This contest certainly did not get off to a good start for me. Whereas usually getting into GA is a piece of cake everyone seemed very weak when I tuned up on 20 meters. So I dropped down to 40 and no one was there. Back to 20 meters and I can easilyh copy the TX, UT, WA, WI, and FL who are working the GA stations. But there is just no way am I going to work any of those GA stations with just half a watt. I turned to my propagation program. The Southwestern part of the state should be workable and many of those stations I am hearing so well should not be so strong.
I checked in on the county hunter net and worked Jerry, W0GXQ/M in Clay, MN with 500 mWatts for a new one. That's twice as far away as GA. The band must be favoring the longer distance QSOs.
I returned 1930z. I get a ? back from K4BAI/M in Stewart, GA. I should be able to work that part of the state. He moves on to Randolph, GA. But I have no luck there either. I can't even get a question mark this time. Perhaps things will get better later. It is time to take another break. I refuse to turn the power up. I've worked every county in the state except Echols at 500 mWatts or less.
Finally, after two hours, at 1956z, K4BAI/M makes it into the log for Quitman County. The others either can't hear me or are too weak for me to even try. I returned to the county hunters net and worked W0GXQ/M. This time he is in Becker, MN. He gives me a 559. Propagation to NW MN is certainly better than it is into GA. Then at 2035z N4PN/M become the second GA station in the log for Dodge County. It seemed link slow going, but then K4BAI/M gave me Early County just a couple of minutes later.
Six hours into the contest and there are only 14 QSOs in the log. The contacts are coming slow. Only one fixed stations is in the log. I am hearing very few fixed stations in the contest. The mobile QSOs have come from three mobiles - K4BAI/M, N4PN/M, and K4MUT/M. I have heard one other mobile - NY4N/M, but he was in the northern part of that state and a bit closer to me. 20 meters does not usually do as well there.
Activity picked up near sunset. A few more fixed stations showed up. 20 meters opened up, as did 40 meters shortly afterwards. None the less the majority of QSO still came from mobiles. The mobiles are the backbone of most state QSO parties for without them most of the counties would not be activated. By 0200z there were 29 QSOs in the log. When I closed down the shack for the first night there were 33 QSOs in the log representing 29 counties. Not a lot by contesting standards, but just fine for someone running half a watt.
Sunday morning and afternoon were a repeat of Saturday. Propagation just was not there. The GA stations were barely audible on 20 meters and were rare and weak on 40 meters. At about 1700z I heard NY4N/M in Lincoln County and tired to work him, but he only stayed there for a minute or so and did not make it in the log. Then finally at 1814z N4PN/M made it into the log on 40 meters from Newton County. And then at 2011z K4BAI/M made it into the log from Lowndes County for the first QSO of the day on 20 meters.
Propagation had opened up just in time on 20 meters. Even though it was just to the southern part of the state, it was enough. Just 14 minutes later at 2025z K4BAI/M gave me Echols County. That was the one and only county in the state I had yet to work running less than a watt. Listening to his run I knew he had run Berrien, Cook, than Lowndes, so I was sure he was going to turn west and miss the Echols county. But he turned East and gave me the one county I wanted most in the state.
At 2130z I had to leave to take my daughter to her Sunday evening church group. Knowing that best conditions would be late as they were on Saturday. I put the K1 in the car and set it up at the church to run the rest of the contest mobile from the car. Yes I know I'm a bit crazy. Running half a watt from the home station is one thing. But doing it mobile is another. It did pay off with five more QSOs. To give credit where credit it due. K4BAI/M, K4IR, N4PN/M, and NY4N/M made it into the log from the mobile. John, K4BAI/M made it into the log three times.
The final take for the contest was 43 QSOs into 39 counties. Every QSO was run at 500 mWatts. At home the antenna was a dipole, and in the mobile it was an Outbacker. The rigs were a K1 in the car and at home. A K2 was used for two QSOs on 80 meters Saturday evening. My biggest disappointment is that there were not more fixed stations on the air.
I will close with just a few words on propagation for the contest. Normally GA is on the edge of my first skip on 20 meters. The northeastern part of the state is too close and the balance of the state is just inside the first skip zone. For this contest it seems that the skip zone had expanded a couple hundred miles. So while FL still made it into the skip zone, GA was just too close. As the skip zone shortened late in the day southern GA became workable. The rest of the state never made it into the 20 meter skip zone. At the same time GA is a bit too far away for good daytime 40 meter propagation. So I had to rely one the evening hours to get that part of the state. As a consequence the map shows that most of the counties worked were in the southern part of the state. Those counties could be worked for a couple of hours prior to sunset on 20 meters. They could also be worked after sunset on 40 meters.
How the State map was made
Making the map was very simple. I obtained the basic county outline map from worldatlas.com with their permission. I then edited the image by changing the color of the counties I worked to green. Once that was done, I played an html trick by splitting the image into several parts so that the text would appear to wrap around a single image. The actual coding involves the use of a style sheet so you have to look at both the source code for this page as well as the style sheet to see how the trick was played.