1998 CQP - Records Don't Fall, but Our Antenna and Score Does

Randy and I were more than ready for our annual trek to Mammoth Lakes in Mono County for this years edition of the California QSO Party.  We were especially optimistic about improving on our prior year's score of 1,752 QSO's and 251,372 points. Propagation should be better and we were adding two more wire beams to our existing antenna arsenal. How could we not blast right through into the 2,000 QSO barrier? Well, with a little help from Murphy and lost ground on 40 & 80 Meters we finished about 200 less QSO's and 29,000 points below our 1997 effort.

Packing for CQP

Jim is Packed up and Ready to leave Santa Monica for Mammoth Lakes, Mono County

Last year the 20M 3 element wire beam performed so well that we build two more for 10M & 15M. Never mind all work of setting them up and finding just the right combination of pine trees to hold all this wire. These antennas are a thing of beauty (to us anyway) when you pull them up 50 or 60 feet in the air. Even though it was extremely windy on Friday, Randy was dead-on with his sling shot as we pulled up the 10 guy lines needed to hold the three beams and two dipoles. By 4 PM all wire was high in the trees. That left plenty of time on Friday night to set up the equipment and enjoy a nice pre-contest meal at the local Chart House Restaurant.

15 M Wire Beam

10 M Wire Beam What a View!

The Wire Beams are flying High in the Pine Trees and a Super View too!

Saturday morning all started all out pretty well. Randy was running strong on 20M SSB and I was working 15M SSB & CW. Our combined last 10 QSO rate hit above 300/Hour on several occasions. Then at about 1800Z my QSO rate dropped to zero. I switched to the dipole and could make contacts again. It was still very windy and the picture in my mind of a fallen 15M wire beam turned out to be true when I walked over to were it previous was secured between two trees. One of the guy lines had snapped and it was now dangling in one of the trees. Nothing to do but stop, untangle, reassemble and re-launch a new guy line.

For the balance of the weekend the 15M beam worked well. The 10M beam was another story. We never could get much going on the band and most signal reports were just fair. We're not sure if it was the antenna or the combination of pine trees and elevation we that used. More work is needed to figure this one out. Since I just finished building both of these antennas the night before we left, CQP was their first test.

In the Thirties

CT Logging W6SW Pounds Away

Outside it Freezing, but inside the Bands are Hot and Randy keep his Paddle Running

Our combine QSO's of 1,363 on 10, 15 & 20 were 173 above last year's total of 1,190. But on 40 & 80 we were off by 362. We're not sure if was the propagation, the antennas or the operators. Well, that's what drawing boards are for. Guess we'll have a whole year to keep sketching strategy and antenna designs.

As usual, this year's CQP was great fun, but the work associated with a county expedition can be pretty exhausting. As we have increased the sophistication of our effort, it has become more of a challenge for just the two of us to accomplish. However, the reward is that we both enjoy the accomplishment and get lots of time to operate in a great event.

After finishing the contest at 3 PM on Sunday afternoon we took down all of the antennas and packed up all the gear and didn't leave Mammoth until about 8PM for the 300-mile drive back to Santa Monica. Getting home at 1AM and knowing that you have to be at work in only 7 more hours was once again a true test of dedication to CQP!

Be sure to checkout the on-line logs from the CQP operations in Mono County.

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