FL QSO Party 2003 QRPp Style

This contest started up with a bang a few years back. Many state QSO parties never seem to generate much activitiy. However the group that runs this one got it off to a very good start and have continued the tradition ever since. This year was no exception. They go to great lengths to make sure every county in the state is activated. They also give out an award to the first station to in the contest to work every county in the state. This year they added the "Worked All Flordia" award. You don't have to work all the counties in the contest, however if you do they waive they award fee. Sadly they do have an endorsement for either all CW or all QRP. This is a real disapointment as they do have these categories for the contest.

FL Counties Worked FL Counties Worked FL Counties Worked FL Counties Worked FL Counties Worked I have worked this contest in the past at varying power levels. Last year my efforts were directed at working each county at an even lower power levels than I had previously. With every county in the state worked at under 500 mWatts and average power to work a FL county standing at just under 90 mWatts I decided to continue the tradition I had started earlier in the spring of seeing what could be done at the 500 mWatt Level.

The equipment for the contest was nothing more than an Elecraft K1 and a dipole. Nothing more was needed.

When the contest started out Saturday afternoon I found that the 20 meter skip was a bit long. That meant that I could not work into the northern half of the state. Getting QSOs into the southern part of the state was clearly doable. When I look at my propagation charts after the contest it was clear that this was the result mostly of the lower sunspot numbers at the current part of the solar cycle. A class M flare Saturday morning did not help the situation.

As the day progressed the situation improve and for the last couple of hours prior to sunset I could work stations all over the state. Never the less two trends became apparent that seemed unique to the FL QSO Party. First most of the mobile were not identifying themselves with the traditional mobile "/M." Rather they were using the slash and the three letter county abbreviation. Many of the fixed stations adopted the same procedure. This may have hurt the mobiles as it was very tempting to pass over a station once he had been worked without realizing he was mobile and in a new county. The second observation was that many of those in the state without a fourth call letter call did not bother to sign /4. This made it difficult to determine if someone sending CQ was actually in the state or not.

By Saturday evening I had concluded there were not very many mobiles active for the contest. Unlike the GA QSO Party a few weeks earlier the fixed stations became the prime focus for this contest.

Saturday evening I tried 40 meters. However the contest only ran for about two hours after sunset, so 40 never became a major place to find new counties. I tried 40 again early Sunday morning, but again 20 meters was the better choice. In the end I only made two QSOs on 40 meters. During the day the skip was, as expected, to short to utilize 40 meters.

In the end Sunday became the prime day of the contest. Unlike the day before 20 meters was open to the northern part of the state. In fact Sunday was the reverse of Saturday in that 20 meters closed down to that part of the state. Later in the afternoon. The mobiles also began showing up on Sunday as well. Perhaps they were all in the northern half of the state Saturday and I never heard them.

At the 500 mWatt level this was one fun contest. In the end I came up with 51 of the 67 counties in the state from a total of 80 QSOs. The map show which ones I worked. Those in brown were put into the log. As is clear almost all of those missed were in the northern part of the state. I am almost convince that had the band been open I could have managed a clean sweep at 500 mWatts CW. Perhaps next year......

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