Preparing for CWSS this year mainly consisted of antenna work and integration of the SO2R (Single Operator Two Radio) setup in the Shack. I use mostly wire antennas (no Yagis) but one, a “Fan Dipole” (one design example found here) for 80/40 meters had been hanging for several years. I took it down to check the condition and found one of the wires was broken at the center insulator. No big surprise given the winds on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I refurbished the antenna and added a 20 meter element. I really like these Fan Dipoles (more on that later). When you can put up a dipole, why not hang 2 or 3 at the same time?? Something for nothing?

I added a second antenna and planned to add a third. I now have two dipole/doublet antennas oriented in nearly the same direction. This supports my 2-radio operation but does not help much for directivity. When you use a doublet there are several directional lobes, resulting in some dead spots in the far field. Having another antenna, perpendicular to these, would smooth out the dead spots.

Unfortunately, when I arrived at the operating QTH  the day before the contest, a steady wind of 30 MPH or more was blowing. Cancel plans for the third wire antenna. I have a 6BTV Vertical antenna, so I put that on a ground post, just in case something happened to one of my wire antennas during the contest. I also found that the center of one antenna was about 8 feet lower than normal. A broken limb had become entangled in one of the end supports. Nothing I could do to fix that today, so I go with a slightly lower antenna for the contest, and hope it stays in the air.

In the Shack, I was nearly set for the contest and just needed to fire up the station and make sure N1MM and my DX Doubler (DXD) were ready to control everything. I had previously used an old laptop and recently replaced that with a small (mATX form factor) PC that was more “server-like.” About an hour before the start of the contest I realized that the DXD was not being controlled properly. The TX Focus was not switching between the radios from the keyboard. It turns out the PCI-based parallel port I added was not working. No time to play with that – back to the Laptop.

Now everything appeared to be ready to go.