The penalty for not-in-the-log or busted callsign is steep especially when the margin for local bragging rights is a matter of 12 Qs in the log.
The basic Sweepstakes strategy is butt in the chair for 12 hours on Saturday and call CQ as if one is winning the game. Perhaps, calling CQ more times than not, works best for those equipped with optimal antenna systems on Saturday. However, those who are not heard on Saturday are more than likely heard on Sunday, when rates decline.
I have experienced both low power into suboptimal antenna systems and high power into optimal antenna systems. My suboptimal antenna did not 'listen' as well as an optimal and I'm not 'heard' when operating low on the frequency dial despite what sounded like a clear channel.
I learned that calling CQ high on the frequency dial, away from high power stations whom tend to cluster lower on the dial, increased my chance of being heard.
Impact of Rate Between Saturday And Sunday
On the other hand, legal power stations with optimal antenna systems have mined the bands of precious Qs for the log perhaps by Sunday afternoon? My strategy shifted from calling CQ with its concurrent Saturday rate to one of Sunday searching and logging with the dial and/or pointing and clicking the band map.
Keep in mind, the first few hours are crucial to one's success that is getting out in front of the pack because of Sunday's dramatic rate change. One tactic is understanding propagation to major population centers and which band will provide the most Qs per CQ or the most Qs when searching and logging.
I recommend studying propagation charts and if one's club produces an hour-to-hour chart then download it and have it next to your key board.
My basic strategy for Sweepstakes fun is butt in the chair, call CQ, accurately complete the exchange, maintain a competitive rate then shift to searching and logging by Sunday afternoon.
Effectively, within our home owner association rules and maintaining good neighbor relationships, there are two antenna systems covering four bands with a small visual print that is less heavy metal in the sky.
TX7M Marquesas Island
I wanted to mention TX7M and thank them for a stellar operation from Marquesas Island. One is not guaranteed a Q when operating low power or extreme low power when competing against the global swarm in this case equipment and TX7M operator skill converged with ascending Cycle 24 numbers resulted in shackadelic successes on three bands.
Stay thirsty for DX my friends.
I enjoyed sitting in the pilot's chair at TK's QTH through last weekend. The high bands perhaps exceeded most expectations with 15 and 10m providing a robust harvest of Qs ranging from legal limit into the zone of low power to near vapor power. I was impressed as each power Q denominator went into our multi-single log.
The true challenge was listening with complete focus as near vapor power operators sent their exchange. One sensed a palpable excitement when the Sweepstakes Goliath exchange was completed. I will always be marveled by those who chose extreme low power.
I'd like to question the current Sweepstakes model asking if Sunday operating time is really required? Would the event generate greater excitement if it ended on Sunday morning instead of Sunday night? Perhaps, instead of a 30 hour event with 24 hour operation limits for some categories, why not simply go for 24 hours for all categories? Why not begin on a Friday night and end on Sunday morning?
Something to think about through the holiday weekend. Lastly, logged a VE6 on 17m running 25 watts into the Outbacker Joey in addition E51, YN7 on 10m running 55 watts, have #hamr fun this weekend.