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Author Topic: Contesting 101, for dummies  (Read 5776 times)
KC2ZPK
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« on: March 15, 2012, 08:55:19 PM »

OK, I get the basic premise of contesting, but it is the logging and submitting, and finding your place later on that has me running in circles. Just found pileup.ru and submitted my claimed score. Obviously this is unofficial, but how does it compare to official results? Also what is the difference from SOAB and SOAB (A)? What else should I be doing? Also besides station maintenance, what do you do before and after the contest?

Thanks
73
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John
KC2ZPK.com - A work in progress
K3TN
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2012, 03:43:49 AM »

There are a number of great sources of information:

Contesting wiki - see http://wiki.contesting.com/index.php/Table_of_Contents
Contesting.com - http://www.contesting.com

At the bottom of the opening page at contesting.com you will see WA7BNM's contest calendar that shows the current week's contests. If you click on the link for his home page, you can see the full calendar and click on any individual contest to get the full rules, where to send your log, etc.

In general, the assisted category in contests means you used something like the DXcluster or a skimmer to find stations to work. There are multioperator categories where you may have had another human being help you - each contest treats things a bit differently, so you have to look at the rules for each.

From your location on qrz.com, looks like you might fit within the club circle of either the Yankee Clipper Contest Club (http://www.yccc.org/) or the Frankford Radio Club (http://gofrc.org) - both are very active contest clubs that are always looking for new members and have helpful members.

73, John K3TN

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John K3TN
N6AJR
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2012, 12:07:27 PM »

You can contest  just a little or go whole hog.  All contesters will be glad to talk to you. You are more points for them.  Look around on the northern california contest club site and see the seminars and such there as pod casts. join a local club ( ask on some local repeaters if there is a contesting club nearby) and you will probably be welcomed with open arms.  good luck and have fun.
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WS7X
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 01:23:04 PM »

Didn't know that site even existed thanks.  One of the big contests is next weekend.(CQ WPX) They do a nice job of giving you some feedback on your log.  Best one I've seen and I've played in a few of the them. hi hi.    I've been contesting for a couple years now (on and off) and I find that even with the two sites listed below it can be difficult to find current information.   You will notice that a lot of the info will be quite "dated", but also mostly still relevant.  And each contest is completely different, so be sure to look at the rules and follow them if you want to submit your log.   Just find yourself a good contest logging program like N1MM and have fun.    N1MM is also an old program, but it works even on newer computers.  Actual scores will be a little different because they will remove duplicates or incorrect exchanges and a few other things your log may not have taken into account before you submitted it.  But usually the claimed scores will be close.   

There used to be some software to help you analyze your log after the contest, to show countries worked, when, where (what freqs) and a host of other useful information to help you next time.  But I haven't found anything like that recently.  Its probably out there but may be a well kept secret.  Oh yeah, contesting is a little competitive - who knew?

I always Operate Single Operator Non-Assisted.   Because using spotters feels too much like cheating to me.  But as long as you are only competing with other "cheaters" then I suppose it's still fair.
Each contest has different categories so be sure your log reflects the correct one for your station before you submit it. 

Another after contest thing you may want to do is keep track of your scores for each contest so you can have a basis to work from for next year.  How many QSOs, your score etc.  I'm always trying to compete with myself from one year to the next.    Good luck and have fun.

WS7X
Noel
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K9NW
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Posts: 435




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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 04:44:10 PM »

Quote
There used to be some software to help you analyze your log after the contest, to show countries worked, when, where (what freqs) and a host of other useful information to help you next time.  But I haven't found anything like that recently.  Its probably out there but may be a well kept secret.  Oh yeah, contesting is a little competitive - who knew?


Not sure if this is exactly what you had in mind but it does some of what you mention:

  http://www.kkn.net/~n6tv/cbs
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WS7X
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 09:41:12 AM »

Thanks for the link to CBS.  Not sure if that would work on my Windows 7 PC.  MS DOS based?   
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W5DQ
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2012, 02:09:25 PM »

OK, I get the basic premise of contesting, but it is the logging and submitting, and finding your place later on that has me running in circles. Just found pileup.ru and submitted my claimed score. Obviously this is unofficial, but how does it compare to official results? Also what is the difference from SOAB and SOAB (A)? What else should I be doing? Also besides station maintenance, what do you do before and after the contest?

Thanks
73

First thing I do is check out WB7BNM's website. Click on link for contest you're interested in, goto to the contest sponsor's website and download/print the COMPLETE rules for the contest. It will explain the contest in detail .... what the different classes are for that contest (not all contests are structured the same), the exchange (again many differences from 59/599 {serial #} to sending a complete book of information), log submission procedure, special notes, etc.

Before the contest, if you're using software specifically designed for contesting (not just a generic logger), you'll need to configure your s/w to fit the contest in question. If not, I'd suggest you setup a contest logger since using one makes contesting a lot easier and more fun. Most contesting s/w have presets for the major contests and just select the contest and most of the configuration is done for you. I use N1MM but there a ton of different ones out there. Ask around and try them out till you find one that fits your style (that is, once you figure out what your style is Smiley I also try to make a few (25 or more) contacts in the mode of the contest to ensure everything is working as it is supposed to and nothing has failed or changed since I last used that mode, especially digital modes like RTTY.

During the contest, I keep a notepad running and jot down things that I see that either could be improved or need fixing, stations I just worked that I know need a QSL from and other misc notes. Oh yeah make lots of QSOs, points and most of have FUN!!

After the contest and you have calculated your scores (or got them from the contesting s/w), submit the offical log (in Cabrillo format) to the sponsor as directed in the rules you printed out before. Also upload your summary to 3830 (see Contesting.com website) so you can get a feel for how you fit into the standings. 3830 site is not the official scoring, only claimed scores by the participants themselves. Sort of a barometer of your performance and maybe some bragging rights if you do well enough Smiley I also make soft and hard copies of the contest rules, my Cabrillo submission log, email response from contest log submission robot, score summary from N1MM, and any notes that I took from the contest. These go into a notebook for review next year to see how things were and gives me a goal for this year. If I have any new entities, I generate QSL cards. I also have N1MM interfaced through a s/w bridge to my daily logger DXKeeper (part of DXLab Suite s/w) and contest log entries are automatically sent to DXKeeper during the contest. Afterwards I upload all my contest QSOs to LOTW and eQSL using DXKeeper that way all QSOs go into my total counts for DXCC, etc.

I also agree the suggestion to search out local contestors and pick their brain. There is not magic 'know-it-all' pill for contesting and many do it just for fun while others go whole hog and get almost cutthroat in the competition. Search online for contesting. Lots of sites and info to glean through. Also if you are able to go to Dayton or one of the regional DX conventions, check out Contesting University. A bunch of big name contestors present their successes and failures in getting to the top of contesting. Well worth the time and money to attend.

I hope this info is useful to you. Hope to work you in the 'test soon.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
W5DQ
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2012, 02:17:14 PM »

Quote
There used to be some software to help you analyze your log after the contest, to show countries worked, when, where (what freqs) and a host of other useful information to help you next time.  But I haven't found anything like that recently.  Its probably out there but may be a well kept secret.  Oh yeah, contesting is a little competitive - who knew?


Not sure if this is exactly what you had in mind but it does some of what you mention:

  http://www.kkn.net/~n6tv/cbs

Goggle "SH5 Log Analyzer". I just looked at this (from another forum post). It is great contest log analyzer but it doesn't support any format other than Cabrillo and has basically zero documentation although it is pretty intutive. It will not analyze any other log format so it isn't useful to use on my general log (I decided not to keep it or register due to this point). It is crippleware as it is limited to 200 Q's until you pay a reg fee of US$20. It is developed by a Ukrainian ham.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
KC2ZPK
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Posts: 107


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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2012, 05:13:45 AM »

Thanks everyone for the comments. I am going to give a go at CQ's WW WPX contest this weekend. I don't have as much time as I did for the ARRL SSB DX contect a few weeks ago, but I still should be able to make a bunch of QSOs.

73
John
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John
KC2ZPK.com - A work in progress
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