Monday, November 17, 2014

WQ6X as W6K eeks a Sweepstakes 1st place for EB section despite limited OP time

This weekend again found me in Brentwood (@N6GEO) operating another November Sweepstakes as W6K.  In the future, SS events will be run with my WQ6X call or someone else'.  This weekend found many people confused by W6K, more than in previous years and this years CW event.  Nevertheless, the callsign has accomplished it's goal for many years - Whiskey Six Kilowatt!

As a multi-OP, N6GEO and I accomplished another 1st-place/Sweep two weeks ago.  This last weekend George was not available and work commitments largely kept me off the air Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  In the end I managed to put in 8.5 hours of actual operating time; just enough to snag 115 QSOs in 54 sections - not a great score, but evidently enough to take 1st place in the Unlimited Low Power classification for the East Bay (EB) ARRL section.

For the station I simply ran George's FLEX 3000 SDR radio into an Elecraft KPA-500 amplifier juiced down to just under 150 watts.  Running low power kept me out of the high power Unlimited league where I didn't stand a chance.

QSO #1 happened at 03:26z on Saturday evening.  I ran 20 meters until it thinned and then switched to 40 meters to again encounter the S-9 noise levels of weekends past.  75 meters wasn't much better:  S-6.

The 6-BTV has a narrow bandwidth on 75, giving me a whopping 5 QSOs, but 4 multipliers for that effort, making it worth the time invested.

Eventually the 40-meter noise was such a problem that I went to bed (09:00z).  If you worked W6K on 40-meters it is because your signal was greater than S-9, making you hearable.

On Sunday evening I was able to work the last 90 minutes of the Sweepstakes amassing the final 20 QSOs and with a number of new multipliers.
While I heard many signals for sections like VY1 and KP2, the pileups were too lengthy to spend time waiting in line.

A multiplier is a multiplier, rare or not, so I went for volume, whether exotic or not; a KY multiplier is as important as VT, VY2 or NNY.  For me a big surprise was to work two ND section stations very early on in the contest.  Usually North Dakota shows up late on Sunday.  This and other "rare" section appearances suggest that more stations play in the SSB events from those areas than in the CW Sweepstakes.

On the spaceweather front this was a noisy weekend.
While the SFI was in the 160 - 175 range, the goeswith was a consistent K-Index of 4
with an A-Index fluctuating from 12 - 20.
Combining that with the RFI noise on 40 made it a difficult Sweepstakes.

Because I was a low power station with a vertical, my signal strength was marginal at best in many areas.  However difficult copy is not a legitimate reason to abort a QSO mid-way, just because the copy becomes a bit rough.
If you are a run station and the QRM is so heavy you cannot consistently complete QSOs,
then it is time to change frequency.  Being stubbornly obstinate doesn't win contests.

My FIRST Sweepstakes was in 1970.  I've participated in over 25 Sweepstakes years since then.  While the number of sections keeps expanding, overall the goal(s) and spirit of Sweepstakes has not really changed over the 81 years of running this classic contest event.

I look forward to another 25 years of SS.
What about you?
Is one of my 115 QSOs in YOUR log?

1 comment:

  1. Today I received the 1st place certificate for EB section.
    My pathetic 11,988 points was evidently enough to do the job.
    SS-2015 is going to be even MORE bizarre.
    Stay Tuned!