I hadn’t operated this contest in a very long time. My last entry on record with the ARRL was in the mid 1990s. Those sweepstakes still bring back a lot of memories from 25 years ago and I remember the drama of frantically searching for Nebraska with hours to go.
But fast forward to the present
I had three major goals in this contest. To make 500 QSOs between 2100 and bedtime, practice SO2R, and get things set up and feeling good for upcoming contests.
I don’t really have the antennas to be able to mount a real SO2R type effort where both radios have access to loads of resources. I’ve found that with my minimal antenna setup (in DX contests at least), I rarely have a choice of productively running on more than one band. So I practiced the key contest ‘SO2R light’ scenario of running on my one key band with my key antenna and legal limit power and tuning on the others with inferior resources.
On the S & P radio, as I pre-logged contacts – I’d get them preloaded into N1MM as I waited for a chance to call. The S & P station was a multiband 43′ vertical, 700w, and an IC-7300. This worked well, but I found it frustrating to get a caller on the hook on the run radio while I suffered through the back and forth on the S & P radio. I played around with this too much on Saturday night and should have just focused on the run.
I got to around 400 Qs by the time I pulled the plug for the night – so I missed that goal. I also missed the sweep. I missed the usual suspects in NW Canada plus Alaska. I saw Alaska repeatedly spotted but could never hear them. The last mult worked was Hawaii, working KH6TU first, and then a minute later KH6CJJ on 15m. Both were first call, strong clean QSOs – which was exciting. It’s very fun that 15m has been back….I hope things hold up for WW.
One place where I really blew it was with spotting. I operated with assistance to prep for the DX contests. Despite great tips from the last YCCC meeting, I still didn’t quite have the right set up. At the outset, I connected to W1VE and limited incoming spots to verified calls from zone 5 spotters (seemed smart?). I was prematurely patting myself on the back for implementing more filtering than I normally did. I didn’t really do anything with spots on Saturday night. My plan was to use them to get through the Sunday tedium.
So on Sunday morning I realized my setup was deficient, the bandmaps were still full of junk. I’d get busted calls show up with the correction in parenthesis in blue in the bandmap, even though I worked the corrected station (how do I get rid of these?), many of the skimmers in zone 5 were hearing stations on ground wave in zone 5 that I obviously could not hear, and the combination of these two things from all the skimmers meant the maps were just full of junk. At this point, I should have stopped and tried to think about how to fix the problem. I didn’t and really only operated part time on Sunday.
By late Sunday afternoon I had a revelation while raking leaves. What if I just used spots from one or two local skimmers? I added that into the mix and things got much better, much quicker. I still need to figure some things out with blacklisting calls but I felt like 1-2 local skimmers with verified spots was a huge improvement and manageable
Next up is WAE RTTY.