CQWW CW Recollections
Jack Schuster, W1WEF
The week before the contest, I tried to stockpile sleep. I had a bad cold, the first in years, so I was taking Tylenol cold tablets which I think made me sleep longer than normal. I may have taken Melatonex Wed nite as well that has worked for me too. However, Thurs nite, after a driving rain Thanksgiving day, I discovered that my top TH6 developed a high SWR above 4:1 on 15, after being a perfect 1:1 for weeks before. As a result, I slept poorly that night trying to decide what to do next!
During the middle of the night, I decided I would go up the tower at daybreak, remove the driven element from the lower TH6 at 38 ft, bring it to the top and replace the DE with the one taken from the lower TH6, and bring that one down to the ground to examine it. It seemed to me that for the SWR to be as high as it was, it was most likely the DE with the problem. 20 and 10 were affected too, but not as badly as 15.
As it turned out, in the morning when the winds had dried everything out from the previous rain, the antenna was working fine again and I decided to leave well enough alone. After the contest I made the swap anyway and upon disassembly of the top DE, I found a stripped sheetmetal screw on one trap cover to element tab, and a screw at the end of one coil winding possibly loose. I tightened the coil screw and put a larger sheetmetal screw on the trap cover. All was fine after that, but it was one of those fixes you couldnt be sure of. All trap covers had already been drilled with extra drain holes toward the outer end. During the contest, once or twice I did notice SWR had crept up a bit on 15, but not as drastically as Thanksgiving night .. perhaps 2.0 or so, despite no rain.
After deciding to leave well enough alone before the contest, I couldnt sleep in the afternoon. Trying to decide where to start, I spoke briefly with W4AN who said he always starts on 40. (in a post contest get together KQ2M told me he does too). I thought 15 sounded good, and found V63HO on 21020 with a good signal so I decided to start on 15. Working V63HO (I dont know if it was Ann, WA1S or Paul K1XM) and told them Id be there at the start. I put their freq in the B VFO and looked around for a few more good mults, and went back to the V63 freq to here them saying QRX - we have to load the new call. I tried to help police the freq to keep it clear for them, and to my surprise (!) at 00Z V63X called ME, and we started the contest!
I then started scanning the band, picking up a few good mults like PY0FF, CX5X, a few JAs, KH7R, J3A, 9Y4VU, EM1LV, nothing really exotic. I had N6BVs .brk sheet from 1996 when Dean did real well and I planned to compare my rate to that throughout the contest. I realized that I shouldnt let myself get discouraged doing so, because this was a different year with different condx, but it was a guideline nonetheless. In 96, Dean started on 40 and had 62 Qs in his first hour. At 0030 I had only 30 Qs in the log. I realized it was time to make a change and moved to 20 where I started sweeping the band from the bottom up. On 14012 I worked TI1C the boys I might have been with had I accepted Jim Neigers invitation to join them. Because we were planning our return from KH6 the day before I would have to leave for TI, I decided it best not to go, and as it turned out with my bad cold it was probably a good thing.
Moving on up the band, at 14013 and I work a loud TI1G! Whats going on? As I continue, moving up the band, I work a new mult with almost every Q. At 01Z I have 54 Qs in the log, behind Dean in Qs but my mult total is ahead of his ...I have 53 against his 24.
In the first 15 min of the second hour, on 20 I find V63X for a second band, and pick up HC8N, HS,A6, OH, SM, JA, ZS6 and UA9 before deciding to go to 40. Starting at the bottom of 40 I moved up the band, S&Ping, sometimes picking up two or more stations within 1Khz. Half the Qs are new mults as I continue my sweep up to 7078khz. Its now 0247 and I figure Id better get to 80. I again sweep from the bottom, with 6Y2A (Dean?) as my first 80 Q and first 6Y2A Q as well. Finding a hole at 3503, I run 9 stations, but then start S&Ping up the band again as high as 3555 when its 0400 and time to hit 160. Perhaps I spent too much time doing it, but in 19 mins I nab S5, DL, 9A, 6Y2A, ZF,OK, KP2 and TI1C on Top band.
Back to 40, I try to run high in the band, at 7067 and after about 15 Qs in 12 mins I try to find a hole closer to the bottom and run on 7007 for a while, but already get a couple dupes calling in. I leave dupes in the log. Not happy with the run, I S&P again, tuning up the band past all the W Cqers and pick up KH6, J3A,3A, 6Y2A, and 6D2X,when its 160 time again at 0600. I get K4LTA, C6, J3A, LY, P4, VE and J6 in the log, in 13 mins, and its S&P time on 80. Until 07Z when back on 160 I added LA and F. A few more mults are found S&Ping on 80, and back to S&P on 40 with a little running, but nothing real good until 0815 when I look at 20.(3:15AM local time).
After working a PY, a very loud VR98BG, 8P9Z, CE, D4, CT3, EA9, J3A, VP2V, and LY, its back to 80 where I pick up HP, OY and KH6. Its 0900 and Im well ahead of Deans 96 Q total AND Mult total. This good feeling spurs me on, and Im not at all tired. Pick up a few more mults on 20, then a few on 40, and a few on 80, then a 9V on 20, and back to 160, 80, 40, and 20. Its 11Z on 20, and its opening to Eu.
Time out for a couple of footnotes. To make it easier to track the .brk file I re-numbered the times one hour ahead so I could compare the actual time and not have to compare to the previous hour on the .brk ur! I find that "HOUR" notation in CT confusing I wish it said "TIME" instead. Also, I had a second radio set up my 706, but only able to receive using vertical antennas situated about 250 ft from the tower in the woods. I had switchable quarter wave stubs on the 706, and could copy on other bands quite well with no sign of QRM. My automatic 2 Radio switching could be enabled, so I could listen on the 706 whenever I transmitted on the MP, and it automatically switched me back to receive on the MP at the end of the transmission. As good as it was working, I might have attributed 3 Qs in the whole contest to the use of the second radio. It would be best if I could have transmitted on it, instead of QSYing the main radio to the 706 freq to work a station, and then moving back.
I S&P the early 20 opening, nab KH7R on 160(already had NH7A), a JA on 80, and find 15 is already open. I run a bit on 21075, and thanks to the 706, I find ten is open after being on 15 for only 14 minutes! I start at the bottom, and start running at 28007at 1211Z. At 1307Z I decide Im too close to K1RX who I work on my freq after turning an antenna further North, and I move up 1KHz to 28008 where Im able to run until 1615Z! S&Ping up to as high as 28133 where I find HC8N, I pick up a bunch of mults and go to 15.
I run on 15 for about an hour and a half on 21003, go back to ten and pick up J3A, and ZM2K, return to 21001 and run there for an hour before S&Ping up the band for a few more mults.I find it hard to stop good runs with the highest rates I ever had, to go Searching, but every time I do, I find good mults. Theres always the fear of not getting a run freq again, but actually this year it was easier than ever because there were always three bands open at the same time! At 21Z Im back on 40, hoping to catch the early New England advantage to Europe, and Im already perhaps an hour too late. I run a few for 15 minutes or so, find V63X with the 706 on 28040, and go to a clear 14000 for a half hour run of JAs, and Europeans. S&P 20, back to the band edge, a few JAs on 15, and its time to settle in on 40. In the middle of a good run on 40 ,at the end of the first 24 hours Im well ahead of the .brk sheet with 1717 Qs and 511 mults vs 1512 and 330 from 1996s second or third place Single op! Im feeling real good! .
In the first day, 6Y2A was my first 6 bander, J3A my second, and G0IVZ my third! I always have a hard time remembering whether I still need P40W eg on a given band, so I started a list of the popular calls PZ5JR, FG5BG, 8P9Z, VP5GN, VE2/N6ZZ etc on a piece of paper that I can glance at faster than I can look at Super Ck partial. A couple problems during the first day caused a little grief, but they could have been worse. The amp fuse blew, and I replaced it with the last one I had actually after the contest I found ten more. I also discovered that when I changed freq on the MP by typing the new freq into the computer, if I had the Clarifier on and I always do, when I QSYd it turned off, and stayed off when I moved back to the original freq. As a result of not realizing the clarifier was off, I had a hard time getting 6Y2A to hear me, and Dean must have been wondering why I was so far off his freq when he finally came back!
Starting the second 24 hours I have 1759 Qs. Dean finished the contest with 2768 in 96, so I sure didnt want to fall behind now. He had put in about 46 hours, and I knew I couldnt do that. I continue my run on 7024 until I have 1830Qs. Go to 80, and run a bit on 3516, but I still dont feel loud on 80 never did! Go to 160 on the hour, and nab EA8, EA, 4X4NJ (YES!), HA, OM, CM. Scan 20 , pick up a few and back to 80. Run 50 stations on 3549, but cant sustain a run better than that on 80. 160 again and VP5, I, OZ, G, 8P, W7RM and YU. Run 55 more on 3550, get VP2V , PA on top band, and decide I have to take OFF Time. Its 11PM local time, and I havent had any sleep yet. I take 6 hours off, dont really sleep well, miss 80 the second nite when I might have built my total on 80, but get a needed break. I wonder if I had slept better Thurs nite if I could have stayed awake! I shower and shave before getting back on, and start with T32 on 80, , go to 40 for FM, and to 20 which is open to Eu. My country total is so low on 20, I decide to stay there even if I find 15 and 10 open, to build up that total.I run high in the band between buzzes and stay on 14075 about two hours. Scanning the band from the bottom up, pick up 9M6, SV5, GI, UA2, EU and go to 15 at 2230.
Knowing my total is low on 15, I want to stay there as long as I can keep the rate up, and run 240 Qs on 21007 before sweeping up the band to search for mults. I work anyone new, no new mults, and run 160 more Qs on 21048 Back to 20 at 1744Z I run some more there on 14072,and 14080, with PZ5 picked up on the 706 on ten in between. HZ1HZ calls in with an exceptionally loud signal. He is followed by a real loud VQ9IO. They move a few hundred Hz off my frequency, and work each other. I think they just moved here from another band to do just that, but I was lucky they landed on me! I move in on HZ1HZ and ask him to go to 7095. He says OK (as he has before great guy!) and although theres QRM there we hear each other up a bit and make the Q at 3PM local time on 40!
20Z with 4 hours to go, I decide its time to S&P some more. I have 2889 Qs and 606 mults now, and I set a new goal of 3000 Qs and 5M. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Id be pushing 5M points! 40 isnt open well yet so I go to 10 and S&P, picking up a few Caribbean and So American mults.
Move to 15, and find VK2AYD, CP, TI1C, ZP, FG, V4, KH8, CE. Scanning 20, working anyone I need as I tune the band, then 40 for one Q, 80 for GW and 4X4WN, back to 20 for a run on 14031. I work 80 stations there, with an HL mixed in as well as VK6HG and ZL1MH.I go to 80 and dupe 5V7A, and decide to finish on 20. The last half hour finds 3B8 and 9M2 calling in.
I wind up with 3,032 Qs and 617 mults, 146 Zones, and 471 Countries for 5, 399,984 points. I feel great no matter who beat me. I know darn well I wasnt the only one who enjoyed these superb conditions. I dont recall ever enjoying a contest from home as much as this, and Im more enthused than ever about contesting! My ON Time according to CT is 41 hours. If I had only stayed ON longer
The Station: FT 1000MP - MLA2500
TH6 @108 ft - TH6 on sidearm @ 75 ft - TH6 fixed Eu at 38 ft
40-2CD @116 ft - 40-2CD fixed Eu 56 ft
4 Sq 80 - Dipole 80 at 75 ft
Inv L 160 - 50 ground radials
Eu Bev - JA Bev
Improvements planned as a result of this experience:
1. Clean contacts on paddle!!! Hi
2. Replace sidearm rotor with Yaesu G-1000SDX
3. Relocate lower 40-2CD and make it rotatable on sidearm along with TH6
4. Rework IIX with a thrust bearing on top end of rotor mast support
5. Get second radio set up to allow transmitting and possibly using tower antennas
6. Optimize the 4Sq for CW, make verticals taller