Davie/Cooper City Amateur Radio Club
We are Radio Active
The Contest Code of Ethics
1.) I will learn and obey the rules of any contest I enter, including the rules of my entry category.
2.) I will obey the rules for amateur radio in my country.
3.) I will not modify my log after the contest by using additional data sources to correct call sign/exchange errors.
4.) I will accept the judging and scoring decisions of the contest sponsor as final.
5.) I will adhere to the DX Code of Conduct in my operating style (see dx-code.org).
6.) I will yield my frequency to any emergency communications activity.
7.)I will operate my transmitter with sufficient signal quality to minimize interference to others.
Rich - (WB4EHG) Pete - (N8PR) - 10/27/2016
What is “contest season”?
Summer time is the time of lightning storms. These generate a lot of noise on HF and can make it a bit dangerous to operate.
When fall arrives the frequency of lightning decreases making HF operation safer and more enjoyable.
Also with the change from daylight savings time, and the shortening of hours of light in the northern hemisphere, propagation changes earlier in the day.
And in the parts of the hemisphere where it gets cold and snows, there is less desire and need for folks to be outside.
These all combine to give hams the incentive and opportunity to get on the air.
Why would I want to work a contest?
There are many reasons to work a contest.
•Improve your operating skills
•The thrill of the chase
•Justify improving your station
•Try new modes
•Increase your contact & mode counts towards awards such as WAS and DXCC
•Because you might win your section and category
What do I need to work a contest?
You do not need a super fancy station. Many contests have a range of categories so you are not necessarily competing with the “big guns” but the guys with high power and great antennas WANT to work you which improves both your and their scores.
Here’s a simple list:
• An antenna - vertical, dipole, Vee, whatever you have
• A radio (appropriate for the bands and modes you are operating)
• License (appropriate for the bands and sub-bands you are operating)
• A logging program (suggestions further down the page)
• Permission from your XYL :)
Where to find a calendar of contests?
Many organizations around the world sponsor contests. The main ones in the US are the ARRL and CQ magazine. We put a list of the coming weekend’s contests on the DCARC web site generally on Thursday.
Here are some web sites you can check out, there are some that let you sign up for their mailing list so you get email reminders.
What is the CQ WW SSB contest?
The CQ WW SSB contest starts this weekend (October 29) and runs for 48 hours. It is one of the major contests; the bands will be full of DX stations!
The name means the following:
• CQ, the magazine, is the sponsor
• World Wide
• SSB mode only
The bands (1.8, 3.5, 7, 14, 21 and 28 MHz) will be jumping with both foreign and domestic stations. This is your chance to really run up your totals.
Contest dates and times are given in UTC (aka GMT, aka Zulu time). This contest starts at 0000 UTC on October 29 which means that it starts at 8PM Friday night!
Contests require that the stations exchange a set of information that proves they made a successful contact. For this contest you exchange your call signs, signal report (RS Almost always 59 no matter what the real RS is) and CQ zone (we are in zone 5). This information is recorded in your log for the contact along with date, time, band and mode.
This contest has nine operator categories (single op, low power; single op high power; …). You get to choose the one that fits how you are operating.
During the contest the logging program will help you operate. It will tell you if you have worked the station already (a dup) and what country a station is in. It will keep track of what countries and zones you have worked and will tell you when you really need to work this station for the multiplier and/or a new country.
After the contest the participants have a certain time period (5 days for this contest) to submit their log file electronically. The sponsor’s computer will match up the logged contacts between the stations to verify that the contacts actually happened.
The information in the log file is used to calculate your score. Each contact gets so many points depending on where the two stations are and there are “multipliers” for the number of CQ zones and countries worked. These are all spelled out in the rules.
Your log is uploaded in the CABRILLO format. Luckily for us, the contest applications understand this format and create the logs for us. Some logging programs such as HRD are not intended for contests and they do not have the ability create the log file for each contest.
Many experienced operators use the N1MM contest logging program. This free program is very comprehensive which means it has lots to configure and learn.
When I first started contesting I used N3FJP’s programs. There is a different program for each contest but all of them share the same look and feel. These programs were very easy for me as a novice contester to use. Scott asks $8.99 for each of the programs and has a package deal that includes all of his programs. They are in active development and Scott responds to queries quickly.
You do not have to submit a log but doing so helps the other guys in the contest. They are only allowed a certain percentage of unconfirmed contacts.
Strategies 4 finding stations
So, now you have to find stations to work. There are multiple strategies.
• Choose the band you want to operate based on time of day and propagation.
• One of the skills you will learn is how to break through pile ups. Keep calling, have patience.
• You can check the spotting web sites and see where contacts are being made.
• Search and pounce: you spin the VFO, find a station, call until you make the contact and then spin the VFO some more.
• Running: this is where you park yourself on a clear frequency and keep calling “CQ Contest” until someone calls you, make the contact, log it and then start calling again.
My method is to work the easy stations - the “big guns” first. I start at the bottom of the phone section of the band and move upward working the easy stations as I go. Then I go back to the bottom and start over. By entering the station’s call in the log before I work him I can see if he is a dup and move on before calling. This second time through I am working the harder to get stations, those who are weak or being interfered with. This is where you start improving your skills and learning how to operate your radio’s filters and IF shift.
I keep repeating this process as the day wears on. Propagation will change and stations will come and go. I will change bands a necessary.
Two years ago, using my modest station and little experience, I won this contest for our section and my category. A total surprise to me.
Get in there and operate. Have patience. Get in as many hours of operating as you can.
Our contact information is on the About page. Copyright ©2016 Davie/Cooper City Amateur Radio Club
an ARRL Affiliate Club
WebMaster: Ken Libutti K4KCL