|2001 Sweepstakes CW|
Class: SO LP
Operating Time (hrs): 24
Total: 1039 x 80 = 166,240
80/40: Alpha-Delta 80/40 Inverted Vee @ 54'
20/15/10: TH-7 @ 56'
This was my 2nd year at the new QTH in this contest. I had to do a lot of antenna/tower work this fall to get ready. We had a severe thunderstorm roll through on Memorial Day night with 60-80 MPH winds for over an hour. I was surprised at how well the TH-7 made it through (it destroyed the corn crop in my garden). The only thing that was damaged was one of the driven elements had come loose from the boom clamp and both sides of the element were hanging by a thread vertically. The antenna still worked, but with smaller bandwidth and decreased F/B. The storm did manage to destroy my $6.00 40M inverted vee made out of bell wire. It is too damn hot here to do antenna work in the summer, so I let it stay like this until September. The other problem still remaining was that my mast would only rotate about 180 degrees before binding in the Tri-Ex tower's sleeve-the sleeve doesn't have much clearance and the 20' mast is slightly bent.
In late September, on a beautiful weekend with temperatures in the 70's, I rented a 35' hydraulic lift to solve these problems. I had a non-ham buddy from work come over to assist me with this. The lift was a lot of fun, everything is controlled from inside the basket and it was completely maneuverable. You get a great perspective of your neighborhood at 35' in the air. I got it for the whole weekend, including delivery, for $250.00. We went up and put the broken element on the TH-7 back to vertical, straightened up all the other elements and tightened all the bolts. I was surprised at how many bolts were loose-guess I didn't do a great job putting it together. We also put up my D-3W WARC band rotating dipole about 12' higher than the TH-7. Completing the antenna projects, I installed an Alpha-Delta 80/40M inverted vee just below the TH-7. The biggest accomplishment, however, was unbinding the mast. I had noticed that after a rain I could get the mast to turn the full 360 degrees. This gave me the idea to lubricate the mast inside the tower sleeve. We used a combination of Slick 50 lubricant and automotive grease and voila! -Full 360 degree rotation.
My goal this year was to beat last year's score (932 X 79=147,098 (before log checking)). My stretch goal was to hit the top ten in SOLP. Last year I finished around 30th. I could only operate 21.5 hours last year, due to having to shut down at 0000Z on Sunday due to thunderstorms overhead.
I decided to start out on 15m. I usually start on 10M but every year I end up feeling I should have started on 15. As it turned out, I probably should have started on 10, since my QSO total the first hour was 6 less than last year (60 vs. 66). However, I had steady 2nd and 3rd hours (64, 52) and my QSO total was 4 ahead of last year after the first 3 hours (176 vs. 172). I made a lot of band changes in hours 3-6 before settling in on 40m at 0300Z. The new antenna performed very well on 40M and I had my best hour of the contest at 0400-0500Z with 68 Q's (all on 40M). When I went to bed at 0930Z I had 79 mults (VY1JA called me on 40M-cool!) and was 2 Q's ahead of last year's pace (652 vs. 650).
I overslept an hour and wasn't back on until 13:30Z. The 4 hours of sleep really helped keep me sharp later in the contest, though. I found VE9DX in a pileup on 10M while S&P'ing early Sunday morning to complete my sweep. It was also nice to be able to concentrate solely on QSO rate the rest of the contest. I took my remaining 2 hours of off time in 4 30-minute breaks when the rate slowed at various points Sunday morning and afternoon.
At the point in operating time I had to QRT last year (21.5 hours), I was 23 Q's ahead of last year's pace (955 vs. 932) plus the extra multiplier. I made 84 Q's in the additional 2.5 hours and finished with 1039 and a sweep for 166,240 points. I achieved 3 milestones: 1. I beat last year's score (107 more Q's, 13% higher points total). 2. I got a sweep for the first time since the early 90's and for the first time at my own station. 3. I broke 1000 Q's in this mode of the contest for the first time with my own station.
The 80/40 antenna seemed to be a big improvement over last year, particularly on 40M. I had 98 more Q's on those bands combined than I did last year (423 vs. 325). The TH-7 performed about the same as last year as I only had 9 more QSO's on 20/15/10 combined (616 vs. 607). However, the distribution of Q's on 20/15/10 was different. I had much higher numbers on 10M (203 vs. 164), even numbers on 15M (220 vs. 216) and much lower numbers on 20M (193 vs. 227). I think the lower numbers on 20M were due to improved 10M conditions and from being able to run stations on 40M better than last year-time I would have spent on 20M.
My score was just below last year's top 10 cutoff, so that goal will probably remain for next year (I may have to join the SO2R club to do this). Overall, though, I am extremely pleased with my results and will try to do even better next year if the sunspots hold! Thanks to everyone for the Q's.
|Back To Contest Stories Page|