Ken Harker WM5R
1999 ARRL November Sweepstakes, CW N5XU M/S

Johanna Preston W5JLP operates CW while
Robert Brandon K5PI rides shotgun

N5XU participated in the Collegiate Championship conducted during the weekend of 5-6 November 1999. We operated in the Multioperator Single Transmitter (M) class, with K5PI, KT5I, AA5BT, W5JLP, and KM5FA operating.

This was our best start in recent years of participating in this contest. For the first time, we were using a radio with computer control and using the contest logging program to handle our CW. This is the first serious contest that the club has put its new Kenwood TS-850SAT transceiver through. It is a very nice radio to use, and the computer control was very nice. For one thing, it meant that when we switched bands on the radio, the logging software followed us, and vice-versa. No more logging contacts on the wrong bands! The Kenwood TS-850SAT is super prone to RFI, though, and we think we may have seen a few odd behaviors of that sort - we're going to have to put type 77 ferrites on every cable into or out of that radio before the phone Collegiate Championship.

This was also the first contest at N5XU that we have used our favorite contest logging software, TR Log, as an electronic keyer, using a homebrew interface on the computer's parallel port. Our interface does CW to the radio, PTT to the radio, and has a connection for the iambic paddles. While none of the operators is by any means expert at it, using TR to do all the CW in the contest was a very cool thing. TR does a great job of anticipating the next thing you want to send, so most of the operation could focus on receiving calls correctly.

Robert Brandon K5PI brought over
his Yaesu FL-2100B amplifier when
the club's Heathkit SB-220
developed problems

We lost our amplifier in the first few hours of the contest. The Heathkit SB-220 never completely died, but it was putting out less power than it should have been, was getting less warm than it should have been, and we were getting occasional "BAD TONE" reports whenever we tried to operate on 15M. After some detective work, Kevin KT5I was able to see through the holes in the case that one of the pair of 3-500Z tubes wasn't glowing properly on transmit. So, we took the amplifier out of service, and stopped getting bad signal reports. We continued to operate barefoot for about 45 minutes until Robert K5PI returned with his Yaesu FL-2100B amplifier from home. What we thought was going to be a half hour of off-time while we swapped amps out turned out to be closer to 50 minutes, mostly in the 0000-0100 hour, and at one point we had three people soldering one cable! The Yaesu FL-2100B probably puts out only about half of the output (600 watts) of a healthy Heathkit SB-220 (1200 watts or so,) but the Yaesu amplifier served us well in the pileups, and in particular in working VY1JA through the aurora, and was worth the effort.

We had more operators in this year's CW Sweepstakes than any since 1989. Robert K5PI started the contest for us, and put in the most operating hours. He also had a great run on Sunday morning, helping us recover from the amplifier disaster of Saturday. Kevin KT5I also did a lot of operating, including the unpopular Sunday afternoon doldrums, for which we are all thankful. Derek AA5BT, being an astronomer, took the night shift on Saturday, chasing mults for us. This was Johanna W5JLP's first CW contest. She did some search and pounce on Saturday night, and then on Sunday night had a nice hour-long run calling CQ at 18wpm, and making lots of QSOs. Ken KM5FA was the only one willing to get up to start operating in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and he helped fill in at random spots all day Sunday. Others who visited included Louisa KB5LBN, Monique N3TNN, Monique's sister, and two hallmates of Louisa and Johanna. At one point Saturday night, nine people were in our shack at once, and boy was it crowded!

It looks like we got lucky in achieving our clean sweep. KP2N was possibly the only station on for the contest from the Virgin Islands section. From what we gathered on the local packet cluster, he never called CQ, and we were fortunate to have him answer one of our CQs for his ninth contact of the contest. The other difficult sections turned out to be North Dakota, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories/Yukon/Nunavut sections. There was a great strategy debate in our shack on Sunday night about whether to look for the elusive VE4 contact we needed for a sweep on 20M or 40M. Fortunately, we managed to find and work VE4GV on 20M, with an hour to go, and thereby avoided fisticuffs.

Once again, using a check of 21 seems to have thrown a few people off. It is kind of fun, though. We only had one rag-chewer break in and ask "What is SS?" When our slower operators called CQ below the 20 wpm speeds, very few contesters actually slowed down to match. But most slowed down a little more than they have in the past, probably a result of people being more careful as a result of log-checking.


The score below is claimed.

Band QSOs Points Mults
80CW 34 68 2
40CW 137 274 6
20CW 302 604 47
15CW 185 370 12
10CW 78 156 12
Total 736 1472 79

Claimed score116,288


Contest Logging was done with TR LOG contest logging software. The following reports and log were created using TR Log's post-contest processor.

Last Updated 26 June 2020