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Sweeps SSB 2007 – TailZ of wHoa frOm the cHeap seaTz, Low Powa No Towa, and Gorillaz in the Midst

This was a really interesting contest. Propagation was curious in unexpected ways, as it had been for several days leading into the contest. I had set myself a couple of goals, reaching 75,000 points and 600 QSO’s. I was able to meet the first goal, but fell a few shy of the second. But late Sunday I didn’t expect to hit either, until I found a decent frequency. Someone must have spotted me a couple of times, because I closed out with a 44 QSO hour.

Summary:
Band  QSOs
------------
160:    0
80:  339
40:  198
20:   44
15:    4
10:    0
------------
Total:  585  Sections = 69  Total Score = 80,730

The following feverish rambling is a saga of ‘Low Power No Tower’ contesting.

Tailz of ‘Whoa!’: This SS was yet another case where my ‘best laid plan’ failed in its first contact with the enemy. Adaptability skills were needed right out of the gates. I was hoping to beat the crowd by starting out running on 80 meters. After listening around a bit in the evenings leading into the contest, it seemed like 40m was tending to be really long very early, 20m was dead early, and I was hearing Q5 QSO’s from west of the Mississippi on 80m as early as 7:00pm. So rather than fight it out on 20m with the ?tacked monoband/jigawatt amplifier?crowd , I planned to start out on 80m at the beginning of the contest, and save 40m and 20m for Saturday. Surely everyone else will reach the same conclusion, and there will be QSO’s-a-plenty right?

Gorillaz in the midst: ?ot so fast there, MyCrowPhone breath!? my karma soon muttered.

That all sounds good on the surface?xcept everybody else seemed intent on fighting splatter wars on 20m. It was so quiet down on 80m for the first 30 minutes that you could hear the pigs oinking behind the Pharmers. Nobody else seemed to think getting to 80m early was too smart on Saturday evening(although by Sunday that sure changed!). I wound up S&Ping 40m for an hour or so before folks got with the program and drifted down to 80m. I set up shop as well as I could, and and then led the 800 pound gorillas on a merry chase up and down the 80m band, stealing short runs of 10 Q’s from them here, then another 15 or so QSO’s there.

Mostly I was bird dogging new territory for the Gorillaz. They seemed to have a sixth sense for finding the exact frequency 1.5 kc above me that would completely shut down my meager runs. So Saturday night my runs were mostly buried below Gorilla splatter. I could hear calling stations through the din just fine, but few stations could actually find me(without spots) beneath the adjacent KW AM sized splatter. Another symptom of ?rion Syndrome?maybe? Anyway, I soon realized that I would still need to be semi-nomadic to have any success. It ‘could be’ that I pilfered a few of the less attentive SO2R op’s second radio frequencies…. Payback! Ha!

Sorry, I’ve not yet said thanks for the spots. So, for everybody that spotted me, and many of you must have, ?hanks for the spots!? Thanks for the QSO’s too. Lots of MDC, VA, EPA in the log.

Low Power No Tower: I think that the additional bandwidth on 80m really helped us ?ow power no tower?types by spreading things out enough to give us a chance. Here in KAZland, the K9AY really helped the ears on 80m. I operated the entire contest using the K9AY on 80m, and copy was very easy in most cases. I made a lot of QSO’s in the midst of the Gorillaz because of it. Judging by everyone else’s soapbox comments, it doesn’t look like towers were a huge advantage, unless they were sporting 80m yagi’s. It seems that the lack of a decent high band antenna system was not a great hurdle in this contest, as 80m seemed to be the place to be. I was also able to milk 40m for a slow but steady supply of Q’s during the Sunday afternoon doldrums, and I had better luck holding my run frequency there.

My own ?omer Simpson/Wernher Von Einstein?duh-Oh!) moment came when I discovered the source of my near complete lack of 20m QSO’s. Somewhere along the way I had reversed the 20m dipole and 20m vertical feed lines. ?mmmm?ow how did that happen??As soon as I started transmitting with the dipole, I was automagically being heard on the first call(instead of never). That helped round up a few needed mults late Sunday afternoon, but I still never again heard several of those needed. Never heard PAC, AK anywhere. Are there really contesters in EB? SF?

This was the first contest I’ve operated from home where I tried to run as often as possible. I used every S&P moment looking for frequencies that I could use to run. The biggest problem was not being able to generate enough rate and volume to hold a run frequency. My run rates were low, but still averaged out better than my normal S&P rates. I didn’t notice much in the way of malicious interference this year, but I guess that may be because I had to pack up and move away from the Gorillaz so often.

So the summary is that I managed to log 585 QSO’s. My goals for this contest were at 1) get at least 75000 points, then 2)get at least 600 QSO’s. Dang! Almost bagged them both!

I was really pumped until I saw that NX9T had knocked out 500+ Q’s operating QRP. Dang! Back to work on the operator skills!

Shadenfreude Alert! – At least Jeff had to put in a lot of B.I.C. time to build his QRP score, instead of peeling off a quick 500 Q’s in a couple of hours like he normally can do. There isn’t any doubt in my mind that Jeff didn’t earn every single one of those QRP QSO’s. I found the slogging tough with my full 92 watts. QRP? ick….

 

The Good: Very close to both operating goals, and hit one of the goals. The antennas are just about as good as I can get within the realistic constraints I have given the station. I think I’m getting close to the ceiling of what is possible with the station as it is. Getting my ‘natural’ Sweep(no spots) is going to be possible when propagation improves slightly. But putting things into real perspective, while my antennas and power put my signal at -12 to -18db down from the Gorrilaz, my QSO total is only -3 to -6db down. Lemonade from the lemons.

The Bad: The shack ergonomics need attention. This is S.O.P. for the immediate future, on ongoing problem.

The UGLY: No really adverse situations.

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