November SSB Sweepstakes

Participated in the ARRL November SSB Sweepstakes this weekend for the first time. This was overall a great experience and allowed me to try some new tools, make some needed WAS contacts, practice on the low bands  and experience the full effect of radio contests. I realize that contests are not every Ham’s cup of tea and yet there are many who clearly take the whole thing way too seriously (both for and against them). I don’t mind contests as I see them as ways to measure the performance of my radio system  as well as ways to improve operating and listening skills.

I started off about a week ago and downloaded the rules and became familiar with the exchange needed which matches a radiogram header. I decided to run as Low Power, single operator, no spotting assistance and  single transmitter which defined my precedence as “A”. I did everything on the FT-450D at 100W.

I decided to run a contest logger so I downloaded and installed the N1MM Logger+ program. This type of logger is a big help vs my standard HRD logger. Super partial check, dupe alerts, entry error checking against contest rules, running section display & points count and automatic frequency download from the rig are all features that were new and had to be explored somewhat to use. The benefits are solid though. When I was done the log was saved as Cabrillo format as well as ADIF format for upload into my standard logger. Really useful for this application.

I started a few minutes after the contest officially started and used my RTL-SDR panadapter to view the now busy waterfall. Unfortunately, I could not use the DDE feature of the HRDSDR software as the logger takes control of the rig (vs. HRD doing this under normal use). Upshot…I had to manually tune the rig.

I ended up operating for a total of just under 9 hours as measured by the logging program. During this time I made 101 QSO’s across 52 ARRL/RAC sections for a total of 10,400 points. No clean sweep and no high score but a respectable showing for a first time out. Worked 20m and 15m during the day and 40m and 80m at night. Only made 2 QSO’s on 10m.

The nighttime work was notable as it was really my first hard usage of the 80m band. I was pleased that the antenna tuned up well on 80m and I was able to make 6 QSO’s on that band. 40m was comparable to 15m contacts. Everything was done as “Search & Pounce” as I did no CQ’s.

Overall a fun time on the radio this weekend and still managed to do a healthy mount of other activities with the family.

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