Three times a year, the ARRL hosts the Rookie Roundup, in April for SSB, in August for RTTY, and in December for CW. These 6 hour contests are a great opportunity for new operators to get started in contesting. In addition to Rookies, experienced operators are encouraged to be “Elmers” and host new operators, or they can help by just making contacts with the Rookies. A rookie is any operator who was first licensed in the past 3 years.
I have operated seriously in several RTTY contests this year, but have been a little nervous about a serious SSB contest attempt because I don’t have much experience with SSB contacts, except for casually working DXpeditions, and working a pileup or two in Bora Bora with lots of help from Elmer AB1OC.
I thought the Rookie Roundup, on April 21, would be a great introduction to SSB contesting. I started out in search and pounce mode, trying to find rookies and multipliers on the band. In this contest, multipliers are US States and Canadian Provinces, and if you are a rookie, you get 2 points for working other rookies and 1 point for any other contest. The exchange had 4 pieces of information – Callsign, Name, State, and Year Licensed. With N1MM in a RTTY contest. to get the exchange in the log, all you need to do is click on the words/numbers. But for SSB, you need to listen, understand, and type in everything – while giving out your own exchange. This took some getting used to, but by the end of the contest, it became second nature.
I started out on 15m but soon moved to 20m. After determining that search and pounce was not helping my score, I found a frequency and started to run. After a few minutes, I started to get a constant flow of callers, which soon became a pileup! After some initial adjustment, I started to relax and enjoy myself and was able to manage the pileup. The operators in this contest were very friendly and encouraging. I continued to work the pileup for the rest of the contest – almost 6 hours and had a great time!
This has given me the confidence to operate SSB as K2K for the 13 Colonies Event the week of July 4th – I can’t wait!!
By the end of the contest, I had 246 contacts for a score of 11736. Preliminary results are available and I had the top score in Area 1 and the 3rd single op participant overall! I had the most QSOs of any operator – but not as many multipliers. I could have improved my score by moving to 40m toward the end of the contest and trying to work the closer in states in Areas 1, 2, and 3. Those states are difficult to work on the higher bands and represent quite a few multipliers. The other lesson learned is to use the voice recording capabilities of N1MM for my next SSB contest – after 6 hours of repeating my exchange, I had nearly lost my voice!
All in all this was a great contest and I would recommend it to any new operator.
– Anita (AB1QB)