2001 CQ WW CW Contest
K5ZD, Single Op All Band, High Power
By Randall A. Thompson, K5ZD
This article was published in the November/December 2002 issue of the National Contest Journal.
CQ WORLD WIDE DX CONTEST -- 2001
Call: K5ZD Country: United States
Mode: CW Category: Single Operator
BAND QSO QSO PTS PTS/QSO ZONES COUNTRIES
160 27 67 2.48 9 18
80 181 472 2.61 15 59
40 928 2499 2.69 32 106
20 1074 3005 2.80 37 120
15 860 2446 2.84 32 104
10 720 2079 2.89 32 103
Totals 3790 10568 2.79 154 510 => 7,048,856
(Above is after log checking.)
Radio 1 – Yeasu FT-1000D + Alpha 76CA
Radio 2 – Icom IC-765 + Ameritron AL-1200
Tower 1 – 100′ Rohn 45G
40-2CD @ 110′
205CA @ 100′ / 50′
5-el 15 @70′ / 35′
80m Inv Vee with top at 95′
160m 1/4-wave GP with 4 elevated radials
Tower 2 – 90′ Rohn 25G
6-el 10 @90′ with 4/4 @ 60’/30′
40m 1/2-wave sloper to west
80m 1/4-wave elevated GP with 4 radials
160m Inv Vee with top at 88′
Tower 3 – 40′ Rohn 25G
TH7DXX at 40′
For me, major contests always begin well before 00Z. Despite winning CQ WW CW in 2000 and setting a new USA record, I knew I had been lucky. I beat K1AR in the log checking process and John made it clear he was ready for a rematch. N2NT, KQ2M, W1KM, and other serious single op competition were all prepared for another run at the record during the peak of the sunspot cycle.
I try to make a major station upgrade each year. When I had the opportunity to purchase two 4-element 10m Cushcraft Yagis and some tower sections from K1SD in March, the target was identified. 10m was an aspect of my station I knew needed improvement.
I erected the tower sections to make a new 30′ tower right at the peak of my hill. A TH7DXX that had been at 90′ was moved to the new tower for primary use as a go-to antenna for the South. The 6-element LTA 10m beam was moved from being fixed on Europe at 20′ to being fully rotary at 90′ where the TH7 had been. The two new 4-element beams were stacked at 30′ and 60′ on the same tower. Now I had a 3 high stack for 10m with some real horsepower at the top.
Another project was to get the 40m beam on its own coax into the shack instead of sharing with 15m. This improved the antenna selection flexibility by allowing 40 and 15 to be used at the same time.
Another station improvement was the addition of a W5XD MK-1100 keyer. This is a wonderful external hardware accessory for WriteLog logging software that does all of the CW keying and audio switching needed for SO2R. Through the use of WriteLog’s excellent two radio support and some keyboard macros, I could do all of the switching without ever having my hands leave the keyboard. A serious effort in SS CW provided all the practice needed to develop my technique. After 20+ years of doing SO2R, this was the most automated system I had ever experienced, and I felt it had definitely improved my SS score.
Over the years I have developed a series of actions that help me prepare for the rigors of a 48-hour single op effort. They include having the station completely set up the weekend before, getting as much sleep as possible during the 6 days leading up to the contest, and trying to relax from the pressures of work.
The station was ready on time but I still had one concern. There was a new source of line noise that had appeared a few weeks before. Rain usually makes it go away, but the month had been particularly dry and no rain was expected before the contest. On Wednesday, the noise was worse than ever with a solid S7 buzz across every band when beaming anywhere from North to West. I called K1AR’s voice mail and left him a recording of the buzzing along with the message that I was out of it if the noise didn’t go away.
The Thanksgiving holiday is both a help and hindrance for contest preparation. My in-laws live about 3 hours away in Woodstock, NY. We drove over to visit them on Wednesday evening. Of course, this meant lots of turkey and football on Thursday, but also a few extra hours of sleep and a late afternoon nap. Friday morning I was able to sleep in a bit more and we drove home Friday afternoon. Since I was asking my wife to return home early so I could do the contest, we stopped at a restaurant and had a large late lunch on Friday. It took forever to get in and out of the mall with all of the shoppers! We finally arrived home about 5PM with the contest just 2 hours away.
I immediately turned on all the equipment and connected the antennas. The bands sounded fair and amazingly the line noise was completely silent. I took this as a good omen and headed off to bed for a short nap of about an hour. Not as much as the 3 hours I would have liked, but that was one of the things lost when we decided to eat out. Took a shower and was sitting at the radio ready to go at 2330Z. Much earlier than normal!
The bands were funny. Not great, but not bad either. Ten was punk, 15 was open a bit, 20 had signals. I decided that 40m was the place to start for the highest rate and found a frequency around 7022. I worked a few people to get warmed up and things were ready.
Go… – Not!
As the clock rolled over, a large Eastern European multi-op station that had been down 1 KHz decided that they wanted to be on the same frequency I was. We engaged in dueling CQs to start the contest – each working just enough guys to stay but neither doing very well. I worked more QSOs on 15m on the second radio than I did calling CQ. After 10 minutes of this, I decided to find another spot and began moving up the band. Another 10 minutes of S&P (search and pounce) go by and still can’t find a hole to call CQ.
This is a moment of panic for a single op. The adrenalin is pumping. You have spent months preparing for the contest and spent the last week totally focused on getting off to a big start. Now things start to slip away.
I switched to 15m to chase multipliers and get my head clear. Then down to 20m for more tuning and calling. Amazingly, I had managed to make 47 QSOs and a bunch of multipliers in the first 30 minutes. 20m had some very loud signals from Europe and Asia so I decided to find a frequency and see if I could get something going. I landed on 14020 and started a nice steady run. The frequency was quiet enough that I could use the second radio on 40m to chase multipliers. It was a pleasant surprise when K4ZW/JT called in with a very good signal on 20m at 0051Z. The second radio shows QSOs logged all the way up to 7070! No wonder I couldn’t find a clear frequency on that band.
I ended the first hour with 109 QSOs and 106 multipliers. I had my rate sheet from 2000 printed out and saw that I was doing OK, even with all the moving around. The next 2 hours continued with CQing on 20m and second radio S&P on 40. At 0245Z I was able to start a run on 40m.
You often hear about sports teams that arrive at a big event saying all the right things, yet just seem to be flat. I now know what this feels like. Despite being fully prepared, I was surprisingly devoid of emotion and passion when the contest began. I assumed that I would get into it once things got started, but instead my attitude was getting worse. I kept going more on habit than desire. This is very disconcerting when you know there is still a long way to go.
At 03Z I decided to jump from 40m to 160m. I had noticed in the weeks before the contest that 160 was opening earlier rather than at European sunrise. The decision was a good one as I worked 5 zones and 10 countries (many from Europe) during the next 15 minutes. Happy with this, I jumped back to CQing on 20m for more rate. When 5H1X (K1XM op) called in at 0340Z, I already had 26 zones and 60 countries on the band! The next 30 minutes was a careful search up 80m working multipliers. I finally found a frequency to call CQ up at 3545, which became my home for the next 45 minutes (70 QSOs)! A few second radio QSOs on 40m helped fill in some more multipliers.
The 05Z hour was a mix between 40 and 80m. I would run on one and listen on the other, then switch. By 06Z, I had 19 zones and 64 countries on 40m. The 06Z hour was mostly running on 7045. At this point I was keeping up with the rate from the previous year, but I knew it was being done through aggressive S&P and band agility. Conditions were clearly not as good as the previous year, and they seemed to be getting worse rather than better.
During the 07Z hour, I noticed that the main tuning knob on the FT1000 was getting harder and harder to turn. It finally just froze up and would not turn at all, even under great force. I kept CQing and working guys with the IC765 while I tried to figure out what was wrong. I managed to find the necessary Allen wrench to get the tuning knob off, but couldn’t see anything. Finally decided that I couldn’t fix it or waste any more time.
I recalled that WriteLog had a feature to tune the radio using the mouse wheel. I read the help file and found how to make it work. This allowed me to tune the frequency of the FT1000 but the tuning rate was too fast. Back to the help file revealed the INI file command to change the tuning rate and I slowed it down to 100Hz steps. It wasn’t great, but at least I could tune stations in and work them.
At this point, my attitude was really at a low point. The rate was slowing down and the radio problems were distracting. I had only made 25 QSOs during the 07Z hour and figured that I had to be falling behind.
I made no QSOs from 0801Z until 0813Z. This was probably a mental health break with a bathroom and food run. 20m was starting to open so I established a slow steady run on 14015 for the rest of the hour. There were a few second radio QSOs on 40m, which pushed the multiplier totals to 24 zones and 82 countries on that band.
The 09Z hour continued the run on 14015 while also tuning the other bands. Worked 8P9Z, P40Q, and ZV8O on 160m. Got FG/N4CD and XQ1ZW on 80m.
At 10Z, the wheels came off. Just 17 search and pounce QSOs in the next 40 minutes. There were some good multipliers, but the bands were broken. I was still bothered by the radio tuning knob problems, the lack of signals on 20m, and a general disappointment in how things were going. With the sun coming up outside, and what should have been one of the highest rate hours, I made the decision to quit the contest.
With my last QSO logged at 1037Z, I lay down on the floor of the radio room and went to sleep.
Something woke me up about 1125Z. I remember thinking that I had arranged my family’s life to do this contest, so I should get up and keep going. Even if I wasn’t going to win, I could at least enjoy the contest and see what I could wring out of the bands.
I came back on the air at 1129Z and worked a C6A, ZL, and a JA on 40m. Then found YZ1AU on 15m but he was the only signal. Conditions stunk, so I just did a systematic S&P across all bands for the next 40 minutes. After the contest, I would learn that I had given up no QSOs to K1AR during this period. It was pure luck that I went to sleep during the absolute worst period of conditions!
The break and decision to quit had removed the pressure and expectations of being competitive from my mind. I was now free to just enjoy the fun of contesting. There is probably a lesson in this.
The 12Z hour began to see conditions return. I was able to establish a run on 14022 and use the second radio to work some loud stations on 15m. 15 was still not really open and it took several calls to get each station.
At 1310Z I went to 10m and started working loud Caribbean and South American stations. I did two complete S&P passes across the entire width of 10m and managed to also work some Europeans. 15m must not have been too good at the time either since at 1345Z I returned CQing on 14008.
It is kind of hard to imagine just how disturbed conditions were at this point. The band seemed to randomly open to small pockets of the world and then close again just as fast. I spent the entire 14Z hour calling CQ on 20m, but actually working more stations S&P using the second radio on 10 and 15m. It wasn’t until 1530Z that I stopped CQing on 14008 and decided to S&P full time on 10m.
With conditions so poor, and no guarantee they would be better the next day, I was keeping a keen eye on the higher bands and trying to make sure I got as many multipliers as possible. As I tuned around on 10m, I started hearing German stations coming in on the direct path with reasonable signals. I decided to call CQ and was rewarded with a nice run. It was perfect band for SO2R. The 10m frequency was perfectly clear with a steady rate, while leaving plenty of time and concentration available for calling stations on 15m. In the 16Z hour, I had 101 QSOs on 10m and 34 more on 15! The bands were returning to normal!
This burst of rate fully reengaged me into the contest. I really enjoy contesting and find it rather addictive once I get started. I was now thinking like a serious competitor and operating like one.
With the FT1000 tuning knob problem, each CQing band change was a dance. First I would find and establish a frequency using the IC765. Then I would bring the FT1000 to that frequency using computer command. Finally, I would switch radios. It wasn’t a big problem, but required a little bit of extra effort each time.
The 17Z hour was mostly on 10m with the jump to CQing on 15m occurring at 1744Z. I was fresh meat on a hot band and the rate took off. One hour later, at 1855Z, I made the jump to 20m and the roll continued. 19Z had 93 QSOs on 20m with 11 second-radio QSOs on 15 including VQ9X and 5R8HD. 20Z was more of the same with 77 contacts on 20 and 13 more on 15.
At 2138Z I jumped down to 40m to see if I could find any long path multipliers. Worked a very loud JA3YBK and JI2KVW, but that was it. Turned the beam to Europe and set up shop on 7035 at 2153Z. This would begin an amazing run that may have been the deciding point in the contest.
After the first 24 hours I had 1797/122/406 for about 2.7 Million points. My best hope was to get to 6 Million. No new record this year.
I stayed on 7035 calling CQ until 0433Z. During this period I worked over 330 stations on 40m while also working nearly 100 QSOs on the second radio – many of them multipliers. Some of the goodies that called in on 40 during this period include 3B8/LA7MFA, T95O, 4X/OK1EE/P, ZS6DX, ZF2LA, KL7FH, and 5H1X. It was 3V8BB firing up just a few cycles away that ended the run so I worked him for 40m country 98.
The first half of the 05Z hour was spent CQing on 3546 while chasing multipliers on 160m. It was back to 7031 at 0539Z – my new home for the next 4+ hours until 0953Z! Wow, another 260+ QSOs on 40 plus a few more multipliers on the other bands with the second radio. This late 40m opening did not happen the first night so conditions were obviously returning to normal. I was also starting to think that I might be making a competitive score.
I took a short 10-minute break during the 10Z hour. At 1042Z I established a 20-minute run of Europeans on 14032. A little search and pounce across 20m to start the 11Z hour and I was back to CQing on 14009 at 1111Z.
When I finally listened to 15m at 1150Z, I discovered that the band was wide open! I immediately moved to 21004 and the rate exploded with 130 QSOs in the next 60 minutes. I repeated the discovery on 10m at 1245Z. The band was packed with signals. My main thought at this point was to run as fast as possible and try not to fall too far behind K1AR and KQ2M. There have been too many contests where I could keep up during the slow times, but lost due to a few high rate hours on the high bands.
Conditions were great, but up and down. At 1400Z, I moved back to 15m and established a run on 21002. This was a great frequency for the next 3 hours (312 QSOs) and let me do some second radio work on 10m (57 more QSOs). When 5H1X called in on 15m, I moved him to 28213 for a double multiplier. At 17Z it was back to running on 10m. Something I have never done before, this movement back and forth between 10 and 15 may have helped me work more stations than if I had stayed on one band for the entire time.
The rate was slowing down during the 18Z hour and I was making a lot of band changes. The SO2R functionality of WriteLog was being handled completely by my subconscious. It is a good thing the software records the frequency of the QSO, because I was changing bands so much that I sometimes couldn’t remember which band I was on. (Sleep deprivation may have had something to do with that…) By now the FT1000 tuning knob was beginning to turn although not freely, but at least I could do some tuning with it.
The 19Z hour was spent mostly CQing on 15m with second radio action on 10 and 20. At 2030Z I moved the run radio to 14016. Signals from Europe were very loud and the band was crowded. I went looking for a quieter spot and ended all the way up at 14089. The rate was pretty good although there was occasional competition from various digital mode stations. Finally one of them ran me off and I was on the move again. The FT1000 main tuning knob was about 70% free by this time so it was possible to tune down the band. I was looking in vain for an OH0 but found VP9/W6PH and 4U1ITU instead. Ended up CQing on 14036.
Sleep deprivation starts to introduce some interesting thoughts around this time. I recall thinking each station that called was revealing some aspect of their personality in how they called. It made for some very bizarre conversations with myself…
At 2126Z I had one of the more memorable QSOs of the contest. There were several stations calling and one of them had that hollow sound that only comes from being far away. I heard “ER” and asked for a repeat. SP3HC was calling at the same time and he responded as well as the “ER”. It took some maneuvering but I finally had the “ER” station calling in the clear and it was 3W2ER! Cool multiplier (country 116) and a surprisingly good signal. 3W2ER later sent me a recording of his side of the QSO and he was not hearing any of the European callers, just me. So I end up sounding like a lid since it took 3 tries to get his call.
Twenty minutes later HB0/DL1RWB calls in for country 117. I stay on 14036 all the way to the end of the contest (the last 2 hours 45 minutes on that one frequency!). During the same time, 10m opens to Japan as well as I have ever heard it. Gives me lots of easy second radio QSOs to chase. On 20, I am called by JY5HX, and then have back-to-back QSOs a few minutes later with 9V1YC and FR5FD to get to 120 countries (a new personal record for one band in a single op effort).
Final score on the computer shows 3832/158/512 for 7,378,710 points.
After the contest I go up to 3830 to see how the competition has done. I am amazed when K1AR and KQ2M check in with numbers that are below mine. For a contest that I had assumed was lost, there was new hope.
It really was a tale of two contests. The first 14 hours were really frustrating and well below the excellent conditions we had become used to from the two previous years. Things started to recover and by Sunday at 12Z, we were experiencing the full joy that is CQ WW.
I believe the key component to my success in the contest was aggressive and continuous use of two radios. WriteLog and the W5XD keyer represent the state of the art in SO2R technology available today. By my count, I had 374 second radio QSOs in the first 24 hours and another 261 in the second 24 hours (I define second radio QSO as one that is made away from the band that I am actively CQing on). That is a total of 635 “extra” QSOs. Sure, some of them I would have worked later anyway, but the margin of difference over K1AR is the difference in the number of second radio QSOs we each made. You can see the number of second radio QSOs in the rate sheet below.
The FT1000 tuning knob problem was gone when I tried to use the radio a few days later. I can only assume that a bearing was broken and had jammed when it heated up during use early in the contest. As it cooled down, it returned to a position where it was not jamming the shaft mechanism. The problem has not reoccurred since.
It amazes me every year how big this contest has become. Reading 3830 score reports after the contest always reveals a number of calls with big QSO totals that were never heard all weekend! A look at the breakdown by country shows a lot of holes in the multiplier chasing that could be easily filled. Always room for improvement next year!
WriteLog showed a total operating time of 47:07. No wonder I slept for more than 12 hours after the contest!
160M 80M 40M 20M 15M 10M Total %
EU 11 134 790 871 733 611 3150 82.2
OC 0 0 8 10 2 7 27 0.7
SA 4 9 14 33 26 25 111 2.9
AF 0 2 15 22 17 15 71 1.9
NA 12 38 96 72 46 38 302 7.9
AS 0 1 20 74 46 29 170 4.4
Hour 160M 80M 40M 20M 15M 10M Total Cumm radio2
D1-0000Z ----- ----- 50/40 44/40 15/26 ----- 109/106 109/106 28
D1-0100Z - - 37/12 68/13 - - 105/25 214/131 37
D1-0200Z - - 44/10 60/24 - - 104/34 318/165 21
D1-0300Z 15/15 17/19 8/4 27/9 4/6 - 71/53 389/218 8
D1-0400Z - 74/22 16/9 - - - 90/31 479/249 16
D1-0500Z - 30/7 57/7 - - - 87/14 566/263 17
D1-0600Z - 16/6 61/6 - - - 77/12 643/275 16
D1-0700Z - 4/3 19/11 2/1 - - 25/15 668/290 3
D1-0800Z 1/0 ----- 7/7 53/2 ----- ----- 61/9 729/299 5
D1-0900Z 3/6 5/4 2/1 50/4 - - 60/15 789/314 10
D1-1000Z 1/1 4/5 4/2 8/1 - - 17/9 806/323 3
D1-1100Z - 2/1 3/2 12/3 3/4 - 20/10 826/333 3
D1-1200Z - - - 46/2 17/14 - 63/16 889/349 17
D1-1300Z - - - 21/1 - 37/37 58/38 947/387 3
D1-1400Z - - - 26/0 25/11 13/9 64/20 1011/407 38
D1-1500Z - - - 18/0 8/3 42/18 68/21 1079/428 16
D1-1600Z ----- ----- ----- ----- 34/6 101/5 135/11 1214/439 34
D1-1700Z - - - - 51/10 59/6 110/16 1324/455 22
D1-1800Z - - - 10/2 47/5 20/10 77/17 1401/472 20
D1-1900Z - - - 93/6 11/6 - 104/12 1505/484 11
D1-2000Z - - - 77/4 13/8 - 90/12 1595/496 13
D1-2100Z - - 10/0 37/2 3/3 4/5 54/10 1649/506 6
D1-2200Z - - 51/4 - 3/3 10/8 64/15 1713/521 13
D1-2300Z - - 70/1 9/5 5/1 - 84/7 1797/528 14 374
D2-0000Z ----- ----- 36/0 20/7 2/0 ----- 58/7 1855/535 22
D2-0100Z - - 48/1 2/1 - - 50/2 1905/537 2
D2-0200Z 3/1 - 52/5 18/7 - - 73/13 1978/550 21
D2-0300Z - 4/3 46/3 6/3 1/1 - 57/10 2035/560 11
D2-0400Z 1/1 4/1 33/3 2/1 - - 40/6 2075/566 3
D2-0500Z 1/1 19/2 18/1 5/1 - - 43/5 2118/571 6
D2-0600Z - 1/1 77/3 1/0 - - 79/4 2197/575 2
D2-0700Z 1/1 2/1 93/0 - - - 96/2 2293/577 3
D2-0800Z ----- 1/0 59/0 2/0 ----- ----- 62/0 2355/577 3
D2-0900Z 1/1 - 28/4 5/2 - - 34/7 2389/584 6
D2-1000Z - 1/1 11/3 16/0 - - 28/4 2417/588 5
D2-1100Z - - 3/0 45/1 16/1 - 64/2 2481/590 3
D2-1200Z - - - - 114/4 44/9 158/13 2639/603 3
D2-1300Z - - - - 5/1 141/6 146/7 2785/610 5
D2-1400Z - - - - 110/5 27/2 137/7 2922/617 23
D2-1500Z - - - - 116/3 12/1 128/4 3050/621 12
D2-1600Z ----- ----- ----- ----- 96/4 25/4 121/8 3171/629 22
D2-1700Z - - - - 11/0 108/1 119/1 3290/630 11
D2-1800Z - - - - 27/4 49/2 76/6 3366/636 20
D2-1900Z - - - 11/5 76/4 7/5 94/14 3460/650 18
D2-2000Z - - - 58/2 32/2 - 90/4 3550/654 9
D2-2100Z - - - 84/4 5/0 1/2 90/6 3640/660 6
D2-2200Z - - - 73/0 18/2 9/2 100/4 3740/664 27
D2-2300Z - - - 74/3 2/0 16/3 92/6 3832/670 18 261
Total: 27/27 184/76 943/1391083/156 870/137 725/135 635
Breakdown by Country
160M 80M 40M 20M 15M 10M Total
3B8 1 1 1 1 4
3D2 1 1
3V 1 1 1 3
3W 1 1
4J 1 1
4L 2 2
4U1I 1 1 1 3
4U1V 1 1 2
4X 1 6 1 1 9
5A 1 1
5B 1 3 2 4 1 11
5H 1 1 1 1 4
5N 1 1
5R 1 1
5X 1 1
6Y 1 1 1 1 1 5
8P 1 2 1 1 1 2 8
9A 2 13 14 6 12 47
9G 1 1
9H 1 2 1 1 1 6
9K 1 1
9M6 2 2
9V 1 1
A4 2 2
A6 1 1 2
BY 1 1
C6 1 2 2 1 3 1 10
CE 1 1 1 1 2 6
CE9 1 1 2
CM 1 5 2 1 2 11
CN 1 2 2 2 1 8
CT 1 3 6 3 5 18
CT3 1 3 1 2 7
CU 1 1 2 1 5
CX 1 2 1 4
DL 2 21 125 132 118 109 507
EA 3 14 33 22 20 92
EA6 1 2 2 2 7
EA8 1 3 4 4 4 16
EA9 1 1 1 3
EI 1 1 2 5 2 11
EK 1 1
ER 2 2 1 1 6
ES 1 2 4 4 2 13
EU 3 3 6 5 5 22