[CQ-Contest] K4BAI SS CW Story

Bill Fisher - W4AN w4an at contesting.com
Wed Nov 5 12:33:10 EST 1997

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 10:20:33 -0800
From: John T. Laney, III <K4BAI at worldnet.att.net>
To: secc <secc at contesting.com>
Subject: ARRL SS CW

I haven't had a working amplifier for SS since 1991 and got a SB220 in
April so I was all set to run for second place high power in GA this
year.  I knew, absent a disaster of some kind, K7GM would easily take
first place GA high power from W4AN.  I hope Rick had a ball and placed
        I got things pretty much ready by Saturday afternoon.  Some
problem developed in my feedline system while I was in Philadelphia a
few weeks ago and there is a high SWR whenever coax and a switch (any
switch) is in the line.  I finally decided to just switch the antennas
from the MFJ tuner.  I put the tribander on the #1 position, which has a
position and put the dipole for 40 on #2 and the inverted vee for 80 on
#3.  The SWR has always been higher than I like on 15 CW, so I tuned the
#1 tuner position for 15 and operated straight through on 10 and 20. 
This meant slow band changes with having to position the amp and the
tuner each time I changed bands except between 10 and 20.  The pre-marks
seemed right on it, but I wasn't confident enough of it not to tweak the
amp most times.  The ant tuner clearly showed lack of SWR if I got the 3
knobs turned right.  This won't be a permanent solution, but I believe
it beat physically changing the coax feedlines like I used to do.  Of
course, it also beats changing plug in coils like I did for the first 12
years or so.  (It's a wonder I never electrocuted myself changing the
coils in the middle of the night.  I also had to short across the 2000
volt high voltage line to take the modulation transformer out of the
circuit in going from cw to am in those days.)
        About 30 minutes before the contest started, I heard thunder in
the distance.  I told Rick I was going to QRT, but the lightning never
got really close.  Remembering how slow it gets in the middle of the
night and at the end of the contest, I decided to start at 21Z anyway. 
Intended strategy was to start running on 20, do a quick check of 15 and
10 for rare mults and go to 40 to run before the skip got long.  A lot
of guys get tired or discouraged early on and it's better for them to
call you than the spend time searching and pouncing on the loud guys who
will still be there at the end.  At 2055, I heard VO500JC calling CQ SS
on 20 and called to tell him the contest hadn't started yet.  He was
operating from Signal Hill, where Marconi received the first
transatlantic radio signals.  At 21Z, I called him for his first QSO,
only to find that he didn't know the exchange (in spite of his CQ SS
earlier).  I had to talk him through it, which is easy on SSB, but is
difficult on CW.  Maybe it was worth it though, as I never heard him
again or any other NL mult for that matter.  After that, calling CQ on
20 brought only QRN, rain static, and unreadable stations.  I discovered
that the rain static was much better on 15 and not bad at all on 10. 
So, for what seemed like the next 4 hours, but must have been less, I
had to search and pounce on 15 and 10.  I did try some CQs, which were
semi-successful, especially on 10, but most of the calls were weak east
coast stations on backscatter or ground wave and I had a devil of a time
getting all their info through the QRN.  This morning's newspaper says
that a tornado funnel was spotted at Fort Benning at 4 PM and golf-ball
sized hail fell in Phenix City and Columbus from 4 to 4:30 PM.  All we
got at my house, thank goodness, was a lot of rain.  
        By the time I got to 20, it was quieter, but CQing produced no
results.  Search and pounce the loud stations and moved on to 40 with
only about 28 QSOs on 20.  Rate was still about 60 an hour for the first
few hours, but I had hoped for 75 to 80, which would have been
consistent with prior QRO years.
        40 and 80 did well through the night.  Skip was a little long on
40 by the time I got there, so that some close in stations were too weak
to work easily in this contest which really demands ability to copy
random information.  I don't remember ever running on 80 as well and as
early in the evening as in this contest.  Unfortunately, the QRN was
still there and some QRP and distant stations were uncopyable even after
I had given them my exchange.  A few called later, but a number were
lost due to the QRN.  The west coast stations were in early and strong
and many called me.  K6NA sounded like a local.
        I took off 3 hours and 50 minutes around 3:30 AM for sleep and a
shower.  (Sorry the shower isn't so close at W4AN, Rick.)  80 was still
good when I got up, but there were few answers to CQs.  Rate on 40 was
also slow for most of the AM until I tried 20 about 9 AM.  Rates picked
up again around 50/hr for a while.  Early afternoon brought the a real
slow down in callers and no new calls were heard on the high bands. 
Around 1:30 a 40 meter run was made.  The band sounded good and most
signals were strong, but there were few answers to CQs.  The rest of the
afternoon was spend mainly CQing on 20 and tuning in vain for new calls
to pounce on.  40 was fair in the late afternoon, but by then a rate of
40 an hour seemed good.  I finished up at 8:10 PM with an hour on 80,
which was good again, but higher rates were made by searching for the
guys coming on for a few hours of sprint-like contesting than from CQing
        As to mults, I missed VY1/VE8.  Sorry Jay had a problem (or
several problems) on top of his work QTH burning down just before the
contest. I didn't hear VY1JA or any other station in that mult.  I had
given up on the Mar section when VE9HC called me on 40 late Sunday
afternoon. The only other section where I worked only one station was
Alta.  VE6KG called me and I never heard him CQing.  Apparently Sask and
Que were also rare.  VE5SF (on 80), VX2AWR and VE2FFE called me and I 
caught VE5MX CQing on 15 late Sunday afternoon.  It was good to have
AG8L make the trip to activate WP2Z as well as AI6V in Hawaii.  But KP2L
and KH6ND were also active.  NP3GY was trying hard and Terry, NP3G
(ex-W5XJ) was a welcome contact after his recent move to PR.  KL7WP was
CQing on 20 and WL7SA called me on that band.  My last stateside mult
was SD, but W0SD had over 1000 QSOs by about 13Z, so it should have been
easy for all the guys searching and pouncing.  Probably not so easy was
NE.  Eventually I worked a lot of them, but never heard one calling CQ
and they sounded weak.  A lot of the sometimes rare sections, such as
MS, VT, ME, RI, DE, WV seemed really active this year.  All of the 7s
were easily worked and it isn't always the case.  (Speaking of WV, sorry
I lost K5IID's QRP signal to the QRN.  Maybe next time--from Barbados if
Tom isn't in Algeria at that time.)
        Apparent final score:  1121 x 78 = 174,876.  I haven't checked,
but this could be a record score for me since the new multipliers have
been added and I never could seem to sustain a rate high enough to go
much over this QSO total.
        Congrats to all who participated and to W4AN for making his
station available.  See you guys on SSB in two weeks, but I don't
promise an all-out effort.  I must get a DVK one of these days.  So far
these phone contests single op by me have been without one and I really
appreciated the one we used just to CQ on 20 from NQ4I in CQWW.  By the
way, I worked a JA station using a voice synthesizer to do it all
including the NQ4I part.  I hope we don't get to doing that except for
handicapped hams.  
                               73, John, K4BAI/8P9HT.

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