I was excited to be an activator for the 13 Colonies Special Event this year. I joined about twenty other operators in activating K2H - Massachusetts. It gave me a chance to try out the station upgrades, including the new high doublet and the Flex-6600. I operated primarily CW, with two or three other "CW specialists."
I spent a few hours one night doing 2BSIQ (2 band synchronized interleaved QSOs). I used N1MM+ in two-keyboard configuration, shown above. For the first time, I have no switches, tuners, or interface boxes of any kind on the desk and everything is 100% automated. What a blast!
I'll add my final QSO tally here after the event, but at the time of writing, I'm at about 1500 QSOs.
Some thoughts on the 13 Colonies Event:
- The average operator can benefit from contest practices. For example, most callers were dead zero beat and unworkable; the ones who knew better called slightly off frequency, a maneuver relatively standard in contesting and DX'ing.
- Pileups on phone and FT8 were much, much bigger. There simply aren't as many chasing CW activators, at least in my observation. The biggest pileup I had on CW was maybe 5 or 6 deep.
- Many hams do not recognize their own call sign above ~28wpm. There were many times I knew I had busted their call, but the caller responded with "R R 5NN." In this case I would send "[Busted call sign]?" and 9 times out of 10, they would reply with "R R R". I would QRS and try again, and sure enough, they'd correct it.
- The majority of hams are gentlemen on the air. It isn't often I get out of the contesting subset into the general ham population, and I was actually impressed by how many considerate operators there are. There were a few jerks, of course, but they were the minority.
- Many CW operators using the spotting network are not, for one reason or another, seeing skimmer spots. Maybe this is on purpose, or maybe their node simply isn't passing skimmer spots. I would see myself automatically spotted by skimmers, and would get a surge of 1-3 QSOs. I would spot myself manually and would get a surge of 10-20 QSOs. I'm not entirely sure what this means.
- The vast majority of callers waited several seconds to send their call sign. This meant right as they started sending, my auto-CQ was starting up again. There is no reason for this outside of a pileup. Send your call IMMEDIATELY.
- Don't tell me my call sign. I know my call sign. I know you're calling me. There is no reason for you to send it to me. When you do this, either you're just wasting our time or it makes me think there's someone else CQ'ing on frequency. Please don't do this.
- Most CW prosigns and Q-sigs are extraneous. Sending BK, K, QSL, etc. might sound pretty, but it takes up time -- time we could be using to work more stations trying to get the sweep. Save the cutesy stuff for your regular QSOs please.
If we worked, thanks for the QSO! QSL information is on QRZ.