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New Hampshire QSO Party

This past weekend Fred (AB1OC) and I (KC1ENX) participated in the New Hampshire QSO Party in the multi-op high power category operating from Fred (AB1OC) and Anita’s (AB1QB) shack using the club call sign (N1FD). We had originally planned to be a mobile operation but discovered there wasn’t a category for mobile, multi-op stations so decided to see what damage we could do from Fred and Anita’s QTH.

This was my first “real” contest. At least in the sense that I would be working more than a few hours at a time over a span of two days. The QSO Party started at 12 pm on Saturday and ran until 12 am on Sunday and then resumed on Sunday at 12 pm and ran until 6 pm Sunday. I was pretty excited and didn’t know quite what to expect. I have done the ARRL’s Rookie Roundups (SSB Voice, RTTY, and CW) in the past with the club, but those are much shorter in length. I was ready to step it up a level!

KC1ENX taking a break while AB1OC operates

Fred got the ball rolling on Saturday and shortly passed the control over to me. Anyone that has worked at Fred and Anita’s QTH it doesn’t take long to create a pile-up and it sure didn’t! Fred and I worked hard all day on Saturday until things started to dry up a bit on Saturday night around 11 pm. I decided to get a good nights sleep and headed home around 11:30 pm. Driving home, I decided to check the bands to see if anyone else was working the QSO party hard. I was shocked to hear a “CQ NH QSO Party” being called on 40 meters at close to midnight! My heart skipped a beat as I was sure someone else was working until the very end of the night! I should have recognized the voice as I then heard, “N1FD“.  Fred had decided to work a few more stations – learning a lesson from the 13 Colonies Event to never give up!

As I drove back to Fred and Anita’s on Sunday I heard Fred’s booming signal coming through on 20 meters. He got started as soon as the clock struck 12 pm. He let me take over shortly after my arrival and things were pretty busy for the whole day.

We ended up making 1,464 QSOs in 18 hours for a total score of 102,410 points! We almost had a WAS missing out by three states – Alaska, Delaware, and Maine. We worked all the Canadian provinces except for two and had many DX contacts as well! Not only did we finish with a pretty impressive score, but I learned a ton!

So Close to a WAS! - New Hampshire QSO Party
So close to a WAS!

Here are just a few of the things I learned from the weekend:

QRP

I have a newfound respect for these guys. I know the saying, “Life’s too short for QRP” but some of these guys easily broke a pileup and the great thing was the excitement they had when they did make contact. One guy actually exclaimed, “yoo-hoo!” on the air when I came back to him with his signal report.

USE PHONETICS

You make thing your signal is strong and very readable, but when there is QSB and QRM all around you, it really helps to speed things up to give call signs in phonetics.

KEEP IT SHORT

Obviously, we were trying to get as many QSOs in as possible in an allotted amount of time and sometimes people wanted to give a lot of unnecessary information. Fred taught me how to politely move things along without being rude. I did give extra time to a lot of the Florida operators who were affected by the hurricane and had just got their stations back up on the air, but I tried to keep things short for other QSOs.

SUPER CHECK PARTIAL

This is part of N1MM logger and it was fantastic in keeping things moving. If you catch part of a call sign and type it in with a “?” for letters you are unsure of it will give you a list of callsigns. This saved me a lot of time on many, many QSOs.

MULTIPLIERS ARE IMPORTANT

As the QSO Party went on we could check on N1MM+ the multipliers that we had and the ones that were missing. This allowed us to listen for the call signs from the areas that we still needed. We ended up getting one of our multipliers in the last couple of hours of the contest!

A GREAT STATION REALLY HELPS!

Anyone that has operated at Fred (AB1OC) and Anita’s (AB1QB) QTH knows that they have an amazing setup. Everything there is top notch.  Besides the great transceivers, yagis, power and everything else the other thing I really liked was the receive antenna. This allowed us to quickly change our listening direction and really pick out the weak signals quickly.

I would highly recommend working a QSO Party to get your feet wet in contesting. It is definitely long hours, but you are not working a full 24 or 48 hours which gives you some time for a good nights sleep. I really enjoyed the QSO Party and would like to thank Fred (AB1OC) and Anita (AB1QB) for putting up with me for so many hours. It does make it a lot more fun when you have a friend to work with you and show you the ropes.  I’m already looking forward to my next contest opportunity!

Jamey, KC1ENX

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