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Author Topic: ARRL SSB Contest thoughts from a newbie  (Read 1536 times)
KI6EAA
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« on: November 19, 2007, 08:25:33 PM »

This is the first contest I was involved in.  My score was too small to even discuss. At first, I couldn't understand the concept of competition and ham radio, but it was kind of fun. I am sure it will end up on ESPN 8 some day, right after Dodge Ball league...

I haven't been on the air much, just got my General 8 months ago or so.  Kids, work, etc. seem to take up my free time, as they should But, I just picked up a Yaesu FT450 used, and wanted to try out the filters and figure out what all the DSP stuff does. And, I had some time this weekend. My observations:

1. People were generly nice, no real jerks. I had several QSOs where, when they heard the 06 check (I got my Tech in 06), the welcomed me to the hobby, hope you are having fun, etc. Not what I expected.

2. Intentional jamming. Heard it a lot, especially when trying to contact NY stations. Several were being jammed, and the operations were discussing it.  Never did log any NY stations. I thought all the crazies were on CB or on posting weird stories this website.

3. Amount of traffic. I can turn on my radio any day and hear maybe 2 or 3 conversations on 20 meters. Most are old guys complaining about everything, and never allowing even a break to check my antenna or radio settings.  This weekend, the band was JAMMED.  I made more contacts on Saturday in three hours than my first 6 months on the air.

4. The Yaesu rig worked great, even with my low vertical antenna.  I was working small guys between local boomers, an the filters really helped. I could dial out almost any interference, except the wabbling jammers.

I haven't talked to many people except during contests. ALL foreign qso s have been during contests. Given how few people I hear day to day, vs the mass of humanity on 20 meters this weekend, is it safe to say the hobby exists mainly for contests?
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2007, 05:50:18 AM »

Expect a lot of answers to your query:
"is it safe to say the hobby exists mainly for contests?"



. The Yaesu rig worked great, even with my low vertical antenna. I haven't talked to many people except during contests. ALL foreign qso s have been during contests. Given how few people I hear day to day, vs the mass of humanity on 20 meters this weekend,

The bands have been quite active for a while now (given the sunspot numbers and all) so I'd say that what you may be experiencing is a lack of good antenna capable of receiving all these signals. Yes contests bring out more ops but there's been QSOs as well as DX active all along.  Try improving your antenna(s).
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KI6EAA
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2007, 08:35:35 AM »

wb9cry sez
"Yes contests bring out more ops but there's been QSOs as well as DX active all along. Try improving your antenna(s)"

I would agree with you, but I had no trouble pulling in 100 watt, even QRP signals from all over the US and Canada last weekend. Some of the Euro and all of the Japanese contacts were also running 100 watts. So, I can get the DX when it is there.  Keep in mind that I am not on the air all the time, just the odd evening and maybe a couple of hours on a weekend.

My current MA5V at 25ft will still be the main unit for a long while, due to lot limits. I am investigating creative dipoles, and started experimenting with a 90ft OCF at about 30'.  An analyzer looks like a good next toy.

Again, I am new at all of this, and my comments were not criticisms, just observations.

73
Randy
KI6EAA
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2007, 10:30:25 AM »

Well, Randy, I'd refrain from comments like this:  is it safe to say the hobby exists mainly for contests?  
 


What you don't know is that this topic is kinda like the Code / No Code debates; there's a ton of folks who think that contests are nonsense and do nothing but take up valuable bandwidth and stop well intentioned folks from doing what they want.

The bands have been fairly similar lately so your expectations of tons of QSOs in progress may be too high.
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KC0SHZ
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2007, 11:29:04 AM »

I did get contacts from New York as well as Maryland, Virginia, and PA.  I got mobbed by California stations.  If one was trying to do a "Worked All Counties" for California, it was likely possible Saturday.

I am also a new General.  The CQWW and the ARRL Sweeps were both a great deal of fun.  I agree with you about the number of contacts.  In a normal night, I might get 1-3 QSO's.  If I am lucky, I will get 6 on a Saturday or Sunday.  

80 meters is bad for that.  Lots of people on the air, but not a one that will break for station id and a chance to check your signal.  20 meters goes dark so early here in Nebraska that it is a weekend band only for me.
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KI6EAA
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2007, 12:22:40 PM »

"Well, Randy, I'd refrain from comments like this: is it safe to say the hobby exists mainly for contests?

What you don't know is that this topic is kinda like the Code / No Code debates; there's a ton of folks who think that contests are nonsense and do nothing but take up valuable bandwidth and stop well intentioned folks from doing what they want."
=============================

I see your point.  This site is ground zero for useless debates.

I would ask where all the "well intentioned" folks are? Certainly not using the airwaves.  Not many of any kind of folks on the air here, except on contest days. Friday dead, Saturday a madhouse.

Better conditions and different antennas will probably change my opinion.
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2007, 12:46:12 PM »

You also don't state what other bands you normally operate on.  Yes 20M pretty much dies after sundown and if you try that during the evenings then yes, you won't hear much.

You probably should just try to listen and operate more.  

Also, many of us, myself included are just DXers and contesters.  I have 335 countries worked so blasting away at DX isn't as thrilling as in past years and many of us pick and choose our contests and don't operate as much in between.
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KI6EAA
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« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2007, 08:55:20 PM »

"You probably should just try to listen and operate more.

Also, many of us, myself included are just DXers and contesters. I have 335 countries worked so blasting away at DX isn't as thrilling as in past years and many of us pick and choose our contests and don't operate as much in between"

Thanks for your comments. 335 is an impressive number, congrats.

Randy
KI6EAA
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AB3CX
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Posts: 638




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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2007, 09:28:59 AM »

Alot of people who blog here are sort of outspoken. You will find some good advice and some nonsense. As far as band activity, even for an active guy like me,  QSOs are down the past few months, due to the bottoming in the sunspot cycle. I think there are lots of friendly hams out there calling CQ or replying to one. The point about antennas is a valid one, sometimes the failure to hear alot is due to limited antenna capability, or a fault in it's setup. If you have the oportunity, try to arrange a visit to the station of a nearby ham with a beam on a tower so you can appreciate what a better antenna is capable of. Try 40 meters in the evenings, it will improve in the next 6 months. Contests bring out huge activity. Just check the CW CQ WW DX Contest this weekend! Have some fun and ignore the people who have bad manners. They were newcomers at one time but don't remember, and the older generation of hams was better behaved back then.
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KI6EAA
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Posts: 58




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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2007, 12:24:04 PM »

I may have mis-spoke a bit. People in this hobby are generally very nice. I was not critical of the behavior of the people, just the lack of activity. Many reasons for that, of course.  The point I was making was the striking difference in the bands during contest activity as opposed to a normal weekend day.

73s
Randy
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W7AIT
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Posts: 491




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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2007, 05:42:50 AM »

Once again ARRL and their contesting improves "Emergency Communications"...........Is an absolute bunch of bull shit.

Yeah go operate SS & Field Day and jam the bands with SS contest in the name of "Emergency Communications".

What a bunch of crap.

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KB9CRY
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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2007, 12:52:14 PM »

Someone needs new meds.
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AA9YA
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« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2007, 06:54:52 AM »


And a rubber room.
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KI6EAA
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Posts: 58




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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2007, 06:53:41 PM »

Well, if the only time you can get a QSO is a contest day, then, hell, have contests every weekend! It is not like the bands are crowded or anything...
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AA8LL
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Posts: 400




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« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2007, 05:19:54 PM »

KI6EAA, I like the way you think!  W7AIT, I'll be in the 160-meter contest this weekend.  You can have all of the other bands, OK?

73,
Wade
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