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Author Topic: ARRL SSB Contest thoughts from a newbie  (Read 1386 times)
K7HIQ
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Posts: 4




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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2007, 10:36:23 PM »

I passed my General exam on November 15 and decided to try the ARRL SSB Sweepstakes.  I live in an apartment and have an Alpha-Delta DX-EE multiband dipole in the attic, which is powered by my Icom IC-718.

I didn't expect to make a lot of contacts with my setup, but I did manage, over a couple days of casual operating, to work 21 states and a Canadian province, including a state considered rare by some, Delaware.  

I noticed a couple things:  First, bands where I don't usually hear much phone activity were full of stations.  Second, I heard a lot of friendly and good-natured folks, some of whom were actually walking hams (unaware of the contest) through the exchange procedure for the contest.

Jody K7HIQ
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KI6EAA
Member

Posts: 58




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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2007, 04:57:47 PM »

"I passed my General exam on November 15 and decided to try the ARRL SSB Sweepstakes. I live in an apartment and have an Alpha-Delta DX-EE multiband dipole in the attic, which is powered by my Icom IC-718."

My exact setup until a few months ago. Good choice...

"I noticed a couple things: First, bands where I don't usually hear much phone activity were full of stations. Second, I heard a lot of friendly and good-natured folks, some of whom were actually walking hams (unaware of the contest) through the exchange procedure for the contest."

I heard that also. I was impressed that this hard core contesters would take the time. People on the air were generally very nice.  I think all the jerks were off their medication and on eHam; complaining about code, the FCC, ARRL, and contesters...
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N2RRA
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Posts: 645


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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2007, 09:27:06 PM »

Not to be insulting, or disrespectful, but this is what we get when we get over night H.F. privilaged newbies on the air. If he had more time to read his books it clearly explains the sunspot cycle, and what it takes to make certain contacts. The book also explains to listen carefully before quick to transmit so he could get accustomed to how things are done. Instead of saying break giving your call sign would be best with stroke /AG or other if it applies at the end.

If you read his article carefully maybe he's missing the point of Amateur Radio than just breaks for radio, and antenna checks. This hobby is about radio experimental, and not just to chat when you get a break from the family. The internet has chat rooms and such for that. Use dummy loads, and test equipment for that, and when you think you have it right the proof is in the pudding when a contact is made with flying colors. Trust me! If your signal was poor a operator will mention it.

Ham Radio is not for the contesters! If you spent more time listening, and building an efficient station you would get more results. Oh! and more experience helps too. First do these things recommended, and spend more time on the air before making such a bold comment. Although of course you have every right too!

You will find contest only happen, but a few times a year, and the biggest only a couple times a year. Out of 365 days a year I'd say QSO days out number contestors.

73!



 

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N2RRA
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2007, 09:40:11 PM »

One key bit of advice!

If your going to experiment with dipole understand the fundamentals of resonance. You will find this will help drastically. Dont know how big your attic is, but a 40 meter resonant dipole which can be tuned through 10 works well, but best on the band it's true resonance is intended.

Concentrate on the lower bands such as 75/80, and 40 meters where you will enjoy quite a bit. My personal favorite is 40 meters due to the least amount of QRM, and QRN. Less power needed to work this band, and opened almost around the clock. Although on most all bands if you want to be active at anytime then become versatile either in SSB/CW, or experiment with digital. Interfaces are cheap, or home brew, and software free. Get alot of QSO's this way, and DX as well.

73!
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KI6EAA
Member

Posts: 58




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« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2007, 09:30:06 PM »

N2RRA said
"Not to be insulting, or disrespectful, but this is what we get when we get over night H.F. privilaged newbies on the air. If he had more time to read his books it clearly explains the sunspot cycle, and what it takes to make certain contacts. The book also explains to listen carefully before quick to transmit so he could get accustomed to how things are done. Instead of saying break giving your call sign would be best with stroke /AG or other if it applies at the end."

I am not sure which post you are referring to, but if it was my original one, I don't understand the "overnight H.F." privileges. And no offense was taken. All generals took the same tests, some just didn't need or care to use code. Also, which "book" are you referring to? I personally read both the ARRL Handbook and the ARRL Operating Manual when I was a Tech.  Article searches on ARRL websites, and topics on eHam did help me a bit. Generally, with a eHam question, I got a couple of helpful responses, and set off a bunch of crazies getting into the usual arguments.


"Ham Radio is not for the contesters! If you spent more time listening, and building an efficient station you would get more results. Oh! and more experience helps too. First do these things recommended, and spend more time on the air before making such a bold comment. Although of course you have every right too!"

Well, you are correct, I have not been on the air very  long. And, you could be correct in every way. But, my point is valid. The air is pretty dead except during contests. And I have been doing a LOT of listening. When there is no one on Friday evening, then wall to wall qsos on Saturday morning... a newer ham could easily believe that, based on emperical evidence, the hobby is mainly contesters. And I have seen nothing to dispute that. Hopefully, it changes as conditions improve.

"You will find contest only happen, but a few times a year, and the biggest only a couple times a year. Out of 365 days a year I'd say QSO days out number contestors."

Right now, the only days with more than a handful of  nets on, are contest days.  My log is 85% contests QSOs. I can make the contacts when people are on the air, they just aren't now.  All the "Ham Radio ISN'T just contests!" crowd should spend some time on the air to prove their point.

73!

73s to you and thank you for your response.

Randy
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KG4OLW
Member

Posts: 166




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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2008, 10:04:27 PM »

I agree 100% the air waves have maybe at any one time 10 or 12 qso's going on in the phone portion of the band, and by 10 to 12 I am really stretching it. Compare that to contests where there is a qso ever 2kc in every direction.

Also I was going to post an article on this but I guess I will post my observations now. I passed my cw test to get on the air and boy did I hate cw, it took me 3 years to learn the code. Once I finally passed the cw test and got my general ticket I purchased a used radio and an antenna and hopped on hf. I remember my first weekend on hf was the dx ssb contest! Boy did I rack up the contacts; I stayed up the whole weekend doing it.

Then I went to work the following week and because I work I can only use the radio from 7pm to 11:30pm. This kind of limits my ability to communicate. Boy was I shocked to realize that at night everything above 40m is useless and the qrm on 40m is beyond belief in the voice segment of the band. So that leaves the 7178 guys on and maybe 4 to 5 other frequencies that are squeezed between AM station occupied by guys that seem to know each other. Add to that the noise and lack of an amp and amateur radio is a very lonely and boring place!

Then one day a couple years ago I decided to turn down to the cw portion of 40 meters and what did I hear: that vile CW that took me years to learn and promptly forgot!

Let me sidetrack a minute now because this is important this is what I believe the biggest lie ever told to tech class licensees. The lie was that the cw requirement was in place as a right of passage as a device to keep riffraff off the bands. And naturally most techs resented it and refused to learn the code. Then the FCC and ARRL eliminated the code requirement and all those techs raced to upgrade.

You remember don't you? The ARRL reporting the crazy number of upgrades in the days, weeks, and months after the license requirement changed. And these new hams finally with that piece of paper rushed to get expensive HF equipment and hf antennas. Hooked it all up and realized the SSB in the low sun spot cycle takes a lot of power! Especially at night, and for the working guys that try to trudge through the low bands: a disaster waited.

So at this point what happened to all those new generals? Good question?

Here is an even better question: what was the look on their faces when they found out the truth, when they realized they had been misled. What was the look on their faces when they found out that most times, especially on the low bands at night, it is hard to find 10 phone qso’s, but you can easily find 100 cw qso’s. When they realized that if they wanted to communicate without a kilowatt amp on the low bands they better be using morse code. And not only is cw useful it is really absolutely required if you wish to get any use out of your radio at night.  And I strongly believe many of the new generals upon realizing this, simply sold the new equipment on EBay and went back to the repeaters or got out of the hobby all together.

Imagine the irony years of wanting to be on hf only to get their and realize that most of the action is on cw. I realized this and finally learnt the code. Most of my qso’s are in CW now and even though I tute along a 13-15 wpm speeds I get the job done and I get to use my radio every night. Now I can’t say the same thing about 40m phone. I have 100X more cw qso’s in the log than phone contacts in the log and most of the phone contacts are from contests.

I wonder what the would have happened to all those generals if someone would have told them years ago when they were just techs that the reason they needed cw was because it wasn’t just one mode among many, it is the only mode that works on low bands for moderate to poor stations or stations without an amplifier.

Funny thing is I love cw now and couldn’t imagine my life without it. Maybe this is the biggest downfall of the last 30 years; at least with the novice license the aspiring hams were told the truth and experienced it first hand.
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