This weekend was the 2011 ARRL SSB Sweepstakes ham radio contest. The contest format is to work as many US, Canadian, Puerto Rico and Virgin Island stations as possible. You can work any station only once and each ARRL section is a multiplier. ARRL sections are mostly states, but some states like NJ, NY, PA, TX and CA have multiple sections. The exchange is a relatively long one with it being serial number, operating class (also called precedence), your own call, check (last 2 years you were first licensed) and your ARRL section. My exchange would be 123 A K2DSL 07 NNJ which represents contact #123, A which is low power unassisted, my call sign, 07 since I was licensed in 2007 and NNJ (Northern NJ) is my ARRL section.
I had a VE testing session to attend on Saturday so I wasn’t home for the start of the contest but there are 11 new Techs about to get their call sign this week. Between the late start and having something to do that night, I was only able to operate 3 hours on Saturday, but was able to make 87 Qs covering 47 of the 80 ARRL sections. Since I only operated 80m for a short time, and 80m is where most of my “local” northeast states will be worked, I needed a lot of the nearby states/sections still. I did work a good number of the 0 and 7 call areas which can sometimes be the toughest to get such as Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, North & South Dakota as well as the Canadian Northwest Territory.
On Sunday, I slept relatively late but was able to spend time on the radio often throughout the day. When I first fired the radio up, I was still on 80m and scanned the band and was surprised to find a few stations still on 80m which gave me a couple more quick sections. I moved to 40m for the next hour and worked another 11 mults (60 total at this point). I checked 15m at 1400z (9 am local) and immediately worked the Virgin Islands section but there wasn’t much activity there yet so I switched to 20m and worked 5 more mults (66 total).
I switched back to 40m and made a bunch more contacts but no new mults. It starts to get harder to find the new sections I haven’t logged. I really wasn’t thinking I would operate a lot this weekend and certainly didn’t think I’d be able to find this many sections, but I felt I was getting pretty lucky, especially with some of the tougher ones for me – MS, KY & WV being the typically harder ones for me on the East Coast. From this point on I was just switching between the bands and tuning up and down them from the bottom to the top (or when I stopped hearing any stations) working any station I hadn’t worked before with infrequent new sections being found.
Midday I needed to stop and attend a competition for my daughter and her team. It was worthwhile as they placed first in her final High School cheerleading competition. When I got back home, I still needed a couple California sections, Puerto Rico, 1 or 2 Canadian sections, SC and unbelievably my own NNJ section. I continued to jump between the bands and just tune up/down. I worked S&P the entire contest and never once called CQ. Sometimes that makes it difficult to log sections if the operator is also working S&P.
At 22:55z I worked SC which left just 2 sections – my own Northern NJ and Puerto Rico. Working SC gave me WAS (Worked All States) in under 24 hours. I figured NNJ would be something I’d get but I had only heard 1 PR station when I was on this weekend and he had a large pileup so I moved along but didn’t find him again. At 00:34z I worked a NNJ station as contact # 301 on 80m for section #79 leaving just Puerto Rico. I finished scanning 80m and then 40m before heading to 20m and finding a PR station with a good size pileup. It took about 5 mins of putting my call out there before he picked me up and worked him as contact #308 for a clean sweep of all 80 ARRL sections!
Below are some stats produced by the K0RC log analyzer.
I worked the following States/Providences only once in the contest:
AR, HI, MS, NE, SC, UT & VT
MB, NL & NWT Providences
I logged CA stations the most at 33 times followed by MDC (Maryland/DC) stations 31 times.
I worked the most stations in the 4 call area with 55 Qs followed by the 0 call area with 41 Qs.
In the power/precedence breakdown I worked 111 B (High Power) stations followed by 105 U (Unlimited using DX Cluster) stations followed by 71 A (Low Power) stations. I worked 2 stations running Q (QRP) and they both had good strong signals calling CQ.
Looking at the year first licensed that was sent as part of the exchange, the most frequent years sent were:
(19)77, (19)69, (19)55 & (19)76
For 2011, the current year, there were 3 stations that sent 11.
I worked 5 other ops that sent (20)07 which is the same year I was licensed.
Here’s the score summary from N1MM showing the breakdown on contacts and sections by band:
Band QSOs Pts Sec 3.5 72 144 13 7 93 186 15 14 65 130 19 21 69 138 27 28 45 90 6 Total 344 688 80 Score : 55,040
All logs were uploaded to eQSL, LoTW and sent into the contest Sunday evening.
For those in the US, have a happy Thanksgiving!