Michael Tope W4EF at dellroy.com
Mon Feb 13 06:01:27 PST 2012

                     NA Sprint CW Contest - February

Call: W4EF/VE3
Operator(s): W4EF
Station: VE3OI

Class: Single Op HP
Operating Time (hrs): 4

  Band  QSOs  Op Time
    80:   83    1:07
    40:   93    1:41
    20:   77    1:12
Total:  253    Mults = 41  Total Score = 10,373

Club: Southern California Contest Club

Team: SCCC #2


Rig: Elecraft K3, Ameritron AL-82, Win-Test

Antennas> 20M: TA34 Tribander
           40M: 2 El Yagi
           80M: Delta Loop

As it would happen, my employer scheduled me for a week long business 
trip to Toronto, Canada for the week which happened to straddle two of 
my most favorite contests of the year:  the CQ 160 CW Contest and the CW 
Sprint. As a result, I was either going to be in the air flying back to 
California during the CW Sprint if I flew back to Los Angeles on 
Saturday or I’d be stuck in the Toronto area if I opted to come home 
Sunday. Since coming back Sunday actually left open the possibility of 
doing the Sprint, I opted to go that way. All I needed to do was find a 

In hopes of finding someplace to operate while in Toronto, I had posted 
a "CQ Toronto" message to CQ-Contest about a week prior to my trip, but 
as of the Saturday morning of the Sprint nobody had responded. I posted 
another identical message to CQ-Contest that Saturday morning, but still 
nothing. That's when old friend Pat N8VW steered me towards the Contest 
Club of Ontario's (CCO) Yahoo group. I emailed the moderator and shortly 
thereafter I received a message back from Don VE3XD with a copy of the 
solicitation he posted for me on the CCO list. Later that afternoon 
while I was getting ready to walk around the Ontario Science Center, I 
got a phone call from Dave Dudley VE3OI inviting me to come to his QTH 
in rural Rockwood west of Toronto that evening to operate the Sprint. 
Wow, this was amazing; I was actually going to get to operate! I was 
even able to email Tim N6WIM back in Los Angeles so that I could get on 
an SCCC Team.

I left the Science Center when it closed at 5PM and headed for Dave’s 
QTH. I arrived around 6:30PM. It was after sunset, but there was still 
enough residual light left to make out the outline of a big tower 
sitting next to the house. Dave and I hadn’t discussed antennas on the 
phone, so I was thrilled to see the tower. I would have been happy just 
to get on and make a few QSOs with a G5RV and a straight key, but now 
all of a sudden I was looking at the possibility of a competitive 
effort. That feeling was further reinforced when Dave led me into his 
well-appointed shack where I found an Elecraft K3 sitting next to an 
Ameritron AL-82 amplifier. Dave uses the Win-Test logging program and 
had set it up for the Sprint with my call already loaded in.

Since I was unfamiliar with Win-Test and there wasn’t time to really get 
to know its idiosyncrasies with respect to the variability of the Sprint 
exchange, I decided to send all the exchanges by hand (my experience 
coming up to speed with N1MM in the Sprint was pretty painful, so I 
decided to spare the contest participants that side-effects of that sort 
of agony). The hand sending worked out for the most part. It forced me 
to keep my speed down (after all these years I still can’t send CW worth 
a d%mn), but otherwise it wasn’t an impediment.

In short I got what I was hoping for. For 4 hours, I was totally 
engrossed. Dave's station worked beautifully. He has band decoders 
connected to the K3, so I didn’t have to worry about changing antennas. 
The only manual step required for band changing was adjusting the AL-82, 
but Dave has preset labels so even that was a snap.

While VE3 isn’t exactly rare DX, this was my first time doing ham radio 
from a foreign entity, so I really have to hand it to Dave for his 
generous hospitality, especially on such short notice. It was literally 
only a few hours between the time when we first talked and the time when 
I was sitting in front of his rig making QSOs.

Great fun!
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