The ARRL November Sweepstakes (SS) weekends again loom large on the amateur radio contest horizon. The CW weekend is November 2 – 4 — this weekend — while the phone weekend is November 16 – 18. Both events begin on Saturday at 2100 UTC and conclude on Monday at 0259 UTC. An Operating Guide that relates some of the history and evolution of these North American contests is available. SS offers operating categories for every preference. The goal for many seasoned SS operators is to complete a “clean sweep” by working all 83 ARRL and Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) sections. Sunday drivers may just want to dabble. Others enjoy trying to make a clean sweep by working one station in each section. Most SS operators, though, simply try to run up the contact and multiplier counts, staying in the chair for the full 24 (out of 30) allowable hours.
Some multipliers are much rarer than others, although these can shift from one event to the next. Stations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been absent in recent years after hurricanes devastated those areas. Northern Territories (NT) is often the most difficult, and for a while, it looked as though the NT mainstay, VY1AAA (at the Yukon Territory station of J. Allen, VY1JA), might not be on the air this month. Allen has stepped away from amateur radio, and his station was supposed to have been dismantled already. But circumstances changed, the VY1JA station is still intact, and Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, says he’ll be making the NT mult available to the SS multitude.
“100% I will be on with guns blazing, CW and SSB,” Hull told ARRL this week. “The big ‘if’ was getting J’s Alpha 9500 back in working order, and that happened last Friday. After that, we are done. So, a sweep will be possible.”
Hull will operate VY1AAA remotely from New Hampshire. He said that for the CW event this weekend, he’ll either stay very low in the band — the bottom 5 kHz — or operate above 40 kHz to avoid QRM. And while he’s a snappy CW operator, he promises to slow down for anyone.
“The trick will be finding my own Section,” Hull added. “Let’s see if the propagation gods are with us. I hope so, for this swan song.”
Once the VY1JA station is finally dismantled, VY1AAA will also be off the air, unless Hull is able to secure another station. Hull told ARRL earlier this year that he’s been searching for several months for another Northern Territories station that would be willing to host remote operation.
Allen cited long-term health issues and hearing loss for his decision to retire from ham radio, and his familiar VY1JA call sign will retire with him.
“The VY1AAA team is greatly saddened by this turn of events,” Hull said. “Hams around the world will surely miss J and the VY1AAA team on the bands. J has been an incredible friend and mentor.” Over the past 4 years, VY1AAA has logged more than 35,000 contacts, and QSL requests will continue to be honored, Hull said.
Operators with limited time to get on the air may want to raise the excitement level by “running” — i.e, calling CQ — a lot of stations or by operating later in the contest, when the SS regulars will be on the lookout for call signs they have not yet encountered.
For both the CW and phone events, stations exchange a sequential serial number (no leading zeros needed), an operating category (precedence), call sign, the last two digits of the year of first license for either operator or station (check), and ARRL/RAC Section.
Many areas of the US change from daylight saving time to standard time at 2 AM local time on November 3 by moving clocks back 1 hour. UTC is not affected. — Thanks to Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, and The ARRL Contest Update
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