SSB Sweepstakes at the Radio Farm got started weeks in advance with numerous antenna repair days attended by the crew. In the summer the big beam flew down from its lofty perch aboard the guy-line trolley know as the "Condor". It wasn't until autumn that it was reinstalled and it took only a week for big winds to twist it on the mast. Oh well, what's the challenge if everything is perfect? Bill, N0LNO, put up three beverages and also added a new 40m vertical yagi to the current antenna crop. CQWW SSB was the shake down event for the new contest season and our deficiencies were obvious. So the weekend before sweeps we were out in the cold wrestling slopers out of antenna eating trees and marveling how sunlight destroyed our poly support ropes. But it was so cheap when we bought the stuff! When darkness came Sunday night we went in to test the antennas and we were rewarded almost nothing. The 40m yagi had a SWR of infinity and the slopers were still unreachable because the tower mounted switch-box was not getting power. OK, we're ready for sweeps!
AA0WO working on dipole N0LNO working on 40 M vert. yagi
So everything was set. Antennas were a problem but there was to be much contest chili to make up for lack of radiation. In addition the beer fairy visited the farm and left a couple of cases not to mention the homebrew from Indoor Beverage Chairman Mark, KB0NRP. Guy, N0MMA, was expected to make a guest appearance flying in from Atlanta thanks to frequent flier miles but for some stupid reason the airline industry puts a blackout period on sweeps weekend and so no Guy. (Hey, we missed you Guy.) Keith, NN0H, drove over from Nebraska and so on Saturday morning we started making last minute antenna repairs while Al, KA0IES, started the chili. We got lucky and found a loose feedline connection on the 40m Yagi! The switchbox wiring was sorted out and we had two 40m slopers ready. Out of the blue Chuck, KA7QEN, shows up after driving 11 hrs up from Nashville, TN. What a surprise. 1800 zulu and we were ready to go! A milestone, ready to contest when the contest started.
Decided to start on 15m and move to 20m about 2330z. In the past years we had always had trouble with KP4, KP2, KL7, and VE8 so I thought lets try to find them right off the bat so we wouldn't have to wait until late Sunday to get the clean sweep. At this time let me mention a Radio Farm tradition of everyone downing a shot of Yukon Jack when we work Yukon section. Hey, it's something to celebrate! So I had a bottle of Jack ready and waiting. To generate addition interest in finding KP4 and KP2 I also brought along a bottle of Bicardi to celebrate "da Islands mon". We had heard that many stations down there had lost their antennas due to hurricanes this season so we knew it would be tough. But what happened next left me with a wicked hangover the next morning. Right off the bat there was the Virgin Islands off the back of the beam! Worked him on the first call and opened the bottle of Bicardi.
18-Nov-95 2304 91 B AA0WO 71 IA 129 B NP2B 57 VI 28 Drink shot of Bicardi 18-Nov-95 2307 92 B AA0WO 71 IA 169 A K7LUH 60 MT 29 Out of nowhere we come across Yukon. Open the Yukon Jack. 18-Nov-95 2310 93 B AA0WO 71 IA 228 B VY8JA 57 YU 30 Drink shot of Yukon Jack.
About now Joe, N1TIO, wanders down into the basement and since this is his first contest at the Farm he marvels at our ability to work the hard sections with ease. (Sometimes it pays to be lucky, it's easier to fool people that way.) He sits in front of the spotting station and says, "what are you looking for now?" Puerto Rico, KP4
18-Nov-95 2316 94 B AA0WO 71 IA 229 B WV7Y 85 EWA Joe says calmly, "Here's a KP4 and he's really strong." 18-Nov-95 2326 95 B AA0WO 71 IA 210 B KP4BZ 63 PR 31 Drink shot of Bicardi and look around the band again. 18-Nov-95 2328 96 B AA0WO 71 IA 146 B N6YKL 90 SB I haven't even drained my glass and Alaska appears. What the hell, Alaska is close to Yukon. 18-Nov-95 2329 97 B AA0WO 71 IA 197 B KL7Y 63 AK 32 Drink shot of Yukon Jack
And so it goes, more Qs, chili, and homebrew. The propagation gods are good to us for once. 40m produces well that night and we end up missing only NE, WY, UT, MAR, SASK, MANT. Take some time out to watch Red Green and then take some down time. Why is the room spinning?
Next morning comes too soon and the room hasn't stopped completely. Duty calls and back to the radio. That doesn't last long for me and I have to go up upstairs to recover some more. Keith and Ron keep the rate up. Thanks guys. After awhile Buster the Contest Dog sees me sleeping on the floor and starts barking to get me up. Only Buster is allowed to lay around during contests! So back into the basement I go and we start a run on 40m. We have alot of success as Iowa is somewhat rare for some. The run makes me forget about my head. We finally work Nebraska and Keith is relieved because now he can return home to Omaha. Thanks for coming Keith!
Forty slows down so we move up to 20m and start another run. We are only missing Manitoba now and after much asking for Manitoba somebody comes on freq and says Manitoba is down the band. QSY and we have our clean sweep!
Tom, WE0F, shows up and racks up about 200 Qs in a couple hours and has his mind reduced to mush. He turns the mike over to Chuck and he keeps things going by looking for that elusive CQ. Hello CQ. I know you're out there CQ. Talk to me.
When Chuck has to hit the road Al takes over and starts a run on 40m until about an hour left and then we finish up on 80m.
We ended up with 824 Qs and a sweep. Great job guys. For once no equipment or antenna failures. No ice storms either. This is the way it is supposed to be I think.
Thanks to Ron, KD9KX, for letting us take over your farmhouse.
OPS: AA0WO, KD9KX, WE0F, KA7QEN, KA0IES, NN0H, N1TIO, N0LNO, KB0NRP