[Skimmertalk] N4ZR ARRL DX CW - Skimmer experiences

Pete Smith pete.n4zr at gmail.com
Tue Feb 24 06:57:46 EST 2009

Knowing that my neck problems would prevent anything like a full-time 
operation, I decided to live a normal weekend life, except for operating 
sessions in the morning and afternoon.  That meant stopping for lunch and 
dinner, almost no operating during hours of darkness (early Sunday AM 
only), and only about 16 hours of operating time.  I decided to use the 
contest mainly as a chance to test various tactics for using CW Skimmer - I 
did not use an internet cluster.

The results were pretty gratifying.  My overall rate of 93.5 QSOs/hour is 
the best I've ever sustained in an ARRL DX contest, and I had a 147 hour 
Sunday morning on 20.  Skimmer caught the brief 15 meter opening on 
Saturday morning, and I used it in vain looking for another on 
Sunday.  Most of the time, Skimmer was on the same band as my second radio, 
looking for S&P QSOs (and particularly multipliers).  That allowed it to 
work while I was running on the other radio, and it found more stations 
than I could possibly work, given the run rates and my limited SO2R skills.

However, the most useful tactic, I found, was to take the "opportunity" of 
losing a run frequency to survey my current run band and see if there were 
enough new running stations to warrant a quick S&P sweep of the 
band.  Typically, 2 minutes spent with Skimmer on an open band would 
produce spots of 200-275 stations (most of them dupes, of course). I would 
then swap radios (Alt-F5 in N1MM Logger), and move quickly up or down the 
band working the non-dupes.  Doing this, it was common to see my rate-meter 
at 150+ for the last 10 QSOs, which made S&P this way almost as productive 
as running on a good frequency.  On Sunday afternoon, I did a lot of this, 
trying to boost my multiplier total, and found it interesting to see the 
new waves of CQers show up on a given band, confirming what we know from 
experience to be true.

The European pileups were horrific - they sounded like packet pileups to 
me, judging by the sudden onset, but looking at DX Summit I was surprised 
by how few times I was actually spotted (though I wonder if some European 
clusters are limited in their spot distribution to national 
boundaries).  Perhaps it was just the ruckus on the run frequency that 
attracts people.

Anyway, a good time.

73, Pete N4ZR 

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