|Contest Report By Dave Pruett, K8CC|
Links into this contest report:
Back in the 1960s, the Rolling Stones had a hit song with the following line:
"You can't always get what you want, You can't always get what you want.
but sometimes you just might find, you get what you need"
As operators lined up for the start of the 2007 MiQP, they knew what they wanted: some relief from the lack on in-state propagation on 40 meters, characteristic of low-sunspot years, which had plagued the past few MiQPs. Set against the backdrop of the Mackinac Bridge 50th Year Anniversary celebration, with the "Mackinac 50" award and the excitement of the special 1x1 callsigns promised to be QRV, most participants would probably agree that we got what we needed.
To the interested observer, there were two particularly significant things about the 2007 Michigan QSO Party: record setting levels of activity, and seeing 80 meters finally coming into it's own as a band crucial to a good MiQP score, at least for in-state entries. It's hard to know exactly the reasons for the jump in activity. Each year, the MiQP Committee tries to publicize the event to the greatest extent possible, and hopes for the best when the starting gun sounds. This year, we were able to get MiQP announcements into the ARRL Michigan Section Newsletter, to try to reach more in-state operators, those who perhaps are not actively involved in regular contesting. The MiQP Committee extends its thanks to the Michigan Section Manager, Dale Williams, WA8EFK for his assistance with this.
The rise in 80 meter activity can probably be attributed to another bad year for in-state propagation on 40 meters. However, this led many MiQPers to discover that 80 meters can provide the short skip needed to work in-state county multipliers, particularly during daylight hours. A statistic which shows this clearly is the number of 80 meter QSOs made in the first half of the contest (essentially, during daylight). In 2006 761 80 meter QSOs were made in the first half of the contest, while in 2007 2,805 QSOs were made. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that total 80 meter QSOs almost doubled from 2006 to 2007 (see table below), but considering that the proportion of daylight QSOs almost quadrupled indicates a significant shift in operating strategy by many entrants. The benefits of 80 meters can also been seen in that county multiplier totals for in-state entries in general, were higher this year over last.
There are three metrics which the MiQP Committee uses to judge activity levels. The reason we do this is to try and determine whether our methods for promoting MiQP are being effective or not. These three metrics are: 1) the number of entries received, 2) the total number of QSOs reported by those entries, and 3) the number of unique callsigns in those logs. This year we seemed to hit a home run in that all of these metrics set new records for the MiQP. We received 256 logs this year, a very healthy increase over the 183 received in 2006 and almost a 7% jump beyond the record of 239 logs received in 2005. 33,223 QSOs were reported by the 2007 MiQP participants, a huge jump of 66% over 2006 and just edging past the 2005 record of 32,115. The number of unique callsigns (an indication of the number of people who made an MiQP QSO during the contest) took a huge leap. In recent history, the number of unique callsigns has hovered in the low-to-middle two thousands, but this year this number jumped to 3,051; a 36% jump from last year and a solid 20% jump from the record set in 2005.
The chart below shows the breakdown of QSOs from the 2007 MiQP. These results show 80M is closing in on 40M for the title of "most important MiQP band". Still, 40M kept pace with the overall gain in reported QSOs while 20M showed a year-to-year gain while taking a slightly smaller percentage of the overall QSO count. 15M was up and 10M was down, but as the sunspot counts remain in the doldrums, the contributions of these bands to overall activity remains low. In fact, almost two thirds of all the QSOs on 15M were made by one station (K8XXX), showing that team's determination to be everywhere, all the time, during MiQP.
|Pct of total||36%||41%||23%||0.1%||0.1%||-|
|vs. 2006||+ 89%||+ 67%||+ 41%||+ 77%||- 51%||+ 66%|
Note the ratio between phone and CW QSOs. In 2006, 38% more QSOs were reported on CW than on phone while in 2007 the ratio is only about 10%. Two observations concerning this: at the K8MQP multi-multi from where your editor participated, we made 554 QSOs on 20 SSB alone, but only 129 on 20 CW. Phone activity on 20 seemed to be a bottomless pit, with a very large percentage of the QSOs being with seemingly-new 2x3 callsigns. Another trend related to this seemed to appear amongst the in-state entries, where a number of medium-sized in-state scores were primarily made using SSB on the low bands. Most of the QSOs made by these entries were with other Michigan stations, logging a lot of Michigan counties but missing out on the out-of-state mults necessary for a good score. Many of these stations were making good QSO rates during the times they were on the air, so that while they mostly worked other Michigan stations, it would appear that they still presented excellent "targets of opportunity" for out-of-state stations willing to spend time on 80M and 40M.
For the eighth year straight, we can report that all 83 MI counties were active during the contest. In fact, this was the first year where the MiQP Committee made a "dual clean sweep", as QSOs were reported with all 83 counties on both modes! The five most active counties were Oakland, Lenawee, Wayne, Macomb and St Clair. Lenawee and St Clair are new from 2006, replacing Washtenaw and Grand Traverse. The five least active counties were Oceana, Luce, Mason, Alcona, and Ionia. None of these are repeats from 2006, and it is encouraging to note that the least reported county (Oceana) still showed up 19 times in entrant logs. At the other end of the scale, we need to give a nod to Oakland County, whose residents appeared in MiQP logs 1501 times, almost as often as the second and third place counties combined.
From the out-of-state areas, QSOs were reported with 58 of 63 geographic entities on CW, 58 of 63 on SSB and 59 of 63 overall. These numbers are slightly up from last year, narrowing the number of entities not showing up for MiQP. Is it possible we'll ever see an out-of-state clean sweep? The five most active out-of-state areas were Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Ohio and Indiana. Ohio and Indiana jumped onto the list this year, displacing Georgia and Texas. Only four entities had no reported QSOs: PEI, LB, NU and YT, which are all typical difficult-to-get MiQP multipliers. We would be remiss to not recognize the DX participants - while not multipliers, they show up in sixth place in terms of the regions worked by MiQPers. Our thanks to the DX entries for getting involved in MiQP.
MiQP set a record this year in that 46 counties were represented by fixed station operations (the previous record was 41). Other milestones set this year included two Michigan counties that saw their first-ever recorded fixed station entries: W8N operated by Randy, AG8A and friends from Montcalm County, and N8TC, who operated portable in Charlevoix County. Our thanks to these stations for making their rare counties easily workable this year. This leaves only six counties which have never had a fixed station MiQP score reported: ALLE, CASS, CHIP, LUCE, ONTO and SCHO.
Despite the poor conditions, there were two major category records set this year and a new Most Michigan Counties Worked record. In the Michigan Multi-Operator/Multi-Transmitter category, station K8MQP set a new record of 512,120 points, to beat the existing record of 431,631 points set in 2005 by K8XXX. In the DX Single-Operator Category, Gary, CU2JT set a new record of 10,976 points, passing the existing record of 7,154 points held by DL3GA. The new record for MI Counties Worked by an In-State Station was set by Matt, N8MS with 57, surpassing KK8I's record of 54 set in 2005. It's interesting to note that all of the existing major records broken this year were set in 2005. Since 2007 saw the highest level of MiQP activity, followed by 2005, this shows the strong relationship between record scores and activity levels.
In addition, 39 fixed station and 15 rover mobile records were set at the county level. Only two of the fifteen rover mobile records were "first time" records and seven of the 39 fixed station records were set over 100K points so these records represent significant achievements. We congratulate all of the record setters for the effort they put into MiQP 2007.
Electronic logs are what allows the MiQP committee to check and turn around these contest results in a timely manner. Of 256 logs received this year, only 45 were on paper. In accordance with our commitment to treat all logs equally, all the paper logs are transcribed into electronic format by our intrepid typist Ron, W8RU. Once in electronic form, all the entries run through a set of computer programs which accurately and fairly score them free from human error.
Still, the logcheckers have two requests regarding electronic logs. First, please read the requirements for electronic log submittal on the MiQP web page, where we describe that we're looking for what is called a Cabrillo format log file. Cabrillo was invented specifically for submitting contest logs; if you submit a Cabrillo file, you're almost certainly guaranteed that it will have all the information needed for a complete entry. In contrast, the widely known ADIF (Amateur Data Interchange Format) file almost always lacks the major portion of the necessary information. While we will accept files created with general purpose logging programs, or desktop PC programs such as Excel, it takes a lot of manual effort on our part to massage these files into something our logchecking programs can correctly read (which is Cabrillo).
Programs known to create good Cabrillo files include NA by K8CC, TRLog by N6TR, SD by EI5DI, WriteLog by W5XD, N1MM, and N3FJP's QSO Party Logger. Some of these programs are free, while others have free demo versions, and all make submitting an MiQP e-log a breeze.
One advantage about Cabrillo files is that these are easily readable to the human eye. You can open a Cabrillo file with a text editor like Windows NotePad and review your log for obvious mistakes. One problem we saw in a number of logs this year was the date and time not being correct. QSOs outside the contest period are not allowed, and so we spent a lot of time cross checking these logs against the stations they worked and made corrections so that nobody lost any QSOs. However, this was a a lot of work for the logchecking team. Next year, please take a moment to ensure that your computer's calendar/clock is set correctly, and your logging software has your sent exchange set correctly. Finally, if you use your computer to type in your log after the contest is over, you need to realize that the date/time in your log is the time when the QSO was typed in, not when the QSO was made and you need to go into the log file and edit the date/time to be correct. This is not that hard to do with a text editor using the "search and replace" function, but it IS a lot of work for the logcheckers to fix dozens of logs this way.
The sharp-eyed reader might notice that the High Score-Michigan Single-Op QRP plaque now carries a memorial to Buck Switzer, N8CQA, who was an active MiQPer, die-hard QRPer, and a good friend to many of us in MRRC, EMARC, and the Michigan QRP Club. This editor has many fond memories of Buck huddled over the 160M rig, digging mults out of the noise during multi-op DX contests at K8CC. We lost Buck this past winter after a valiant battle against cancer, and naming the plaque after him seemed a fitting tribute to his activity in the MiQP over the years. Our thanks go to the sponsor of the plaque (the MI QRP Club) who agreed to honor Buck in this way.
Producing these MiQP results is not a one man show. Our thanks go to Ron, W8RU who transcribes the paper logs received, and to Mike, WD8S who manages the certificates and plaques for the MiQP awards program, and to Everett Jackson, WZ8P and the team at Franklin Printing in Zanesville, OH for their assistance in creating the beautiful MiQP plaques.
To volunteers like these (plus others we donít know of), to the club newsletter editors who publish MiQP announcements, to MiQP Communications Manager Mark Hinkleman, NU8Z, to Michigan ARRL Section Manager Dale Williams, WA8EFK and Great Lakes Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE who lent their support, and to the 3047 stations that appeared in one or more MiQP logs, we say thanks for your continuing support of the Michigan QSO Party.
At the end of this report, youíll find a list of the MiQP plaques and the clubs and organizations that sponsored them. The MiQP committee thanks these sponsors for their generous support of MiQP.
As these results are coming out in early August, donít forget to look for many familiar MiQP callsigns during the Ohio QSO Party, August 25-26, 2007, also sponsored by the Mad River Radio Club. Come join in the fun!
And now, on to the results.