Tuesday, May 7, 2024

7-QP 2024

Now that my ears have stopped ringing, I can write a bit about the last big contest.

The 7-Area QSO Party

Again, as last year Rusty (W6OAT) and I Ran CW only from his marvelous QTH out on the Kitsap Peninsula.

We talked this over a bit at Visalia this year.  The idea we had was -- let's run and run hard on CW only.  My advice was -- let's keep the operations going.   We can always take a break here and there, but someone was always at the key for the entire duration.    The other thing we agreed to was speed -- Last year I was a bit nervous and not yet ready for fast WPM so I ran it about 22-23.   We scored reasonably well, but that was a year ago.   In that time since 2023 7-QP, I've been practicing and running in as many CWT/MST as I could (Until the KPA-500 lost the finals).

This year, with Rusty's advice we turned it up to 27-28.  Yee-Haw.   I didn't have too much anxiety about that speed since he was right there with me.

So it was settled -- as we were waiting for the plane back to Seattle after Visalia this April --

  • CW Only, let's not do SSB
  • Speed up
  • Work it hard.  Keep the seat warm
  • And we're going to try our best to win.
  • But, again as always -- HAVE FUN.

I got the phone call just the week before and Rusty and I ironed out the logistics.    The excitement was there and I felt it too.  This was going to be fun.

(Side note -- I feel like saying that running M/S in any contest is by far one of my favorite things.  You may not win, you may not have a great signal conditions -- but it's always fun to be around your friends when on the radio.   It's about the company.)

Due to some scheduling, I had to wake up Saturday morning at 2 a.m. and then dose up with coffee and hit the road for making the journey AROUND the sound (which means taking I-5 through Tacoma, and then up Highway 3 towards Rusty's place).

About 5:00 a.m. or so I get to Rusty's and the house is dark, but Rusty is up stairs putting on (more) coffee.

We're ready!

The station is switched on and Rusty and I add my Heil Pro-7 to the splitter as well as my N3ZN paddle.

The greyline wall map is turned on and we're watching.  The solar numbers were initially really weird,  K 15, and A 0 (zero).   There was some news about a CME glancing by but the bands were their usual snap-crackle-pop.

At 6:00 a.m. we pressed "F1" on N1MM and began.   We were ramping up the numbers really well.

Within the first hour or so I think we had 8 or 9 of the DX Mults we needed.
Within the first few hours we had pretty much worked all the States except for ND and SD and CT.

Then CT came on, we added that Mult.  Then we had a lull for a while.   A zero call came back to us and Rusty, jokingly said "I hope that's a Dakota."  And sure enough, when we got the exchange it was.

We literally high-fived on that QSO.

The VE Mults proved to be elusive for us.   VE4 VE5 VE6 came later  and it was those YV0  and eastern seaboard stations we really wanted. 

Upstairs food was getting prepared and as the sun was starting to go low, so did our VFO.  20 to
40 then to 80..   Rusty has a really good 160m wire and we were bringing stations to 160 that we had already worked on 80 and 40.

One response was this cryptic  "Let ,, me .. see."

Near the end of the contest, we had already passed our 2023 score.  We had literally four hours more to go and we had already reached the same QSO count we had in 2023.    In my mind I was thinking we could crack 1000 Q.    In 2023 during Salmon Run our count was 1033 Q on CW only.   But that was a differently spaced contest.  If I remember, there was a down-time.

But in this year 7-QP we already passed our Q-count and I think we even topped our Mult from 2023.  We had 62 or 63 now.

For the next four hours it was bursts.   We'd run (which we did for most of the contest) and we also S/P a few times to snag a new Mult.    When it was on fire, it was on fire and we were clocking in 4-5 Q per minute.  Then there would be some minutes before we heard a call.  You think it's rapid but after it's all over the rate was about 0.97 Q per minute for the entire contest.

We ended the contest on 40m.  We had already reached the bottom of the peanut butter jar on 160 and 80m.   40m was still good and open and we could tell people were packing it in.   Our last CQ happened about 30 seconds before the end of the contest.   I turned to Rusty and said, I think we did it.

Score wise, I'm sure.

I love the 7-QP contest as much as any other.   And, it was truly an amazing night of good QSO and lots of good practice at the station.   For reasons that I will post about later, the effort is a training ground for some good work on handling pile ups and DX.

My thanks to Rusty and the members of the Western Washington DX Club who worked our Run.
I also want to give my appreciation to the regulars of the MST/CWT contesting ---  learning your calls helped me quite a bit.    

I hope to hear you all again and be part of a great contest.

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