AA8IA Amateur Radio

Archive for the ‘contesting’ tag

Poor Sportsmanship


This isn’t my usual summary. I might post one later.

I just felt like making a post about an operator I listened to in SSCW this year. I won’t mention his name, location or callsign. That should provide him with undeserving anonymity. Suffice it to say, the guy is a well-known contester. According to his website, which isn’t up to date, he has been contesting for years from his current QTH and previous/other QTHs and is a regular in the major contests. Hell, I’ve worked him countless times in various contests.

Anyway, on to the meaty stuff. I came upon this a-hole [who prior to this event wasn’t an a-hole in my mind] and was preparing to throw out my call after he finished working another station. He was asking the station for repeats or for specific information, and the other station wasn’t understanding that he needed a repeat of the check (ck) or precedence (prec). The other station kept sending him the wrong information. So the contester gets pissed / frustrated and sends out .-.. .. -.. (LID). The guy he was working may not have been a contester – he/she may have been some casual op passing by and wanting to give this contester a Q. The other op wasn’t intentionally giving the wrong info. I think the contester eventually got the exchange he wanted before demeaning the other op. There are LIDs and there are well-meaning people trying to increase your fun by being a point for you but who don’t necessarily know what you need. So that was strike #1 for the contester. Already I was highly disappointed at what “competition” does to a person.

I went on to listen since there were other callers, and one or two callers later apparently another op wasn’t giving this contester proper information, or the other contester wasn’t providing it in a timely fashion. At the end of that QSO the contester send the other op a ..-. ..- (FU).

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this picture? Sorry pal, but who is the real victor here? Cap’n Contester with his random bouts of Tourette Syndrome? Or the little guys who are there to give him the points he needs? Why must this guy resort to on-air tantrums?

Bottom line — I see this contester’s posts and summary’s often. He’s a cocky bastard, as some good [and not so good] contesters are, spreading his peacock feathers. He’s got a nice SO/SO2R station. But, he’s a piss poor representative of an amateur radio operator. He’s get an F in Sportsmanship. Whether or not he can make thousands of Qs per contest is irrelevant. His name is mud.

Written by Mike

November 7th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

CQ WPX CW 2011 Summary

leave a comment

After having weeks of daily severe thunderstorm activity, Mother Nature decided to cooperate by giving us East Ohioans a beautiful holiday [and contest] weekend. I caught up on yard work, spent a lot of time with the family, and was able to put in what I would consider to be a decent effort for CQ WPX CW.

Any storm activity was far enough away to keep the bands relatively quiet. Propagation during any of my operating time was less than stellar. I didn’t experience a single good opening into EU. SA was prominent on 15m. 10m was dead for the most part on Saturday, but on Sunday there was a little activity — again mostly SA.

From the beginning my intent was to operate SOAB-LP. And, up until the very end of the contest I did operate SOAB-LP. But, once I saw that I had a chance of hitting 600 Qs I figured I’d switch to SO(A)AB-LP, meaning that I was “assisted” by the packet cluster. It wasn’t until I did this that I realized that I should have been focusing much more on snagging new prefixes. There were a lot of needed prefixes showing up in the spots, but unfortunately they were mostly gone by the time I got there or were out of my reach [unable to be heard]. Perhaps because it was the tail end of the contest, a lot of those prefixes I needed may have switched to Searching & Pouncing.

I put in 19 hours, which is more hours than I have ever put in for a single contest prior to this one. I felt good; it felt good. I also garnered more Qs than I ever had in any previous contest. This proves what they say about keeping your butt in the chair.

Do I have any regrets? Not at all. I managed to get some outside chores done and spend a lot of time with the family over the holiday. I wouldn’t trade that time for contesting time under any circumstance. And I improved significantly upon last years’ score and my overall contesting methods.

I would like to try and do the following next year:

  • Put more time in, perhaps 24 hours
  • Call more of the weak stations instead of avoiding them thinking we couldn’t complete a valid exchange
  • Run Assisted for the whole contest instead of just the last two hours
  • Pay much closer attention to picking off multipoint contacts and, more importantly, new prefixes

WPX CW is really a blast. Since exchanges are fairly noncomplicated, you can really increase CW speed. I really enjoyed setting N1MM to 34 wpm instead of 28-30 like I usually do, and I thoroughly enjoyed copying the superfast exchanges of many of the contest stations. Of course, I would always QRS when I was working a station sending slower.

I compared my score with handful of other stations that I like to compare with, and I suspect one or two of them were either running Assisted but not claiming so, or they operated many more hours than I did. There are shitloads of ops who are better at contesting than I am, but there’s always someone I have to question when I see their score submission. Oh well, there isn’t anything I can do if anyone is fudging the facts.

Then only thing that really could have made WPX CW more fun this year is some decent propogation to EU and elsewhere on both days, especially on 10m.

Below is my summary…

CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: SO(A)AB LP
Operating Time (hrs): 19

Band QSOs
160: 0
80: 138
40: 172
20: 164
15: 128
10: 25
Total: 627 Prefixes = 302 Total Score = 389,882

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

May 31st, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Contesting

Tagged with , , ,

Contest University: Contesting the Right Way (K1DG)

leave a comment

At the Dayton Hamvention 2011, as part of Contest University, K1DG gave a presentation on contest ethics. It was great to watch, and probably even better if you had been there in person.

You can view this presentation by selecting it from the list on the PVRC webinars page at http://pvrc.org/webinar/webinars.htm. This was from May 19, 2011.

I’d encourage all contesters, “big guns” and “little pistols” alike, to watch it. It is a great presentation!

Written by Mike

May 20th, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Contesting

Tagged with , , , ,

How I wish I were a rare DX station in a contest

leave a comment

If I were operating from a rare DX location in a contest, the first thing I would do is make sure my exchanges are nice and wordy… I’d personalize things a bit more than the typical contester. I’d have the software automatically look up the name of the station I’m working and the macro would send them a greeting, give them my name, tell them about the weather at my DX location, and then repeat the required exchange ingredients twice. I’d also make an extra effort to respond to the weakest signal that I could reliably copy. The stations with stacked antennae and 1.5 KW wouldn’t be guaranteed priority service. Doesn’t matter though. Everybody wants to work the rare DX mult.

Why would I do this? Because I could. Let’s face it, when you’re rare DX in a contest, everybody’s ears [and eyes, in RTTY] are on you. You could seriously ruin the rate of a contester in about 30 seconds. So many contesters are so concerned about improving their rate, because improving rate will typically improve score. I can’t fault them for that. We all want to see our callsigns in the top ten [or better] on the 3830 reflector. But, in the quest for the best rate some contesters give up contest ethics and common decency, becoming rude and omitting crucial exchange information.

Unlike typical DX, who shorten things up by not providing their call very frequently because they are in a pileup and need to maintain efficiency, I’d be sure and ID after every Q. Imagine, actually giving the people who are trying to work you a fighting chance by giving them your callsign before they work you. Heck, it’d also save me some trouble because once somebody spotted my call incorrectly on the cluster, the station just tuning in as a result of that spot could quickly determine what my true call was and wouldn’t waste everyone’s collective time making an invalid contact with the wrong callsign in the log.

I’d also make sure I’d work only the last 5% of the contest period. All the contesters who have a chance at a top 10 spot would be frothing at the mouth looking for just one more elusive multiplier. And, a Q with me could easily increase their score by thousands of points.

Just the thought of being able to throw off the rate of the fanatics makes me giddy like a schoolgirl. I could actually be the difference between somebody getting the #1 slot and the #2 slot.

Written by Mike

March 23rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Contesting,DX

Tagged with ,

ATTN: RTTY Contest Ops

leave a comment

I”m growing more and more fond of RTTY the more I work this mode. I really have a lot of fun in the contests. If you are a RTTY op who has worked me in a contest before, you likely have noticed that my exchanges haven’t been very brief and in fact have been quite lengthy at times. I do promise to attempt to shorten up the exchanges.

With that said, there is one thing I will not do. I will NOT omit items that the contest sponsor specifies as requirements in the contest. I’ll give you an example…

In the BARTG RTTY contest [starting tonight], the exchange is supposed to be:

RST SERIAL_NUMBER GMT_TIME ( ex: 599 001 2359 )

I will not omit 599 simply because everyone sends 599 and it can be presumed that 599 will be sent.

In a contest that specifies that the callsign[s] be sent as part of the exchange, I will not omit callsigns. Rules are rules. I feel that anyone who attempts to omit items from the exchange when the contest rules clearly state that they are required is doing everyone a disservice by claiming a Q that didn’t meet the smell test.

On the other hand, if the rules state that the exchange only consists of an RST, then an RST may be all that you get from me unless I need verification of your call/exchange or you need verification of mine.

I know, contesters in general want to make everything as short as possible in order to achieve the highest rate possible. But the idea shouldn’t be to merely achieve the highest rate possible but rather to achieve the highest rate possible in that particular contest within the constraints of the rules of that contest. If you want to omit items that clearly are required items per the rules, you’re cheating. Really, you’re cheating.

Now that the rant is out of the way, let me say that I to hear you and work you in the contest this weekend. My 65w and low wires should provide enough fun. BARTG is great because anyone can work anyone for points… nobody is excluded!

Written by Mike

March 18th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Contesting

Tagged with , ,

RSGB IOTA 2010 – my take

leave a comment

I was hoping for one or more contests to work before the Ohio QSO Party. I had looked at the WA7BNM Contest Calendar and saw the IOTA contest. For some reason or another I dismissed this as a “limited audience” contest and thus did not plan for it. I had other obligations this weekend.

Yesterday, out of curiosity, I actually went and read the rules of this contest and realized that it is open to everyone and that you get points for ANY station, island or not, that you can work — with actual registered IOTA-registered islands providing increased points and acting as multipliers. I was kicking myself. I knew I couldn’t operate 24 hours or even 12 hours, but I decided I was going to get on.

I’m glad I did. I worked about 4.7 hours of this contest off and on, on 15/20/40 with 100w and the 40-10m wire. Mostly 20m activity with a smattering of 15m and some 40m. Worked a handful or two of new DXCC entities (if they happen to decide to confirm via LOTW).

If I had read the rules and realized that the IOTA contest would have been as active as it was, I may have planned to spend more time. It’ll be on my list of contests to work next year. Definitely a fun time and worth the planning.

IOTA Contest 2010

Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: SO(A)12Mixed LP
QTH: Toronto OH
Operating Time (hrs): 4.7

Band CW Qs CW Mults Ph Qs Ph Mults
40: 23 12
20: 41 14 20 10
15: 2 1
Total: 66 27 20 10 Total Score = 29,082

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

July 25th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Contesting

Tagged with ,

DL-DX RTTY Contest 2010

leave a comment

It wasn’t until after half of the contest was over that I realized it was going on. It was then that I decided I’d give it a try. Wanted to use N1MM (my favorite logger) but was used to using HRD for RTTY. Ended up downloading, installing and figuring out the config for MTTY so that it works in conjunction with N1MM. Integration seemed pretty good, but the RTTY decoding in MTTY leaves a lot to be desired compared to HRD (HRD seems to decode much better).

I really am bummed that I didn’t work 24 hours of this contest. Instead I worked 6 hours. I only made a few contacts on 80m, and the rest on 40m and 20m. I really would have liked to work some RTTY on other bands, and more of it to Europe. Hopefully next year I’ll be on top of things, will be prepared, and will be able to operate all 24 hours.

This RTTY contest was extremely fun, with a lot of activity. Id’ encourage others to give it a try next year.

I’ll say thanks to the sponsors and to the stations that worked me. I really enjoyed it.

Below is my summary:

DL-DX RTTY Contest

Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: SOAB-6-Dipole LP
QTH: Toronto OH
Operating Time (hrs): 6

Band QSOs Pts Mults
80: 4 20 1
40: 27 220 3
20: 28 255 9
Total: 59 495 13 Total Score = 14,850

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

July 4th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Contesting

Tagged with , , , , ,


one comment

Just in the nick of time, and with the help of the family, I got the shack table, equipment, computer, etc. set up.

So far I’ve been able to tune up and work stations on 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m. The Alpha-Delta DX-EE is performing far better than any previous wire I had, even on 80m. And, remember that the DX-EE is a 42-foot parallel dipole. On 40m it has coils and it shortened.

The first hundred contacts were made using a paddle and copying exclusively by ear. On Saturday I built a CW keying interface that runs off the parallel port. I also snagged CWGET, which is a great code copier. I set up N1MM to use the CW keyer interface and it worked flawlessly, although I am not too familiar with using N1MM just yet….been a few years. CWGet is only used to verify what I’ve already heard. I do not need to rely upon it to copy CW, but it certainly helps to have it available.

I was not using any DX Cluster spotting. It would be very useful, but I am not submitting my logs in the assisted category and thus cannot use a cluster.

As of now, I’ve made about 206 contacts. I wonder how many will be invalid. Hopefully not too many.

Station setup currently is:

Yeasu FT-100 (running 100w)
LDG AT100Pro tuner
Alpha Delta DX-EE 40-10m parallel dipole
Signalink USB interface
Parallel port CW keying interface
CAT control cable
N1MM logger for contest logging (making use of CAT control and CW keying interface)
CWGet (making use of Signalink USB for sound input)
HRD+DM780 (for digital modes and casual logging)

I have no complaints. Everything came together at the last minute and I’ve had a great time working the WPX. Not sure if I’ll fire up the station for any more contacts today. It is family day, so I probably won’t.

I worked a handful of stations on 3 bands and I think one station on 4 bands (not sure about that without looking at the logs).

i definitely enjoy working CW contests more than SSB/digital. The WPX sure was fun.

Written by Mike

May 30th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Contesting

Tagged with , , ,

Manchester Mineira All Americas Contest

leave a comment

I was bored, a lot of people were in Dayton, and this weekend was a good weekend to play in a contest.

The MMAA is a CW-only contest on 80m / 40m / 20m / 15m /10m. It is a 32-hour contest, of which I worked 5 hours off and on. Participants are those living in South America and North America. I worked a few stations on 15m, most on 20m, and 2 on 40m.

It was fun and relaxing. I worked 18 stations, two of them on two different bands. Score was somehere around 370. Yeah I know, pretty damned weak. A real contester would do 300K+ in this contest. So I guess I’m about 1/100th of what a real contester is.

Next year I should make many more contacts since I’ll have a better antenna system. And, supposedly the MMAA will turn into a 5-continent contest starting next year.

It was nice to brush up on my CW. I’ll do more CW contests since it’ll always be my favorite mode. No matter how you slice it, it all comes down to Morse Code. If you haven’t learned CW, you’re losing out. No doubt about it.

Thanks to the CWJF Group for putting on this nice contest. It was a pleasure working many new SA stations.

Written by Mike

May 16th, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Volta RTTY Contest over

leave a comment

Decided to try my hand at some RTTY contesting. This weekend was the Alessandro Volta RTTY Contest. In this day and age, and with the Signalink USB it was a no brainer to make RTTY contacts. On the antenna front I was severely lacking. I had put a coax choke inline to try and get some RF out of the shack. It was semi successful. However, I can no longer tune up on 6m, 10m and 15m, all of which I were able to tune before the coax choke. For those wondering, Google “ugly balun”.

I worked predominantly 20m with a smattering of 40m. There were a lot of stations. I had no stamina, and I had only worked the contest in a relaxing way. 25 contacts, claimed 72,000 points. Before you think that 72,000 points sounds like a lot, these RTTY contests appear to be judged differently and there are stations that get 10s of millions of points and even a couple multi-multi that had gotten billions of points in the past.

At any rate, It’s a fun mode. I particularly like the brief contest exchanges. I’m not a ragchewer. I just want contacts. So anybody who is willing to keep it short has my vote. The RTTY ops seem to be a pretty cool bunch. I’m sure many of them take contesting very very seriously, but they were all tolerant and patient with this new RTTY operator. With this being Mothers’ Day weekend, I really didn’t want to spend all my time operating an amateur radio contest. I suspect that i probably could have achieved 100 contacts had i operated throughout the 24 hour period and worked on more bands, even with the crappy antenna setup.

The Signalink USB works like a charm in conjunction with Ham Radio Deluxe. Probably not the best contest RTTY software, but it was already installed and I’m already somewhat used to it and it did the job well.

Thanks to those who put on the Volta RTTY Contest and the operators with whom I had the pleasure to make a contact!

Written by Mike

May 9th, 2010 at 8:24 pm