ARRL SSCW 2009

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Summary - 8th Place finish overall! 1st Roanoke, 1st Virginia, 2nd in Region

This year, John, W4NF, invited me to use his station - while he operated from W4RM's station. This gave me access to a full stack (3 yagis) on 20/15/10, 2 Element 40M yagi (at 90 feet), an 80M dipole (at 90 feet) and a 80M horizontal loop. As a result - I had the best contest ever. These pages document my notes, which will hopefully become useful when I try again.

In 2006, I surprised myself by working over 400 contactsARRL_SSCW_2006. In 2007, I had a low key operation because of family activities, plus, I remembered how much work it was in 2006. My station consists of several attic antennas and a single 80/40M stealth OCF. (HOA rules) After a year, the pain was gone and I decided to try again - with a better station. So I used WA0DYJ's station, with an added 80M horizontal loop. His SDR-5000 was a lot of fun and I won VA!

After talking about wanting to do better with John and Bill, they suggested I use John's station. So I did. John did a lot of work replacing equipment after a lightning strike. There were a lot of last minute things to do - Jack, W4AD, became a silent key two weeks earlier.

John's station uses two FT-2000's and the DX Doubler for Single Op, 2 Radio operation.


It was especially exciting to find the multipliers and working the last two stations with minutes to go. One thing's for sure - I respect the heck out of those winning QRP stations. Especially the ones that make a clean sweep. This is tough to do without packet! They are excellent operators.

In case I haven't said it enough - thanks to John for the use of his station!

2009CWSS Plan.png

Plan

I used WINCAP Wizard to create a plan. I had to analyze several point to point locations (AK, HI, VE8) because the contest planner only works for DX contests. Next time, I may plot VOCAP coverages by time by band to show when and how the band changes. For example, when does 40M lengthen out? When does 80M move towards the NW? etc.

Operating Plan - full size

I consulted the plan serveral times to make sure I looked for the mults. After many hours in the chair, the plan helped keep me organized. Band changes aren't counted, like they are in the DX contests.

Pay attention to the off-times. Must be at least 30 minutes. (Less than 30 minutes doesn't count.) I use the N1MM 'off-time' feature to check. Use the off-times to rest!

Check the rules: http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2009/novss.html

Results

Raw score is: 650 Q's, 77 Multipliers for a total of 100,100. Operated for 23 hours and 55 minutes.

Mults: Missed AB, MB and NWT.

Highlights:

  • I heard NWT, but the pileup was huge and couldn't break it.
  • Did not hear AB or MB at all
  • Worked AK and HI as per the prop planning!
  • Worked all 50 states QRP - again!
  • I had most of my mults during the first 12 hours. Was missing MO and WCF, but got them on 40M in the morning.
Final Score: 97,944 636 77  (only 14 busted Q's!)

8th Place Overall - 1st Roanoke and 1st in Virginia

Single Operator, QRP
NØAT (NØKK, op)      137,760
K4RO                 127,360
K8MM                 121,836
KØAV                 114,392
N7IR                 104,122
NØUR                 103,584
N7OU                 101,760
W7IY                  97,944
WI9WI                 97,032
W7YAQ                 95,432

Notes

Here are my notes in no particular order:

  • An operations plan is critical. It helped guide my band changes.
  • Work the first 12 hours. I tried - worked from 16:00 to 03:00. This was a good idea. I probably could have squeezed out another hour, but barely.
  • Break at 13:00-13:30. Ended the contest 1/2 hr early
  • SO2R Operations:
    • Was able to call CQ on two bands at once. (not at the same time!!!) This is only productive when you have two quiet frequencies on each band.
    • Need some operating tips
    • Used one radio to find a QSO in progress, then switched to the other radio to find the next Q in progress. Listened to both radios and then switched to the Q that finished first. This increased my typical Q rate of 20-30/hr to 30-40/hr
    • N1MM logging software is awesome!
  • Style:
    • Since I couldn't use the packet cluster, I used a mixture of S&P and calling CQ.
    • Call CQ! In previous years, I was able to work (almost) everybody I called, but was NOT able to call CQ. With the bigger antennas, I was able to create several runs. At one point - I had a 10Minute rate of 94 Q's/Hr. My rate was over 60/hr several times, but the frequency would dry up and without power, I couldn't hold the frequency forever.
    • S&P from edge to edge. One time, near the end of the contest, I was going to change bands when I got to 7.020 and decided to check a little lower, the next Q down was a VE5!! This happened to me twice near the end of the contest.
  • Having access to the west coast was a lot of help! Especially on 40M, they were easy to work with the beam.
  • Didn't notice a lot of difference in RX between the 80M loop or the dipole. Used the loop almost exclusively.
  • A refrigerator next to the operating position was helpful. I didn't have to leave my chair to get another beer.
  • Band Changes:
    • Started on 20 until signals started to get weak. This helped pick up the west coast mults and made 40M fun!
    • Checked 15M at the proper time. This helped, but no mults.
    • I don't think the morning band change was optimal. 20 was open, but perhaps I should have tried calling CQ on 40?
    • When I was don't working mults on 20 in the afternoon, I changed to 40 early. Kept checking 80, when I started hearing signals there, I made my primary on 80 because the Q total was lower than 40 and didn't match other winning scores.
  • Used my new earphones. I love them! Headphones
    • No need for headphones over my ear buds because the room was quiet.
    • When the washer was turned on, I used the Heil Noise canceling headphones and they blocked the low frequency sounds just fine.
    • Should bring Q-tips - my inner ear itched several times