I have a special fondness for digital contests, especially since N1MM logger takes the chore out of the thing. (note to self…blog Why-I-Contest). I set a few meager goals for the contest:
- Have the radio on for the entire 24 hours
- Make 300 QSO during the period.
- Keep my QSO rates above 20/hour
Goal 1. Have the radio on for the entire 24 hours. I have been spent the holidays recovering from a surgical procedure so I haven’t really felt up to a marathon in the operating chair. I proved myself much more healed than anticipated, and was able to manage the entire duration quite comfortably.
Often real-life intervenes and keeps an op from continuing the entire time. Contest operating becomes more a time-management exercise. I wanted to consider propagation and when best to break/sleep, which I did to my satisfaction. I slept in a little bit on Sunday morning, but really only missed about 45 minutes of the contest period. In this one, an op may only operate in 24 hours or less of the 30 hour period, and can take the off periods in no more than two segments. Basically this meant that you enjoyed sleep for 6 hours between Saturday and Sunday. I had nothing else scheduled, so I was able to take my shot at running this thing.
So I actually made a mistake and stayed in the contest for too long on Saturday. I should have kicked off at 0600z but 80M was booming! Nothing like working EU on 80 with a wire and 100 watts! When I actually looked at the clock it dawned on me I had just robbed myself of 40 minutes at the end of the contest. It came back to haunt me as I tried to achieve my other goals.
Lesson learned from this little error in judgment is to make sure to set time strategy in advance, along with contingencies in case things start hopping. Need to stay flexible!
Goal 2: WAS. Totally achievable but a bit like fishing. I am a little whistle of a station, and unlike the big guns I cannot hold a frequency and CQ and let the world come to me. I search-and-pounce up and down the band, and IF there is some clear spectrum I will call CQ for a few minutes. I do get calls, but when the rates drop down I get moving again.
Recently it seems like Oklahoma is rarest DX. OK hams certainly have more pressing things than wasting weekends on the radio I imagine. I can actually count on North Dakota, Rhode Island, Montana and Wyoming in the contests…there are at least one active hams in each of these states! This year OK called me twice during my brief CQing interludes. Nice! That said, where were the Nebraska stations? Again, they probably had more sense to mess up the bands in a RTTY contest.
So, my time management likely caught up to me. I bet you the if I had been on 80M earlier on Sunday I would have nabbed that elusive W0 Nebraska station!
ARRL RTTY Roundup — 2009-01-03 1800Z to 2009-01-05 0000Z — 538 QSOs
WF7T Max Rates:
2009-01-04 2152Z — 3.0 per minute (1 minute(s)), 180 per hour by WF7T
2009-01-04 1525Z — 1.2 per minute (10 minute(s)), 72 per hour by WF7T
2009-01-04 1603Z — 0.8 per minute (60 minute(s)), 47 per hour by WF7T
I also had a few extended periods of greater than 35/hour: 80M the first evening for 3 or so hours, and 40M the second day morning better than 44/hr in two hour period.
Here is what I learned: I should have gone to 40M an hour earlier on the first day then moved to 80M an hour earlier as well. This would have helped me keep my sustained rates up. On Sunday, I could argue that I spent too much time fighting 20M and should have only searched for new mults and then moved back to 40M. 15M was a bit dead on Sunday, but still open to the west coast for the all-important volume of CA and WA contacts…actually easier than on 20M. I actually learned this lesson from the CW SS but apparently forgot how poorly I perform on 20M.
Also, my 20M ability sucks! I need better antenna there. Everyone in my contest group with well-equiped 20M stations had much better rates and multipiers than me. That said, I bet you I could hit 600 in another domestic 24-hour contest if I manage my band switching better. Not that I will complain about 535 contacts that much…
So, my contest summary is as follows (535 QSO, with 56 states/CA provinces and 25 DXCC contries contributing to the multiplier)
I had a blast from my little station in this contest!