The ARRL Sweepstakes is one of the most popular contests in ham radio. I entered QRP this year so I could put my recently complete Elecraft K2 through the wringer. Well, the receiver works great! No matter how strong an adjacent station is I can still hear the weak ones next door. Excellent performance. I just need the auto-notch filter in the DSP module and I'll be set.
The transmitter is another story. 5W is a good way to get the snot beat out of you in this contest, especially considering the poor band conditions. When you are running 5W and everybody else is running 1500W and they are barely over the noise, you don't have much of a chance. And when I did manage to work people I got the impression they were annoyed that I was hurting their rate because I had to repeat so much info. And nobody seemed pleased to find out I was in SDG and not 1-land either. A real antenna would have made a big difference as well, a random wire on a fence isn't so hot. Oh well, maybe Santa will bring me a KPA-100. Or a K3 (drool). And as long as I'm making my xmas list I'd like a crank up tower with a 4 el steppir.
All that said I was actually surprised at how GOOD the bands were. From San Diego I heard openings to almost every part of the country, including VT, SFL, AK, PAC, BC, AB. I was really surprised to find 15M open Sunday afternoon, and to actually make a few QSOs on it with my
pea-shooter. I guess Tad Cook is right, the bands really are open more than we think!
73 de n1ywb