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WAE DX CW and QTCs — the sky is falling

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I’ve been reading dialog on the CQ-Contest “reflector”. Reflector? Call it what it is, it’s a damned mailing list. The software running this list is the same software that has existed for ages [in internet years at least]. M A I L I N G L I S T

Ok, I’m done with that rant. Back to the topic. People — (a few NA contesters) are rambling on about exchanging QTCs, being requested to send QTCs by the EU guys, and possibly trialing a WAE CW whereby QTCs are both sent and received. You’d think the world was coming to the end. They are saying (1) that they don’t want to receive QTCs and (2) that they don’t want to be nagged to send QTCs. Some say they are in the contest just for fun and that being interrupted by an EU station who wants to know if they have QTCs is annoying and ruins their fun. Read the rules — the spirit of the contest involves QTCs. If you don’t want to send any, then don’t. But don’t bitch about being asked if you have any to send by an EU station.

To this I say:

  • If you don’t like sending and/or receiving QTCs or don’t like being nagged for them, don’t operate in the contest. There are 101 more productive ways to spend your weekend anyway.
  • NA isn’t putting on this contest — shouldn’t be our job to make up the rules, just to follow them.
  • Are you afraid that having to reliably copy QTCs would require you to up your skills? This must be it. There are some phenomenal NA contesters. Certainly they are a few who are up challenge, no?

I know what you’re thinking… Who the hell is this Mike guy? He’s running a low dipole and 100w and has been “contesting” for a few months — He sure has some nerve interjecting. Perhaps you’re right. But sit back and think about what I’m saying. I had enough difficulty figuring out how to send QTCs, especially when having to worry about whether the EU station would even be able to copy my weak station reliably enough. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to think about having to copy QTCs as well. You know, some of those guys are sending/receiving at 50+ wpm. I’d have to really up my game, and I’d be hard pressed to do it. BUT, I like the spirit of the contest — passing some sort of traffic instead of just the simple RST SERIAL.

Let’s not forget that sending/receiving QTCs is not a requirement. And if you are wanting to up your score, you certainly benefit from sending/receiving QTCs. If you’re in it just for fun and don’t care about a score, then simply don’t send/receive. But don’t complain about being asked for QTCs by an EU station.

I really liked the idea that by sending QTCs I could increase my points while at the same time I could help, in some small way, the EU stations to do the same. If they are game for receiving them [by far the more difficult of the two], then certainly I’m glad to oblige them. I am at the bottom of the pack as far as score. I’m competing against only myself. I operate in these contests to have fun, improve my code copy, and possibly get some additional LOTW confirmations.

The vast majority of contests require only a minimal exchange, no additional traffic to pass. If you don’t like the thought of sending/receiving QTCs, spend the WAE weekends with your family and have some fun outside of ham radio.

UPDATE: I just read a post on the CQ-Contest mailing list that sums it all up quite nicely. I won’t quote it. Read it here: http://lists.contesting.com/pipermail/cq-contest/2010-August/091329.html . I agree with this contester wholeheartedly.

Written by Mike

August 16th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Contesting

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Worked All Europe DX Contest – CW (Aug 2010)

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I first heard of this contest within the past month. I had no intention of working it. At the last minute I decided I would jump on and see what’s up. I had read about the passing of QTC traffic, but I didn’t plan on doing that. I was bored and figured it was a good chance to work some more Europeans.

From my perspective, this is a very active contest. I noticed that a large number of the EU participants were asking “QTC?” I’d just tell them no or nil. I then decided I’d check out the documentation for N1MM to see if I could figure out how to send some QTCs. I didn’t find anything useful. Then I was reading the eham.net forums and saw somebody post a question about sending QTCs using N1MM. KB3LIX gave a detailed rundown of how to send the QTCs. I did a few tests and then started tuning around listening for stations who were likely to ask for QTCs along with the basic QSO.

It was at this point that I realized that I just wasn’t getting good signals into EU for some reason. I don’t know if it was propogation in general or my soggy antennas (from storms this weekend). I was certainly hearing a lot of EU stations well enough to make a contact, but I just didn’t think they would be hearing me well enough to want me to send them any QTCs. Surprisingly, a lot of them were asking.

I still have plenty of QTCs to pass to EUs. But I really don’t want to send 10 QTCs to some EU station and then force them to have to ask for re-sends because of my weak signal. And, in the off chance that they need a re-send, I’m likely to freeze up. In fact, this happened more than once. The last time I had said I was sending 5 QTCs. After the first one the EU station asked for a re-send. I sat there staring at the keyboard, my mind racing with thoughts of what keystrokes I was supposed to hit in order to re-send the current QTC. My mind went blank. (it was ALT-ENTER for the record). Eventually I sent back to the EU station “sri sri nil”. He sent a “tu 73,” which was very gracious considering I made him go through all of that with no gain. What an idiot I am.

I had been sticking to sending only 2 or 3, even though I had plenty in my queue to send 10. I did this because I figured the less I have to send, the less likely there will be a problem.

Sunday comes along. I fire up the radio. I look for stations. All the ones I am hearing are either too weak and they aren’t asking for QTCs, or they are stations I’ve already worked who asked for QTCs the first time I worked them and I declined.

I read where it is perfectly fine to re-establish contact with the station to send QTCs later. One person said to simply make another QSO (a dupe) and then send the QTCs. One of the EU guys on the forum responded indicating that you could just simply establish contact and state that you have QTCs from the onset…. no need to have another dupe. No? Not sure of an easy way around that, at least with N1MM.

Still some confusion here, as well as my cold feet when it comes to trying to send QTCs. I’d really feel much more confident if I knew that I had a good signal. That’s silly, I know. But it definitely affects my performance when my weak signal is always in the back of my mind.

I really like the idea of QTCs… passing additional traffic during a QSO. This is much more difficult for the receiving station in my opinion. In this case that would be the EU guys. I’m thoroughly impressed that the vast majority of the time they don’t ask for repeats, even with 10 QTCs at a time being sent to them. I have to wonder how many of the American ops could perform equally as well if they were accepting QTCs. I know I’d be asking for a lot of repeats. The EU guys are simply very talented and very efficient. They obviously don’t have a problem trying to pass as much traffic as possible even under marginal conditions. My hats off to them.

I’m hoping to jump back on very shortly to try and give away a few more QTCs.

My apologies to IR2C, who had to deal with my inability to pass QTCs under pressure. I said I’d send 5, and after the first one he asked for a repeat and I gave up and said sri. Also my apologies to DL1IAO – I said I’d send 2, accidentally hit CTRL-Z after the first one instead of just hitting enter, and everything stopped. I stumbled. I said sri. He sent back confirmation of 1/1 and moved on. Thanks to S59ABC, who accepted multiple QTCs from me on 40m and 20m with no requests for repeats. I was impressed. I should have sent them 10 and be done with it, but I sent a few each time. OQ5M was weak to me, and I figured I must have been much weaker to him. Nevertheless, OQ5M asked for QTCs – I sent 5, and he required no repeats.

I need a 20m beam for this contest… or at least something directional. I suppose even a vertical for 20m would improve things over my low-slung dipole.

I’ll append my score to this post once I’m finished and have a summary. Great contest. Great ops. My hats off to all of the EU ops. Very professional and courteous exchanges.

ADDENDUM: I got on the air for the last 2-3 hours. I was glad I did. I made a few more Qs and got the nerve to start unloading my QTCs. I got to send two batches of 10 and then a few smaller batches. I also got to reconnect with IR2C and was able to give him 10 QTCs that I had initially tried to do [but failed] yesterday.

20m seemed to be in much better shape this afternoon. Much more fun.

My Results

WAE DX Contest, CW

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto Ohio
Operating Time (hrs): 7.5

Summary:
Band QSOs QTCs Mults
-------------------------
80: 0 0 0
40: 5 3 12
20: 77 84 48
15: 5 0 6
10: 0 0 0
-------------------------
Total: 87 87 66 Total Score = 11,484

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Comments:

First time working WAE. The QTC thing is an interesting concept. Knowing how poor my sig is compared to a contest station's sig, those EU ops did a fantastic job copying my QTCs. Took me a while to figure out what to do with N1MM and sending QTCs -- I found some help on the eham.net forums.

I was skeptical about offering QTCs to the EUs because I figured they'd end up having to ask for many repeats, get frustrated with me, and then nil the whole event. I guess I didn't give them enough credit. They were all patient and courteous during all of my exchanges, and I appreciate their efforts. In the
end I was able to unload nearly all my QTCs and was happy to do so. I wasn't even going to get back on in the last three hours except I felt I needed to try and overcome my fear of going through the QTC process - and I felt I had to seek out those EU guys who I initially tried to give QTCs to and then froze up. I
actually found IR2C and one other one near the end and passed a full ten to each. That made me feel better about my previous tries with them. Really strange how I'm so afraid of failure when it comes to contesting.

Thanks to the EU guys for some great fun. I really enjoyed myself. Hopefully next year I'll have a little more gain and directivity towards EU.

Written by Mike

August 15th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Contesting

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