Each year, I try to operate in the ARRL Sweepstakes contest. A few times I’ve won my ARRL division in my category, other times I’ve taken 1st in Arkansas, sometimes – NOTHING. This year will probably be NOTHING!
Time was very limited. My daughter got married just a week ago – we had a lot of planning and preparation to do, not to mention we had family and friends in town, etc etc. So definitely didn’t have time for the CW event. I’m still recovering from the fun of a week ago, but I was able to sit down at the radio desk this weekend and operate a couple of hours in the SSB sweeps, however.
Conditions here seemed to be average at best. A bit of noise on the bands and propagation just wasn’t that good. In about 2.5 hours of operating, I finished the event only needing 6 sections…and those were no surprise – sections fairly close to me that are ALWAYS a challenge to get. I add Hawaii (PAC) to that list this year. I usually have no trouble working the islands, but didn’t even hear them this year nor see them spotted on the DX cluster.
I enter the “assisted” category, which means I can use a spotting network. I usually do not, but I like to have that resource available to me if I need it. My typical operating practice is to simply start scanning the band…working loud stations as I go up or down. And often on Sunday morning I will stake frequency out and get a small run of stations going. I had a small software problem this year (which reminds me that I had it last year, too). But an email to the developer took care of it, so I think I’m ready for 2017.
In general, I heard a lot of good operators and big guns….and without exception, the big guns were considerate and helping other hams out who weren’t familiar with the contest exchange.
Every year, when operating sweeps I think “I should get a new radio”. I believe my old Kenwood TS-570sg is having some receiver problems and the selectivity is just not what it should be. It’s not something that is apparent until you get into a contest/pileup situation with lots of adjacent strong signals.
My only grimace came as I was scanning the high end of the 40 meter phone band and heard some operators clearly violating every standard of good practice. No call signs given, of course.
Log is uploaded to the online services and emailed to ARRL HQ.
In all, I don’t expect any wallpaper or plaques this year, but I rolled up my sleeves, operated Sweeps and had a good time.