WR3O SS Story

WR3O at music-city.tdec.state.tn.us WR3O at music-city.tdec.state.tn.us
Mon Nov 4 14:51:06 EST 1996

The newbie bares his soul for your reading pleasure(?), once again.

My second try at Sweepstakes (first time was last year.)

Man.  What a contest.  I'm now into my third year of this crazy
sport called Radio Contesting.  And crazy is how I felt at times
in this years SS.  This was the first time I was ever actually
'challenged' by anyone besides myself.  Scott KY2P called 6 months ago
to introduce himself and to let me know that he would be going for the 
Tennessee Title in High Power SS.  (We all know that N4ZZ will win 
whatever category he chooses, and he's been choosing Low Power lately...)  
Then a few other TN Contest Group guys started making noises about how I wouldn't have it so easy this year.  So, I decided I was not going to go 
down without a fight, and give it the best I had.  Scott did wind up 
beating me, but not by too terrible a margin.

I've been practicing my CW a lot, as that seemed to be my weakest area 
in the operator realm. It's definately improving w/ practice.  I've tried 
to operate as much as possible, not just in contests.  I put up a second
40 meter dipole, as that was the 'money' band last year.  Tweaked the
station / antennas / software as much as I could.  Reviewed last year's
efforts and tried to identify areas of improvement (plenty!)

Well, the main thing I got out of this year's contest was how much of
a mental game it is.  I swung the full gamut of emotions from "why am I
doing this? - I hate this stupid sport - I'm a loser - I'll never operate
another stupid contest again" all the way to "wow, what an amazing human
challenge this is! - what a great bunch of maniacs - what a great way to
find out what I'm really made of, etc."  I'm glad I didn't give up.
In fact, I guess that was the lesson from this year's SS -- NEVER GIVE UP.
The emotions were so intense that I think I'll be 'processing' this contest
for quite a while.

I set a goal of 1000 Q's and a sweep.  I didn't make the sweep, but I
did make the 1000 Q's.  I got duped so many times that I was really 
worried that I wouldn't have 1000 *valid* Q's when it was all over, but
I did clear it by a comfortable margin.  See the 3830 reflector for the
score.  I don't dare post a score on CQ-CONTEST after the flames I got
last time I did that.

As for the contest conditions, they were quite different from last year.
Forty meters was quite lame, neither antenna produced rate, and Eighty
meters was the 'money' band this year.  I guess 40 went 'long' (if I
understand that term correctly) early for us in middle TN this year.
Fortunately the QRN level was nice & low on 80, and I was able to work 
a bunch of QRP stations, from coast to coast.  My 500 watts and 1/2 sloper
on 80 felt loud, as I was able to run pretty much anytime after sunset.
Last year I only missed NWT, and this year I worked TWO of 'em!  K0EJ said
K8HVT/KP2 was a beacon on 15 in TN, but I didn't find him during my
brief foray into that band.  Missed Wayne in WY as well.  Heard the pile-up
but couldn't find Wayne.  Didn't occur to me he might be split.  Too bad
because I think I would have made it through the pile if I'd found him.
Took the last hour off and spent it observing the K1ZX team and VE3EJ
tearing it up on 7032, about a kc apart.  Nice to be able to watch two
great ops without having to touch the dial.  Is getting near to someone
working a good rate a type of strategy?  Hmmm.  Or maybe they both just
knew where to be.  Probably both.

I finished the contest on 80, my best band.  Crossing the 1000 Q mark was
exhilarating, although I was worried about all those dupes.  Reading all
the "work dupes / don't work 'em" discussion here made me go ahead and work
them; but on second thought I'm not sure it's a good idea in SS.  Maybe in
CQWW, but in SS the exchange is so long that it could actually hurt one's
score.  The up side is that it artificially inflates your serial # for the
competition to worry about. :-)   May not work the dupes in next year's SS.

Oh yeah.  I guess I'll do it again next year.  NEVER GIVE UP!

Thanks for the QSO's everyone.   73,  Kirk  WR3O

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