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First Contest!

Stephen Jeffrey (kc7ued) on October 18, 2000
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My first real attempt at a contest!

After listening in on contests, and even offering my callsign to a few places I had wanted to contact, I was beginning to think I wanted to attempt a weekend of constant, redundant talking into my microphone.

I had to accomplish a few things, most importantly getting my tower fully operational. I had the top two sections secured to the side of my house and my tribander mounted on top. But over the summer, I managed to get a hole dug, and someone out to fill it back up with cement - 3.5 yards! A few weeks later, after the concrete cured, I started checking to see how we could get the tower up and how many people we'd need. With my wife helping, (she's into this `doing things together' stuff) we ended up putting the tower up one section at a time by ourselves. Most of her time was spent supervising (lying on her back watching) me set one section onto another and securing it with the six bolts. It really didn't take that long, and it wasn't long before the rotor and antenna were in place.

I moved an old slide-in pickup camper next to the base of my tower, put power to it, and ran all coax and cables inside. Though it didn't have a heater wasn't a concern. I was out of the wind, out of the house, and could operate in peace and quiet as long as I wanted! I picked up some contesting software and got familiar with it's operation. Then I looked into how I could operate the vox on my radio. It worked great, except all I have is a hand mic. So, the mind started chugging again, and I looked into ways to perhaps suspend the microphone in front of my face while operating. Wasn't going to work. So I scrounged around the house and found just what I needed. I headed back to the `shack' with a gallon bottle of bleach and a roll of duct tape. The gallon of bleach was heavy enough so the mic stayed where I wanted it. I now had both hands free to log via the computer. I have an old laptop I use for my logging.

I was going to be a single-op, single-band, low-power station. Just myself and 10-meters. (I was a Tech+). My first serious attempt at a contest. Ready. . . Set. . . .

Where was everybody? It was a little slow at first. Propagation has to work it's way into the contest. Time differences have to be factored in. (Did I have enough coffee?) Slowly the band came to live. Wait a minute. Was I going to just pounce on anything, or search for multipliers? What strategy had I decided on? I tried holding a frequency for a while. (Did I have enough snacks?) When nobody came back to my CQ's for a bit, I went searching. Whoa, partner! I needed that state for WAS. So I sit and keep throwing out my callsign to him and finally work another state to add to my list.

Working on just the ten-meter band, it got pretty quiet (dead?) at night. So I finally logged off and went to get some sleep. Sunday I was up early to try to get anyone from Europe that may be heard. Finally they started coming in, with the east coast right behind them. I tried some of the things I had read about to help work the hard stations. Turning your vfo just a little to fluctuate your signal really seemed to help the receiving station pull you out of the crowd. I learned more about antennas as I worked folks off the front, back, and sides of my 3-element yagi. I worked friends 10-50 miles away, and worked stations half-a-world away.

After everything was said and done, I was third in the Montana Section for the ARRL's 1999 November SweepStakes. I felt really good about my score, working 57 out of the 77 multipliers. I managed to work 7-8 new states for my WAS. And most importantly, I had a great time! I worked some interesting stations, gave many stations a new state, and worked stations that I had talked with many times outside of contesting.

Will I be ready for the 2000 Sweepstakes? I hope so. But this year, with my class upgrade I have more bands to play with, and I'm working from the other side of the country! I moved from Montana to Vermont. Do I eat, breath, and live for contesting, no. Do I enjoy a good run, yes. Being from a state that a lot of folks need, it wasn't hard to get into the receiving end of a small pileup. That was a really good experience. Learning how to get through a contact with the least amount of wasted time was something else I picked up pretty quick. If I worked you, thanks. If I didn't, this year's sweepstakes are coming up!

Hope to work you! 73's from Vermont. Steve Jeffrey, W1NEK (ex-kc7ued)

Member Comments: Add A Comment
First Contest! Reply
by N4ZR on October 19, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I really enjoyed the first-person account. Hope it reminds us all to look for Tech+ stations on 10m phone this fall.
First Contest! Reply
by WB7CYO on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I usually work the 100 contact minimum on the ARRL Sweeps. It lets me know my equipment is
working and helps me get familiar with the new logging program on the computer.

First Contest! Reply
by g3pjv on November 29, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I liked the story there, i will be making my first serious H.F contest the 10 meter ARRL coming up. I am only 15 years old and won my first contest on 2 meters,now i have a U.K class A licence i am moving on to H.f contests. In the contest i will be opperating single opperater as G3PJV/P. My working conditions will be my old trusty icom IC720A with 100w. Antennas are cushcraft r7000 verticle at 30 ft and a 3 element monobander also at 30 ft. See you in the contest.
Paul (G3PJV)
First Contest! Reply
by N0YYO on December 6, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Great story Steve. Reminds me of my first contest as a tech+ back in '95. Ended up with FIRST PLACE in Kansas and 6th US and Canada for 10 meters, single op, in the ARRL International DX Contest. This using an ICOM 751A @ 100w, Versa Tuner V, and an A-99 vertical @ 30 ft. Just goes to show you never know what you can do. Good Luck this weekend.
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