Wed before the contest ; I worked a full day and spent the night locked up in the basement trying to get the final items packed. Everything that I packed was broken down into 5 main totes. Two totes for myself, one tote for the CW tent, one tote for the trailer and one tote for backup stuff. Below is a picture of what each tote consisted of.
Wednesday night I packed all my personal items and made sure I didn't forget my pillow or shower towel this time! Wed night was also dedicated to packing the truck with items I could and also taking all the totes out to the garage for the early load in on Thursday.
Thursday morning around 9am I had to pick my parents up at the airport and bring them back to my house to grab a car. After picking them up, I hit the road up north around 11am. The weather wasn't the best on the way up, as it rained the whole way to Columbia and drizzled from Columbia to Kirksville.
I arrived at Union Ridge around 3pm as Justin had left earlier in the morning and basically setup camp. I was surprised at the range of the Kirksville repeater, as we could hit it from our HT's. Per Google Maps, the repeater is around 17 miles away, so that's quite a distance for an HT contact. Justin and I proceeded to setup as much stuff as possible on Thursday night as it rained on us the whole time. Before night fall we got the CW tent put up, a 40ft mast and ran quite a bit of coax out of the RV. Before we went to bed, we managed to set up Justin's rig and my KX3 with amp for Sterling (N0SSC) to operate.
Friday Justin had a family event to go to in Columbia MO so it was just me setting everything else up until others showed up. Saturday morning I ended up putting up two NVIS antennas, running the remaining coax, installing the 802.11 wireless, and my SSB shack. Kevin (K0KEV) was the first to show up and he started setting up his equipment within the RV. Chris (WX5CW) and Sterling showed up in the middle of the afternoon with CJ (WT2P) showing up late Friday night. By twilight we had all the stations setup along with the antennas.
Saturday morning we started out with a big breakfast (just what we needed for a long day of contesting, right?!?) and booted up our stations. Of course we had issues, but the good thing was the 802.11 wireless worked great! My computer could not see 1/2 of the other stations out there, but I just let it go as our backup laptop could see everybody and was recording all the QSO's in N1MM.
At 9am the contest started and we were off. We started with a slow start as we had no idea the sun was actually puking out solar flares, so the bands were almost dead. CJ and Sterling and Justin were running on 20 and 40m respectively. Chris and I were searching and pouncing trying to pick up multipliers. Kevin was throwing out W0W on digital. I think by 3pm we only had 70K in points, which with 6 stations on the air, isn't a lot.
Once we figured out our NVIS stations were not working, we switched gears and raised the antennas as far up as possible so we could concentrate on working as many states as possible. We had the spotter networking rolling and could see others were having trouble hitting the MO counties, so it was something related to the bands and not our antennas or stations.
9pm rolled around and were not doing so well with the multipliers, so I decided to participate in the SSB sprint to gain some contacts. The object of a sprint is to contact as many stations as possible in a 3 hours time period, so it doesn't take up a lot of BIC (butt in chair) time. The second rule is around changing and gaining a frequency. If you call CQ, after you contact someone, you have to give up that frequency to the person who contacted you. If your S&P and answer a CQ, the person calling CQ gives up the frequency to the S&P, then you can call CQ. In the three hour contest I made around 250 contacts, so that really boosted our point total.
Sunday brought more of the same, but at 1:44pm the sun did a vomit session and the bands went dead. Everything was gone. Since the only signals I could hear were the ones coming out of our own camp, I decided to pack it up.
The MO QSO party is long. Almost too long in my book. 14 hours on Saturday, 6 hours on Sunday. It makes for a long contest. The nice part is there is many times available to take a break and get some energy back.
I'm still working through the videos, as I have 2 done already, with another 3 or so to go. I shot a lot of video during the weekend and it takes quite a bit of time to go through and pull together a story.
We'll be back at it next year. Not sure if we'll be in the same spot, or move on to another location closer to home and try on a 2 county line. We'll see. Below are the two videos I've been working on.