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Contest Writeups - N3BB
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This page contains an account of operating in the ARRL DX CW Contest of 2001, by N3BB.
ARRL DX CW Contest of 2001 - SO/AB/HP

The ARRL DX CW contest has the interesting feature that the DX stations have to work us, so they always have their antennas in the USA/VE direction, and we don't have to endure the pain of DX-to-DX periods. I like the power data and the state/province exchange, as you actually have to get more than the call sign to make a valid QSO. The contest misses the magic of the zones, and the double multiplier capacity of the CQWW, but every contest has its unique characteristics.

I find myself in a bit of a contesting renaissance following the WRTC last summer. Both Alan and I were disappointed with our team's performance, and I have tried to hone and test my skills and see just how I stack up. To that end, I have converted to the NA software, with its CT type look and feel, but with true SO2R capability, and am working on learning how to listen to two radios concurrently, and how to move stations with the best of them. I've made the comment somewhat lightly that my goal is to have the hardware here at N3BB be the limiting factor, not the operator, and after this year's ARRL CW, I think that just might be the case. Therefore changes to the 160, 80, and 20 meter antennas will be made this summer, and I look forward to these.

I started the contest as usual to JA on 10 meters. The first four callers were JA, DU, UA9, and KL7. I gave some quick thought to moving the DU and KL7, but decided it would be easy to work them on 10-15-20 later. That was a correct decision on DU3NXE, but a bad one on KL7HF as no KL7s were worked on either 15 or 20! Especially at this time when W5 has a great shot to Asia and new run frequencies are easy to find if lost. Next time, it will be getting the mult in the log then! Several attempts to move BVs didn't pan out. It paid off to have printed out the "announced DX operations" from the NG3K web site as a watery weak "3LW" answered my CQ, and I sent "3W2LWS?" Back came an "RRR." That was a good one, and he moved to 15 for a twofer. YB9BON and HS0AC both did twofers. The first few hours on ten and fifteen were good, but not great, with 243 QSOs after three hours.

Somehow, I blew twenty meters in this contest. I made 18 QSOs on twenty in the first 13 hours of the contest, and the band sounded dead to me late that night when I checked for the European sunrise opening. On the other hand, we had spectacu-lar openings from Texas to Europe on 40-80-160. I was able to run and S&P Europe at 60-70 per hour on 40 while tuning 80 and 160 for mults. It was necessary for me to take a 90 minute sleep break about 0930Z, and the morning JA run on 40 was a bit sub par with 50-60 per hour. RU0LL and RA0FN moved from 40 to 80 and 160 respectively during that time. When daylight arrived, I had about 730 QSOs, and that's a pretty good first night from here.

I worked 20 meters right after daylight Saturday morning, having almost nothing on that band, but 10 sounded so hot in the other radio that I moved to 10 at 1337Z (a half hour after sun rise) and I should have been there earlier. Three hours of about 100 per hour followed before 10 cooled down somewhat. During that period, I was able to make several mult moves from the 10 meter run frequency. Three banders included IS0, LA, and two banders included OE, ON. OZ, PA, YL, GW, P3, and GM. Most of these were moves to 20 to be sure I had some of the basic Europeans on 20. By 16Z, noon local time, 20 meters is very flat due to sun absorption, and we enter the period known as the afternoon grind here. One still can run 10/15 at up to 50-60 an hour, but it's tough, and I was CQing on one band and tuning the other band, concentrating as hard as possible for mults or new stations on the other non-run band. That's the case until the band opens to JA, and the late afternoon JA-fest begins. The JA openings this year were a bit weird. The band opened from here at 2230Z on 10 meters. Who knows, perhaps I should have been on 15 meters. Ten meter rates never got very good, with 30-40 per hour the best I could do. The JAs simply were not there, although with no QRP stations were in the log Friday night, perhaps the band conditions eliminated the lowest tier of signals. There was no rush, no spirited volume! During this period, 9V1YC called in and moved to 15 and 20 for a three bander, and ditto XX9TDX and JT1CS. Again, the usefulness of reading the pre contest announcements regarding XX9TDX paid off as they were weak, and the "TDX" suffix was all I needed in order to get the whole call confirmed and a three band QSO. Thanks guys! What the 10/15 meter JA opening lacked in volume, it made up in duration, lasting until 0330Z.

The 40 meter runs to Europe were not as good as Friday night. I don't know why. It was fun when RW2F asked me to move to 80 for them for TX. We almost never get asked to move from such a large and common state. That was fun. I had to take a four hour sleep break from 07-11Z Sunday morning. Those are good hours if 20 opens, and I gambled that it would be closed again. There were some good numbers from K5GN on 20, so Dave found some good run times I missed. But I was shaky and had to get some sleep. Perhaps the sleep time could have been a bit shorter. Oh well. In fact I erred in not checking 20 as soon as I got back on the air Sunday morning. When I moved YB0DPO and DU3NXE from 40 to 20, the band was pretty lively, and that's the first time I knew that 20 was good to Europe.

The trick here from W5 is to run JA on 10/15 from late afternoon until the band fades, switch to 40 and run Europe until European daylight, and then run JAs on 40 until the sun rises here. At the same time 40 is running to JA, the best 20 meter openings from Texas occur over the pole to Europe and Asia following the gray line as the day breaks from east to west. This year, 20 sounded like it was closed here. So I stayed on 40. Then it's off to the races on 10/15 as Europe and the whole cycle repeats itself.

The morning run to Europe was good, and I had my best hour, 114 QSOs, on 10 meters from 14-15Z. A big thrill was having VU2TS call in and move for a three bander. His signal was 569 or better on all three bands. I figured we would have no problem on 15, and we didn't. However I was surprised that he was so good on 20 meters at 1345Z. Moving stations is an interesting skill, as other bands might have better or worse propagation, the other station's antennas might be better or worse, and you have to select a decent frequency to avoid big bad QRM. Some of the moves, especially to 20 meters in the high absorption portion of the day, result in 229 type QSOs. But that makes the game fun. Following the mad hatter run, things settled into the grind-it-out part of the day. Several stations were kind enough to move to one of two more bands for me, including CN8YR (two-fer), TN3IFB (three-fer), T94KU (two-fer), ES1RF (two-fer), and FR5FD (two-fer). There was no propagation on 20 when FR5FR moved there to try for three bands, however he was a great sport and broke into my 15 meter run later at 2101Z to tell me that 20 meters was open, and he gave me a frequency to meet him. That's great spirit, and the resulting three-fer is appreciated.

N2IC has written that he has great hours at the end of the contest to JA. There have been some decent hours like that from here, with 50-60 hours on 10/15. But this year, JA continued to disappoint, with poor rates to JA the last three hours. My strategy was to CQ on 10 or 15, and tune 20 and 40. The response rate to my CQs was not very good, but the combination of CQing and second radio contacts kept me busy. I was able to dredge out six mults between 22-23Z, and another seven mults the last hour, although the last hour was a pitiful 25 QSOs total. I ended on a small high note the last five minutes finding D68C, VP2E, and 8P9NX scanning 20 meters. 8P9NX was not sending his call every QSO, so I dumped mine in there blind, was thrilled to find he was a new one, and logged him with 15 seconds to spare.

K5GN, who has similar propagation, reported over 3500 QSOs and a higher mult total, to boot! My hat's off to Dave. That's a super feat from Texas. I'll keep getting after Dave and K5MR, but it's tough. They are very fine operators from very fine stations. Congrats to all the great scores. Some of these are going to stand up for a sun spot cycle as we head down into the upcoming minimum.

73, Jim George N3BB/5

Class: SOAB HP            QTH: Texas
Operating Time (hrs): 42       Radios: SO2R
Club: Central Texas DX & Contest Club CTDXCC

Summary:
  Band     QSOs  Mults
----------------------
   160:     29     25
    80:    127     53
    40:    574     74
    20:    269     82
    15:    671     91
    10:   1073     92
----------------------
Total:    2743    417  =  3,431,493


Editors Note: When the final results were published, Jim came third in the Midwest Region High Power Section, with a final checked score of 3,375,840 - 2705 - 416

Jim is the sponsor for the 'Europe Multioperator Two Transmitter CW' plaque, won this year by HG6N.

 
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