Last weekend I spent about 13 hours or so participating in the ARRL CW Sweepstakes contest. The last time I participated in this contest was in 2008, and although I started out slowly, I managed to finish with a final score just a bit higher than the 2008 effort. In 2008, I had 333 QSOs in about 15 1/2 hours with 79 out of the 80 possible multipliers, missing only NT (Northwest Territories in Canada) for a score of 52,614 points. This year, in 13 hours, I had 376 QSOs missing 3 multipliers (Nebraska, which I heard, but couldn’t work, South Bay, which I heard once, and didn’t work, and Newfoundland/Labrador, which I never heard), giving me a total of 57,904 points. Considering that I had fewer multipliers and a higher score in a shorter amount of time, I was pretty happy.
I didn’t try to “run” stations at all for the first day of the contest, there was just too much competition, but later on when things quieted down I was able to get run frequencies on 40m and 80m from time to time and really enjoyed working the stations calling. I did have a couple of things happen while running on 80m that I thought were noteworthy. First, in the middle of my run I got called by W1AW, the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial station located at ARRL Headquarters. Although I’ve had contact with W1AW many times (they are not very far from here so are very easy to work on the lower bands), and have even operated from that station myself, it’s always fun to make contact with them, and even more special when they call me (rather than the other way around). The other thing that happened was that a bit later I was running on another 80m frequency at the bottom of the band (3.505mhz) and a station called and asked if I would QSY (change frequencies) because a DX station (5R8Z, I believe) was about to come on the air and that was the frequency that he’d announced he’d be moving to. I moved right away, because even though legally, since I was there first I could stay, it was in the “ham spirit” to move so that others could contact that DX station. (Frankly, I would have been very happy to make that contact myself, but I never heard him.) In any case, it was the right thing to do, and I was happy to do it.