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2006 Contests




September 2006 CW Sprint

The Sprint is one of my favorite contests. It is a very intense 4-hour CW contest that requires real focus and since the logs are checked very closely, accuracy counts more than in almost any other contest.

The N1LI beams had only been installed in the week or two before the contest. An 80M inverted V at 50 feet was installed as the first 80M antenna.

There is a photo elsewhere on this site showing the operating condition...the shack was not done, and the feedlines weren't run up there anyway so I operated in the basement. No rotators were connected...beams were aimed sort of West.

Things learned:

1. The beams seemed to be pointed more NW than West. VY1JA was s9+ a bit before the contest on 20M (did not hear him in the contest).

2. Got some good reports from the west coast on 40M.

3. The low inverted V and low power was not really very effective on 80M.

4. I managed to break both the High and Low Power records for Maine. However, the score is only listed as the Low Power record. The goal for the September 2007 Sprint will be to break the High Power record. Sorry, Bert.


By October, the N1LI antenna farm consisted of:

4/4 SteppIRs for 20-10 at 95 and 60 feet, stackable, and indepedently rotatable

Cushcraft XM240 2-el shorty 40

wire verticals (inverted Ls) for 80 and 160

One radio and one amplifier were installed.

Conditions were not very good, and the idea was to operate on all bands, to try and find weaknesses to fix and strengths to exploit. The first night went OK, and I discovered what it is like to be really loud on 80M. I broke every pileup on one call, including pileups I would have not entered from home. I got a lot of unsolicited "big signal" reports on 160 also.

During the weekend, a serious windstorm hit the island. It turned the SteppIRs in the ring rotors somehow, so I had no idea where the beams were pointed. I was able to get some runs going, but nothing amazing. The power went out Satruday morning, so I got to sleep a lot. when the power came back on late Saturday, it was dark and I really could not tell where either SteppIR was pointed. I played a bit on the low bands, got more sleep, played around on the high bands a bit Sunday morning, including turning on Internet spotting to try crashing pileups and pump up the score and help the YCCC score a bit, then left the island on the noon boat.

Things learned:

1. Need to align the SteppIRs better in the rings to keep them pointed in the right direction.

2. Low bands transmit very well. Need some improved receive capability to make these real "run" bands. Yes, there are plans for this.

3. 40M SSB has evolved since the last time I did SOAB on SSB. It took me a while to figure out how to do that band.

4. After years of SO2R operation, SO1R is really boring, especially without a voice keyer. I really felt kind of lost, with no idea of what was happening on the other bands, and no idea when to QSY, no real ability to move multipliers, etc.

5. Reliable power may become an issue on the island. Need to look into generator options.

Things I need to do:

1. Bring up Radio 2 and Amp 2.

2. Directional antennas for 80 and 160, mostly to help with receiving.

3. Figure out why the SteppIRs slipped in the rings and fix it.


2006 ARRL Sweepstakes CW

K1AR and his wife were visiting us for the weekend, so a full-time effort was not going to happen. John and I took turns operating a little bit here and there, using different calls.

Things learned:

1. Station is pretty loud on the low bands. Great reports from the West Coast on 40. No problem at all raising a pileup and holding a frequency. Interesting SWL report on packet from Moscow on 80M.

UA3MIF     3515.5 N1LI        SS  RST-589 FB!               0411 05 Nov 2006

2006 CQWW CW

This is the biggest contest event of the year for me, and the SOAB CW category is generally regarded as the event that decides the Top Gun.

After the storm in the SSB weekend, I managed to get the SteppIRs pointed back where they belonged, although I didn't figure out how they managed to slip.

No new antennas except a makeshift 250-foot Beverage for receiving on 80 and 160.

No new equipment...still one radio (756 Pro III), one amp (AL1200).

Conditions were poor at the beginning, but I was doing OK. About 3 hours in, I noticed that the radio did not always go back to receive mode...sounded like a hung relay somewhere. Took time off and tried to diagnose it. Decided it was the T/R relay in the amp. Took apart the amp, inspected it all, resoldered a few connections, put it all back together, and it was OK for a few minutes, then the problem resurfaced.

Tried to jury-rig an external relay with the meager assortment of parts on hand, and managed to miswire it and kill the relay. Ultimately resorted to using a footswitch to key the amp for every transmission. It was not ideal, but it worked. But the lost time messing with the whole thing was disappointing. So much for a serious effort...although going in, I knew with one radio I really could not hope for a top-3 finish.

Felt pretty loud on the low bands, but the short Beverage was not useful, limiting my ability to hear.

Operated about 30 hours total, made 2800 QSOs.

Things I learned:

1. Icom radios have trouble keying AL1200s.

2. I was a bit disappointed at the high-band performance...I did not feel really loud on Saturday, especially on 15M. However, on Sunday, I played with the stack a bit, and found that the low antenna at 60 feet was >10dB better than either the top antenna or the stack. I went from a few people calling me to a huge pileup. Upon further modeling, it appears there is a big null in the pattern of the stack or top antenna alone at about 12-15 degrees takeoff. I sort of suspected this while planning the station, but now I've decided I will need a lower 15M beam to fill in those angles.

3. Single-radio contesting is definitely a problem for me. I had no idea what was happening on the other bands, and missed some openings.

4. Really need directional antennas for 80 and 160.

5. Two tough QSOs I recall. First was XU7MWA calling me on 40LP. Since I hadn't been very active in the weeks leading up to the contest, I did not know the callsign. When he called me, there was so much multpath echo on his signal (which was s9) it took many tries before I was sure I had the callsign correct. Second was my friend 9M6NA...it took several calls to get through to him on 20M near the end of the contest. Later, all the locals told me that the band just wasn't open very well from northern W1 to SEA, and a lot of people never got through.

Things to fix:

1. Bring up Radio 2 and Amp 2 (and all the required SO2R stuff). It will take a lot of time to figure out the antenna & radio switching, especially if I have the SteppIRs track the radio frequencies, since I will need to option of using either antenna (or both) on either radio.

2. Directional antennas for 80/160.

3. Install a  lower 15M beam...I have one at my NH QTH that is not in use, and will move it to N1LI. 5 elements on a 30 foot boom ought to solve the 15M problem.

4. Figure out next spring why the SteppIRs slipped during the SSB contest.

5. Fix the ProIII-to-amplifier interface (and get the ProIII fixed).



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