
Europe seemed to peak further south, almost SSE.  I hear 160m was great
Saturday night but I was only dreaming about it.  :-)  15m was pretty good but
no really deep openings and didn't snag a JA until Sunday night (skew path). 
20m was its normal self and 40/80m both were good.

I was happy with my SO2R performance.   Having only done it seriously a few
times, the learning curve is steep and there is a lot of relearning when you
only operate single-op sporadically, like I do.  Fortunately I have the
attention span and processing cycles to deal with it but there is a lot to
learn.  Learned a lot about myself, my personal limitations, what happens when
sleep deprivation starts kicking in, and mainly what kind of (ideal) run
frequency I need when SO2R-ing.  That greatly influenced my choice of run
frequency.  It's the same frequency everyone wants: the clear one with no
thumping and clicking.  The K3's are great - they can make a normally crappy
run frequency into a decent one.  Definitely a game-changer on CW.

Hats off to all the other SOAB guys who probably crushed me and to everyone
else on a fun weekend.  Hopefully see you again in another one.  And to all the
DX stations who get on for this contest: many thanks to you for increasing the
activity and providing the multipliers that make the game so exciting.

See you all in ARRL DX SSB.

Dave KM3T

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