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REASONS TO CONTEST. Improve operator skill, capability, & efficiency Earn various awards – DX, states, grids Learn more about the science of radio Propagation, antenna theory, receiver principles Camaraderie with other contesters. CONTESTING IS A GAME. Players Rules

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reasons to contest
REASONS TO CONTEST
  • Improve operator skill, capability, & efficiency
  • Earn various awards – DX, states, grids
  • Learn more about the science of radio
    • Propagation, antenna theory, receiver principles
  • Camaraderie with other contesters
contesting is a game
CONTESTING IS A GAME
  • Players
  • Rules
  • Method to determine winners (scoring)
  • Strategy
competitors
COMPETITORS
  • Winning / records
  • Peer recognition
  • Full-time operation
enthusiasts
ENTHUSIASTS
  • Enjoy the challenge
  • Chasing personal goals
  • Use time available
participants
PARTICIPANTS
  • Make contacts
  • Improve skills
  • Help others
  • Have FUN !
kinds of contests
KINDS OF CONTESTS
  • Geographic
  • Modes
  • Bands
  • Power
contests geographic
CONTESTS : GEOGRAPHIC
  • International
    • ARRL International DX, CQ World Wide
  • Domestic
    • Primarily W/VE, NAQP, Field Day, ARRL Sweepstakes
  • Regional
    • State QSO parties
contests modes
CONTESTS : MODES
  • CW
    • CQWW CW, NAQP, ARRL 160M, ARRL SS, WPX CW
  • Phone
    • CQWW SSB, NAQP, ARRL SS, ARRL Int’l DX, WPX SSB
  • RTTY
    • CQWW RTTY, NAQP, RTTY Roundup, WPX RTTY
  • Mixed
    • ARRL 10M, Field Day, State QSO parties
  • Other digital modes
    • PSK31 contests, Feld-Hell Turkey Shoot
contests bands
CONTESTS : BANDS
  • HF – may or may not include 160M
  • VHF/UHF – CQWW VHF, ARRL VHF SS, 10 GHz and up
  • Never WARC bands – 12M, 17M, and 30M
  • May choose single band in multi-band contest
  • Only one “contest” with both HF and VHF/UHF
    • Field Day
contests power
CONTESTS : POWER
  • High Power (>100 watts up to 1500 watts)
  • Low Power (mostly 100 watts) – NAQP
  • QRP (5 watts or less) – many QRP contests
station design
STATION DESIGN
  • Invest in antennas
    • Effectiveness
    • Flexibility – “two antennas are better than one”
  • Station Configuration
    • Everything within easy reach
    • Comfortable chair
  • Reliability
    • Do things right
    • Have spares
wb4ydl short tower force 12 xr 5 stack
WB4YDL Short tower – Force 12 XR-5 stack

Covers 20M through 10M (WARC 12/17M included)

Other antennas for 6M, 2M, 440 MHz

but i don t have a tower
BUT I DON’T HAVE A TOWER !
  • Even a simple dipole or commercial vertical will get you in the game.
  • Multiple yagi antennas are not typical !

WBøYEA

wb4ydl station
WB4YDL Station

Corner design with central monitor

Radio #1 – Elecraft K3

Radio #2 – Yaesu FT-1000MP MkV

automate everything you can
AUTOMATE EVERYTHING YOU CAN
  • Interface radio(s) to computer(s)
    • Frequency control
  • Use all the control outputs available to you
    • CW output
    • PTT output to key radios
    • Sound card (or voice keyer) control
    • Band data for antenna and filter selection
choose the game
CHOOSE THE GAME
  • Select a category
    • All band or single band ?
    • Power – High, Low, QRP ?
    • Assisted or non-assisted ?
    • Multi-operator ? – M1, M2, MM
  • Set a goal
    • Have fun ?
    • Win a certificate ?
    • Set a record ?
understand scoring
UNDERSTAND SCORING
  • Point for each QSO ?
    • Per mode ?
    • Per continent ?
    • Per band ?
  • What is a multiplier ?
    • Section ?
    • Zone ?
    • Country ?
    • Prefix ?
  • Constantly evaluate actions against final score
example cq worldwide
EXAMPLE : CQ WORLDWIDE
  • You have 1000 QSO’s, 100 zones, 250 countries or about 980,000 points
  • Which is more valuable ?
    • Getting the 40th zone on 20M ?
    • Working 10 more contacts ?
example cq worldwide1
EXAMPLE : CQ WORLDWIDE
  • You have 1000 QSO’s, 100 zones, 250 countries or about 980,000 points
  • Which is more valuable ?
    • Getting the 40th zone on 20M ?
    • Working 10 more contacts ?

1001 x 351 = 983,782 points

1010 x 350 = 989,800 points

example cq worldwide2
EXAMPLE : CQ WORLDWIDE
  • You have 1000 QSO’s, 100 zones, 250 countries or about 980,000 points
  • Which is more valuable ?
    • Getting the 40th zone on 20M ?
    • Working 10 more contacts ?

1001 x 351 = 983,782 points

1010 x 350 = 989,800 points

That multiplier is only worth 2.8 QSO’s !

example cq worldwide3
EXAMPLE : CQ WORLDWIDE
  • You have 1000 QSO’s, 100 zones, 250 countries or about 980,000 points
  • Which is more valuable ?
    • Getting the 40th zone on 20M ?
    • Working 10 more contacts ?

1001 x 351 = 983,782 points

1010 x 350 = 989,800 points

That multiplier is only worth 2.8 QSO’s !

@ 60 QSO’s/hour – 4 minutes

@ 30 QSO’s/hour – 7 minutes

make a plan
MAKE A PLAN
  • Where do the QSO’s come from ?
  • Do activity patterns repeat ?
  • What hours to be on the air ?
  • Expect opening times for each band
  • When to “run” and when to “search and pounce” ?
skill development
SKILL DEVELOPMENT
  • Know the flow
    • Contest QSO’s have a rhythm and sequence
    • Good operator’s habits require less thinking and less energy
skill development1
SKILL DEVELOPMENT
  • Know the flow
    • Contest QSO’s have a rhythm and sequence
    • Good operator’s habits require less thinking and less energy
  • Driving a car
    • Had to think about everything at first
    • With experience, able to focus on other things
skill development2
SKILL DEVELOPMENT
  • Know the flow
    • Contest QSO’s have a rhythm and sequence
    • Good operator’s habits require less thinking and less energy
  • Driving a car
    • Had to think about everything at first
    • With experience, able to focus on other things
  • Learn to type !
    • Contesting requires a lot of typing without room for errors
phone technique hints
PHONE TECHNIQUE HINTS
  • Breathe !
  • Consistency and Efficiency
    • Find a rhythm that suits the conditions/rate
    • Learn not to say, “Uh”, “Please copy”, “Roger the 5914, you are …”, “QSL QRZ ?”
    • Say your call often – almost every QSO
  • Answer guys with the phonetics they use
  • Speak clearly
    • Go slow to go faster
cw technique hints
CW TECHNIQUE HINTS
  • Be consistent and be ACCURATE
  • Let the computer send
  • Sending speed depends on conditions
  • Cut numbers
    • Sometimes OK, sometimes not
  • Practice
    • CW is a learned skill that improves with practice
know when to
KNOW WHEN TO …
  • There is no magic formula for when to run vs. S&P
    • Decision based on log analysis, scoring formula, band conditions, a “feeling”
cq ing for mid sized stations
CQ’ing FOR MID-SIZED STATIONS
  • Timing
    • Be the first or last on a band
  • Don’t fight with giants – move !
    • High in the band is perfectly OK !
    • Position yourself where you can be heard
  • Be aware of your “surroundings”
  • Get whole calls the first time
  • Know your rate goal and thresholds
attacking a pileup as a caller
ATTACKING A PILEUP AS A CALLER
  • Think “opportunity cost”
  • Assess the worth of the target
  • Assess the size of the pileup
  • Is propagation improving or decaying ?
  • Smart beats loud
    • Avoid zero beat
    • Varying timing
speed search pounce
SPEED SEARCH & POUNCE
  • Tune in a station on either VFO
  • Set VFO A = VFO B
  • Tune in another station and switch VFO’s
  • Assess, call, switch … repeat
  • When one is worked, switch & equalize VFO’s
  • Leapfrog your way across the band
bic butt in chair
BIC – BUTT IN CHAIR
  • No other single thing will help you more to improve your score
  • It only works if you spend your time making QSO’s !
bic strategy
BIC STRATEGY
  • Plan your life to meet your contest goal
    • Work, family, food, rest, station repairs
  • Part time ?
    • BIC for the best rate or at different times each day
  • Have a goal !
sleep facts
SLEEP FACTS
  • You can not train for lack of sleep
  • You can not store sleep
  • Under sleep deprivation, highly practiced skills will deteriorate more slowly than those that require new or creative thought
  • The human sleep cycle is 90 minutes
contest sleep strategy
CONTEST SLEEP STRATEGY
  • Preparation
    • Have good physical fitness
    • Stay on your normal sleep schedule
    • Get extra sleep 4-7 days before the contest
    • Take 3 hour nap before the contest starts
  • During the contest
    • Sleep for 90 or 180 minutes
    • Avoid caffeine until needed