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The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest

from H. Ward Silver, N0AX and Mike Gilmer, N2MG on October 26, 2011
View comments about this article!

An Enticement for Contest Newbies

This is an updated version of previous eham articles [1] [2] [3] by N0AX and N2MG that ran on eHam in past years a bit before the ARRL Sweepstakes.

N5RZ operating the K5TR station in the ARRL CW SSThe first and third weekends of November are great opportunities for US and Canadian hams to jump in and give it a try. The ARRL November Sweepstakes is the oldest domestic contest and it has two weekends - the first for Morse (CW) and two weeks later for Phone (SSB). Since it's a domestic contest, even modest stations with low antennas can do very well indeed.

What's the object of the contest? Make as many contacts as you can on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters (not on the WARC bands or 60 meters) with the 80 ARRL and RAC Sections. You can contact each station once during the contest. If you work all 80 sections (called a "Clean Sweep") you can get a really nice coffee mug. If you make 100 QSOs, you can get a pin and start a collection! Work on your WAS or WAVE awards. Try to spell your name from the last letters of the calls you work. Work your home state. Work your brother's state. Nobody can stop at just one QSO...

When is it?

The 2011 ARRL CW Sweepstakes is Nov 5 - Nov 6 local time
The 2011 ARRL Phone Sweepstakes is Nov 19 - Nov 20 local time.
That's Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening.
You can operate for 24 out of the 30-hour contest period.

How Do You Play?

Since CW is the first weekend, let's see how it works using CW jargon. (It works just the same on Phone.)

  1. You hear somebody calling "CQ SS CQ SS de N0AX"
  2. Send your call ONCE - "W7VMI" - don't send their call and don't send yours twice or three times. If they don't copy your call on the first try, they'll send "AGN" or "?" or just CQ again. So call 'em again. If they're going too fast, send "QRS W7VMI" and they'll slow down.
  3. If they hear you, they'll send something like this - "W7VMI 107 A N0AX 53 CO" What the heck does that mean?
    • W7VMI is your call to let you know they're talking to you
    • 107 is the number of the contact in the contest for them (their next contact will be 108, etc.)
    • A is their entry category (Low Power) - the categories are A, B, M, Q, S, and U
    • Then they send their call
    • 53 is the last two digits of the first year they were licensed - it's called a "check"
    • CO means Colorado, their ARRL/RAC Section (There are 80 - some are states, others aren't, all are two or three letters - be SURE to use the right abbreviation!)
  4. If you don't get it all, it's perfectly OK to send "QRS PSE, AGN" - which means "Slow down, send it again, please"
  5. If you do get it - way to go! Here's what you send...
    • Their call
    • The number this contact is in the contest for you - if it's your first send "1" and pat yourself on the back
    • Your class (QRP is Q, <150W is A, >150W is B, M is multioperator, S is a school club, and U is unlimited...we'll get to that later)
    • Your call
    • The last two digits of the first year you were licensed - if you got your license in 2001, it's "01", for example
    • Your section, "WWA" for Western Washington, maybe, or "IL" for Illinois, or "QC" for Quebec
  6. If they don't get it, they may say...with a question mark, maybe...
    • "AGN" - send everything all over again
    • "NR" - repeat just the number a couple of times
    • "PREC" or just "PR" - repeat your category letter, it's called "precedence" for a number of reasons you don't need to know right now
    • "CALL" - repeat your call (this is rare)
    • "CK" - repeat the two digits of the year, your check
    • "SEC" or "QTH" - repeat your section
  7. They may ask YOU to QRS, you speed demon, so do it with a smile!
  8. If they copy everything, they'll say a short "TU" (for thanks) or "R" (for Roger) or "QSL" (for received OK) and then just send their CQ or maybe just their call and away you both may go.
  9. Sometimes, it just doesn't work out - QRM (interference) or QRN (static) or QSB (fading) or the cat could cough up a hairball on the rug requiring immediate action. Don't take it personally; just go find somebody else to call. It's a no-fault deal.
  10. If you get tired of "Searching and Pouncing", then tighten your belt, mop your brow, cock your hat at a jaunty angle and call CQ! It's easy - don't have a cow, man, just call "CQ SS CQ SS de W7VMI W7VMI" and listen, repeat if necessary. Soon you'll get an answer. Just play back the above steps with you as the station being called.

Although you might recoil in horror at the high code speeds, tune wayyyyyyy up in the bands and there will be some folks going nice and slow. The old Novice bands on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters (above 100 kHz from the bottom of the band) are often the home of a number of slow-speed stations hanging out. Don't be afraid to jump in and give 'em a call. I *guarantee* your code speed will double with just a few hours at the key.

What about the Phone weekend? Many of us might say, "Gee, Phone SS must be easier to operate than CW." Well, yes and no. Certainly it's more natural to use one's voice than the paddle and the rules are the same so Phone should be a snap, right? All other things being equal...but they are not…phone operation has characteristics all its own.

The phone bands are considerably more crowded than CW. First there's the bandwidth issue - a phone QSO takes up more frequencies than a CW QSO. Also, there tends to be more casual (non-contest) phone operating (nets, rag chews, etc.) of which you need to be aware and coexist. Please be courteous to other band occupants - whether contesters or not.

Unlike CW, some folks seem to be enamored with using "the last two" to call. Please use your entire call sign. Nine times out of ten, the other station will copy it right the first time. And use phonetics - NORMAL phonetics. (Willie Billie Five Willie Billie Willie might seem funny to your friends, but not in the middle of a crowded contest band!)

What Is Unlimited?

Single-operator stations can enter Sweepstakes in the A, B, or U categories. What is the U category? It stands for "Unlimited" and it means that you may use information from the spotting networks such as DX Summit or a local VHF channel to help you find stations to work. There are Unlimited categories for both low-power and high-power operation. If you use ANY kind of information from outside your station to find call signs, obtain exchange information, or learn the frequencies of stations to contact, you must enter your log in the Unlimited category. If you tune in and copy every signal on your own, you may enter as Q, A, or B depending on your power level. If you have questions about what category to use for your entry, send email to contests@arrl.org and the Contest Branch Manager will answer them.

Driving in Traffic

Contesting isn't like day-to-day operating. The bands are full of strong signals packed close together. It's like playing a real football game instead of a game of catch. You'll find that you need to use some of those receiver controls and narrower filters. In fact, cranking in some attenuation or turning down the RF Gain control will improve receiver performance dramatically under the strong-signal conditions in a contest. By effectively using the capabilities of a modern receiver, you will surely find that the band is quieter and nearby signals less disruptive. In fact, you will find yourself making better use of your receiver's controls every day!

Preamplifier - OFF

Because there are so many strong signals present during a contest, having the preamp turned on is not at all necessary and will likely lead to severe intermodulation and overload problems in your receiver. Turn it off - this will also help a non-contester operating on the bands.

Noise Blanker - OFF

Noise blankers work by sensing strong pulses of RF anywhere on a band and then turning off the receiver during the pulse. In a contest with lots of strong signals, the noise blanker gets confused and starts turning off the receiver in sync with the strong signals. This makes your receiver audio sound like the strong signal is splattering all across the band! The first thing you should do when operating on a busy contest- filled band is turn off the noise blanker.

The Attenuator - ON

The attenuator seldom gets a workout, but it can be your biggest friend when dealing with strong nearby signals. It's surprisingly easy for a strong signal to drive a receiver's RF amplifier or mixers into non-linearity known as overload. This creates spurious intermodulation products, known as "crud," up and down the band. 10 dB of attenuation cures a surprising number of ailments at the cost of just a couple of S- units of signal strength. Try cranking in some attenuation and you may find that interference drops dramatically when your receiver is no longer being overloaded. Remember that the goal is to maximize signal-to-noise ratio, not necessarily absolute signal strength. Try out your attenuator and you may be surprised at how much it cleans up a band even on a weekday!

RF Gain - TURN IT DOWN

Late breaking news - RF Gain controls are not welded in the full-on position! This makes your receiver very sensitive, but also leaves your IF (and sometimes the RF) amplifiers susceptible to overload. Experiment with backing off the RF Gain to see if it doesn't improve your receiver's performance in a strong signal environment. Even during casual operating, backing off the RF Gain can dramatically reduce background noise. Experiment with changing the AGC settings or even (gasp!) turn it OFF and use the RF Gain control instead. It doesn't take much to change a QRM-clobbered QSO into a fairly manageable channel.

Special Receiver Features - USE THEM

Does your receiver have Passband Tuning, IF Shift, Variable Bandwidth or similar controls? All those new DSP features you paid for can also clean up noise and attenuate low-frequency or high-frequency interference. There's no time like the present to find the receiver's manual and learn what these controls do. You'll find they make day-to-day operating easier and more successful, too.

Sharing the Road

When operating in a contest, you need to be sensitive to the effect of undesired spurious transmitter byproducts. It's one thing to set up your voice keyer and speech processor on a calm, weekday after work and quite another thing to then hammer it during the contest when you're excited.

Do an on-air audio check with a friend to learn where to set mic gain and processing level. Learn what your ALC and Compression meters show with audio levels set properly. Turn on the amplifier fan and every other noisemaker in the shack to see if they make an unwanted contribution to your signal. Be sure you don't have RF feedback on any frequency. Listen to a playback of your voice with every noisemaker in the shack turned on. It's important that all that RF energy is carrying your message and not fan noise. Use a windscreen on your boom mike to limit the high- frequency pops and snaps. You need the crisp high end of speech, but not the transients that overdrive a compressor. Windscreens also reduce fan and background noise.

Check to be sure that running an amplifier doesn't cause RF feedback or distortion to your mic or voice keyer. Better to find that out now instead of during the contest. CW operators should check for key clicks, too.

A small digression. I often hear that contest stations have low-quality audio and I believe that some of these complaints are a result of confusion. Contests are not about audio fidelity, they are about intelligibility. The two do not always go hand in hand as the military well knows. The important thing is to convey the information, not to sound like Bing Crosby. During a contest, I want to have a punchy, crisp signal that is easy to understand on a crowded band. During a regular ragchew, I'll switch to a signal with more dynamic range and more low-frequency response. The two types of operating have very different audio requirements.

Ready to Give It A Try?

paper ss logIt's a lot of fun - the hours will fly by. Keep a simple paper log the first time out to make it easy - you can worry about entering it on a computer later. There are complete rules and instructions for operating and scoring and sending in the log on the ARRL website for Sweepstakes. Check out the 2011 Sweepstakes Operating Guide .

Come next spring, you can click on over to the contest results on the ARRL's Contest Branch Web site, such as these PDF versions for 2010 CW Sweepstakes or Phone Sweepstakes, and wonder-of-wonders, there your call will be with the mighty titans in the very same font size just a few lines away. Woo-hoo!!

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KC0QCQ on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Actually I turn off the radio on contest weekends. I'm tired of all the rude operators. I like contests so well I no longer belong to the ARRL.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KB2DHG on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
My idea of a good contact is more than a signal report and exchange...
To me a good QSO is the best contact to make... Yea, you can work thousands of contacts during a contest but did you get to know about that operator other than his QTH ans signal report?
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KR2C on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KC0QCQ said:
"Actually I turn off the radio on contest weekends. I'm tired of all the rude operators. I like contests so well I no longer belong to the ARRL."

Thank you. Now there will be more room for the rest of us to play. Enjoy your weekend.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K8YZK on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
You forgot to add Turn the AMP off, the 1500 watts it puts out is not needed.

Don't do contest, as everyone is 5-9 no matter what.

I do get on and call CQ for QSO's and not contest QSO's.

Now days a waste of bandwidth. My opinion only and I know others think a different way.

All I can say is have fun, and remember this is just a hobby.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KC0QCQ on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KR2C must be one of those rude operators I referred to and only operate during contests. You must be one of those that slide up .5 KC away and start calling CQ contest when an existing QSO is in progress.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5GNB on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
My idea of a GOOD CONTEST is with the Radio OFF from the Beginning to the END !!!!

 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N0AX on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Don't forget, guys, the "other mode" is usually wide open and quiet. Plus, there is no contesting on the WARC bands and 60 meters, so there are lots of places to have fun and a non-contest QSO - it's sort of like going to a different park than the one hosting the free concert :-)
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N0NB on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I love the comments that state that everyone is "59" no matter what. Obvious knee-jerk replies after not bothering to read the article. Hint: There are no signal reports in SS! So, thanks for letting us know that you only wanted to gripe about contests.

For those of you who have a bit more of an open mind and have yet to try it, give SS a try. With the promise of better band conditions on 15 and 10m, there will be ample opportunity for everyone to spread out and reduce the QRM. It's a great opportunity to work new states and maybe even counties. Jump in, the bands are fine.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KR2C on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KC0QCQ said:
"KR2C must be one of those rude operators I referred to and only operate during contests. You must be one of those that slide up .5 KC away and start calling CQ contest when an existing QSO is in progress. "


Other than a small club contest, I've never participate in contests. I don't believe I'm the "rude operator" that you are looking for. Plus I think the majority of us would think that .5 KC away is enough elbow for CW.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KE0Z on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
SS is a great contest and one can do well with a modest station. There is real exchange of information that does NOT include a signal report.

This and Field Day are about the only ones I participate in.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KQ6Q on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
CW SS and Field Day are the highlights of my operating year ! I do dip my paddles into a few other contests - 160m, WWDX and such, but CW SS is the ultimate operating event for me, ever since my high school elmer, K6QIP (Tom, SK) introduced me to in back in the '50's.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K0JJM on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
One of the reasons I got interested in Ham Radio over 40 years ago was listening to Field Day sitting in a tent in my backyard. I was not able to conquer the code then, so I remained on the sideline for almost 30 years. I started testing in 2000 and was able to earn my 5 WPM Extra in a couple of years. The MAIN reason I got my license was to DO contests! I did the 10 meter contest right after I got my license. I make HUNDREDS of contacts on a dipole and a RS 25 watt transceiver! I was (and still am) totally hooked on the rush of contesting. I am a casual operator most of the rest of the time, but I love doing contests! The personal challenge is terrific! I start with CQ WW DX, follow that up with the Sweeps, 10 Meter, ARRL DX and finish up the season with CQ WW PX (now, THAT is a fun one!). I also help with the Kansas QSO party. That is my niche in ham radio and I like it!
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K0RGR on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not a big contester, but I've always enjoyed the SS and Field Day. It's fun to see if I can get WAS and WAVE in one weekend. I particularly like the CW contests, and you can do well in the SS with just modest gear - no $10K radios and rotary rhombics required. I've won my section a couple times with nothing more than a tribander at 40 feet and an OCF dipole, on both CW and phone.

Lately, I've been doing less for personal glory and more for the club competitions.

You may also hear me on in the DX contests, trying to see how many countries I can work in a weekend. It's a good test for the radio gear.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by WA8OLD on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I would recommend at least downloading a version of contest logging software, if only for dupe (duplicate QSO )checks, especially in the SS as you can only work a station one time, regardless of band.
73
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by WA8OLD on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
make that: at least a demo version. Usually limits the amount of QSO's you can log.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N6AJR on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I find contest are a great lot of fun. I have been a ham on and off since 1978, but only in the past 9 or 10 years have I really gotten a lot more from the radio.

I am a modest contester. I also do ragchews and lots of DX hunting too. a domestic contest can get you WAS in a day, and a world wide contest is like working a contest and getting free DX in the same package. I am not a whizzzzzzzzz at CW and really don't have that much confidence in SSB or even rtty. But I do get on and work some points for the CLUB.

The club I belong to is the Northern California Contest Club. What a great bunch of hams. We have probably around 600 or so members and probably half are very active. The club competes with other large clubs world wide and we often do well. We meet once a month , usually at a cafe someplace in the San Francisco Bay Area. We often have 100 members show up for a meeting.

Some of the members have huge multi position shacks and welcome other hams over to play in a Multi- Multi modes, and some work all contests QRP with wire antennas. There is room for all. And if you need help, there is always someone to give you a hand.

So look around on the ARRL site for clubs, or check the results in QST or CQ and see if there is a local club for you.

Contesting has improved my station and my operating habits a bunch, and is fun for an old disabled guy, with modest income.

It is just another aspect of ham radio, and I urge you to try it just once. And then if you go to some of the Ham events like Pacificon or Visallia, you will meet lots of folks who also enjoy DX, Contesting, and other aspects of Ham radio. And if you are a contester, please continue to treat the bands as the treasure they are.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W0FEN on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I tired of rude andy often obscene behavior during contests. Just try to check into a net during one.

CONTESTERST ARE IN GENERAL VERY BAD REPRESENTATIVES OF THE HOBBY!
 
Contests have never interefered with the nets  
by KASSY on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
that I check into. I participate in a regular 160 meter traffic net, a CH net on 30 meters and a 17 meter ragchew session.

By quick calculation, from the bottom of 160 through the top of 10 meters, US hams have 3.75 MHz of total band coverage available. SSB Sweepstakes is permitted to use 1.485 MHz of that space. So....you still have 60% of all the MF/HF spectrum available to use!

I don't see a problem.

-k
 
RE: Contests have never interefered with the nets  
by N2EY on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I love CW SS. Been in every one since 1968 except 1977.

The exchange is long, complex and doesn't include the signal report. You have to do some real operating to make an SS contact.

I do not hear the "rude" ops others claim. The CW SS folk stay in the lowest 70 kHz or so, leaving room for others.

A modest station can indeed make lots of QSOs in SS, particularly by S&P methods. WAS in a weekend, or close to it, is quite possible.

However, a contest like SS will point up all the weak spots in your station and operating skills. That rig you thought had such a hot receiver may just fold up under the barrage.

The antenna you thought was a world-beater may turn out to be not-so-hot.

You may think you're a hot op for working X QSOs in Y hours until you get a serial number twice or three times the one you sent, from a station more modest than yours.

I suspect the above are the real reasons some hams dislike contests so much.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Contests have never interefered with the nets  
by N4KC on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I'm with you, Jim. I did my first SS way back in 1964 and still enjoy goofing around with a bunch of personal challenges. I have never even submitted a log!

You know, contesters have as much right to use that spectrum as ragchewers, slow-scan TV guys, nets, digital ops or anybody else. I actually think most contesters--even the really, really serious ones--are courteous and willing to give way to a regular net or ongoing QSO...if asked politely. They want a clear frequency as much as anyone!

By the way, if you worked me in past years and I gave a CK of 62 or 63, don't think those were busted QSOs when I give you 61 this year. I quit guessing and actually confirmed my first year of license!

See you in both CW and SSB flavors...

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com

 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K9CTB on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Always wanted to try a contest. Haven't yet. Figured if I was gonna try it I should stick with it (for the whole weekend, or whatever). I just get cold feet thinking I can't discipline myself enough. Must be the AADD!

73,
K9CTB
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N0NB on October 26, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
K9CTB, while it's great to dedicate a whole weekend to a 'test, you will find many folks are only able to operate much less than that due to other commitments. Do get in and give it a try even if it's only for several hours. You'll find the time flies by.

Set some modest goals such as 100 QSOs for a PIN. Try to work all states the next year. Get serious about a sweep the year after that and so on. Over the years you'll develop a strategy for working a sweep. I guarantee you'll learn a lot in the process about propagation, when to run, when to search and pounce, about your skills, about your station's capabilities, etc.

I got hooked on SS in 1993 and even though I skipped a few years between 2004 and 2009 I was pleased to find out I won the low power phone category in the Kansas section in 2010. I had a tremendous run on 80m each night which was loads of fun. Like you I put off jumping into SS for a few years even though I really enjoyed Field Day. I finally jumped in and joined the fray and got hooked.

Have fun!
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K1CJS on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Seems that the comment I made was either removed--or lost. So...

I just don't do them, it isn't my cup of tea. I like the list of guidelines, though. Too bad most contesters refuse to follow them--and make the bands into such a mess.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K8YZK on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
N0NB you are right I don't like contest but like the way you picked only part of the post out. I did say at the end to have fun and remember it's only a hobby.
So I guess you didn't read the whole post.

I could probably count the number of contest I operated in my 45yrs as a ham on my fingers.

Maybe the weather will be nice and I will enjoy a good round of golf.

So again those that do the contest to include you N0NB have fun and remember it is only a hobby.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by NJ3U on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Great advice regarding using the knobs on your radio that are not to be welded in full up or down! I find band pass to be my friend.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K1CJS on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I noticed there was no comment about the AKR club yet. It's too bad that some hams just turn All Knobs Right--to maximum. One ham I know that does that said he wanted to be sure he was heard.

Too bad that the knowledge that is needed to become an extra class is only tested for--and not actually learned.

Anyway, to each their own, and if you like contesting, go for it! Having fun is really all that is needed to enjoy the hobby. 73!
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KE7FD on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Well written article and helps newbies and oldies gain a fresh perspective. This topic even if only touched on in some posts/articles always hits a nerve with many folks. So indulge me for a moment while I add some gas to the bonfire...

Contesting in ham radio is like anything else where guys are involved: competition, grunting, swearing and drunken stupors. Contesting in radio generally does offer something for just about all of us. For example, Field Day appeals to our sense of public duty and allows us to feel important in at least our own minds. But for the most part regardless of the name of the event, contests revolve around exchanging 10 seconds worth of information then it's on to the next contact. I agree that a contesting contact is not a QSO in the real sense for which many of us is much more rewarding. Some folks enjoy the picture on the front of the post card while the rest of us want to read what the sender has written on the flip side of the postcard (not the address...).

We'll never resolve this difference, just "ain't gonna happen". I would add my two cents here and say that sometimes those of us who like having real QSO's don't appreciate being forced to abandon the bands we like using, only to congregate on 17 meters while every other band is being hogged by contesters and it seems like most weekends are like this.

In closing, the FCC says in Part 97 that governs U.S. amateur:
97.101 General standards.
...
(d) No amateur operator shall willfully
or maliciously interfere with or
cause interference to any radio communication
or signal.
(http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2010/octqtr/pdf/47cfr97.101.pdf)

That being said, I applaud those hams who manage to carry on what I think are still "normal" and "real" QSO's surrounded by what at times seems like mindless thrashing of the airwaves during a contest. It is equally important that non-contesters also not interfere with those who are contesting. In another statement in Part 97, no one "owns" any frequency. We ALL have to be adults and share.

As always, IMHO,
Glen - KE7FD
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by G6NJR on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I wonder if we can make the rf obey national bounderies cus i for one am sick of hearing contest all the time 20 meters is almost completely unusable over the weekends thanks to the continual stream of darn contest contest contest .
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KE7FD on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
(With regards to G6NJR)

"Hear, hear"

See, it's not just me. Peter makes a great point.

Glen - KE7FD
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by AA5TB on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
A good article with good tips. Thanks.

I usually use the same receiver techniques and my little FT-897D holds up just fine. I love the CW SS contest and I hope to participate this year. The more crowded the bands the better.

73,
Steve - AA5TB
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K0RGR on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Lately, the WARC bands have been better than the non-WARC bands. 12 meters has been astounding. 17 is always good, and for CW, 30 is hard to beat. 60 and 160 are unexplored territory for many hams.

So, why do so many people pretend those bands don't exist?

Think of the big contest weekends as your opportunity to try something new and different. If you don't want to make contacts in the contest, join the others who feel the same way on the WARC bands.

I feel sorry for those guys who are crystal controlled on 14.060 or 7.030. You will probably have more luck making SS contacts this week on those frequencies.

Frankly, if contests weren't fun, none of us would do them. SS is almost work, indeed, it is work if you are serious about it.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KG6UDW on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
A simple fact:
Without someone to give you a voice like the ARRL and stand up for you and your hobby the ham bands would be history and sold to the highest bidder by the FCC.
GAME OVER.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KH6DC on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I usually don't come up on contests as activities with my 5 year old son takes precedence and I always miss the contets. I can only afford 30 minutes trying to chase 1 or 2 DXpeditions or countries or states I need for DXCC or WAS. Sometimes when everyone's asleep I come up on digital for 1 or 2 hours so I won't wake them up on SSB.

Maybe someday. Everyone have fun on the upcoming contest.

73 Delwyn KH6DC
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KF4HR on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"Actually I turn off the radio on contest weekends. I'm tired of all the rude operators."

"My idea of a good contact is more than a signal report and exchange..."


"My idea of a GOOD CONTEST is with the Radio OFF from the Beginning to the END !!!!"

"Other than a small club contest, I've never participate in contests."

"I love the comments that state that everyone is "59" no matter what."

"CONTESTERST ARE IN GENERAL VERY BAD REPRESENTATIVES OF THE HOBBY!"

"I just don't do them, it isn't my cup of tea."

"I could probably count the number of contest I operated in my 45yrs as a ham on my fingers."

"I wonder if we can make the rf obey national bounderies cus i for one am sick of hearing contest all the time 20 meters is almost completely unusable over the weekends thanks to the continual stream of darn contest contest contest."

+1!!!

Contest organizers listen up! It's time to limit contests on all popular bands to 10khz bandwidth. Then let the contester's talk on top of each other for hours on end so the rest of us (by the way... the rest = the majority) can also enjoy the bands on contest weekends too.

 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5GNB on October 27, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Come on.... Give me a BREAK!!
The ARRL is not what keeps Ham radio going, they simply enjoy taking the CREDIT for anything positive that happens with or without them involved....

Most of what they have done over the past 50-Years that I have been a Ham has been nothing but detrimental to the hobby....

They are now nothing more that Contest Organizers who are actually Quite DISorganized....

The CB'ers don't have the ARRL and they are going as strong as EVER!!!

HAHA!!
73's
Gary - W5GNB
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W4KVW on October 28, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Can you say,"WARC BANDS WEEKEND" for some DX & Ragchewing?
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K1CJS on October 28, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KG6UDW said:
"Without someone to give you a voice like the ARRL and stand up for you and your hobby the ham bands would be history and sold to the highest bidder by the FCC.
GAME OVER."
__________________

I really don't think so.
__________________

Then W5GNB said:
"Give me a BREAK!!
The ARRL is not what keeps Ham radio going, they simply enjoy taking the CREDIT for anything positive that happens with or without them involved....
Most of what they have done over the past 50-Years that I have been a Ham has been nothing but detrimental to the hobby....
They are now nothing more that Contest Organizers who are actually Quite DISorganized...."
__________________

The ARRL has done good for the ham community--and they've also done things that are very questionable. Those things vary according to the individual viewpoint, and always cause nothing but argument.

Since the ham bands--the HF bands, anyway--are more or less worldwide allocations and not subject to the whims of any one country, there is little that the FCC could do to "sell them to the highest bidder."

The VHF and UHF bands are another story entirely, being that they are 'local' bands, and as such could well be sold off. That is probably why the ARRL is so supportive of the 'emergency communications' angle of ham radio which primarily uses the VHF/UHF frequencies, almost to the exclusion of anything else IN ham radio.

So it can well be argued that the ARRL--as far as the HF bands go--ARE nothing but contest organizers and don't really care about the hams who don't like the contesting angle. I read a recent story that there are organized contest on about fifty of the fifty two weekends of the year, and that the ARRL is responsible for the majority of them.

IMHO, there seems to be a lot of merit in most of what W5GNB is saying, except the point that over the past 50 years the things that the ARRL has done has been nothing but detrimental to the hobby. They have done a few things supportive to the hobby, one of which was the BPL studies and the resulting opposition, although it can be argues that their involvement was primarily to keep the contests running. The result was to keep the bands open--probably more than what they intended, but it was done. Likewise, their other efforts to keep the bands open resulted in good being done--even if it was only to further their own aims.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KR2C on October 28, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KF4HR said......
"Contest organizers listen up! It's time to limit contests on all popular bands to 10khz bandwidth. Then let the contester's talk on top of each other for hours on end so the rest of us (by the way... the rest = the majority) can also enjoy the bands on contest weekends too."

I see that you included one of my statements in your cause. While I don't do a whole lot of contesting, I will stand up for their right to do so. Go turn your radio off and figure out something else to do with your little life for that weekend. I'm sure there is more to you than amateur radio, right?
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N7JI on October 28, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
There is no reason to turn off the radio on contest weekends. 30, 17, and 12 meters are great, contest-free bands, even more so on contest weekends.

That said, I'll be on the air, running my customary 5 watts with my RF preamp turned OFF so I can judge who might hear me well enough for a QSO before I try to succeed in my search and pounce (S&P) effort.

Also, 500 Hz spacing? Plenty of room on CW. A decent CW filter is more than enough to keep you from getting desensed unless there's another station that's 40 over S9.

Happy operating,

Scott N7JI
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N6AJR on October 28, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
There are sprint contests on that only last a half hour on thursday nights, There are contests which let you operate 30 out of 48 hours. There are contests for most every mode of operation.

I personally love the RTTY contests because the radio and computer do all the work, I just push the buttons and twist the knobs. And a rtty test only takse up a small portion of the bands.

So if you like to play there is something for everyone, and if you don't like contests, there is always the "other modes" on the contest bands, and of course the WARC bands and such.

And most contesters will try to leave 14.230 and 14. 300 open for other folks even though they don't"own the frequency".

So enjoy the radio , or take the wife and kids to the park. Radio is "just a hobby" unless you are in the business of selling or fixing radio stuff.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KC5CQD on October 29, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I don't contest but I won't begrudge the hams that do, having their fun. What I do is turn down the volume on the Yaesu, reach above the rig and turn up the volume on the Ranger 2970! Yeah...it's 11 meters...it's noisy....it's chaotic....it's vulgar (sounds like the contest ham bands, huh?)...but at least they're funny and keep me laughing all weekend.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W4KVW on October 29, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Hope your NOT transmitting on that RANGER 2970 since it's listed on the FCC website as ILLEGAL for use in the USA on ANY BAND?

Clayton
W4KVW
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KC5CQD on October 29, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
It is? Well, I suppose the FCC isn't too worried about it since they allow CB shops across the U.S.A. to sell them to U.S. citizens via the internet, where they advertise that they'll even "crank 'em up fer ya'"! When the FCC starts cracking down on this BLATANT violation of the law.....I'll worry about it. But if they're going to allow the outright and open use of "hopped-up" 11 meter gear....well....I'm gonna worry about it about as much as THEY worry about it. Which is obviously "not at all".

Give it up, kilocycle cop. The FCC has thrown in the towel where the ham and cb bands are concerned. 80m and 20m are cesspools of filth and rules violations and the FCC doesn't lift a finger to curb ANY of it. I hear licensed hams openly admit on the air that they're running 2Kw and higher amps. Even heard one the other night admit that he was running 5Kw!!! Give me a break.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by EX_AA5JG on October 29, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
You can legally run 5KW on 60 meters if you have lossy feedline and a really bad antenna.

73s John AA5JG
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KC5CQD on October 29, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"You can legally run 5KW on 60 meters if you have lossy feedline and a really bad antenna."

Brother....from what I've seen and heard....you can LEGALLY run any damned thing you want on ANY band!! With the exception of CW, I've heard just as much filth and rules violations on the precious ham bands as I've ever heard on 11 meters. I suppose it's considered o.k. because they're licensed but talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!!

Just pisses me off to no end when I listen to days, weeks and months of the BS that occurs on the ham bands and then have some rule-mongering butt-head quote the rule book to me about one of my radios.

Dude needs to have himself a big, tall glass of "shut the hell up".

 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by WO4V on October 29, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
You can run any radio you want on the ham bands if you are licensed and your radio meets spectral purity standards (supposedly) that the fcc has established. (not that they are going to check or anything.) Well, if you are bleeding over onto the police bands you might have a problem!

You can build or buy it and convert it to ham use, it's up to you to meet the standards...it really doesn't matter if the fcc lists it as illegal to sell or whatever...if you convert it to, say, ten meters and it's clean enough, then you are legal.

Yep, when the fcc lets guys get away with what you generally hear on, oh, say, channel 6, then all bets are off. Some even have web sites with their gear for sale. It's not as if they were hard to find or anything...

Let's not get our shorts in a knot about it and be SOOOOO self-righteous...buy, build, or convert your radios and enjoy. When I started, I had to convert cb's to get on the ham bands due to lack of money!

I've had guys on Eham lecture me about using 807 amps because they thought they were sweep tube amps...give me a break, or at least know what you are talking about.

Anyway, I have been irritated with my share of LID contesters tromping on my QSO's with apparent disregard for listening before you transmit and other common courtesy operating procedures...
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KF4HR on October 30, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
NO CCA NET TODAY DUE TO DX CONTEST

 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KE4ZHN on October 30, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
To each his own I guess. I'd much rather enjoy a casual QSO with another ham instead of meaningless repetitious drivel for 48 hrs.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KB9UWU on October 31, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not sure why many hams are so negative towards contesting. Contesting is just another part of ham radio. Not sure why people think filling our precious spectrum a couple weekends a year is a bad thing. Activity, whatever kind it is, is healthy to this hobby.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5GNB on October 31, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"Not sure why people think filling our precious spectrum a couple weekends a year is a bad thing."
-----------------
Are you KIDDING?????? If it were just a "Couple weekends a year" there would be NO problem... but is is EVERY WEEKEND for some stupid contest to be jamming the bands relentlessy......

True, the SS contest is ONCE a year for CW, Once a year for SSB ETC......Then you have QSO Parties for everything under the sun, Lighthouse Contests (what the heck is special about a freekin' Lighthouse) and ON and ON and ON........................

How about combining ALL contests on the SAME ONE WEEKEND just Once a year and let's try that for a while........

I also like the 10khz limit on contesting for each band but let's put that 10khz somewhere above about 30-GIGAHERTZ........

Gary
W5GNB
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KB9UWU on October 31, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Gary, you're being a little dramatic and excessive. Calm down, OM :) The lighthouse events and state QSO parties do not fill up the bands. Sure, more people might be operating but thats a good thing! There are only a handful of true "band filling" contests a year, IMO.

I haven't been an active ham since 2004... until this previous weekend! I went to a friends station who was hosting an educational approach to CQWW with laid back operating and helpful instruction to new hams. We easily got DXCC in just a few hours of fun operating! I now am looking at ways to get a HF antenna in the air at my new QTH so I can actively operate again.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K4SSS on October 31, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Greetings all.

Having been involved in ham radio for some 50+ years, it is my opinion that contesting is, and has been, one of the most contentious and divisive subjects within our community. I will give credit where credit is due in thanking the ARRL for faithfully representing the interests of our hobby in Washington over the years, but when it comes to contesting, however, I am of the opinion that the ARRL has dropped the ball by way of supporting and sponsoring the numerous contests that it conducts.

I say this for several reasons, the first and foremost being that from what I have seen on countless occasions, contesting brings out the absolute worst conduct and operating habits within our community. Whether it be intentional jamming, loading-on-top, using more power than necessary (or illegal power), foul language, out-of-band ops, you name it, these seem to be standard operating practices most contests. Perhaps even worse, many of these poor or illegal practices then become the norm in the day-to-day ops of many of these same contesters.

Do all contesters act this way, of course not, so spare me the flames. But, given how contentious and divisive contesting has been for so many years within our hobby, contesters must honestly be doing something seriously wrong to warrant the rath of so many of their brethren, and IMO, the overwhelming majority of their fellow amateurs, whom just happen to share the common belief that contesting is detrimental to our hobby.

I will reiterate that I believe the ARRL has dropped the ball when it comes to its sponsoring contests. That said, there is probably some middle ground to be found somewhere, and if there is, the ARRL, as contest sponsors, needs to take the lead in formulating contest policies and procedures that will help foster and promote our hobby, versus dividing it, which is what I believe contesting it is doing, more so than any other aspect of our hobby today.

Thanks for the bandwidth, and best regards to all.
Bob -- K4SSS
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N4KC on November 1, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Bob, I'm not one to "flame" and I do appreciate your observations. However, I do think you and a few of the others exaggerate the bad aspects of contests. I have a pretty good receiver and I have operated (casually, I'll admit, and have not even submitted a contest log in decades) in contests for a half century now.

I have to say that I'm just not hearing all the things you and some others say they are hearing. Sure, there's the occasional rude op, some guys who think if a little mic gain and compression are good then max gain and compression are better, some who don't bother listening before they start up the voice-recorded CQ, etc. But you hear the same things--in fewer numbers, granted--every day on the bands, and they are still the small, small minority of all who participate--in contests and in amateur radio.

Contesting is just another aspect of a very broad and wonderful menu of interests our hobby offers. The activity this past weekend demonstrates the number of hams who enjoy participating. Different contests appeal to different ops, too. Guys who work the QSO parties are often ones who would have no interest at all in CQWW or Sweepstakes. VHF and UHF contesters are rarely the ones who would do the 160-meter tests.

And suggesting that the ARRL not promote contests would be the same as my asking them to quit wasting all that time and space on microwaves or SSTV or other aspects of the hobby that I don't necessarily pursue.

One of the League's missions is to promote the hobby. Obviously there is a tremendous amount of interest in radiosport, and I believe such healthy competition could be one way to attract younger people to the hobby.

OK, so you have to look around for a "hole" to use on 20 meters for a few weekends a year. (I'll ignore the previous OM who thinks "Lighthouse Weekends" dominate the bands to the extent that nobody can find an open frequency!) 40 was pretty crowded during the evenings this past weekend, but there were still spots available for a ragchew. Having to move the receiver dial or bandswitch--or not running the receive bandwidth at 4 khz--seem a small price to pay to allow so many to enjoy this aspect of the hobby. Plus, there were no contesters at all this past weekend on 60, 30, 17, 12 or 50 mhz and above. Not a single one on CW or in the digital spaces. And theoretically the CQWW SSB is the largest contest by participation of them all.

Bob, if you can back up your statement that foul language, out-of-band operating, tuning on top, running excessive power and the like are "standard operating practices," I'd welcome the evidence. I don't hear it. Just because a small, small few do it does not mean that contesting is evil or that the ham bands are tainted by such behavior the rest of the time.

Thank you for your comments, though, and for contributing to the discourse. This is, in my opinion, healthy give and take!

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com

 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by WZ3O on November 1, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I couldn't agree more with Don N4KC's comments...

Here's my "spin"....

ARRL is trying to Defend the Spectrum, as they say. It has to be a miserable job with SPECIAL INTERESTS, POLITICIANS & let's not forget the FCC, who doesn't have the Manpower (no I'm not politically correct & never will be if it involves yet more Government intrusions) nor do they have a "CLUE", IMNSHO!

As a fellow ham & I say, "propagation begets prorogation", contest "heat up" the atmosphere, allowing you to get contacts otherwise silent most times. You'll work tons of stations & possibly even learn something about yourself, your equipment & Ham Radio!!!

Sure, more than a 59, "serial number" etc, would be great but for the "serious" contesters, it ain't gonna' happen. They're out for "blood" ... Hi

So "Newbies" & "Old Farts" alike, fire up your rigs & remove the cobwebs from your ears & most importantly, PLEASE toss away preconceptions.

PLEASE stop the counterproductive "bitching" if something isn't to YOUR "liking" (it's a HOBBY whether you like it or not, different folks like different Ham things as it is in "real" life)!!

Funny thing, last I checked your rig has a Power Button, NO?!?! No ones "OWNS" a frequency & screaming at contesters on "YOUR" freq ain't gonna' work...

**SO GET ON THE AIR & have FUN before there's no "AIR" left!!!**

OK, the Soapbox is now vacated...your turn... Hi Hi...

 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KB9UWU on November 1, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"I say this for several reasons, the first and foremost being that from what I have seen on countless occasions, contesting brings out the absolute worst conduct and operating habits within our community. Whether it be intentional jamming, loading-on-top, using more power than necessary (or illegal power), foul language, out-of-band ops, you name it, these seem to be standard operating practices most contests. Perhaps even worse, many of these poor or illegal practices then become the norm in the day-to-day ops of many of these same contesters."



IMO, those people are the ones angry at contesters, not the contesters!
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K4SSS on November 1, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Don.
For a moment you almost had me fooled into believing that you actually desired to enter into some constructive dialogue regarding contests. However, furthur reading of your reply made me realize that you were just playing the passive-aggressive role, apparently thinking that anyone who has a different opinion than yours is just a fool anyway, and wouldn't know any better, right? Sorry to disappoint you...

It's apparent that anyone who has a different opinion or viewpoint than yours regarding contesting (and I'm betting anything else) is either, to quote you:

-- "exagerating the bad aspects of contests," or

downright lying, as you insinuate that I am doing with your statement that,

-- "Bob, if you can back up your statement that foul language, out-of-band operating, tuning on top, running excessive power and the like are standard operating practices, I'd welcome the evidence."

This statement insinuating that I am lying is nothing more than pure claptrap and a smokescreen on your part. The crux of the matter is that you can't even acknowledge the truth, Don, or accept the opinions or viewpoints of others, and so you just say that people are either exagerating and/or lying when they have a different opinion than your own, right?

But, seriously Don, who do you think you are kidding? We both know that even if you were provided with hard evidence it wouldn't change your mind one stinking bit, would it, because you'd write it off as an isolated incident or find some other lame excuse... That's because you've already made up your mind up about contesting, will always be right, and anybody that has a differing opinion than your own regarding it will always be wrong, regardless of evidence presented to the contrary. Besides, I don't dare for fear of you labling me a "frequency cop.

Better yet, why not try writing the ARRL for evidence? After all, they're the ones responsible for sponsoring the contests, and I feel certain beyond any reasonable doubt that their filing cabinets (or fireplaces, hi) are just busting at the seams with evidence validating all of the negative aspects of contesting that I and many others have ascertained. Go ahead, write them, and then inform us of your results, ok? I'm willing to bet, however, that the ARRL isn't going to be willing to share any of its dirty laundry with you, and will probably state, just like you have, that they are not aware of any problems or complaints about contesting, hi, hi, hi!

What it really boils down to Don is that you and I are fundementally different. I recognize that there are many negative aspects with contesting as it exists today, that these problems are a detriment to amateur radio, and that I hope that we can meet somewhere in the middle in remedying these problems for the mutual benefit of most all concerned, and more importantly, for the future of the hobby. In short, I believe that there is a way to co-exist together.

You, on the other hand, refuse to even admit that any problems exixt with contesting! Worse yet, you act like a juvenile and accuse anyone who thinks differently than you of either being an exaggerator or liar! Your opinion is set in concrete, and you really couldn't care less about the opinions or concerns of your fellow ham radio brethren who have voiced their negative opinions about contesting over the past several decades that you have been a ham, could you? How pathetic!

The arguments you made in your reply contained no original thought and were nothing more than the standard league rhetoric we all hear whenever anyone dares voice their opinion and say anything negative about contesting. It's unfortunate that the league's position on contesting isn't likely to change much either, given that contesting is one of its prized cash cows. But this money is obviously needed if the league is to carry on its other important work, which I wholeheartedly applaude them for.

For my part, Don, all I can do is try and voice my opinion here on EHam in a constructive manner, even if my opinion, and that of others, is evidently nothing but a pack of lies and exageration in your book...

Again, best regards to all.

Bob -- K4SSS

 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N4KC on November 1, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Bob, you are absolutely right. You and I are fundamentally different.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com


 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by MAGNUM257 on November 1, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
by KB2DHG on October 26, 2011

"My idea of a good contact is more than a signal report and exchange...
To me a good QSO is the best contact to make... Yea, you can work thousands of contacts during a contest but did you get to know about that operator other than his QTH ans signal report?"

Agreed.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N2EY on November 2, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
My experience of contesting is fundamentally different from some of the responses I see here. I don't encounter deliberate jamming, cussing, overpower, out-of-band and other things cited by some. I see contesting as something positive, not the source of problems.

But 99.99% of my contesting is CW. Maybe that's the difference.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by AL7PQ on November 2, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Hello All,
This being post #9000 and something, it may not be seen by many. But here goes anyway...
Ward Silver N0AX doesn't know me, but he has probably helped me more than anyone in ham radio. His monthly "Hands-on Radio" is just excellent, and I have gone through a couple electronics courses that he authored. These contributions from him have made the hobby so much more meaningful. Thanks Ward and Mike for this article.
The point is, there is so much more than just contesting, or operating for that matter. I just wish that we as a ham community could appreciate each others' interests so we could better learn from each other. There are positive, ie effective ways to deal with problem spots. Thanks, and hope to meet you on the bands.
Joel AL7PQ
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N3TAV on November 3, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I'd like to think I'm the middle - I don't mind seeing the traffic on the bands, but it does seem that there is some contest every weekend that fills up the band. If we were to limit to two contests per month, I think that would appease most hams in both ends - those who like to contest and those who want bandwidth to communicate like normal human beings.

That being said, I primarily run PSK/other digital modes on 40 meters. We use 7.035 USB and it never seems to fail that when there is a RTTY contest, all I see is RTTY contesters take over the frequency and not allow anyone else to use the digital modes. Since PSK uses such small bandwidth, I don't mind having guys running RTTY around us, but it seems they have to use 100W or more and drown out all other communications on the frequency since most of us digi ops use 50W (I was going to say 30W, but I won't be a hypocrite, I know people use more) or less. It's pretty common that I find QRP operators on that frequency and they have no chance at all when a 100W+ contester comes on frequency.

All I ask is that you respect your fellow ham and do two things:

1) Listen before transmitting to make sure the frequency is not in use.
2) Use only as much power as you need to use.

As far as I know, we are almost all grown men and women and thus we should respect each other in the hobby we love.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KB3LIX on November 3, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
To all the contest haters...

I'm especially glad to hear yopu do not like contests and tend to turn OFF the radio on contest weekends.

I have one comment...

GOOD RIDDANCE !!!

Sit back and stew, whine, moan and complain.
You have collectively been complaining about contests
for almost 100 years,
yet all your whining, moaning and complaining
have not changed one thing.

No contests have been eliminated, no contests have been altered. They continue to FLOURISH !

In fact, the notion that most people hate contests is just silly.
Look at the number of logs submitted for contests over the years. Contrary to POPULAR belief, they are
INCREASING each year.

So sit back and stew a little bit more, it will
RAISE your blood pressure, raise your heartrate,
always GOOD THINGS for old farts.
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KB0VXN on November 3, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
This actually sounds like a lot of fun....too bad its deer hunting weekend :(
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5DQ on November 3, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
K0RGR replied ".... It's a good test for the radio gear."

I agree but I think 'a good test for operator skills', more so than radio gear. Like has been said for musicians, a cheap instrument in the hands of a concert musician sounds much better than an expensive one in the handsof a beginner. So is the results of contesting and operator skills. Work a few contests and you see exactly what this means. Some contests seem to be a breeze to work while others are just nerve racking. I work alot of contests and find each one of them tests my skills in some shape or form. CW contests works your abilities to handle some very weak signals in a less than perfect environment while phone contests make you really learn the filtering capabilities of your equipment to the max. Last weekends CQWWDX SSB contest was a perfect example. 10M and 15M were wide open and there was a hugh number of station on both bands. Many of the pileups for the rarer countries were literally on top of one another and you had to dig them out to work them. In the last few years, I have grown particularly fond of RTTY contests. While being a somewhat slower pace than a full blown phone contest, they are similar to a CW contest but a bit more involved. Sort of the best of both modes all rolled into one.

One final comment about contests. If your looking to build your country, zone, states or whatever counts for awards, there probably is not better way to do it than in contests. Just having fun and tinkering around in last weekend's SSB contest, I worked 91 countries in a short cumulative period of 12-14 hours - mainly on 15M and 10M.

See you in the 'tests.

Gene W5DQ
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W4KVW on November 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
It's just that attitude that is why ham radio is going down the toilet.When you can READ the RULES & KNOW you are in VIOLATION of those rules & you still think it's OK! Maybe you will get just what you ask for a TICKET longer then your arm.Bet you are the FIRST too complain about somebody splattering all over your OVERPRICED CB radio's receiver!You should be so PROUD that you will BRAG about your ILLEGAL CB RADIO on the World Wide Web! Hold that chin up & smile because you are just showing those who would consider being a ham that the rules are NOT important so why would they want to even get on the ham bands.TWO wrongs does NOT make it right even if somebody else is violating does NOT make it RIGHT for them or you. LOL


Clayton
W4KVW
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W4KVW on November 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
The above is a reply to a post by KC5CQD & his ILLEGAL CB RADIO.He is so PROUD!
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by WB4TJH on November 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I have participated in many contests over the 40 plus years I've been licensed. But I have to say, contests are the most boring activity I have ever taken part in with amateur radio, I like getting to know people, and chatting with them and meeting/making new friends, but the wham-bam-thank you-man contacts made while contesting are beyond boring. So these days, I get on the WARC bands during contests to get away from the garbage qrm and inconsiderate contesters.Contests are pointless.Without an expensive station, high power and huge antennas, you have little chance of winning one. I would rather watch paint dry.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N4KC on November 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Here we go again. WB4TJH says contests are "boring," like "watching paint dry," and he prefers getting to know people. chatting and making new friends. That's great. That's one of the aspects of the hobby many others of us enjoy as well.

But then he says, "Contests are pointless." Because he prefers to do other things the hobby offers us, something he does not particularly like to do is "pointless."

Obviously not since they attract thousands of participants who seem to get a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction from radiosport.

I wish we could move beyond this "if it is not my cup of tea, it has no value" mindset. I am not especially enamored by QRP, SSTV, satellites, and the like, nor do I necessarily enjoy golf, fly-fishing or 4-wheeling, but I don't dismiss them as pointless.

Go! Enjoy what you enjoy! But allow me to enjoy what I enjoy, too, without calling it "pointless."

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com


 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N0NB on November 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
N4KC, right on. Bravo!

We could boil almost everything in amateur radio down to "pointless" except for the occasions that public service is rendered. However, I would be bored if all I did in the hobby was to render public service. I like to think that all of our "pointless" activities aid us in various ways for when the "big one" hits. In the mean time, I'm going to have fun and not let anyone stop me!
 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by K9DXL on November 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
For those who don't like contests, it's a great time to use the WARC bands. Of course, you'll have to change the bandswitch and get off the medical complaint net frequency you've been using everyday for the last 55 yrs.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N2EY on November 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"Contests are pointless."

No, you just don't understand the point.

Contests are a form of radiosport. Friendly competition for the heck of it.

Are sports pointless?

What's the point of the Indy 500 or any NASCAR race? All they do is go around in circles; they wind up where they started!

What's the point of the Boston Marathon, the Tour de France, and other races?

What's the point of just about any sport? Golf, baseball, football, basketball?

That you don't like to play them doesn't mean others shouldn't.

Amateur radio contests have a unique feature, too: I don't know of any other competition where the only way to win is to help as many other people in the game get points too.

"Without an expensive station, high power and huge antennas, you have little chance of winning one."

Of course, but a big station alone won't win. The operator(s) are needed too.

Most people who run in the Boston or New York marathons don't have a chance of "winning". In fact, only a few dozen of those who run have a chance of "winning" - yet tens of thousands run anyway. So many, in fact, that the marathon organizers have to use all sorts of things (like qualifying times and a lottery) to keep the numbers under control.

Think about why someone who will take twice as long as the winner to cover the same distance will enter the race.

Hint: There are lots of definitions of "winning".

73 de Jim, N2EY

(taking a break from CW SS - now, TALLY HO!)
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N0NB on November 6, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Allow me to lodge a bit of rant here, but some of you, you know who you are, are short-cutting the exchange by leaving your call out. I know that it seems redundant, but the rules call for it to be there! Omitting your call throws my timing off as I'm expecting a bit of respite before the Check comes. When it's not there my timing is way off and I must ask for a repeat. Did you save time? No!!!! I'm not a highly skilled op and I'm expecting things complete and in order. Shall we just jumble the order of the exchange just to weed out all but the best ops?

Let's play this thing by the rules, folks. Maybe next year we should keep a list of those not sending a full exchange and report them to ARRL.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KO7I on November 6, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Last year I worked the ARRL SS CW and got my rear end kicked. Sorry to be so blunt, but there is no better way of assessing my dismal performance. I entered that operating event using my newly acquired Drake C-Line with a fully modified Sherwood Engineering R-4C, a paper log book, and my trusty MFJ Grandmaster memory keyer. After 6 hours of operating I realized all I could do is call CQ and hope the guys calling me were doing the duping. It was very humbling. By the time the CQWW CW came around, the beloved C-Line was sitting on the bench and I was running with an OMNI 6+ (& INRAD Roofing Filter Mod). I loaded N1MM on my laptop PC and in fever I built a WinKey USB keyer during my lunch break the day preceding the contest. Life was better, but I still struggled. Computer logging and transmitting from the keyboard were very clumsy but I was learning and getting better. During my long absence from ham radio and contesting my sword had gotten rusty – very rusty. Then came the ARRL DX CW, CQWPX CW, NAQP’s, and ARRL FD. The more I practiced and the more I went to school to “take a test… or two (or three, or…),” my grades are improving.
This past weekend I began “the test” still struggling to handle the 30+ wpm SS CW exchanges, thank you to those of you who repeated, filled, and in particular those who QRS 25 for me.
I am continuing to more proficient with computerized logging and transmitter control. Managing the computer is still a challenge, I crashed the interface to my WinKey USB keyer, and got messed up regarding which window was open. I was also running FLDIGI software to copy the hyper speedy CW ops. The FLDIGI SW did not work worth a damn on weak signals and overall it was not a reliable crutch for copying CW. The solution was to dig in and concentrate, which worked so much better than the crutch. In the closing hours of my operating this weekend I found the exchanges were becoming easier to copy and my use of the computer logging program going much smoother. I was actually learning to multi-task, allowing the computer send an exchange while I was touching up typo’s for a station’s exchange. This goes much better than making the other guy wait in silence while you hunt & peck correcting typo’s. HI HI
In the end, I asked myself, did I become a more proficient CW operator? YES! Absolutely! Did I learn anything? YES! Absolutely! Last I checked this is one of the primary charters for all contesting activities. I hope I can get back to 45 wpm, with practice and continuing to take a “test or two” by going to school (contest/operating event). With training, I will continue my journey to becoming a better op and DX'er. This tortoise is not going to give up, I am going to continue to press onward and upwards. All I can do is WORK to do better than I did the year before.
73, Don KO7i
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5DQ on November 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KF4HR wrote:
"Contest organizers listen up! It's time to limit contests on all popular bands to 10khz bandwidth. Then let the contester's talk on top of each other for hours on end so the rest of us (by the way... the rest = the majority) can also enjoy the bands on contest weekends too."

So whose to decide which 10 Khz we get for our contesting? If they do this and just so happens the 10Khz is right smack dab on YOUR favorite band/frequency, you'd still bitch up a storm cause those bad ol' contestors are picking on you!!!

I listen to the bands all the time and during the week and most weekends when a contest is not in operation, a lot of the spectrum is dead quiet except for a random scattered QSO. Now that 10M has opened up, there is more activity on there during the weekend too.

Face it, contests are here to stay. For years I too was a moaner about those damn contests. Then I tried one and guess what? Your mother was right when she said don't turn your nose up at food until you've at least tried it out. Same thing goes for contesting. After I tried it, I was hooked. I love it. It forces me to think about my station's capabilities and how to maximize them using what is at hand. It also makes be be a better operator simply by the fact that I have so many other signals to contend with while focussed on a target signal. It also helps me hone my mode skills like CW proficiecy. Granted there are those lid operators that don't care and those with the AKR mentality. So what, just adds diversity to the mix. Sure we can all hit the bullseye it everything is prefect. Throw some challenges in and see how you do.

Gene W5DQ
Active Contestor (as much as possible)
Low power and High Power categories
Phone, CW, and RTTY
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5DQ on November 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KB2DHG wrote:

"My idea of a good contact is more than a signal report and exchange...
To me a good QSO is the best contact to make... Yea, you can work thousands of contacts during a contest but did you get to know about that operator other than his QTH ans signal report?"

Who cares!!!!! If I wan't to ragchew, I'll ragchew. If I want to contest and give '599 TU', I'll contest. If I want to sit for days stalking a rare DX on CW, I'll do that.

That is what make ham radio so fun. I can do what I want when I want so long as I follow the "FCC's" rules .... not YOURS!!!

If all you want to do is ragchew, have at it. Do CW ragchewing when thee is a phone contest, phone ragchewing when there is a CW contest. It's that easy. I hear guys all the time in the middle of a contest having a ragchew and for the majority of the contestors observed, most will give ragchewers a little wiggle room and operate around them. I know I do. I even happened to pick up a slow speed CW station during the SS CQ contest this weekend. I thought he might have been a new ham building up his speed as he was using a straight key at about 14wpm. Good fist and when I called him, he broke into a ragchew. We had a short chaw and then before I could get the needed info for a valid contest QSO, QSB got him and he was gone. Oh well, had a good short chaw with him and it's in the log. I'll send him a nice QSLcard for the QSO.

Get your knickers out of a wad, turn on the rig and come on in and have fun with us. We won't bite or hit ... I promise. Who knows, you'll have a little fun and that will probably hurt more than anything :)

Gene W5DQ
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5DQ on November 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KO7I wrote "Last year I worked the ARRL SS CW and got my rear end kicked. .............. All I can do is WORK to do better than I did the year before."

Nice story. Bottom line is, and it sounds like it's true, you had fun and overcame obstacles. I never enter a contest figuring to win anything. I just don't have the station to do it and I usually don't last the entire contest period. I do it for the learning, the fun and to add some QSO's to the log. Best I ever did is place 1st in my section in last year's 6M VHF contest. You should give that a try. Talk about fast paced!!!

Hope to work you in some contest.

73

Gene W5DQ
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W5DQ on November 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
by WB4TJH "I would rather watch paint dry."

What color do you prefer? I'd rather you watch paint dry too and stay off the radio. We don't need any more whiners! We got enough already!

Gene W5DQ
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by W4HIJ on November 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Frankly I much more enjoy the quick pace of a contest and the quick QSO rather than listening to some old timer yammer on and on about what radio was like in
19 whatever when he was a teenager. Either that or they love to tell you all the gory details of their latest surgery. No wonder we can't get youth interested in ham radio anymore!
73,
Michael, W4HIJ
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KO7I on November 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
limit contests to 10 kHz? thst ain't going to happen. What bewilders me is these guys who get on a freq and act like they own it.
Sorry bud that ain't going to happen, this is not a channelized operation and if you want that, you should give 11 meters a try.
Kind Regards,
Don KO7i
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KO7I on November 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
RE: Give 6 meters a try...

As my club was preparign for FD 2011, I told them we need to make provisions for 6 meters this year. We put up a 2 element W8JK style driven array.

I could not help but smile ear to ear as I was walking past the VHF tent and heard a station come back to them and say "5A Arizona".

6 meters is a hoot!

73, Don KO7i
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by KO3D on November 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I love contests even though I'm not competing because it is a great way to get new countries/ states/ counties etc. If that's why you're doing the hobby, there is nothing wrong with the short contact. I feel sorry for the DX when they have to listen to a US op tell them they watched a National Geographic special about their country or made an airport transfer in England back in '41.

As far as the default 59 goes, it would make sense to eliminate sig reports from contest exchanges since they are bull. But DX nets where the default is 22 aren't any better. If the DX hears me, that's all I care about.
 
RE: The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N2EY on November 18, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
To KO3D: The SS exchange does not include signal report. Neither does Field Day.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
JUST GET ON THE AIR  
by WB9QEL on November 19, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I have been listening to the Sweepstakes Contest for the last few hours, I was working on a project and had the Radio on in the Shack.

I don't do Contest stuff at all, but it was nice to hear all the bands come alive all of a sudden.

I'm glad I don't have alot of money invested in my Antenna and Rig.

I have a G5RV up 20 Feet with a TS-520 and right now I'm hearing alot of rice burners I never hear normally.

I hope all of the folks that Contest throw out a CQ now and then when the contests are over. Or answer mine. Just as passionate as you would when your are in a Contest.

Just my 2 Cents!









 
The ARRL Sweepstakes Contest  
by N8RAT on November 19, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"The CB'ers don't have the ARRL and they are going as strong as EVER!!!"

Yeah, wireless corporations are breaking down the doors trying to snatch up that spectrum in the 27 Mhz band, aren’t they?
 
NO RESPECT  
by WB9QEL on November 20, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I was working in my shack for the past few hours or so listening to a QSO on 7.200. Just ragchew folks and they seemed to be able to carry on a QSO fine without interference from the SS contest, until about an hour ago.

The contest folks just starting transmitting right over the top of them. Now I had been down there listening to these guys occupy a frequency for hours prior to this.

They did it on the frequency not by it, and they didn't ask if the frequency was in use. I didn't even have to adjust my VFO, they just cranked up right over the top of these guys.

I wasn't on the air, I was just listening and heard it for myself.

I'm not against contesting, but when I hear what I heard today, I can't justify it in any way.

Not when you act like that, NO RESPECT!






 
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