This year marked the 50th running of the California QSO Party (CQP). Because CQP-50 was a milestone event, the contest organizers added a special G-O-L-D-R-U-S-H bonus.
1x1 callsigns ending in the Goldrush letters were reserved for the event. Stations working the 1x1 callsigns spelling G-O-L-D-R-U-S-H will receive a special medallion coin commemorating the CQP-50 event.
In preparation for CQP-50 I put together a Gold Rush callsign tracking page. CLICK HERE to see that page. Of the 24 active GoldRush stations, our operation at W6E managed to work all but K6D and K6S; both limited-activity operations.
Last year as K6U, George and I had intended to operate from his cabin in Twain Harte (Tuolumne County). Last minute events beyond our control relegated our operation to his home QTH in Brentwood out of which we not only took 1st place for Contra Costa county, we set a county record for our low power operation.
I wrote about this in last years CQP blog entry. CLICK HERE to read that.
Vowing to reprise the Tuolumne plans, CQP-50 seemed like our best opportunity. Because so many 1x1 callsigns were reserved way in advance of the CQP-50 announcement I had to do some serious looking to find an available 1x1 callsign, settling on W6E- Whiskey Six Echo.
CLICK HERE to view the W6E webpage. CLICK HERE to view the CQP-50 homepage.
For the Twain Harte site we put up an OCF dipole, an HF6-V vertical and a TA-33jr yagi atop a 30-foot numatic mast in the "front yard" of the cabin location. 2 hours after the contest ended the front yard was once again clear.
George ran a computer controlled Elecraft K2 into an SB-200 on a desk in the living room while I ran a Russian SunSDR radio (George recently acquired) into his trusty KPA-500 amplifier from the kitchen table.
While we are both CW & SSB operators, as it turns out George ran mostly SSB spending 25% of the time on CW, while I ran exclusively CW. Because of RFI from the KPA-500, the SunSDR software would lock up every 10-20 minutes.
Eventually I was able to reduce the restart time to about 10 - 15 seconds, but losing the radio in the middle of a QSO was real frustrating.
Band Openings on 10 meters in Tuolumne were almost non-existent and 15 meters wasn't much better. For CW, 80, 40 & 20 were the bands; for SSB 75 meters was the band. Because of QTH restrictions we were unable to quickly find a way to erect an inverted-L for 160 meters - hopefully next year, wherever we operate from.
Thanks to bandpass filters both radios largely stayed out of each others IF circuits, except when we were directly a 2nd harmonic apart. Power-wise, both amps were running around 550 watts. Because of the hills to our northeast we decided to run high power instead of the usual low power operations we are known for.
Additionally, not only is sending 599 as part of your exchange not part of the contest, more importantly, with quick fading, sending unnecessary information means that the end of your exchange will disappear during the fade, making a repeat necessary.
According to the 3830Scores.Com website we took 5th place in the multi-multi category. For years I have been asking for a Multi-2 category in CQP so that Dual-OP stations don't have to compete with stations running 6 transmitters. As a Multi-2 we probably would have taken 1st place.
Like so many things in my life this year, CQP was one surprise after another. While we may not have taken a 1st place in any category for CQP-50, we DID earn the CQP medallions, many times over.
Since 2000, I have thoroughly enjoyed operating CQP; first @ W6ML, then solo for several years, and now for my 6th year as a dual-OP with N6GEO.
Did YOU operate in CQP-50?
Is W6E in YOUR log?