The phone portion of ARRL Sweepstakes using low power from interior Alaska often generates a combination of great excitement intertwined with abject frustration. Each year, we hope against all past evidence, that this will be the weekend for a clean sweep, working all 80 ARRL and RAC sections. The strategy is tricky to execute with very limited openings to some of the New England states and eastern Canadian provinces. Then the stars must align to actually find the odd station in, say, Newfoundland or Rhode Island. Even if these factors are favorable, chances are their antennas are not pointed to Alaska. And to overcome the drone of Stateside stations pummeling the rare ones' receivers with desperate calls, our measly 100 watts has to be timed exactly right. Odds are overwhelmingly against us. We persevere, though. The magic of Sweepstakes is just too powerful to resist.
Carl WL7BDO (above), Elaine KL6C, and Dan KL1JP were undaunted. I turned over the KL2R reigns to them for the SSB Sweepstakes weekend and stood by to bring hot coffee, liaise with KL1BE in the kitchen, and to offer some technical advice as needed. I was soooo impressed by their teamwork and perseverance. On top of it all, the weather was bad with heavy, wet snow falling and icy road conditions. Carl came all the way from Nenana, about a 70-mile drive, only to get stuck in the driveway a few minutes before the start. Fifteen minutes later, though, we had him parked at the mic on the way to collecting valuable contacts. Elaine's 6-dB signal booster (her YL voice) drew in stations from all over North America. Here she smiles having just snagged Iowa:
The method was mostly S&P, but a handful of brief runs boosted the rate and final score to best 2008 and 2009 results. I discovered donuts were powerful motivators. Coffee was the lubricant of choice, and KL1BE's tasty meals provided the necessary calories to keep reaching for the elusive clean sweep against all probability.
The consensus is, as usual, we need an amplifier. Santa, can you hear us through the pileup?