The Station at K5NA: ==================== 10 Meters 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 152', rotatable 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 115', fixed NE 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 78', fixed NE 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 100', fixed NW 15 Meters 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 170', rotatable 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 128' fixed NE 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 86' fixed NE 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 44', rotatable from 315 to 140 degrees 20 Meters 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 190', rotatable 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 128' fixed NE 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 70' fixed NE 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 45' fixed SE 5 element Cushcraft monobander @ 104' fixed NW 9 element Cushcraft X9 tribander @ 82', rotatable 40 Meters 2 element Cushcraft XM240 @ 200', rotatable 2 element Cushcraft XM240 @ 128' fixed NE 2 element Cushcraft XM240 @ 70' fixed NW Inverted Vee @ 35'. 80 Meters NE - Two element phased vertical array NW - Two element phased vertical array SW - Sloping dipole @ 170' Inverted Vee @ 150' 160 Meters Full sized Rohn 25G vertical with insulator at 30' and raised radials Receiving Antennas Nine Beverages: SW, W, NW, NNW, N, NNE, E, SE Radios: ====== Radio 1: Elecraft K3, Elecraft P3, Acom 2000A Radio 2: Elecraft K3, Elecraft P3, Acom 2000A SO2R Controller: microHAM MK2R+ Headset: Yamaha CM-500 Software: WriteLog V10.80F
This is the third time in the last four years I have operated the CQ WPX phone contest as a serious unassisted high-power single-operator from the K5NA/K5DU contest station. Richard was very enthusiastic about my operation, even though he's just recently started treatment for esophageal cancer. Thankfully, the station is fairly mature at this point and takes little effort to get ready for a contest. I can (almost) just walk up, put on the headset and go.
I had my best start ever in this contest, coming extremely close to a 200 QSO hour in the second hour of the contest. It seems like being on 40 meters is always a struggle at times on the first night, but by 0900 UTC I was still around 200 contacts ahead of my running total last year. My lead over the 2011 me shrank slightly over the course of Saturday and Sunday until late on Sunday, when I pulled it all back and then some in the final 2.5 hours.
I took a little different off-time strategy this year. I studied the 2011 rate sheet from my contesting mentor, K5TR, and decided to follow his basic strategy, and try to adapt to conditions. Last year, George operated the first 19 hours straight through before his first off-time. Initially, I planned to do the same thing, and I felt like maybe I could pull it off, but then I hit some slow rate in the 0900 UTC hour and around 0930 UTC decided to take a couple of hours off. My next off-time was from from 0200 UTC to 0500 UTC on Sunday, which may have been too long, but coincides with the time when I really struggle getting a good frequency established on 40 meters. And I was really tired by that point. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off with maybe a one-hour break then and a longer break later in the morning. My worst clock hour on the air was 1200 UTC on Sunday, when I only managed 33 contacts. Unfortunately, I think the really optimal off-time strategy in this contest is a lot of 1-hour breaks, and it takes some real mental fortitude to give up that much sleep.
Early Saturday afternoon, Susan came into the shack to tell me that she was taking Richard to the Emergency Room due to swelling in one of his legs. On his way out the door, Richard told me to keep operating. Hours and hours later, Susan came back to the house while I was sleeping during an off-time and left me a note. They had found blood clots in Richard's leg and he was admitted to the hospital and would probably not be out until Tuesday or Wednesday. She had gone back to the hospital before I woke up. I had brought all my own food and drink this time around, and the station was working perfectly, so I kept going, and tried to just focus on the contest. Richard and I exchanged a few text messages during the day on Sunday, including one from him suggesting I should aim for 3200 QSOs and 1200 multipliers, both of which I thought were impossible at the time.
The contest really ended with some huge rate. After my final off-time, I focused on 20 meters, where I was still a little light on contacts and I knew I could still pull in Europeans. I got some good long-path to southeast Asia and Australia during this time, and the rate kept gradually going up and up. In the last half hour, in particular, I'm sure my rate was well over 200 QSOs/hour. I think my best minute in the whole contest was 2359 UTC on Sunday, when I made 7 QSOs. I'm convinced now that operating those last two hours of the contest (rather than taking them as off-time) is the way to go.
Before the contest, my only real goals were to make 3000 contacts and 1000 multipliers, which I'd not been able to do in the same contest before. On Sunday afternoon, I decided that my previous personal bests were within reach, so I adjusted my goals to beating my previous best QSO total (3124), multiplier total (1008), and claimed score (6.0M). I was able to break all three personal records in the final two clock hours of the contest. The first one to fall was the claimed score and the last one to fall was the QSO total.
Susan was back at the house right as the contest ended, taking care of this and that, and we shut down everything as quickly as we could so she could drive back to the hospital to be with Richard. I grabbed a quick bite to eat and then stopped by the hospital on the way home. When he wasn't being poked and prodded or being visited by his fighter pilot friends, Richard had been using a laptop and an internet-connected HF receiver in Virginia to listen to me operating. He told me he really enjoyed hearing me send the 3200 serial number with just about half an hour to go.
Contest Logging was done with Writelog contest logging software. The following reports and log were created using Writelog's post-contest processor.
Last Updated 14 April 2016