ARRL CW Sweepstakes (Or How OK, MS and ONN Failed Me!)

With fall activities and obligations, it’s been a few days since my last post.  Let me start by officially inviting the people of OKLAHOMA, MISSISSIPPI and ONTARIO NORTH to get a ham radio license!   

And perhaps if you HAVE a license and live in one of those locations, you may want to get on the air! 

Having just finished the ARRL Sweepstakes (CW) contest, those are the three sections I could not work for a “clean sweep”. I operate under SINGLE OP, ASSISTED, LOW POWER class, so I’ve even got the benefit of a spotter network.  I only saw Mississippi spotted once on the cluster and could not hear them when I listened.  At no time did I hear  – or see spotted – Oklahoma or Ontario North.  (I fail to see why Ontario needed to be split four ways, but that’s another blog topic.)  One caveat – I ended my participation 6 hours before the contest finished on Sunday.  So if all of the OK, MS and ONN amateur radio operators waited until then to get on the air in some type of large conspiracy to thwart my “clean sweep”, it worked.

Due to Hurricane Sandy, two of the most difficult sections for me here in the central US was north New York (NNY) and Delaware (DE).  But once I heard them, I worked them with only minor challenge. Two of the largest pileups I’ve ever heard in a domestic (US) contest were this past weekend as hams tried to work those sections. 

I overheard more intentional QRM’ing during this CW contest than I have ever heard before.  People tuning up on the air, running their keyer in a string of “dits or dahs” constantly and just general bedlam.  At one point, a ham was “key down” for over 5 minutes.  (Yes, I timed it.)  I hope he has to buy new finals today.   Definitely some non-sportsmanlike behavior on the bands.

Regardless, I tripled my score from CW Sweeps 2011 and I am looking forward to SSB Sweeps in a couple of weeks.  Even though the QSO exchange is one of the most awkward ever – and yes, I understand the history and what the exchange represents – it’s still a good time. 

I also worked the CQWW SSB contest a couple weeks ago.  I worked almost 450 stations which resulted in a decent score – for a little 100 watt station located in northwest Arkansas.   It can be a challenge getting past the kilowatts on the coasts.  And I still believe propagation into the Central US is some of the most challenging. 

Here’s hoping you got a clean sweep, DXCC or whatever operating goal you are working toward this week!

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