[CQ-Contest] KQ2M @ W3EA '98 WPX SSB (very long)

Robert L. Shohet kq2m at eci.com
Fri May 1 20:13:44 EDT 1998

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I had hoped to write this up about three weeks ago but work and travel
would not allow it.

Wayne W3EA had decided to set up his fine station for two radio single
op. with ICE Boxes, 'LPL Filters, Top-Ten Band Decoders etc.  He has
been a wonderful host to many M/M and M/S events over the past few years
but is now looking to do some operating himself now.

Since many of the antennas and rotators were in various states of trauma
and shock from the season's brutal ice storms, the WPX event was going
to prove interesting.

When I arrived on Thursday evening, Wayne was putting together decoders,
boxes, etc. trying to get them to work.  Naturally they did not, but
what was interesting was the "black magic" we encountered along the way.

First the band decoders would not operate.  Then the Ice Boxes would
switch in the manual position but not in the automatic problem.  Then
the Ice Boxes would show that they were on two bands at once.  Wayne
kept changing the wiring with different results, most of them bizarre,
but the best was yet to come....

When I attempted to tune up radio B (the left radio), the IC-765 started
to dim and make VERY strange noises.  The ICE Box got very upset too and
started to blink like a Christmas tree.  Hmmm....  We swapped a few
cables and tried again.  Same result.  Then we tried turning off the ICE
Box but it STILL had power! Uh oh...  We tried tuning one more time. 
Same bizarre result.  Ok, now Wayne and I thought, lets disconnect the
radio and try again.  

"Ok, Wayne, pull out the plug." 
"Bob the radio IS NOT plugged in!".  
"Wayne, What do you mean the radio is NOT plugged in, I am receiving and
transmitting with it!!"
"Bob the radio is NOT plugged in!!!!".

Yes, there you have it....  The radio was NOT plugged in but it was ON
and it WAS working!   Uh oh!!!!

We unplugged the radio, and the boxes (trying not to curse too loudly)
and called it a night.

Next morning the IC-765 would not work at all.  We checked the external
fuse, the internal fuse, etc. No Luck.  Dead Radio.

We put another radio in place and partially solve the ICE-BOX/Band
Decoder problem but it fails soon.  We fix the Band Decoder and try
again.  Ok....  But now the 15 meter beam is showing a 4:1 SWR.  We swap
a cable, no inprovement.  We swap another cable.  OK...

Now I set up CT on the computers and notice that computer 1 mumbles to
computer 2 but computer 2 can't talk to computer 1.  This goes on for
the next three hours with checking the ports on both computers, swapping
cables, chaging the COMTSR's, etc.  No luck, a total waste of time.

I run upstairs to take a quick shower and pass up dinner becuase there
is no time.  While in the shower I have an "AHA".  Actually more like an 
"OH S___!!!!".

I realized that Computer 1 (on radio 1) could send to Computer 2 ok, but
if I logged a qso on Computer 2 it would NOT show up on Computer 1.  To
make matters worse, the master.dta file was on computer 2 but NOT
computer 1.  Unfortunately computer 1 WOULD NOT read ANY diskettes so I
could not manually add it either!  UGH!!!

The worst part was realizing (15 seconds before the contest) that I was
logging on a computer that I could not retrieve the log from!!!! 
Computer 1 could not write to diskettes and could not read diskettes
either.  "OH S___!!!!!!"

(Wayne said later that if necessary he would have mailed the HARD DRIVE
to CQ just so they could get the .bin file.  Is he great or what?)

Ok, so now the contest starts and I am debating whether or not to just
get in my car and drive home I'm so frustrated and pissed off.
I start on 20 and wonder why the OH's are LOUD on 15 and weak on 20?  I
figure that I should be running JA (which I am not!) but instead I run
some EA's, lots of UA9/0 and a whole bunch of stateside but only at
about 100/hour.  Not a promising start.

Then I start wondering why I get answer's when I call CQ (with the DVP)
but not when I call QRZ? (with my voice).  This is puzzling me.  Then
K3ANS drops by and says that I am much louder when I call CQ verus
calling QRZ?  Huh???  This makes no sense!

Then I listen in the monitor and hear a LOUD carrier.  Yes, an
intermittent mic connection!  When I move the connector in a certain the
carrier goes away.  I tape it to the keyboard for radio 2, and the rate
goes up.

Unfortunately the signals start to get weaker and the QRM louder. 
Nothing new for a phone contest except that I am defenseless because the
radios have NO SSB filters!!!  I am stuck and must filter in my head.
UGH!!  This gets even worse when I go to 40 knowing that I am already
about 100 qso's behind after only 2 hours!

On 40, when I try to access the master.dta file to check a call that I
am hearing on radio 1, I have to type to type it in on keyboard 2 and
then re-type the correct call on keyoboard 1.  Twice as much work.

I hit 40 briefly and tune 80 on radio 2 but all I hear on radio 2 is a
loud "swishing noise".  Unless the signal is 40+ over 9 I can't make it
out through the swishing noise.  So much for 2 radios!

80 is great and I run split and work lots of EU but am missing all the
US/VE prefixes.  At 0230, an Ice Filter goes and I can't hear anything. 
It takes 15 minutes to disconnect and recable everything.  It is the
first of several "non-deductible" 15 minute off times.  80 keeps playing
and sigs from EU are LOUD with almost no noise but I continue to lose
ground to KE3Q (who Wayne corerctly suspects is at W3LPL).  I feel
better when I realize that I have just had my first ever 600 PT HOUR!!! 
100  Six point qso's in 60 minutes!!

80 keeps cranking until 0730 and I want to tune 20 & 40 but again there
is that darn swishing noise so no tuning possible.

At 0735 I take off time and go upstairs to eat some dinner (this was a
BIG mistake).  15 minutes later I am not feeling so good having got
about 6 hours of sleep in the previous two nights and then eating

I go up to sleep and can't sleep.  I start hearing my heart pound like a
sledgehammer.  Still can't sleep.  Then I start hearing two heartbeats
or is that three?  I can't tell!!  I feel erratic throbbing of my chest
and I can't get a pulse.  What's happening here?  I keep checking my
pulse and can't tell which is my heart beat and which are some kind of
muscle spasming.  I wonder if I am going to have a heart attack as the
multiple erratic heart beats approach 300/minute!!!?  I am not out of
breath and am not dizzy or in pain so what in blazes is happening to

Clearly sleep is out of the question, so I go downstairs and spend the
next 20 minutes (at 3:30 AM) walking around outside trying to calm
myself down and wonder should I wake up Wayne, go to the hospital, what
should I do??

About 4 AM things start to return to normal (I don't know why) and
because 20 will start to open soon, I decide to stay up even though I am
exhausted and shaken up.

20 opens and it is off to the races although it is FRUSTRATING trying to
hear guys through the crud with no way to filter them.  I notice that I
have passed KE3Q but realize that I have probably operated two or three
hours longer.

Around 1200Z 20 opens real well to JA/EU and SE ASIA.  All sorts of
interesting stuff like BV7FF, 9V1VC, BA4TB, VK8AAC, YB0BAQ, 9M6AAC, etc.
and I decide to stay on 20 for the mults even though 15 is WIDE open.
Suddenly they get real weak and when I look over to the 20 stack, I
notice that the middle antenna is pointed at 120 degrees.  Huh??  I turn
it back to 0 degrees.  AGAIN it moves down to 120!  Finally I decide to
operate with my left hand holding DOWN the rotator control so that it
STAYS at 0.  This works for a time until the wind gets too strong and
turns it to 120 anyway. (This will be the way I spend a lot of the
weekend operating!)  I realize that this is a losing cause so I decide
to listen to 15 on radio 2.  All I hear is a lot of swishing.  15 must
be open by now right?  So I qsy to 15 with radio 1 and only NOW do I
realize why I had the swishing sound.  We have a bad cable.  Another 15
min. of prime-time is lost to recable.  Then off to the races....  15
apparently has decided to open to SE ASIA!!!  HS0/VK3DXI calls in
followed by 9V1ZB, DU3RCM, HS1PGS and 2 VU2's WOW!!  I stay on 15 (10 is
not doing much) until real late 1945z and then qsy to 20.

The run is good but the JA's are too weak to copy through the crud.  At
2245z I qsy to 15 and HOPE for a JA run - anything to get away from 20.

15 blesses me with a brief but productive JA run and lots of prefixes
whereupon I quickly go to 20 and then 40 with a decent but short run.
I take brief off time (still NO sleep since Friday 5 AM) and then go to
80 which is HOT.  I spend the next few hours jumping between 20, 40 & 80
and taking short off-times.

At 0545z it looks like 20 wants to open to EU, in fact it DOES for the
W4's but not for me.  I can hear them skew path but can't work them so I
crash for a few hours.

At 10Z I hit 80 for a few mults (I have missed SO MUCH US), try 40
quickly and then move up to 20 where a loud HA/I0YR destroys my EU run
for the next hour before Eu fades and the JA's and SE Asia get loud.
I am monitoring 15 which is trying to open but just can't make it, so I
stay on 20.  There is a pileup of weak JA's calling me but I just can't
dig them out through the unfiltered crud.  Very frustrating indeed since
most would be new mults!  The run gets interesting though as YB1XUR,
XU2A, many HL's, JT1FCO, DU1AK, N2NL/KH2 and other call in.  Then I qsy
to 15 where I run like mad until the band folds (not very long!). 
Before the band dies though I pick up AT0PTT, HS5AC, XUF2B, YES that IS
the correct call!!, OD5NJ, HS0/G4UAV, YB1XUR and a STAGGERING number of

I take some more UNINTENTIONAL when the connector for the DVP dies.  In
desperation and in the middle of a good run, I swap cables like a nut
and successfully find a formula that works.  NOW when I want to CQ, I
use the keyboard of computer 2 to cq with the DVP on radio 1.  Got that?
When I want to talk myself, then I use keyboard 1 only.  

Joe, N3MKZ stops by and keeps me company for a few hours.  He is welcome
company as I have someone to talk to while I operate.

Now it looks like 10 wants to open so I start taking off-time in one
hour intervals and hit 10 hard with great results.  Since I was not able
to tune on 10 (with radio 2) while I was on 15 and 20, everything on 10
is NEW and most are mults!  This is just the psychological boost that I

I spend the last few hours cqing on 15, working guys on 10 on radio 2
and then spend the last few minutes cqing on a clear frequency on 20,
passing up the LOUD 40 meter Eu.  The gamble works I think as I pick up
a lot of strange mults on 20 including a JM4, HS7, 7M1, JG2, XQ5, JI8,
NL8 and a VE0!!  I haven't heard a VE0 for about 15 years!

The final numbers were 2,964 x 880 for 7,656,000.  As usual, I had to
resist the temptation to turn the bean West and work 0 point W's (even
thought they were mults) in favor of weak Asian's on 20 and Eu's through
the crud on 40.

All in all, it was a very exhilirating, scary, frustrating and exciting
weekend.  The one advantage of operating a lot of contests over several
cycles is that after 20+ years you have seen it all before, or so I
thought before THIS weekend.

I have NEVER seen a radio operate WITHOUT being plugged in!  I have
never had two (or three?) heartbeats before, and I never felt better
about a contest operation than I did about this one.

A very special thanks to Wayne W3EA, Leanore and the family for sharing
their home and hospitality with me, and thanks to everyone who worked me
and wished me well.

CU at Dayton and in WPXCW!

Bob KQ2M

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                  CQ WORLD WIDE PREFIX CONTEST -- 1998

      Call: KQ2M                     Country:  United States
      Mode: SSB                      Category: Single Operator


      160        1        4   4.0        0
       80      419     1696   4.0      148
       40      128      726   5.7       48
       20     1011     2488   2.5      406
       15     1310     3510   2.7      233
       10       95      276   2.9       45

     Totals   2964     8700   2.9      880  =   7,656,000

All reports sent were 59(9), unless otherwise noted.

Equipment Description:

Club Affiliation: Frankford Radio Club

This is to certify that in this contest I have operated
my transmitter within the limitations of my license and have
observed fully the rules and regulations of the contest.

                             Signature _________________________________


               Robert L. Shohet  KQ2M
               51 Scudder Road
               Newtown, CT 06470 

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