[SECC] NAQP CW strategy Jan 2015

John Laney k4bai at att.net
Fri Jan 9 08:36:50 EST 2015

Good advice that you have included in your message Kevan.

Here is my general band plan for SO1R operating in NAQP CW.  Start on 
10M if there are any signals there.  After that for the afternoon do a 
sweep of 10 on the hour and 15 on the half hour as long as there are 
signals on those bands.  Try to run during these sweeps.  I generally 
find running on 15 and 10 unproductive from here, but sometimes we will 
get short skip to the northeast and I can do so very well.  If you don't 
CQ, you cannot work some participants who are S&P only.  Most of us have 
a tendancy these days to start at the bottom of a band and work up.  If 
you hear someone you'd like to work (like a new mult doing S&P), try 
CQing up the band a few kHz from where you last heard him.

When you are S&P, one frustrating thing is to keep being beat out by the 
same station each time you call someone.  If that happens, you might 
want to switch to the other SSB on CW and go down the band rather than 
up.  Some people, K1TO and the late W4AN included) always go down the 
band for that very reason.  I guess I like to go up the band as a result 
of being a General Class licensee so long that I wanted to start at the 
025 kHz marker and move up without having to worry about slipping across 
the 025 marker without realizing it if I was moving the other way.

In between forays to 10 and 15M on the hour and half hour, you need to 
be running on 20M. That is not to say don't call someone else, but you 
need to be CQing on 20M to get those S&P ops who will start the contest 
and drop out soon.  Most of the stations running will continue running 
for a while and you can call those who haven't already called you later.

It's a pretty good idea to start making quick runs across 40M beginning 
about 2100 or 2130Z.  You can pick up the more local 4th district mults 
and maybe DE and WV while the skip isn't long.  We have been 
experiencing long skip on 40M in recent weeks and if you are late 
getting to 40M, you might miss some of the more local mults.

On 80 and 160, you certainly want to be on 160M at 0330Z and 0430Z.  
Those used to be target times for 160M when not too many of us were 
active on that band.  After starting to run on 40M, I think of checking 
back on 20M every half hour.  I don't ever leave a frequency when anyone 
is calling (unless I have promised a quick QSY for a mult).  In other 
words, when I am talking about checking other bands on the hour and half 
hour, those times are flexible and I'll never leave a run frequency 
until I have called CQ a few times with no answers.

After going to 40, you have to decide when to start checking 80M. As a 
rule, it is a waste of time for us this far south to try 80M much before 
0000Z and then you don't want to stay there too long. But you do want to 
make a few passes across 80M before most 80M operators start going QRT.  
If you wait too late, you will miss a lot of them and maybe some 
otherwise easy mults.

When to take your off times could be a complete topic for a long essay.  
W4AN always believed it was best to take them a half hour at a time in 
the afternoon.  I usually take one half hour off for supper with my XYL 
whenever she calls me, but that is for peace in the family and probably 
doesn't maximize the rate, as it always seems to me that 40M is going 
great guns and 20M needs a final check when I take that time off.  One 
very important consideration is to be sure that you take a full 30 
minutes off.  Nowadays, that means if your last QSO is at 0015Z, don't 
make your next QSO before 0046Z.  If you make it at 0045Z, you have 
taken off only 29 minutes and the whole off time will count as on time.  
You can make your off time as long as you want, but it must be 30 
minutes at a minimum (unless it is the time before your first QSO, which 
can be any time).  In other words, it doesn't matter when you start, 
your ten hours starts then.  I take my other off times at or near the 
end of the contest period.  If you quit too early, you will miss mults 
on both 80 and 160.  If you take all your off times earlier, it seems to 
me that the rate always drops during the last 90 minutes because so many 
people on the east coast have quit and gone to bed.  So, its a difficult 
problem.  Should you take off more time and lose rate time in favor of 
better chances at mults?  If getting sleep isn't a big consideration, it 
is probably better to take all your off time and come back on for the 
last 45 minutes to maximize your chances for west coast mults on 80 and 
160M.  I don't usually take this last advice seriously. I'll probably 
take the last hour or 90 minutes as off times and go to bed early.  
(This has absolutely nothing to do with my advanced age, of course.)

We still could use some more team members for NAQP CW and SSB.  I will 
register the teams late tonight and send out a confirmation to 
everyone.  I will try to check e-mail at 1630Z Saturday for any last 
minute changes or additions.  I can re-register teams up to the start of 
the contest at 1800Z, but will be eating lunch with my son and can't be 
sure of being able to check e-mails after about 1630Z.

Good luck and 73 to all,   John, K4BAI.

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