ARRL DX CW Contest of 2001 - SO/AB/HP
Pre-contest: Flew up to Hartford from Knoxville early Friday morning, got a rental car from National and made the 90 mile drive to Randy's house. Not as convenient as flying into Providence, but US Airways was running an R/T special Knoxville-Hartford and I
actually got the plane ticket and a 3 day car rental cheaper than flying R/T to Providence. This also eliminated the need for Randy to R/T me to the airport twice. About 2000Z we started looking at the station, made sure TR Log was working (Randy uses WriteLog) and hooking a few things up. The antennas were pretty straightforward and all the switching was stuff I'd used before.
Rig #1: my Omni-VI Plus with Randy's Ameritron AL-1200.
Rig #2: Randy's FT1000D and Alpha 76.
2120Z Friday: Nap time. I have had 8 to 10 hours a night sleep for two weeks previous except for the night the CW Sprint ran, including 9 hours Thursday night. Randy agrees to wake me 30 minutes before the contest. I am planning to go 48 straight, if I can make it. I make a mental note to check how I feel after 24 hours, as I usually start running out of gas
after dark on Saturday night.
0000Z: After looking over last years rate sheets and some querying of Randy about low band strategy, I am off to the races. The Omni-VI Plus is parked on 7017 to kick it off and it goes with a bang, with 23 QSO's in the log in the first 10 minutes.
0004Z: First second radio QSO is on 20 meters with MD/DL5AXX.
0100Z: First hour is 134 Q's, including 8 on 20m on the second radio. I keep in mind that while 20 is open good and is easy pickings, these are Q's that can be had later. I move the second radio to 80 meters while continuing to run on 7019.6 and work second
radio QSO's on 20, 80, and 160 in the next couple of hours.
0220Z: I am watching last year's rate sheet and notice a drop off in 40 meter QSO's the same thing is now happening this year as I vacuum up the available people to work. It's also in the middle of the night in Europe. 3539 is open and I start CQing with immediate, but slow, results. Boy are the Europeans ever loud in W1 on 80! Working them from Tennessee is a head-in-hands, volume-maxed experience trying to separate weak CW from band noise. Up here
it's nice signals from S5 to well over S9. Wow!
0315Z: Still running them on 80, but try 15 meters "just in case" on the second radio and work a very weak T32RD. Only other signal is KC1XX. Immediately go from 15 to 160 on the second radio and make 6 QSO's for 6 mults in 7 minutes while continuing to run on 80
meters. This is definitely not Tennessee, and to boot I am beating absolutely everyone out on every European I call on 160.
0344Z: 80 is slowing after an hour and half and I go back to 40 to start running again. The band is absolutely packed with loud signals and I get kicked off of a couple of frequencies before finding a spot open at 7040.7. 28 QSO's in the next 15 minutes.
0400-0500Z: Continuing to alternate runs between 80 and 40 and pick off multipliers on 20 and 160. I keep checking 15 but hear nothing. There seem to be quite a few UAŘ and UA9's to work on 20 that are not weak and watery. This tells me that there is solid gray line and I am betting that a good European sunrise opening on 20 is going to happen.
0505Z: In our pre-contest chat, Randy told me if 160 was not noisy to try CQing there prior to EU sunrise. I decide this is the moment and work 19 Europeans on 160 in the next 22 minutes, then at 0527 go back to 40 meters to kick off some of the EU sunrise. C4A calls me on 40. 32 Q's on 40m in the next 20 minutes.
0557Z: OD5/OK1MU calls in on 40.
0600Z-0640Z: Continuing to run on 40 meters while picking off mults on 80 and 160 on the second radio. I am hearing good Russian signals on 20 but am not bothering to work them, as I figure the opening is going to continue for a bit and 40 is going fairly well. Finally, at 0640 I decide the rate is slowing enough on 40 that going to CQ on 20 may be worth a shot. I was wrong. I worked 4 Q's in the next 8 minutes and went back to 40. Even though 20 was good, most of the DX was sticking to 40 and I go back down there and find a new run frequency.
0700-0800Z: A 92 hour between running on 40, working mults on 80 and picking off some random EU CQers on 20. 80 is rapidly dying as the sun comes up in Europe and I'm watching the greyline on the GEOCLOCK computer. Last 80m EU QSO of the night will be GM3YTS at 0821Z.
0840Z: 40 is now down to western Europe and the signals are getting stronger on 20. I expected they were going to be louder a couple of hours earlier but that was not to be the case. It's definitely time to get up there to CQ and with a twist of the knob the Omni-VI Plus is on 14.047. I put out a CQ and am immediately rewarded with a roaring pileup of
Europeans. It gets to the point where I have the RIT +/-300 Hz just to separate them. I am amazed. There are 6, 8, or 10 callers after every QRZ? and I fear the rate is slowing because I simply can't pick whole callsigns out of the roar every time. I shut off the audio on the second radio and work 167 Europeans in the next 60 minutes.
0950Z: The rate is incredible but I am going to be sorry if I don't try to pick off some low band multipliers before the high band openings start shortly. C6, KH6, and P4 are quickly in the log on 40 as the roaring pileup on 20 continues unabated.
0940-1040Z: The second radio is abandoned as the roar continues for a 143 hour from 0940-1040. I have moved the second radio to 15, shut off the CW filters and am watching the S-meter for an indication that it's time to jump from 20 to 15. EU is there, but not numerous or loud enough to yet make the switch.
1040-1057Z: 38 Q's in 17 minutes for a 134 rate. This is not good enough to stay on 20 and I immediately jump to 15 meters. The next hour on 15m will be 165 QSO's.
1158Z: GM3POI is first in the log on 28 MHz as I have now moved the Omni-VI Plus to 10 while continuing to run Europe with the FT1000D on 15. I am again trying to assess at what moment I can crank the rate even higher by jumping from 15 to 10.
1200Z: Turns out that moment was exactly two minutes later as I quickly find an open spot at 28.040, make one CQ and OH6RX answers. The 15m audio is shut off as I focus on running Europe with the Omni-VI on 10 meters.
1210Z: FR5FD on Reunion Island calls in on 10.
1200-1500Z: Hours of 153, 120, and 106 follow using both radios. Anytime no one answers a CQ I am immediately tuning for someone on the second radio. 10 is dying rapidly going into the 1500 hour and at 1509Z I go back to CQing on 15. I think that the slowdown on 10 is more related to there being so much activity that the callers are spread thinner. At 1541Z I'm back on 10 meters again CQing with the rate having picked back up.
~1500Z: Somewhere during the runs, Randy has poked his head into the radio room to tell me he is leaving to drive over to K1EA to operate at the K1AR Multi/2 and will be back sometime before the end of the contest. I remember mumbling something in response and then hearing the car pulling out of the garage.
1540-1640Z: 115 hour between CQing on 10 and picking off stations on the second radio on 15 and 20.
1721Z: The rate has begun to trickle off on 10 and my final CQ of the morning there will be at 1720Z.
1720Z-2025Z: 132 hour on 15 with some Q's on 10m off the second radio. The rate is softening a bit, with 121 on 15m from 1820-1925, when I decide to drop down to 20m with the Omni-VI Plus. The rate hangs in there with a 119 hour on 20 from 1925-2025Z.
2100Z: From looking at the previous year's rate sheet, I can tell that shortly I am going to have to drop down to 40. The rate on 20 isn't going too well and has slipped below 100/hr by this point despite good signal levels.
2110Z: Having decided to drop to 40 meters, I take a quick break to get up and eat something. I skipped dinner on Friday night and have only minimally ate anything to this point. A couple of bagels, a banana, two cartons of yogurt and a big glass of apple juice
and I am back in front of the radio. This will be the first of only two 5 minute breaks that I will take over the course of the 48 hour contest.
2116-2302Z: 7019.7 is open and PA5WT immediately answers my CQ there at 2116Z. Nearly two hours of CQing on 7019 while picking off mults on 10, 15, and 20 ensues. At the end of this 1 hr and 45 minute stretch, a total of 169 more QSO's including 16 multipliers. 9V1YC calls in on 40 at 2300Z and I try to move him to 10 but he doesn't want to budge. Signals on 10 from Asia are starting to come up over the last hour or so and at 2302Z I decide to try running JA's on 10 meters.
2312Z: The JA run is not working out on 10. 10 QSO's in 10 minutes followed by a three minute gap with no answers. Ugh. Back to 40 meters with the CQ machine.
0000Z: Still CQing on 40 while picking off QSO's on 10, 15 and 20 with the second radio. This is assessment time. I decided I was going to try and go 48 straight if it looked like things were going well at the halfway point and I was physically feeling good. The line score was 2710 QSO's and 2.93 million points. A little quick mental calculating gave me a
score prediction in the mid to high 5 million range. This would possibly be good enough to beat the single op high power record of 5.5 million. I usually start getting tired around 0200 or 0300Z Sunday but tonight I am feeling good and decide I am going to tough it out and go all 48. I would hate to lose a shot at breaking the record because I wanted a two hour nap.
2355Z-0104Z: 40 meters has started to tail off. Running out of fresh Europeans and the casual ops in central and eastern Europe are in bed in the 2 am-4 am local stretch there. Change bands to 20 for CQing to pick up some of the Siberians and am rewarded with
several great mults calling in right off the bat: 3W, 9M2, HS, BV, 9V1YC, DU and YB all answer the 20 meter CQ as well as a couple other garden variety mults like KH6 and VK.
0106Z: Flip from 20 down to 80 and start CQing on 3524. Work 60 Europeans on 3524 in the next 46 minutes while continuing to pick off Asia on 20 meters. Move the run frequency to 40 at 0152Z. 40 isn't going that well and after only 15 QSO's in 29 minutes there I'm back CQing on 80 again at 0221Z.
0221Z-0327Z: This was a mixed bag of alternating CQing on 40 and 80 and picking off multipliers on 20, 40, 80, and 160 during the same stretch. Trying to keep the rate up anyway possible but this is usually a fairly slow time anyway. Europe is in bed, I've
worked a lot guys already, etc. I keep peeking at 15 meters but hear nothing interesting to work.
0327Z: The Russians over the pole are coming in nicely again on 20 with a minimal amount of flutter. GEOCLOCK is showing greyline to eastern Russia and western Siberia. Good time for some CQing, likely. The band is relatively uncrowded and I find an open spot in the "power alley" at 14.004. This quickly turns into a solid mini-run of 67 UA's and JA's in the next 45 minutes. I'm continuing to pick off mults and Q's on 40 and 80 on the second radio.
0417Z: Keeping in mind Randy's missive about occasionally CQing on 160, I call for 7 minutes and work 4 QSO's, and grab WP2Z and LZ2JE for two quick mults before QSYing the run radio to 80 meters. 80 doesn't work out to well in the next few minutes and I go back to CQing on 20 at 0434Z. I continue to alternate until 0512Z between CQing on 20 and 40 and
picking off stuff on 80 with the opposite rig.
~0500Z: I am getting tired. We're 29 hours into the contest and a couple of hours past the point where I usually am running out of steam. I am absolutely determined I am going to make it all 48. I catch myself a couple of times staring at the radios or the
computer while doing absolutely nothing and realize I am slipping somewhat. A fast run into the kitchen to make coffee ensues. I feel pretty good, and I am not hallucinating like I was during the CQ WW at W4AN I take this as a positive sign.
0539Z: Still hopscotch CQing among 20, 40, and 80 just trying to keep mini-runs going while multiplier hunting on the second radio. I find J38A, operated by
my friend Bill K4LTA on 40 and move him to 20 for another mult.
0547Z: It looks like the European sunrise opening that never really materialized on 20 at this hour yesterday is picking up some and I have put the Omni-VI Plus back up there to run some Russians and Europeans. The next hour will be 80 QSO's.
0700Z: 40 doesn't sound too great it appears the early risers in Europe are hearing that 20 is somewhat open and are choosing to go there rather than 40. I am picking off some Q's on the low bands, watching for the possibility of going back to 40 to CQ.
0716Z: Hopefully we're going to see another great 20 meter opening as happened around 0830Z yesterday, and with that thought in mind I have dropped back down to 40 to CQ. I'll stay on 40 until 0847Z, putting 106 QSO's in the log in the next 91 minutes.
0847Z: I've watching for the breakout moment on 20 and it's been wide open now for about 15 or 20 minutes to Europe. I elected to stick with 40 until the last possible moment as I am sure the runs on 20 are really going to be rolling after the 167 hour the previous
day from 0840-0940.
~0930Z: 4:30 AM local time Sunday. Randy has arrived home from K1EA/K1AR to get some sleep. He comes in to check on me. I am TIRED- but I manage a weak smile, say something incomprehensible to myself or him (not sure which), remember leaning on the desk and
shaking my head. I think I may have exchanged a few sentences with him but I am beyond comprehending anything but CW at this point.
1000Z: The rate has picked up again on 20 as the roar of Europeans that happened at this time the previous night has resumed. I work a 102 hour there from 0900Z-1000Z and then an 83 hour from 1000Z-1100Z.
1100Z: It's getting ugly inside my head. I am having trouble copying callsigns now because of fatigue and am second-guessing my decision to have skipped a two hour nap earlier in the evening. I wonder if the decreased ability to copy callsigns now would have
been overcome if I had taken the nap and lost 100 QSO's doing so. Would I have gained the 100 back with the nap? I realize this is a stupid discussion to be having with myself. I've skipped the nap because I wanted to go all 48, I certainly am not going to take a nap during the morning European openings and I push the thought out of mind. But I am feeling ROUGH.
1120Z: FM/F2JD calls in on 20 and I quickly move him through 15 and 10 meters also.
1126Z: Of 10, 15, 20, and 40, I am lowest on QSO totals on 15 and make the switch as soon as the band feels practical. As usual, it's already packed and I find myself way up at 21.056 but the small pileup and the run starts immediately and I elect to stick it
out up there. I am instantly rewarded with a 123 hour.
1318Z: I have ran through 100 more QSO's on 15 in the previous 52 minutes, a 116 rate. Not quite fast enough, and I bail to jump up to 10 meters. Put out one CQ, RU6LWT is in the log and the rate meter flys over to the right. A 117 hour from 1318-1418 on 10 while picking off random CQers on 15 on the other radio.
1500Z: HZ1HZ had called me on 20 late Saturday and I set up a sked for 21.100 at 1500Z. He doesn't show if he did it would have been hard for me to tell as two Europeans were CQing on top of each other on 21.100 at that exact moment.
1507Z: I've been on 10 almost two hours and the callers are starting to dry up. A quick pass across the band finds signals all the way past 28.200! I decide to call CQ on 15 while S&Ping on 10 - I realize the phenomenon of band-open-let's-casually-run-the-W's
has started and I am sure I can find a bunch of new QSO's by dropping the CQ radio down to 15 and scanning across 10. I start off at 28.183 with OK1AXB and slowly start my way down the band while CQing on 15. It takes about 25 minutes to run down the entire band and at 1543Z I go back to CQing on 10.
~1530Z: Randy is awake and has come into the radio room to see how I am doing radio-wise and mental-health-wise. He is more alert than I am to the fact that I have eaten virtually nothing since Friday at lunch and have drank only coffee and one glass of apple juice. He delivers a full pot of coffee, a pitcher of ice water and a couple of items from my
food stash before exiting to go back to the K1AR multi-op.
1638Z: I am a spacing out. I am doing things like staring at the GEOCLOCK monitor, forgetting to press F1 to call CQ, listening to people on the S&P radio run W's and turning knobs on the radio for no apparent reason. I have to take a break. I get up for 5
minutes, walk around some, look out the shack windows into the yard and eat some yogurt. This will be only the second break I take and I am back on the air at 1646Z.
1800Z: The rate is not too great but not out of line for Sunday afternoon, with a 68 hour from 1700-1800 from CQing on 10 while picking off CQers on 15 and 20. At 1829Z, HP1AC calls in with 4 watts on 15 and I quickly move him through 10 and 20 meters as well.
1911Z: The rate is hovering around 75 an hour, calling CQ on 15 and S&Ping on 10 and 20. I am really tired at this point and am leaning heavily on the desk to prop myself up. Confusion has set in as well as I can't send CW with the paddle or even remember the
callsign I am using. I am sending "K5MA" "K5ZD" "W4PA" and who knows what else. I decide to stop using the paddle and only send with the keyboard. I have also made a large sign that reads K5ZD 5NN MA.
2006Z: FR5FD calls in on 15 and I quickly move him to 20.
2033Z: EA8/OK1DJG calls in on 15 and I quickly move him to 40. It's broad daylight at 3:30 PM but he still has about an S4 signal on 40.
2108Z: The high bands have really slacked off and I have nothing to lose by going to 40 for some fresh QSO's. FR5FD is the first one in the log CQing on 40. 23 QSO's in the next 24 minutes before returning to 20 meters. I end up high in the band at 14.079 but am
getting a slow steady stream of callers. It is about this time that I am trying to remember what I am doing I am wondering why these people are calling me and what "TEST TEST K5ZD" is. I know it's a radio contest but I don't know WHY. This goes on with me slowly getting worse as the hour goes on.
2212Z: Total confusion. I can't concentrate on the 2nd radio anymore and I really can't judge what band I should be on. I hear lots of signals on 15, 20, and 40 but I don't know what to do. I am almost incoherent and I go into a mental freeze that lasts
for a few minutes. There is a gap from 2212 to 2220Z in the log as I sit in the chair, dazed. No QSO's, no CQing, nothing as I try to figure out what I am doing.
2220Z: After looking at last year's rate sheet, I decide to try just one radio on 40 meters and see if I can do anything. The band, naturally is packed at I find a slot at 7020 and start running Europeans.
~2245Z: W6?? is 200 Hz below me and is ticked off that I am close by. Of course, with the Omni-VI Plus and a pair of 250 Hz filters I hear nothing but band
noise. No adjacent signal, no clicking and popping like you do with some other "top of the line" HF rigs. He tells me to QSY a few times and then just comes on top of me and deliberately calls CQ right on top of me. For some reason, I find this so funny that I am now shaking with laughter as I continue to run Europe through the QRM for the next few minutes. On a break, I send WHY? to him and he sends CUZ UR A LID back. I am cracking up and still CQing. He eventually slides back down below me.
2330Z: Sked arranged on Saturday with C4A for 2330Z Sunday on 3.565 comes off without a hitch. I am missing some "easy" 20 meter multipliers but am still incapable of looking for them on the second radio in my mental state. I strike a novel approach by
shutting off the CW filters on the second radio and try to listen for guys either sending fast or a pileup. I work TA and T48K quickly. I need P4 and HC8. I am answering a call on 40 when out of a dream I hear "brrazzzzznnnnttt" on 20 meters which I translate as "P49V" even though I am not paying to attention to radio #2. Amazingly enough, that was exactly what it was. I work him, and then P40R, and finally snag HC8N with one minute to go.
Post-contest: 4527/464 for 6,291,840 claimed score. Good enough to top the single op, all band high power record by 800k. What I don't know yet is if I'm the only one to have made it to that point. Monitoring 3830 after the contest, KQ2M reports a raw score of
6.5 million. I'm ahead 100 QSO's but down by 21 multipliers, mostly on 40 and 160 meters. Darn. Still, #2 will have to be good enough. Took a shower, ate some food with Randy and his family and hit the sack for a 10 hour snooze.
Post-post-contest: Got back to Tennessee on Monday night. US Airways broke my Ten-Tec 963 switching power supply for the Omni-VI Plus on the way home by bashing the back cover in. Oh well. Back to work Tuesday morning. Wait till next year!
A big THANKS for having me to Randy K5ZD and his family.
73 Scott Robbins, W4PA
Editors Note: When the final results were published, KQ2M just beat Scott to the post by 200,000 points. However, both efforts marked the first time that the 6 million-point mark was bettered in the category.
KQ2M 6,388,800 67/46 360/63 956/95 1183/101 995/92 839/87
K5ZD (W4PA,op) 6,187,104 84/40 322/60 937/81 1165/102 958/92 998/87