Ken Harker WM5R
2002 ARRL November Sweepstakes, Phone W5KFT (WM5R, op. )

Category: Single Operator High Power
Location: South Texas (STX) EM00st

Band QSOs Sections
Totals 1628 80

Claimed score260,480
   Radio: Kenwood TS-850SAT
     Amp: Ameritron AL-1500
 Headset: Heil Proset Plus
Software: TR LOG 6.69
     DVK: W9XT Contest Card

This was my first single-operator effort in the Phone Sweepstakes after many years of operating in the Multi-Single category from N5XU. The W5KFT Ranch Station is quite a step up.

Robert Brandon K5PI came out Saturday morning to the Ranch with me to help get me set up at the station. We had some problems getting the WX0B SO2R Master to work on phone. It had been used at the station for two-radio CW contesting several times, but nothing Robert and I tried could get the box to switch either mic audio or PTT. About an hour before the contest, we gave up and re-cabled everything for one radio, which may have been just as well, as I've never used two radios in the Sweepstakes before and the full-blown single-operator experience in this contest was enough to handle as it was. A couple of hours after the contest started, when it was clear that things were working well, Robert left me on my own.

The only subsequent major equipment problem I had was when the Ameritron AL-1500 amplifier I was using began to reduce power, trip off, and soon thereafter stopped amplifying altogether on Sunday morning. I took a half hour of off-time to see if I could figure it out, but ended up moving the cables over to the other AL-1500. At least it didn't happen Saturday afternoon. The next weekend, Robert came back out to the station, and couldn't find anything wrong with the amp, which just proves that I'm a lid.

I got off to a pretty good start, I think, ending up with 590 QSOs after five hours. Changing bands with one radio in this contest was sometimes painful, and I had trouble with both of my band changes to 20 and then 40. I think I waited too long in both cases, especially on the move to 40. I couldn't really find a good frequency on 40, and when I'd find something acceptable, a few minutes later some change in EU broadcast programming would start to wipe me out or something. Plus, right around 0330 - 0400, I started getting really tired. I don't think I'd fully recovered my sleep schedule from my honeymoon in New Zealand a couple of weeks before, followed by long days and evenings moving into a new house. I actually had to take an off-time from 0353-0424 I was feeling so terrible. Eating some food and walking around a bit helped me quite a bit. Staying awake until 0700 was still a real struggle, though. From about 0230 onward, I felt like I was having my butt kicked. I didn't have any one serious failure or problem - but I was out of sync, couldn't get into a rhythm, felt terrible, and generally under-performed.

I woke up after a little under four hours of sleep, and a quick breakfast, not feeling really great, but I had what I think was a pretty decent run on 40 for that time of day. Things started to slow down considerably, though, probably as I ran out of contesters to work who were awake, and nothing was really happening on 20 yet, so I took another off time to lay in bed and be catatonic, but I never really fell asleep. I got up, started making some QSOs, felt like it was something of a struggle, and then noticed the problems with the amp. So, I took another off-time, but in this one I got to move around a bit, ate a tortilla, and stretched, which helped wake me up.

Starting around 1400, things started to pick up for the day, and I kept going along at a steady pace for the rest of the morning. I even had an 82 hour from 1600-1700 UTC. I have a few hours significantly below 60 QSOs midday that should not have happened. In a couple of cases, I made band changes that were less productive than staying where I was would have been. In retrospect, I should have taken my last off-time around noon instead of near the end of the contest - I had a nice rate bump in the 0100 hour that I might have been able to carry through to the end. I have lots to learn still about how to maximize my QSO total on Sunday in this contest.

Every section called me at least once except for VI. I came across two KP2 multi-single stations within a few kHz or each other while hunting for a run frequency on 20 on Sunday morning, and worked both. I never heard another KP2 station for the rest of the contest. My last section was the only one for which I had one QSO: A VY1 station found me with under four hours to go.

I was surprised by some of the sections in my worked-mults distribution. For instance, I worked more stations in Montana than 28 other sections. I worked more stations in Montana than Western Massachusetts, San Diego, Alberta, or South Carolina. The last section in the lower 48 that I worked was Alabama. And I only worked three stations in Alabama! I worked 70 stations in Maryland, but only 4 in Delaware! From my location in EM00, Washington, D.C. is clearly the big metro area with a ham population that figures importantly in a big score. Chicago and New York are the next closest, with about 80% as many QSOs as the Washington D.C. area. A section that seems to be much rarer than it should be is Alberta. I worked only five stations in VE6. There are really big cities in VE6! Alberta was my last section worked last year, too. I worked more stations in Alaska, Wyoming, and Eastern Washington than I did in VE6. I worked almost _ten times_ as many stations in Western Washington as I did in Alberta. Are the hams in Western Washington really that much more active than those in Alberta?

I have operated some contests where everything just clicked and I could feel like I was operating on all cylinders for the entire contest. This was not one of those weekends. Sweepstakes is a much harder contest as a single operator than I thought it would be I am very grateful for W5KFT and K5PI for getting me out to the Ranch for the contest this weekend.

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 14 April 2016