|1998 ARRL Sweepstakes CW Contest|
|Contest Dates : 07-Nov-98, 08-Nov-98, 09-Nov-98
Callsign Used : WQ5W
Operator : WQ5W
Category : Single Op, QRP
Section: North Texas
Equipment: Alinco DX-77T (5W), MFJ-1786 Loop Antenna
Default Exch. : (Serial Number) Q WQ5W 85 NTX
Operating Time: 19.5 Hours
Name : Alan Benoit
Team/Club : NORTH TEXAS CONTEST CLUB
BAND Qsos Points Mults
20CW 254 508 29
15CW 77 154 21
10CW 38 76 20
Totals 369 738 70
Final Score = 51660 points.
After a few years of living in apartments with no hamming because of TVI
fears, earlier this year I took the plunge and bought a new HF rig and an
MFJ-1786 loop antenna. So far the TVI complaints have been minimal and I
have entered several contests (WPX CW, IARU, WAE etc.) and have had a blast.
I decided that operating SS with an indoor loop antenna from a first floor
apartment wasn't going to be challenging (torture) enough, so I decided to
increase the challenge (torture) by going QRP (actually I am going to crank
up the power to 50W for CQWW CW so I wanted to eliminate any TVI complaints
this past weekend).
All contacts were made by search and pounce as I didn't even THINK about
CQ'ing with my setup. Since my antenna limited me to 10, 15 and 20m, I
figured I wouldn't get a sweep since the low bands always produce the
short-skip mults such as OK, MS, KS, LA, NM, WTX and STX. I didn't know
what to expect, so I set my goal at a modest 25K.
Signals on 10m were loud at the beginning of the contest, so I started
there. After the first hour, I had 34 Q's all on 10. The second hour was
spent on 15m and turned out to be my best hour of the contest-41 Q's.
Looking back, I probably should have started on 15m, but I did pick up the
PAC multiplier on 10M with KH6ND at 21:11. The next hour was also spent on
15m; only 27 Q's but I did pick up the MT and VI mults. A little after
23:00Z I switched to 20m and stayed there the rest of the night except for
a brief foray back to 15m around 00:00Z. Signals on 20m were wall to wall
and I could work everyone with 1 call and usually no fills. Over the next
few hours, QSO rates fell to 26, 17, 12, 6 and 7. I did manage to work the
PR, ND and SD mults. At 2:49Z I worked KL7Y (watery, aurora-filled sig) for
AK and at 3:03Z , I worked VY1A for the elusive NWT mult. Both KL7Y and
VY1A required several calls and a few fills-thanks guys for your patience!!
20m died at about 4:30Z here, so I went to bed with 171 Qso's and 55 mults
(about 19K) in the log.
I woke up at 1200Z, but I should have stayed in bed longer. 20m didn't open
up until 13:05Z when I worked NP3G. Shortly thereafter I worked N5NJ and
K5OT on backscatter (or groundwave!) for the NTX mult. I stayed on 20M
until 17:00Z. QSO rates were way down, staying in the high teens and early
20's per hour, but I did pick up the SNJ, WV, IN, WPA and GA mults. At
16:02 I even managed to work W5WMU for LA on backscatter-now that was
difficult-20 calls and several fills before it was in the log. If a lesser
op than N6TR had been there, I probably wouldn't have worked it at all.
Most of the day was spent on 20M. Because of the geomagnetic storm, 10M
never opened at all and 15M just couldn't keep up with 20M. I changed bands
many times during the afternoon, but just couldn't ever find as many guys to
work on 15M as I could on 20M, so 90% of my QSO's on the second day were on
OK, it's 22:30Z on Sunday and I'm sitting at 310 Q's and 65 mults-about 40K
, far better than I thought I could ever do with my setup, but too
tantalizingly close to 50K to be satisfied. I'm on 20M and at 22:57 I work
VE2AWR for the QC mult and I'm up to 43K-hmmm, getting closer. At 23:45Z
K0RF manages to pull my weak sig out of the backscatter for CO and I'm up to
45K. At 00:30Z, still on 20M, just when I think I've worked everyone on the
band I hear a loud signal, with no backscatter giving what I think is MS as
their section. I listen some more and sure enough it's K5MDX. One call
and I put it in the log!(thanks op. WQ5L). A few minutes later I tuned
across K5MDX again and their signal had dropped almost below the noise and
was full of backscatter-right place, right time!
Now it's 00:30Z and I'm up to 47K. However, 20m was fading fast and most of
the mults I hadn't worked were too close for 20m skip (OK, AR, KS, MO etc.).
I thought my chances for another mult. were pretty slim, so I hoped to
squeeze out enough Q's to push me over 50K. Then at 1:01Z I hear K7UP
giving NM as his section. Again, one call and I got him-YES!! That pushed
me to 49.8K and when I worked K3BU 15 minutes later I had broken 50K! K5ED
from WTX (also QRP) at 1:20Z was just gravy at that point.
20M died here at 1:45Z and I finished the contest with 369 QSO's and 70
sections (missed AR, KS, MAR, ME, MO, NE, NL, OK and STX) for 51.6K.
I realize that 50K isn't a huge score. Many of you probably had 50K before
you went to bed Saturday night (or earlier), and lots of QRP class stations
had many more points. Having been a hired gun at big stations for the last
several years in SS, I know what it's like from that side, but despite the
poor conditions I can honestly say this was the most fun I've ever had in
this contest. When I operated at a big station, I EXPECTED to win. When I
didn't win my class/section or didn't make top ten or didn't get a sweep
from the big station I was disappointed. This year I didn't EXPECT
anything; I was just getting on to have fun and help my club out. Seeing
the finish line, twice as good as I had hoped for, with 3 1/2 hours left
and then actually making it past with room to spare made this year's SS big
fun (please note that this is the first time I have ever used the words "SS"
and "big fun" in the same sentence).
Apologies for the long writeup-just think how long it will be when I get a
REAL station! Thanks to every one of you who pulled out my weak signals and
I hope to see you QRP in the Phone SS!! Also look for me in CQWW CW with
a full 50W; I will be the one beating many of you* in the pileups.
From The Town of The Cow; Ft. Worth, TX.
* that is to say, those of you using a dummy load as an antenna : )
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