SS CW WX0B(AD5Q) Single Op HP
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Wed Nov 11 15:30:16 EST 2015
ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW
Class: Single Op HP
Operating Time (hrs): 24
Total: 1243 Sections = 83 Total Score = 206,338
Club: DFW Contest Group
The SS is a major contest, but it is also the first of the fall contest season.
If there have been a lot of changes to the station, this is the contest where
we find all the bugs. Just ask Billy (K5GA).
Much of the lightning damage from the spring is fixed, but there was talk of
substituting a different radio for the Icom 781 run rig. This impacted my LUA
scripting in a major way, as did all the new functionality I've added. Most of
my preparation for this season involved testing all this. As for the new radio
itself, it was another K3. No sweat. We've used one as the pounce rig for a few
years already, and I thought I knew it's logic.
On CW, every radio has a sweet spot - a frequency offset on the RIT where
stations actually answer you. It's the center of the bandwidth that you sweep
during a run, and where you set it while S&P. On the 781 it was a wide
spread at minus 350Hz, but it was never a problem because we always left it set
there. On the new radio this offset was almost as wide, but something was
sporadically turning the RIT off. These two minor details conspired to create
an actual problem, especially since I started the contest not knowing about
either. On the pounce K3, this offset was zero and I typically worked nearly
all pileups with the RIT off.
So at the start of the SS, I crashed and burned. I had an excellent run
frequency at 21027, but after 12 minutes I had only logged 5 contacts and 4 of
them were pounce Q's on 10. NOBODY was calling me on 15. I swept the RIT to
both sides and couldn't find my pileup (didn't sweep wide enough). So I
switched to running on the pounce rig for a while to get my rate up, first on
10, and then on 15. This worked, but 2nd radio Q's were awkward as I've become
very used to the run rig being on my left. After running on 15 for a half hour,
I moved the run rig to 20 and tuned in K2QMF, who was running. I danced around
his frequency and called several times until he finally answered on a wide
offset. I made two more pounce Q's with this offset (including Randy), then
started running on 20 in the 2nd hour. My first hour was only 59 contacts, and
I knew I would never make that up.
The rate on 20 was good, so I stayed there and never went back to 15. That
might have been a bad call, and I probably lost some further ground. At this
point it didn't really matter, as I mostly focused on maintaining a competitive
rate for the rest of the contest and detecting the quirks in my LUA. Most were
fixed during breaks, so I'm ready for CQWW.
But the RIT issue kept recurring because something was turning it off. At first
I thought is was my scripting, even though the few places where I turned the RIT
off shouldn't have effected the run rig. Or maybe WinTest was doing this. Next,
I thought it was the radio - like the way it remembers that I use the RX
antennas on 80 & 160 and don't need to set it each time. Yeah, the RIT must
be set for each band too. I thought I had it ON for all bands after I had been
to them all, so everything was back to normal. Wrong again. The K3 turns off
the RIT on every band change, or at least this one does. So I got bit a couple
more times. You guys that own K3's are probably ROTFL reading this. It gets
better for you:
I unknowingly stomped on some people. After a band change on Sunday morning I
again noticed that nobody was answering my CQ's and the RIT was off. I tuned to
the offset frequency, found Ralph (N5RZ) cussing at me, and apologized. The
frequency I was listening on was still clear, so I moved there and started
running. During my next break I enhanced my band changing script (which pulses
the automatic amps) to also turn the RIT on and set the offset - always.
Problem is solved - for good.
I am surprised that my score isn't lower in the 3830 postings. I spent the
contest trying to catch up with my score from last year, which was at all times
on my screen. I succeeded, but also knew that everyone else was beating their
2014 scores. NR5M was 50 Q's ahead of his 2014 score (also on my screen) when
we worked, while at the same time I was 50 behind. I worked both NT's late in
the contest on a 20M run. The VY1 was weak.
But this result is bittersweet. I am deeply disturbed about any QRM that
impacted other contesters, and don't know who they are. I always strive to keep
it clean, especially in DX pileups.
Roy -- AD5Q
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