[CQ-Contest] K7RAT ARRL CW - story (VERY long)

David Jones kk7gw at wa.freei.net
Sat Feb 27 20:18:39 EST 1999

What a weekend, what an adventure!

It all started on January 22, when out of the blue I 
got an email from Tree, N6TR.  I had met Tree only a 
couple times before, first at the Northwest DX 
convention last summer, and then again just before the 
start of CQ WW CW when he stopped by W7RM's.  Having 
talked with him for the day at the DX convention, I 
liked Tree, and had (still have) enormous respect for 
him.  I had talked with him over e-mail and of course 
worked him countless times in various contests as well, 
but imagine my surprise upon reading the message that 
he wanted me to come down and help do a M/2 at his 
place with him and Mike K7NT!

My antennas at home do okay domestically, but 2 low 
dipoles just don't cut it for DX contesting, so I was 
all for it!  However, being just under 16, I can't just 
say yes and go.  So for the next few days I discussed 
it with my parents, and finally they decided I could 
go.  Coordinating over e-mail with Tree and Mike, we 
started to get everything rolling.  

Finally the big day came.  My mom drove me (along with 
my younger siblings...) to the airport, and I then 
proceeded to sit in the terminal waiting to board for 
an hour.  2 pleasant surprises, there was actually 
parking available in the Sea-Tac parking garage, and 
the Alaska Airlines Instant Travel thing worked really 
well, I had my boarding pass in less then a minute, and 
since I was just carrying on stuff, I could go right to 
the gate.

Of course, then we had to entertain my 12 year old 
brother and 7 year old sister at the gate for an 
hour...that was fun.  Finally, my plane started 
boarding, and I was off on my adventure.  Just a quick 
side note, I hadn't flown in years, and I'd forgotten 
how much I love it, even if it was just a 30 minute 
flight each way!

Mike picked me up at the Portland airport, and we 
killed a couple hours around the general Portland area. 
 Then it was off to the Tree House.
Pulling up I could see the 3 towers, and wow, what a 
sight!  There was also Tree's new 5 el 20 sitting on 
the ground, and it is amazing how BIG antennas appear 
when they are actually on the ground, or conversely, 
how small they seem up on the tower.

After the initial pleasantries, we spent some time 
getting the 5 el 20 onto the tower.  With very little 
tower and beam experience, I just sorta followed 
directions and tried to keep out of the way.  
Eventually we got it up at 85 feet, just beneath the 2 
element 40.  At that time, it was around 2300z, and 
time to head to the shack.  

Tree has a very nice station setup, complete with 2 
radio mixing and recording functions.  We had to do a 
little tinkering to make 2 completely separate 
stations, but it was very easy, just had to move a 
couple of the rotor control boxes and adjust the 
switches that led to the two amps.
After the big flare impacts we had written off 10 for 
the first afternoon, and so while Mike got everything 
on the second station ready, I grabbed a frequency and 
starting calling CQ DX on 15.  I managed to work quite 
a few people, and had a nice little pileup to Asia in 
the minutes leading up to the start.

Finally 0000z rolled around, and off we went with me 
running on 15 to Asia, and Mike running on 20 pointed 
to between EU and JA.  First station in the log was 
JA2JIL/QRP.  I remember this one in particular because 
I had a few stations calling right at the start, but 
all zero-beat on each other, and the /QRP sorta just 
popped out at the end.  I basically just ran JA JA JA, 
while Mike managed to pick up lots of EU mults, 
including EL and GJ.  We ended the first hour with 175 
X 35.

The 0100z was more of the same, including a cool FY 
mult on 15 that called me.  I finally broke off the run 
on 15 at 0140z, and both stations went to S&P mode for 
a bit.  At 0156z the 20m station worked HC8N, with the 
note "HC8N says 'zwah'", hihi.  Around 0200z we moved 
station 1 from 15 to 20 and started running JA there, 
and moved station 2 from 20 to 40 to S&P EU.  Lots and 
lots of JA's go into the log on 20 during the 0200z 
hour, while the 40m station worked several mults.

The 0300z hour was even more of the same, lots of 
UA9/JA on 20 with the occasional deep EU and lots of EU 
on 40.  Then we switched a station to 80 around 0400z 
and found the EU opening!  Put 14 q's and 11 mults into 
the log on 80 during the 0400z hour, S&P'ing on both 
stations on 80/40.  Most of the time leading to EU 
sunrise was spent with one station S&P'ing on 80/160, 
and the other station running EU on 40.

Then came the doldrums.  Between 0800z and 1300z we 
made only 88 q's.  JA's on 40 were weak, and we simply 
could not get a run going.  Not only that, but when we 
called JA's, we were getting beaten out by the east 
coast!  Things were so bad that we went and checked WWV 
at 1018z, and to our surprise, the numbers weren't very 
bad - SFI 164, A 32, K 0.  No flutter on JA's, but they 
were just weak!  At this point we felt that it wasn't 
worth being exhausted for the next day, Mike and I took 
turns sleeping for a couple hours and only ran 1 

Mike worked 20+ JA's on 80 in the 1200z hour, along 
with a quick bounce to 160 to pick up the JA mult.  At 
1300z Mike was actually able to get a JA run going on 
40, and picked up 30 or so q's in both the 1300 and 
1400z hours.  At that point, Tree and I had both 
awakened, and as Mike was rolling on 40 (sort of 
anyway) I went back to sleep for a couple hours while 
Tree took the second station.

Highlights in this area including working HZ1AB on 20 
at 14:43z, followed by having him call us on 40 a half 
hour later!  Mike remarked later that the LP opening to 
EU that morning was the loudest he's heard it in a 
while, if ever.  A note at 1544z says that HA8FM was 20 
over 9 on 40m.
At 1600z the stations moved to 20 and 15, where the EU 
opening was just beginning.  After a sweep up the band 
picking up all the stuff available, the 15m op then 
started one heck of a run.  I think Tree started this 
one, then Mike took over.  

Tree woke me up about 1630z, and I ambled to the 
radios.  Mike had a terrific pileup on 15, so I bounced 
between 20 and 10 picking up Europeans.  The 1600z hour 
had a total of 136 q's, with 96 of those on 15.  The 
next hour was even better, with 15 rolling along to a 
101 hour.
The EU opening continued, just absolutely fantastic.  
When it finally died down around 2000z we were at 1346 
X 272.  

Then came the JA's.  I was back on the 15m station, and 
the JA's started to roll in around 2130z.  Not heavily, 
but steadily on both 15 and 10.  We ended day 1 with 
1557 X 291, for around 1.35 million.  I hadn't thought 
we would be cooking like that, I was hoping just for 2 
million overall.

Day 2 started much like day 1, with lots of Asia on 15 
and 20.  As it got later, I shifted to 20 and Mike 
shifted down to 40 to start the EU run.  A pleasant 
surprise at 0324z was having 4K9W call in on 20 for a 
nice mult.  I worked many UN stations at Tree's, but I 
still don't have one from home with my call!  A mix of 
JA's and over the pole stuff was worked on 20 as Mike 
picked up the EU stations on 40.  20 started to die 
near the end of the 0400z hour just as 40 was beginning 
to rock.  

I had never run 40m EU before, so Mike let me take over 
the 40m station to experience it.  Wow!
The feeling you get from digging all those weak, 
fluttery signals out of the noise is really hard to 
express in words.  I had a great few hours on 40 
running all the EU stations.
Things started to die out around 0700z, although EL2WW 
called in for the mult at 0713z.

Something to stop and note.  I forget what time it was, 
I think probably like 0430 or 0500 or so, Tree came 
across a couple VE6's running EU stations like crazy.  
I read in VE6JY's writeup that they had prop to EU late 
late late into the night.  I personally can't wait 
until we get that down here, probably if not late this 
year then next year.

Mike and Tree both went to sleep, and I was left the 
lone op, I think around 0730z.  Things were slow on 40, 
so I did a bit on 80 and 160 as well, and picked up a 
few stations.  In contrast to the first night, the JA's 
started to come in nicely at their sunset, but there 
just was not that many of them.  Picked up KL7Y on 160 
just after 0900z, would have been embarrassing not to 
have KL on 160!

The JA's were there steadily, but with no real volume, 
and things really slowed down in the 1000z hour.  We 
cracked the 2 million mark at 1108z, slowly but surely 
we picked up the q's.
I went to bed around then, and Mike took over the 
steady stream of JA's on 40.  I woke back up with 
sunrise fast approaching and took a last look at 160.  
Lo and behold, a nice loud BD4ED!  Picked up that mult, 
but that was about the only thing heard, and the only 
new station worked.

While Mike struggled to pick up the remaining 40m 
opening, I went up to 20 and immediately started to run 
EU again.  The 20m run op would not break off the run 
for over an hour and a half.  Just before 1600z Mike 
took 20 while I went up to 15.  15 was hopping from the 
start, with 2 mults, OD and JY, going into the log back 
to back, followed quickly by GJ.  I finally found a 
spot to run, and was rewarded with the GW mult almost 

The 16 and 17z hours were amazing, with rates of 87 and 
96 respectively on 15 alone.  I had never run EU like 
that before.  The pileup got so deep at one point that 
all I could get was the number 5.  I kept sending 5? 5? 
and the pile would keep calling.  Finally I was able to 
pick out a couple calls, and work through the pileup, 
but that was the deepest pileup I have ever had to run. 
 Mike went up to 10 and picked off some of the EU mults 
we still needed and managed to really help the score.

Things slowed down after 1900z, and we just sorta 
bounced around, picking up anyone we hadn't worked.  
Around 2100 or 2130z, all the spots started to come in 
for the Carib/SA guys that just popped up.  Stuff like 
CP, YN, HR, all kinds of stuff.  This is where our 
(relatively) weaker signal started to show.  It was 
almost impossible to break through the east coast wall 
of stations on these guys!  Out of the 6 or 7 mults 
that were spotted, I only managed to get 1, K7DBV/HR3.

As the final bell rang, we knew we had done good.  
Personally, I was extremely happy about 3+ million.
So...let's do the numbers:

   BAND   Raw QSOs   Valid QSOs   Points   Countries   

  160CW       24          24         72        17 
   80CW      100         100        300        35 
   40CW      598         577       1698        80 
   20CW      719         702       2082        81 
   15CW     1163        1113       3324        97 
   10CW      295         292        864        68 

 Totals     2899        2808       8340       378 

    Final Score = 3152520 points.  (roughly)

Antennas: (that we used anyway)

10 - 5 element at 95', 5 element fixed to Carib/SA.
15 - 5 element at 80'
20 - 4 element at 72', 5 element at 85' (put up just 
before the contest, on different tower)
40 - 2 element at 90'
80 - Vertical
160- Vertical and dipole

  160CW       24          24         72        17 

On 160 we did okay.  Conditions did not seem super, and 
there didn't seem to be the kind of activity in the 
pacific that I had seen during WW CW at W7RM.  It was 
nice to pick up BD4ED at sunrise Sunday though.

   80CW      100         100        300        35 

It looks like we could have done much better on 80.  
Not having both stations running during the nighttimes 
probably hurt, as the main station pretty much stayed 
on 40.  However, considering the number of operators, 
keeping the main station on 40 probably helped the 
score more then digging on 80 would have.

   40CW      598         577       1698        80 

Comparing rough numbers with AD6DO (who was at 
W6BA/RW), it looks like we got beaten up on 40.
JA just didn't seem there the first night, and was only 
a trickle the second night, so we probably lost quite a 
bit there.  I think we did pretty well to EU, but man, 
when W1's beat you out to JA's, you're in trouble.

   20CW      719         702       2082        81 

I think we did well here.  It was evident that most of 
the EU stations were up on 10 and 15, so 20 didn't see 
as much action as the openings would suggest.  20 
opened before sunrise and stayed open quite late both 
days.  The runs were great after everyone moved down 
from 15.

   15CW     1163        1113       3324        97 

Wow!  The runs to both EU and JA were fantastic, and 
the openings were great!  Could have hit DXCC if I'd 
managed to bust the piles on the SA guys in the last 
couple hours.

   10CW      295         292        864        68 

Well...we tried.  The openings didn't seem anywhere 
near what we had during WW CW.  Not getting a JA 
opening at the start on 10 killed the chances of a huge 
score on 10, and 10 never seemed to quite REALLY open, 
to the point that we could run the QRP EU guys.

Assorted comments:

I had a ball!  Many many many thanks to Tree and his 
family for putting up with me, and many thanks to Mike 
for driving me to/from the airport.  I think my 
operating skills are really getting better, all the 
time with 100W and low dipoles is starting to pay off!  
Hopefully I can get some sort of tribander up this 

Activity seemed to be lower then in WW CW, especially 
in Africa and in the Pacific.  Congrats on all the 
outstanding scores out there!

This probably is longer then I intended, but it's done. 
 Thanks for reading this far, and see you all in the 
next one!


David Jones, KK7GW
kk7gw at wa.freei.net

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