[CQ-Contest] N5TJ CW Sprint Experience: LP + Bad Antenna

Jeffrey Steinman steinman at nortelnetworks.com
Sun Feb 11 15:03:47 EST 2001

Congrats to N6TR for pushing the envelope to just shy of 400 Qs and breaking
my record. Wish I could have been there with him, running QRO + 2 radios +
real antennas. But the recent antenna damage to K5MR left me without a
*real* station to operate from. So I decided to try something a little

No doubt the CW Sprint is one of my favorite contests over the last 20
years. I have operated it from a number of locations, high/low power, 1
radio / 2 radios, and with antennas ranging from tri-banders to phased
yagis. But I never thought I would spend a full 4 hours in a Sprint running
100W and an attic dipole. My current home situation finds me with just such
an antenna, Alpha Delta 10-40M dipole strung in the rafters of our 2 story

Saturday afternoon, 22 GMT
Figure I'll make a few Q's in the Sprint tonight with the FT100 and 10-40M
dipole in the attic. SWR is okay on 20 but high on 40, and the little FT100
doesn't put out much power. So I figure I might as well drag the 1000MP out
of the closet so I can at least use the internal tuner to get 100W on 40,
and see if I can get anything out on 80M. As long as I'm at it I might as
well drag out a keying interface and run TR ... don't bother with the COM
port for frequency info.

23 GMT
XYL and daughter are hungry - I make a pizza run

23:50 GMT
Some RF feedback in the headphones but keying interface seems to be okay, no
RFI problems there. I get 579-599 reports on 20M from the big boys - they
are 30-40 dB over S9! Going to be a long night of frustration, I assume -
might be lucky to hit 175 Qs.

00 GMT
Start on 40 as I figure 20 will be a zoo. 13 Qs in 10 minutes, not bad.
Surprised to work N6MJ so early on 40.

Wow, 45 Qs in the log so far. I get beat out a lot but guys are answering my
CQs on 20. Band is pretty short, a number of Colorado stations in the log.
Nice to catch IA and UT, too.

Still "rocking and rolling". An 84 first hour. But it is getting harder to
find new people to work and no one on 40 yet. Surprised to work K3LR/5 on
scatter for OK. Hear KL2A/5 working KL7Y and getting #1 - amazing no one
else calls KL7Y and I get #2! Also put ZF2NT, W7ZRC (ID) and VE6EX in the

At 123 Qs now and decide to hit 40 as 20 has been really slow. But it has
been short, too, with KS and NM loud and in the log. N5RZ and K5GN are
worked on scatter, RZ struggles with my QSO # (he is the GATOR, of course!)
and GN gets the whole exchange. Also pick up DE, NV and ME. And a weak J38A
calls me. So weak that I ask if he is calling me, cuz' I must be really weak
there, too!

Rate picks up on 40 as I am fresh meat. Find WB0O (ND) and W4OC (SC) for new
ones. At the halfway point I have 157 Q's, well above what I expected, but I
know the last half will be tough as my antenna is non resonant on 80.

40 is painfully slow, I try 20. Only 10 Qs but three new mults - RI, VT and
VE7. I hear K3TM (MD) on 20 and 40 but no luck working him. I hear a loud
W7LR (MT) on 20 but miss him also.

The third hour is always the toughest, and running LP and a bad antenna it's
no exception - only 48 Qs. As people start to go to 80 it becomes less
crowded on 40 and I'm able to increase the rate a bit. I find VE5SF and WQ5L
for a couple new ones. 205 Qs total now, and 48 mults.

40 was getting pretty slow so I decide to try 80. The band sounds quiet,
signals are pretty strong. The FT1000MP does NOT want to tune my dipole at
3550 at all, the ATU won't even try. I go up the band to 3700 and it does
tune the antenna, slowly QSY back down the band and it grudgingly stops at
1.5:1 at 3550. Either I'm going to work some guys on 80 or it's time to QRT

I quickly figure out who can hear! Anyone 10 dB over S9 is a candidate for
me to call on 80. If ANYONE else calls at the same time I do then I lose.
And sometimes so one else calls but I get a CQ back in my face. But a few
guys seem to hear me as far away as W8. I try a few CQs but only N5RZ takes
pity on me. I keep looking for W5s to work [obviously] as they are the
easiest. I hear a lot of W6 to W1 QSOs on 80 and know the band must be
whisper quiet.

I have maxed out 80M - all 23 Qs worth and all the W5s I can find. Shocked
to put K1DG and K1KI in the log on 80. DG struggles a bit with my number
(but so do the 5s!) but KI gets it no problem. I must be launching all of 20
watts into that wire in the attic on 80 .....

Back to 40M for the last 10 minutes - I work 13 Qs, many big guns who are
using 2 radios and scraping 40 for anything they can find.

After pulling off the headphones I sit back and think "wow, even with 100W
and a crappy antenna the CW Sprint is still fun!"

Final tally:

BAND   QSOs  Mults
80CW     23    0
40CW     113   12
20CW     123   36
Total    259   48

Final Score = 12432 points
Rate: 84/73/48/54

I'm not sure I want to try this again - hopefully K5MR will be fully QRV by
September. But for those of you who stay away from the sprint because you
don't have a big signal I say "give it a try". The CW Sprint is an example
of some of the best operating around. Without a doubt that is the main
reason I was able to work as many as I did. And no way in %^&* I would try
this in the  SSB Sprint. Okay, even QRO I wouldn't try it .....

And from K3LR, this about sums it up: "That PW signal from N5TJ was
something to behold. He is inside my zone
for 40 and 20 which meant he was 339 on those bands. 80 was much better, a
comfortable 449 there."


Jeff, N5TJ
mailto:<steinman at nortelnetworks.com>

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