[CQ-Contest] W4AN CQWW CW Story (longish)

Bill Fisher - W4AN w4an at contesting.com
Sun Dec 5 09:32:08 EST 1999

A couple of guys asked that I write a little post contest summary from
this last weekend.  Here it goes

No new antennas this year except for a set of 4 phased beverages for 40
meters that I put up 2 days before the contest.  The 3 element yagi was
hearing much better, at least this weekend.  The rest of the station was
as follows

160M	Sloping  wave elevated GP fed against 3 radials.
80M	4-square with elevated radials.  About 8 to 10 per vertical.
40M	3 element full sized yagi
	2 element CapYagi.
20M	5 elements on a 48' boom at 60'
	5 elements on a 42' boom at 45'
	204BA fixed SE at 55'
15M	6 over 6 OWA yagi's at 70' over 35'.  Bottom fixed to EU.
	5 element on a 36' boom at 30'
	5 element on a 36' boom fixed SE at 27'
10M	8 over 8 on 48' booms fixed to EU
	5 over 5 on 24' booms at 50' over 25'
	7 element on a 34' boom at 125'
	7 element on a 34' boom at 37'
RX	14 beverages
Rigs	FT1000MP's X 2
Amps	Alpha 87A & Ameritron AL1500

First and foremost I slept 4 hours right before the contest.  This was a
big key to my success this weekend.  The other key was no QRN from
thunderstorms.  Not only will that fatigue me faster than anything else
while trying to do two radios, it also contributes to much higher UBN

I found a frequency on 40 meters 10 minutes before the start.  Worked a
few of the boys, and right as the contest started the frequency went to
hell.  I tried to find another, but was unsuccessful.  Since 10 meters
sounded so good, I figured I would CQ there while I looked for a frequency
on 40 meters.  This turned out to be a fair move, but definitely not what
I had in mind.  I quickly retreated from 10M to try 20M for a few minutes
and then finally settled in on 40 meters.  It's interesting to me to see
150 hours on 40 meters from KC1XX and K3LR and I couldn't even hold a

After the rough start, it was smooth sailing the rest of the contest.  The
first night I stayed on 40 meters Cqing for 12 straight hours.  It was
unbelievable.  What's even more interesting is that in the past the only
way I was able to stay with the NE boys was to be able run like mad at
European sunrise on 20 meters.  This was not to be the case this year.
There were signals, but none really loud.  In 1992 when I won from N4RJ,
the Russians were at least 20DB over S9 and I was even hearing S5 to S7
signals from Europe on 15 meters.  When I figured 20M wasn't going to work
out for me, I stayed on 40M until a few JA's started calling me while
still beaming Europe.  Soon after, I moved the 3 element yagi that
direction and started a 3 hour "run" of JA's.  I ended up working more
Asian's on 40 meters (187) than on any other band.

Saturday was the usual rate-fest.  20, 15, and 10 meters seemed to all
open at once.  I worked a few on 15 meters before moving quickly to 10
meters to stake out a frequency.  It's interesting to me to feel the ebb
and flow of the band in the morning. It is like dumping a pile of sand on
plate and then shifting the pan around a bit until the sand is all flat.
In the early morning there is lots of QRM and lots of guys (the good ones)
sending ? or QRL on only 5 seconds of silence.  Others, just find dumping
a CQ out to be their version of QRL.  One M/M station did this to me 5
different times during the weekend on different bands.  Anyway, after an
hour or so things settle out and one can negotiate a clear frequency.
When 10M starts to close to eastern Europe, then things get really easy.

There is really no secret to my success in this contest.  The more bands
that are open at once, the better my chances are of making up ground on
the NE advantage.  There is no way I can match their early opening rates.
All I can do is work the 2nd radio harder.  I never stopped working
stations on the 2nd radio.  I never just tune for mults or pileups.  I
slowly move the RX up the band working every new station I can find.  My
rate sheet really tells all.

At one point on Saturday, when my multiplier total was getting further and
further behind that of my pace from last year, I made a single radio sweep
up 10 meters.  I did work quite a few mults, but this was one of two times
during the weekend when I didn't CQ.  The rest of the weekend was spent
maximizing QSO's.  

Saturday afternoon when there was a choice between 10 through 40 meters, I
made the choice to gut it out on 10 meters and 15 meters to Japan.  My
thinking was that I had made 950 QSO's already on 40 meters the first day.
I figured this was probably more than most guys would make in 48 hours on
40.  I stayed on the high bands as long as I could working Asians.
Finally around 0200Z I moved to the low bands.  I mostly ignored 40 meters
except for multipliers.  I used one radio for the only other time during
the contest while I worked my through 80 and 160 meters picking up much
needed multipliers.  According to W8JI, I hit 160M at exactly the right
time.  He said it opened for about 60 minutes really well the entire
weekend and I just happened to be there when it happened.  My phased 1000'
beverages were key.  I was hearing MUCH better than they were hearing me.
The first day I worked one QSO on 160 meters, and by the end of the
contest I had matched my 31 countries from last year.  I was very pleased
to say the least.  

At 0500Z I went up to 20 meters and pointed the big 5 element north.  I
worked a few JA's, and Russian stations but no big rates.  Mostly it
allowed me to S&P 40 meters which had not been done until this time. 

Around 0700Z I went back to 40 meters to try to get the QSO's going again.
I stayed on 40 for the most part the rest of the night while working the
2nd radio on 20, 80, and 160 meters.  From 0700Z until 0900Z was the only
time during the weekend when I felt really tired.  I don't drink caffeine
as a rule, and when I slapped down a couple of Pepsi's, it got me going

I knew Sunday morning that I was **WAY** behind in multipliers and way
ahead in QSO's.  This was really good because it kept my motivation up for
using two radios all day Sunday.  Sunday morning was also the first time I
really thought I had a chance to win.  I figured I could do 4300 QSO's and
that would be enough to win if the mults were good enough.  So all day
Sunday I Cqed and tuned like crazy.  I was so focussed, that I didn't even
eat anything all day Sunday.  At the end of the contest I started scarfing
down food while listening to the scores on 3830.  

The end of the contest was not the normal exercise in futility.  I spent
the last two hours running on the low end of 40 meters and tuning the 2nd
radio.  The entire contest I passed every multiplier I could find to
whatever band they would go to.  The last two hours of the contest, this
really paid off big time in several guys moving from 40 to 80 or 20
meters.  In the last 15 minutes of the contest, VU2PAI called in for a
double multiplier and I found 3 separate double mults on 20 and 15 meters.  

The difference in the end seems to be the numbers to Japan, if you can
believe it.  I worked between 125 and 185 Asian stations on 10 through 40
meters.  Although the rates to Asia are generally much worse than to
Europe, it did allow me to stay off of bands I had already worked to death
(40 for the most part).   It also allowed me to S&P bands at times that I
would normally have to be Cqing on to get rate.  It also looks like 80 and
160 were bad, which is where I usually get clobbered (500 QSO's by W1KM
last year on 80M alone!).  

Many thanks to Phil, N6ZZ, for going to A61.  Phil was going to come and
operate for me because I was lacking motivation this year.  Thanks to K1DG
for giving me a kick in the pants to get motivated.  Thanks to K1AR, W1KM,
and K5ZD who have consistently trounced me over the past 10 years, but who
have always shared in their successes.  No secrets with these guys.  

See you from HC8N next year!



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