September VHF QSO Party is over...

Well, I survived my first VHF QSO Party. Last week I got the idea to put up my 11-element 2 meter beam in the horizontal mode so I could play around on SSB and CW. Then I learned of the QSO Party coming up and thought I'd test out my gear then. I have a Carolina Windom up for HF which tunes well for 6 meters and I have a 70cm loop up that I've never done anything with except to look at it. All antennas got exercised over the weekend and I learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it.
Lessons Learned
Every time you operate you should learn something. I learned a lot. Here is the short list:
  • Antennas don't need to be up high to be effective. I worked five states (Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania) during the contest. With the exception of AA4ZZ, I worked everyone I heard.
  • You better run good feedline. I mentioned I have a 432 loop up. It sits at about 30 feet AGL and is fed with RG-8 feedline because I was testing it out and didn't have anything better laying around to hook to it. That was a mistake. I could barely hear a nearby station. I'm going to remedy that soon, though.
  • An antenna rotator makes life easier. I'm guessing anyway. I generally kept my antenna pointed towards the north but I would run outside and turn it towards the southwest occationally to see if I could hear anyone else. This is a process in my house, however. It goes something like this: spin around in the chair, run down the stairs, unlock the deadbolt on the front door, open the front door, make it across the acorn covered driveway and around the side of the house in bare feet, startle the cat behind the trash can so he can do the same to you as he makes his getaway, try to figure out where the radio gods want the antenna turned and spin it around, make your way back into the house, lock the front door, notice wife laughing at you, run back upstairs, sit back in chair, spin around, enjoy. Of course I quickly realized the bands were really performing towards the north so I would repeat the above process to get pointed back to the north. Repeat as necessary. I plan on remedying this problem as well.
  • A supportive spouse makes everything work well. Mine is a doll (and she's cute too). Not only did she fix me lunch but she brought it up to me and ate with me in between contacts. Now if I can just get her to pick up the microphone more often.
The Other Guys
Here's who I contacted during the event:
6 meters
K4CML - Newport News, Virginia
N2XOM <- for some reason I don't remember this contact. We'll see.
NG4C - Elizabeth City, North Carolina
2 meters
K4CML - Newport News, Virginia
W3SO - Wopsononock Mountain near Altoona, Blair County, PA, in the Allegheny Mountains, at elevation 2500 feet
W3IP - Maryland
W4IY - Virginia
W4MYA - Goochland, Virginia (SW of Richmond)
K8GP - Spruce Knob, West Virginia
WB2KWF- Smithfield, Virginia
70 centimeters
K4CML - Newport News, VA
The Score
Well, I didn't think I was going to make two contacts the entire weekend but ended up with eleven on three bands, ten grid multipliers which equals a claimed score of 120. Now I know I worked two stations (W3SO and K8GP) who will easily turn in scores of 100k or more. But I'm taking my 120 points to the bank. I did as good a job as I could and I'm happy I did what I did. I will be working on my station over the next few months to improve things and maybe get a better score come the next contest.
I worked hard on getting all my cards filled out and stuffed in envelopes with addresses and stamps and all that in hopes of getting them in the mail today. Nope, left them right by the front door. They will be in the mail tomorrow, though.