ARRL Sweepstakes 2015 SSB – Soap Box

NovemberSweepstakesLogo

Contest season is still going strong for me. I decided to play in Sweepstakes SSB this weekend because  my local club is putting in a group effort and wanted to add to the collective.

Getting Ready

After the horrors of getting a late start during WAE RTTY, I wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again. Checked the antennas, made sure the software was up to date and pre-recorded my messages into the digital voice keyer (DVK). I also made sure N1MM software was in working order.

My goals for the contest were to get a clean sweep. Never participated in sweeps until this year and I at least want to work all the ARRL sections. I also set a goal of 50,000 or more to help out my club effort.

And we’re off!

Since I wanted a clean sweep, I decided to use assistance from the cluster/network to find those needed callsigns. I started off running search and pounce looking for needed stations. Once I contacted all the needed stations, I just kept tuning around waiting to hear a CQ.

I’ve always heard about the long exchange which is what kept me from participating but doing SS on CW has somewhat prepared me for this. However I didn’t know exactly how people were going to say it. After a dozen or so contacts I got into a groove and started calling CQ.

Born to run

I rarely call CQ because with my station, It’s difficult to maintain a frequency. I am always being pushed out by the big guns. I’ve only ran during the New England QSO party because I’m the wanted station and it’s not really a big contest so real estate is much more available.

Since this contest is for North American operators (US/Canada), I  was able to hold a frequency and call CQ. I have a blast when operators line up to make contact with me. Western Massachusetts (WMA) isn’t considered rare since there are a few contesting stations on the air in the area but It was still fun. Some operators were excited they got WMA and were thanking me for a late multiplier.

Thanks to the almighty DVK

I am not a fan of talking to computers on the phone, why should I be a fan of talking to them on the radio? Some people are down right nasty when it comes to people using a Digital Voice Keyer and I can see their points but the DVK is what saves me and makes it more enjoyable. I used it call CQ and used it to help with every other exchange. Even with the help my voice is almost non exisitant after. I couldn’t imaging doing everything with the DVK. I guess I have respect for those ops with over 1000 contacts that are not using a DVK.

CLEAN SWEEP!

I didn’t spend much time on the air on Saturday. I saved my efforts for Sunday morning and afternoon. Honestly I didn’t think I was going to get a clean sweep due to 40/80 being somewhat closed during the day.  At around noon I needed 8 sections so I was bent on getting them. I had to fight in a pileups for AK and HI but the last three needed sections were WV, RI and GTA. I would not be able to reach them skywave so I hopped on 40 before it became popular and thankfully WV and RI responded to my calls. I was hearing GTA on others bands but it was just too close and my signal was going over them.  I stayed on 40 and sat around for any VE station. Finally around 3pm local I heard someone very loud say GTA. And thankfully they were calling CQ. He responded on my first attempt and jumped for joy

sweep

It’s very nice to see all the ARRL sections blue. Never happened before and was quite happy to do all 83 sections.

Trying Something New

I’ve always wanted to record my contests but never wanted to take the extra steps. Steve Cole (GW4BLE) from Wales records his contests and makes his contacts searchable. It’s enjoyable to see how you sound on the other side of the pond. I wanted have the exact same thing but I found people weren’t really forthcoming about the details.

There is a 3rd party application for N1MM+ called “qsorder” which will records the contest and will make seperate MP3’s for each contact. It listens to the UDP stream from N1MM and triggers the buffer to record 22 seconds before and after I hit the button to log the contact.

I wanted to find a way to display them like how GW4BLE does it or even the same as the wtQsoPlayer used in Wintest. I ended up making a directory listing, converted to CSV spreadsheet and modified it to link to the files. It’s 5min of work but after the deadline, I will make it available for others to search in the near future.

Claimed Scores

ssssb15

After making a clean sweep, I shifted my focus onto making as many contacts as possible. I wanted to pass 50k and did so right before I had to leave for other obligations.  I ended up with 307 contacts which yielded 50,962 points. I was happy about my results. After looking other claimed results, I guess I did ok.

Lessons learned

I have to look into ways to improve my rates. After looking at the claimed scores form the top of my class in my area, there is no way I would be able to compete unless I moved to a higher location and put up some more aluminum. Either I need to spend more time on the air (have yet to do a contest entirely) or learn how the spin the dial faster, make faster contacts or something.

Thanks for reading,
Jeff (NT1K)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.