Contesting -- Introduction
radio has many facets -- public service, emergency communications,
VHF, UHF, moonbounce, "ragchewing" with friends on the
air. The list goes on and on, but for me the most exciting radio
activity is contesting.
call it a radio sport. I would agree. You have to practice, it is
hard work, and it's great fun -- like being inside the world's biggest
interactive video game.
Focus feature stories
I will write a contest preview (predictions of how I'll do
in the contest) and follow that up with a summary of how the
contest actually went. Here are the current Focus stories
on the site:
CQ WPX SSB
(March 26 and 27, 2010)
The bands were good, but a bad choice -- taking
an afternoon nap -- hurt my 20M totals. I never recovered
from the lost contacts.
ARRL DX CW
(February 20 and 21, 2010)
I broke my personal record in this one -- it
was the first contest in which 15M played a major factor,
thanks to the arrival of Solar Cycle 24.
contest is different, with its own unique rules. Generally, you
try to contact as many other stations as possible within a specific
contest might be 24 or 48 hours long. Many begin at 0000z on Saturday,
which in B.C. is 4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (5 p.m. during Daylight
Savings), and go all weekend. Many contests limit the number of
hours a single-operator can go -- 30 hours, 36 hours, or no limit
scoring is usually a calculation of points-per-contact multiplied
by some other number -- the "multiplier" -- which might
be the number of states and provinces you contact on each band,
or the number of countries, or even callsign prefixes ("VA7"
and "VE7" from B.C., and "VE6" from Alberta,
would count as three unique prefixes, for example).
can add up very fast later in a contest. For example, if I have
100 contacts worth 3 points each, that's 300 QSO points. Multiply
that by 100 multipliers (let's say, 25 states on four different
ham radio bands), the score is now 300 contact points x 100 multipliers
= 30,000 points. Every additional contact would be worth 300 points,
and each time I add another multiplier, additional contacts are
worth even more!
equipment (radios, antennas, and often computer gear) is matched
up with your knowledge, persistence, and the predictably unpredictable
forces of nature.
the sun blast the Earth with a flare, wiping out signals for an
hour or two, or the rest of the week? Will it rain or snow, making
static you can barely hear through? Will the dog chew through your
antenna cable just as you are working Mongolia for 200 badly needed
the opening seconds you try to contact as many fellow hams as possible
before the furious contest clamor suddenly stops many hours later.
It all ends in a deafening silence as you sit back and bask in the
knowledge that you have done your very best with what you have --
no matter how your score racks up in the final standings.
you have the pleasure of hearing ghost CW or RTTY signals in your
head for the next three days.
in contests has become an important part of my life. It is an escape
from the stresses of work, and it keeps me engaged in something
I love to do. Goodness knows, we all need more of that in our lives.
does take planning and compromise, family-wise. I strive for balance
and I am fortunate to have a wife who accepts (if not understands)
this passion, and kids who like to help their dad do odd but interesting
things with wire in the back yard.
take some time to look through my contest scores. I have included
links to the more detailed contest write-ups I've posted on the
3830 Contest reflector.
hope to hear you on the air in the next contest. I'll be listening.