[CQ-Contest] Some SS musings

David L. Thompson thompson at mindspring.com
Thu Nov 20 22:38:27 EST 1997

I looked at the claimed scores that K4ZAM provides for us and guess what?
Little has changed over the years especially on SSB (phone for the OT's)or
has it.

When I started the CW winners could come from almost anywhere but W4KFC,
W9IOP, W3BES (W3GM), W3EIS (N4IN) all did well because on CW much of the
activity was on 80 and 40 so if you were within reach of The east coast and
mid-west then you made the top 10.  Those in W5, 0, 6, and 7 had to wait for
the phone weekends (yes there were 2 with 73 hours and you picked 40).

Phone winners came from W5, 6, or 7 usually because most Q's were on 15 or
20 (unless 10 was open) and we could sit a freq and work for hours.  In the
morming I worked W1, 2,3, ve3, and some w4, w8, and w9.  Point the beam and
leave it.  After lunch a few W0 and central canada poked in then in the
afternoon you worked west.  Then you went to 20 and somehat repeated the
cycle.  Later you made a few Q's on 40 and 75 just to fill in the mults.
The first real phone breakthru was Don Merten K2AAA (Mr. Eldico for the
OT's.  He operated SSB exclusively (1957) and made 1200 Q's even the CW gang
started to murmur....No he did not win as he ran HP and that 1.5 mult killed
Don..but 1200 Q's wow!  By 1960 all of us had SSB so the balance of power
stayed in the SW and West.

Several of us found a way to make 1K Q's in 24 hours using SSB.  I told
W1NJM at ARRL that within 3 or 4 years 2K Q's were possible. The next year
three of us inched very close to 300K with W5WZQ (W5UN) on CW edging out two
SSB score's by a slight margin.  K6EVR and I passed 1300 Q's.  Ron and I
sensed panic at ARRL...big phone scores and scores reaching to 300K.  Guess
what? The SS was cut to one weeknd per mode and it was 24 straight hours
(later moved to the current format of picking the right 24 hours).  Now no
one would break 300K and the advantage would go back to CW.  Boy was that
ever wrong.  

Now many years later the top phone scores come from W5, 6, 7 and now the
West Indies.  The main changes I see is SSB is now a long sprint and the ops
are older.  Most of us were high school, college or young 20's when I
started with a sprinkling of older ops.  Now when CK 57 to 59 are the most
common we need to seek out young blood.  The college clubs were a fertile
ground for ops (glad to see that is coming back).  Another major change is
most of the ops in the 50's came out of traffic handling and we saw SS as a
great training ground.  

To those who work real hard in W4 or W1 and can't seem to break thru..its
always been that way.  The contestant in Nort Carolina or Mass can do well
in the Dx Tests, but the SS follows the rule "go west young op".

The idea of inviting the young op (or new op no matter what age) is great.
With the merger of computers, logging, and the actual radio itself we no
longer have the excuse that new comers see ham radio contesting as old
technology.  I am mostly SSB, but the scouts I had over for JOTA all wanted
to hear CW.  That shoots another theory full of holes!  Maybe we don't elmer
the way our elmers did...if not get busy!!!  Where are W5IHP and W5KC
today....fill in your own elmers...W3BES (W3GM) and W3EIS (N4IN) were
certainly elmers...as were those college professors 30+ years ago... 

SS is an ideal place to train (don't be surprised if the new op does better
than you, to).  

Has the SS changed...you bet it has and for the better.  Congats to all the
clean sweeps, too those who improved their score, and of course to the winners.

73, Dave K4JRB    

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