For the 2011 NCQP the guys and gals of the Appalachian Contesters, W4APP, set out to defend their victory in the 2010 NCQP as In-State Club SSB Champion. We looked at several possibilities to help improve our score over the 2010 totals. The most intriguing was to again attempt a county line operation, where each contact would in effect become two. After surveying several sites, Ashe/Alleghany, Watauga/Ashe, Ashe/Wilkes, Wilkes/Alleghany, and Wilkes/Alexander we decided to again work from the shack of WK4P and KD4UKT in Ashe county. There were a couple of reasons for this decision. First was the weather, or more specifically the possibility of bad weather in the NC mountains at the end of February. While the weather turned out OK this year one never knows what might happen at the end of February in the mountains. Secondly was the fact that while we might gain two qsos per contact we would also lose antenna effectiveness: a ground mounted vertical and a temporary dipole would be no match for a tribander, vertical, and super-long dipole @ 60 feet. We also knew that working two complete contacts would take a while, so while we might get two points off the one contact we also would have the other station silent for a long period of time, since NCQP rules only allow for one transmitted signal at a time. Finally the thought of breaking down at 10:00 pm was not a fun one. In the end we felt it was getter to be warm and comfortable in the shack with good, proven antennas that freezing and cramped in the little 25 foot long camper somewhere.
As Sunday February 27th rolled around we had another order of business prior to the NCQP, the testing of N4RHC for his Amateur Extra license. We are proud to announce that N4RHC passed with flying colors and was now pumped for the NCQP. Bob was contesting with us to find out what contesting, and W4APP, was all about. He got a good indoctrination into contesting and needless to say he had a great time and soon joined the Appalachian Contesters.
As the NCQP began KD4SM sat down at the 20 meter station and alternated calling with WK4P who was on 40. But not long into the contest Shane began having trouble with the tribander on 20. The SWR would go haywire, going from 1/1 to infinity. He'd hit his tuner and it would tune for a second, then the tuner would kick out and again the SWR would go to infinity. So Shane and Adam switched antennas and SM took over on 40 and 4P took over on 20. Adam had a couple issues with the beam but for the most part it behaved itself OK for him. The guys continued on, alternating calling CQ, with one station pausing whenever the other "got a bite". We followed the NCQP rule of one transmitted signal at a time with unlimited band changes. There was a lot of waving and tapping on the shoulder going on, but this worked well. Of course when WK4P would get a mini run going SM, RHC, and UKT would make fun of his animated antics.
This year 40 meters was fantastic for working NC stations. It was nice to get many in-state multipliers out of the way early. When Shane heard W4NC on the air he tagged out to our amplifier, KD4UKT, to make the contact with the bonus station...we all know a YL voice is worth an additional 6db, or one S unit, of gain. 40 was so much better this year that we didn't move to 80 until after dark this year and kept a station running on 40 throughout the event. Having 4 operators was nice as it allowed us the luxury to get up, stretch, grab a bite of food and a drink and get refocused. KD4UKT sure did a great job of providing snacks for us all to munch on throughout the event.
The contacts and mults began to add up and before long we realized we were going to beat last year's score. The thought of 400 Qs entered our mind. But sadly, activity fell off during the last two hours of the NCQP, which he have noticed is often the case. Perhaps we had worked all the stations out there, perhaps folks were getting ready for work/school. I was surprised by how much activity dropped though, since Desperate Housewives was not on that particular Sunday evening. We did accomplish one goal, that was to beat last years score, as we had more Qs and more mults this year than last year. The bar is now set even higher for the 2012 NCQP. Hopefully the new tower and yagi will be up at WK4P and KD4UKT's shack, allowing us to "walk that aisle" once again.