1997 ARRL DX CW Contest (W2SC opr)

K5ZD (W2SC opr.), Single Op All Band, High Power

By Tom Georgens, W2SC

Summary Sheet

                    
           ARRL INTERNATIONAL DX CONTEST -- 1997

  Call: K5ZD (W2SC op)            Country:  United States
  Mode: CW                       Category: Single Operator

      BAND     QSO   COUNTRIES

      160      102     46
       80      460     65
       40      834     87
       20     1432     92
       15      145     58
       10        2      2
     ------------------------

     Totals   2975    350  =   3,123,750

The Contest

When Randy, K5ZD, announced that he would not be operating the ARRL DX contests I immediately informed him that I would be glad to put his station on the air if he was offering. He said that SSB was a sure thing and he would let me know about CW. Ultimately, both weekends were available and I was not about to let the opportunity pass.

I flew out from my current QTH in Kansas on Thursday night to set up my FT1000D as the primary radio and his 765 as the second radio. I also wanted to use my own two radio switching arrangement as I tried his split headphone solution in last year’s ARRL SSB and could never use it effectively. I am impressed by those (K5ZD, N4VJ, et. al.) who can use this scheme. It did not take long to get the stuff working and the station was more or less set. Randy had two suggestions however.

First, he wanted to use the computer to run the FT1000D. I did not have the RS-232 interface for the FT1000D and did not think it was necessary for CW (On SSB it is invaluable for 40/80 splits). Nonetheless, he had a KIY box and it worked flawlessly. He also has a problem with his computer where the CT screen would mysteriously change colors at random times. He suggested using my laptop at the computer to drive his keyboard and monitor. Once again he had it running in short order. Despite the warnings about Windows 95 and CT, everything looked fine.

On Friday, the plan was to do some errands in the morning, have lunch with a friend, and sleep in the afternoon. When I returned to Randy’s house for the nap, I found that my key did not work and I was locked outside in the freezing rain. I got pretty soaked as I repeatedly circled his house trying to find a lock where the key would operate. No amount of swearing would make it work. Not knowing what to do, I decided to drive to my house in a neighboring town that I have rented and asked the tenants if I could crash there for a
few hours. Everything worked out and we all had a good laugh when I got back to Randy’s.

Everything seemed all set to start the contest when the computer hung as I tried to program the CW messages. I restarted the computer and the same thing happened. At this point it was minutes before the start and I was starting to get concerned. After trying several things, I finally decided to go back to Randy’s computer not withstanding the funny
monitor colors. It had now passed 0000Z and I was not ready. When Randy’s computer would not send either, I started to panic. Just then, Randy came home from work and he got things working. I had not made a Q yet and I was already mentally spent.

My first Q was at 0015 but I did manage 85 Q’s in the first hour. Forty essentially quit at 0130 and I was off to 80. The 02Z hour produced 89 Q’s on 80 and I was starting to feel pretty good again. Things played well all night on 80 and 160 but the 40 meter European sunrise opening was nearly non-existent.

Twenty opened at about 11Z and I managed to run off 1237 stations in the next 12 hours. Around 13Z I started to listen to the multis attempting to run on 15. The rate on 20 was huge and but I did not want to miss the 15 meter opening. I lost last years ARRL SSB partly by passing on a mediocre 15 meters to run on 20 and not getting another chance at the multipliers  when the band did not open at all on Sunday. I finally jumped to 15 but could not get much going. I had good but not great rate. I eventually went back to twenty and returned to 15 later. As it turned out, there was to be no real 15 meters on the following day.

In the mean time they kept calling on twenty. The continuous action all day and the ease at which I could get and hold a frequency were incredible. One time when Randy stopped by to check the score, I simply told him that his 20 meter signal was obscene. 20 wilted at around 1930 and it was off to 40 where I had only had about 200 Q’s the first night. I worked around 400 Q’s on 40 in the next five hours. I had 1850/272 at the split and things felt good.

I managed to keep things going on 80 and 160 including running about 30  stations on 160 in the 5Z hour. The dreaded 8,9,and 10Z hours produced a total of 12 Q’s and 8 mults. In this period I took a refreshing 15 minute nap.

Twenty returned at 11Z and things started hopping again. It shut down a little earlier on Sunday I went to 40 shortly after 19Z (2PM local). I knew that W1KM was going to be tough to beat so I promised myself not to let down and push full bore to the end. The last few hours finished with 63, 59, 44, and 48 Q’s.

I left Randy’s not knowing W1KM’s score and my anticipation rose until mid week when I learned the disappointing news that I had been beaten by about 70K points.

While I had a 60 Q edge, I was 16 mults behind. It was clear that I had not pushed the second radio hard enough. All it would have taken was 8 more countries. I actually got to compare notes with Greg on the Thursday before the SSB ‘test (a subject of another story). After a contesters ritual of exchanging excuses (he had a computer crash during a 20 meter run, I lost 15 minutes at the beginning, he could only do 700 watts on 80, I did not have a gain antenna on 80, etc) we compared notes. On the first day, he went to 15 early, got good rate, and worked many Q’s and mults that I never got. At the midpoint I had a slight lead but he had a big hour on 160 at 01Z and worked 30 mults. I never had the lead
again.

It is always fascinating to compare notes. Although 48 hours is a long time, every decision is vital and all it takes is a couple mistakes or missed openings to spell the difference. It is clear that one must make every minute useful  and repeatedly reassess whether you are doing the most productive (Score maximizing) thing possible.

In the end, there are no excuses, skill and experience prevailed, and that  is the way it should be. Congratulations to W1KM on a fine effort.

Continent Statistics

                     
                 160   80   40   20   15   10  ALL   percent

North America   CW   14   17   18   20   16    0   85     2.9
South America   CW    3    6   15   13   18    2   57     1.9
Europe          CW   82  428  764 1345  102    0 2721    91.5
Asia            CW    0    1   16   37    1    0   55     1.8
Africa          CW    2    5   13   14    8    0   42     1.4
Oceania         CW    1    3    8    3    0    0   15     0.5

Rate Breakdown

HOUR      160      80       40       20       15       10    HR TOT  CUM TOT 

   0    .....    .....    85/21    .....    .....    .....    85/21   85/21
   1      .      36/19    40/10     8/6       .        .      84/35  169/56
   2      .      89/12     1/1       .        .        .      90/13  259/69
   3    19/15    25/2      6/5       .        .        .      50/22  309/91
   4     9/6     26/2     10/6       .        .        .      45/14  354/105
   5     6/5     33/2      3/2       .        .        .      42/9   396/114
   6     3/2     45/5      1/0       .        .        .      49/7   445/121
   7     1/0      9/6     34/6       .        .        .      44/12  489/133
   8    .....     3/3     12/5     .....    .....    .....    15/8   504/141
   9      .       2/1      8/5       .        .        .      10/6   514/147
  10      .       2/0      4/0     24/16      .        .      30/16  544/163
  11      .        .       1/1    132/22      .        .     133/23  677/186
  12      .        .        .     143/7       .        .     143/7   820/193
  13      .        .        .     113/2       .        .     113/2   933/195
  14      .        .        .      38/1     60/22      .      98/23 1031/218
  15      .        .        .      61/2     32/4       .      93/6  1124/224
  16    .....    .....    .....    89/3     11/3     .....   100/6  1224/230
  17      .        .        .      86/2      8/8       .      94/10 1318/240
  18      .        .        .      78/1      5/4      1/1     84/6  1402/246
  19      .        .        .      63/2      5/2       .      68/4  1470/250
  20      .        .      65/9     26/1      4/2       .      95/12 1565/262
  21      .        .     125/0       .        .        .     125/0  1690/262
  22      .        .      86/4      5/4       .        .      91/8  1781/270
  23      .        .      66/0      3/2       .        .      69/2  1850/272
   0    .....    .....    54/3      3/1     .....    .....    57/4  1907/276
   1    10/4     31/3     11/1       .        .        .      52/8  1959/284
   2     3/1     30/2       .        .        .        .      33/3  1992/287
   3     8/3      7/0       .        .        .        .      15/3  2007/290
   4     4/1     33/1      1/0       .        .        .      38/2  2045/292
   5    30/5       .       3/2       .        .        .      33/7  2078/299
   6     4/1     46/1       .        .        .        .      50/2  2128/301
   7     1/0     23/1      1/1       .        .        .      25/2  2153/303
   8    .....     2/2      1/0     .....    .....    .....     3/2  2156/305
   9     2/2       .       2/0       .        .        .       4/2  2160/307
  10     2/1      1/1      2/2       .        .        .       5/4  2165/311
  11      .        .        .      75/1       .        .      75/1  2240/312
  12      .        .        .     110/2       .        .     110/2  2350/314
  13      .        .        .      81/2      1/1       .      82/3  2432/317
  14      .        .        .      72/1       .        .      72/1  2504/318
  15      .        .        .      65/1      2/1       .      67/2  2571/320
  16    .....    .....    .....    55/2      3/3      1/1     59/6  2630/326
  17      .        .        .      56/2      2/1       .      58/3  2688/329
  18      .        .        .      22/1      7/3       .      29/4  2717/333
  19      .        .      30/1     11/0      3/3       .      44/4  2761/337
  20      .        .      60/1      1/1      2/1       .      63/3  2824/340
  21      .        .      55/0      4/4       .        .      59/4  2883/344
  22      .        .      42/1      2/1       .        .      44/2  2927/346
  23      .      17/2     25/0      6/2       .        .      48/4  2975/350
DAY1    38/28   270/52   547/75   869/71   125/45     1/1     ..... 1850/272
DAY2    64/18   190/13   287/12   563/21    20/13     1/1       .   1125/78
TOT    102/46   460/65   834/87  1432/92   145/58     2/2       .   2975/350