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Let’s Play Two! The 2011 ARRL Phone Sweepstakes Is Right Around the Corner

11/11/2011

The ARRL Sweepstakes celebrates its 78th anniversary in 2011 and the SSB weekend is coming up on November 19-21. As last weekend’s CW weekend demonstrated, the recent re-awakening of the sunspot cycle promises a generous dose of competition and fun for operators all across the US and Canada.

Technician licensees can make the most of their HF privileges by taking advantage of the great conditions on 10 meters! Even very modest stations can do well on 10 meters, including mobile and portable operations. Start tuning on USB from 28.3 MHz and follow the action. If you’ve never operated a contest before, an introduction to operating in Sweepstakes has been posted online. You can also can brush up on the basics by viewing the 2011 ARRL November Sweepstakes Operating Guide. Assembled by ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, it is a great compilation of Sweepstakes rules, operating techniques, and log submission guidelines.

Speaking of brushing up, you might decide to aim for a “Clean Sweep” by working at least one station in all 80 ARRL/RAC Sections. If you reach this exclusive goal, you can receive a highly sought-after Clean Sweep mug for your accomplishment.

One of the nicest aspects of Sweepstakes is that you don’t need a superstation to make a lot of QSOs and have a great time. Fire up a 100 W -- or even a QRP rig -- with a dipole or vertical and you will work others all over the continent! Make at least 100 QSOs and you can order a special Phone Sweepstakes Participation Pin to recognize your effort. Stay in the chair for a bit longer, and you will have a shot at Section and Division awards.

Recent Sweepstakes Changes

Beginning this year, the Single Operator Unlimited (U) and Multioperator (M) categories have been split into High Power and Low Power. Entrants still send the “U” or “M” precedence as part of the contest exchange, but now those stations can compete with others in a comparable power category. See the rules for more information. New categories automatically create new records, so you might see your call on the record summary this year.

In 2010, a change was implemented that allows alumni to participate in the School Club category when operating from the established school station along with current school members. Entering the “S” category is a great way for students to take a break from their studies and enjoy some radio-based competition. There a many records to be set in the School Club category and other levels of competition between schools can also be found in the Collegiate Championship.

ARRL Phone Sweepstakes Tips and Techniques

If this is your first Phone Sweepstakes or if it has been a while since your last entry, here are a few points that might help with your effort this year:

  • Refresh your knowledge of the 80 ARRL/RAC Sections and their abbreviations. Watch out for similar abbreviations like San Diego County (SDG) vs South Dakota (SD), Orange County (ORG) vs Oregon (OR), San Joaquin Valley (SJV) vs Sacramento Valley (SV), Santa Clara Valley (SCV) vs South Carolina (SC), just to name a few. You might hear the name correctly, but it can be easy to enter it incorrectly in your log.
  • Don’t crowd the band edges. Know your permitted frequency ranges for your license class and stay within them. Remember that as you get close to the band edges, your radio’s dial may show that your carrier is within the band, but your sidebands will extend farther -- as much as 3 kilohertz! For example: On the low end of 40 meters, if your license allows you to operate down to 7125 kHz, it is good practice to tune no lower than 7128 kHz to keep your LSB signal within the allocation. A similar situation occurs with USB at the high edge of 20-10 meters.
  • It is easy to get lulled into a search-and-pounce routine, which is a good technique to make QSOs and find some new sections. But don’t be afraid to call CQ, too! Your score will increase a lot faster when the sections come to you. Tip: Tune around for a clear frequency on the high end of the band, rather than slugging it out on the low end. If one frequency doesn’t produce many contacts, slide up or down to a clear spot and try again. Or jump to another active band and test the waters there. Keep your CQ relatively short [CQ SS W1AW Whiskey One Alpha Whiskey] and repeat as needed. Use standard phonetics. Someone will hear you!
  • You don’t need to take valuable time repeating the other station’s information back to them -- they already know it and they desire your exchange. No real need for a “Please copy” intro, either. Say your information clearly one time and send it in the correct order. If the other station needs a fill, they will ask you for it.
  • Can’t manage a full 24-hour effort this year? Even part-time activity can be fun. Sometimes Sunday afternoon and evening activity can be a blast when you show up as “fresh meat” on the bands.
  • Try to copy the exchange information as accurately as you can. Then after the contest, no matter how big or small, send in your log! Your Cabrillo log will really help the overall log-checking process. Who knows? You might just come away with a certificate for your effort. You can use Bruce Horn’s, WA7BNM, online web form to submit your log information in the right format.

Join in the fun with thousands of SSB ops across the continent in the 2011 ARRL Phone Sweepstakes. ICOM is the Principal Awards Sponsor for the ARRL November Phone Sweepstakes. The Phone Sweepstakes runs from 2100 UTC Saturday, November 19 through 0259 UTC Monday, November 21. Complete rules and forms can be found online. Electronic logs should be submitted via e-mail; paper logs can be sent to ARRL November SS Phone Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Paper logs must be postmarked no later than 0300 UTC Tuesday, December 6, 2011.



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