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Author Topic: new to contesting  (Read 3120 times)

Posts: 31

« on: September 16, 2003, 10:29:29 AM »

Can anyone tell me of a website, book, or other information sourse for the beginning contester?  I currently have only 2m FM capacity, but I am looking to upgrade my station in the next few months and would like to get equipment that would facilitate contesting.

Until the FCC removes the CW requirement I am stuck in the Tech bands.  I cannot hear the CW in order to study or take the test.


Posts: 10091

« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2003, 02:45:47 PM »

Try looking at our sister site - (click "Contesting" item under "Operating" in the left menu area of this page)

Mike N2MG

Posts: 8

« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2003, 09:49:29 PM »

Your going to have to bite the bullet and get a radio that can do USB on 2 meters; USB voice goes alot futher than FM, which is why most contesters use it on 2 meters, and elsewhere. look around 144.150 mhz to 144.250mhz, with the calling freq at 144.200. Dont let me get you down, you can certinally call CQ on 144.520 in FM and see if anyone else is up there with you, but the main contest will be lower in band using USB voice

When you upgrade your radio, you might as well get a radio thats dual band and can cover 2 meters, and 70 centimeters (144/440). this way you can do a second band that has two points per contact.. (at least in the ARRL VHF QSO Party)

Now your going to have to get a horizontaly polorized antenna, so you can get to the next grid square, and beyond. A directional antenna is best; look around in  the internet and find the plans for a 2meter yagi that you think might be managable; look especially for the direct connect ones, this way you wont have to figure out how the heck to get a gamma match to work the first time. on the other hand you could  just buy a yagi if you have zero contruction desire.

Now once you have a directional antenna 10 feet up on a 10ft 2" diameter PVC pole, your gonna wonder how the heck am I going to move the thing; well you better get an antenna rotator, at your local radio shack (yep they still sell em) or other ham store. Dont forget to also get the rotator cable, or you will be pissed when you get things setup, and have to put it all back down while you run out for the cable.


Posts: 22

« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2003, 11:02:25 PM »

I understand that you cannot hear the CW.  Are you deaf or tone deaf?  

I once knew a ham, a silent key now, that used to put his hand on an open speaker to feel the cw.  He operated about 30 wpm.  Not suggesting you go so far, but that is an option for learning the code.   It may take the FCC many years to change the code requirement.  As for the test, you may wish to petition the FCC for a waiver based on your handicap.  Just my $.02.  A couple suggestions in case you haven't heard of them.

As for a contesting rig, what kind of contesting are you considering?

I would guess that the two most important features of a contesting station are the antenna and the capabilities of the rig.  The most important being the antenna - hearing and being heard.

The rig needs to be compatible to your mode.  If you are using RTTY, you need a rig capable of handling full power continously as opposed to one that needs to have power reduced to operate.  The next most important thing is speed - being able to change frequencies quickly and easily.  I don't recommend a Swan (the rig I have) as you would need to re-tune it every few kcs and changing bands takes a while.  

You might consider a dual vfo rig.  Look for contacts on one vfo while making contacts on another.  

Of course solid-state rigs are best suited for contesting especially for QRP.  You might consider an automatic antenna tuner and/or a medium power amp for 500-700 watts.  I still think the antenna is most important tho as it will amplify both incoming and outgoing signals alike.  

If this were me, I would find the best price on a decent all-band, all-mode rig I could find and then look for the best antenna I could find for my lot.  Then I would put it in my budget to get that antenna.  Later, if necessary, I would work on the highest practical tower I could get.  

I like the Icom brand, personally but Kenwood and Yeasu are good too.  I am sure many other brands are good as well.  You'll have to make your purchase based on the combination of warranty, features and reliablilty of radio.

Good luck in the contests! Smiley


Posts: 31

« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2003, 07:58:44 AM »

I am not deaf, just enough tone deaf that I cannot hear the difference between the two tones.  I have tried adjusting the tone feq and had no success with that either.

I realize that I will need to buy a new rig - make that a station.  I am using this as an excuse to the wife to spend the money.

Any suggestions on radios?


Posts: 1524

« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2003, 07:10:08 PM »

You don't have to be able to distinguish tones to be able to do code.  You only have to be able to distinguish between long vs short and off vs on.

If you can distinguish spoken words, you have the inherent ability to learn code.

If you would like assistance, I would be happy to correspond with you via email and advise you on a training program that will get you there.

The two biggest problems are:
1.  Unrealistic expectations on how fast one can learn code.  While there are some superstars out there, most of us need 30 hours of correct study and practice to get to a reliable 5wpm.
2.  Incorrect training methods and techniques.  For example, one needs to practice nearly every day not just once a week.  Memory aids also slow one down and create a barrier at the 10wpm.  One must learn the code by sound alone and train to make it a reflex reaction.

Posts: 31

« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2003, 09:51:13 AM »

I have tried tapes, CD, visual cards, Farnsworth, Knoch, and even elmer type of train for the code.  So far I have not been able to hear the difference in the letters.  I just do not seem to be able to learn it at all.

I have not, admittedly, practiced the 30 minutes a day like you say is required.  I get so frustrated at not being able to hear the letters, I give up after a while.


Posts: 518

« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2003, 08:09:31 PM »

Have you talked with the head of a nearby VE team regarding your handicap.  They have quite a bit of leeway in administrating exams in a manner to accomodate  the handicaped person.

Ole man JEAN

Posts: 56


« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2003, 11:37:47 AM »

 <<<I cannot hear the CW in order to study or take the test.>>>

If this is the case, you might also have a hard time hearing things during a phone contest.  In addition to weaker signals, other things make phone tough; such as accents, wacky phonetics, nets, pig farmers, and off-frequency callers.

Look for a contester in your area, and ask them if they need an extra op for an upcomming CW contest.  A CW contest is the fastest way to learn the mode....  Most of the good operators will slow down to your speed 'cause they NEED to work you!!!  

After a few CW contests, I guarantee you will swear off phone :-)

Blake N4GI
( or; Nocturnal 4 Guacamole Intersection on SSB)    
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