Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Contest operating

Not having added to the blog for some time - nothing really to report - I have decided to air my views on contest operating having just been on the CQWW SSB contest this last weekend.
As a keen contester (?) in my early days of radio, and being the contest manager of a local club for some years I feel I have some relevant input in this field.
Comments :
  1. with data competitions there is a visible clue when a station has ended the CQ call. With phone there is no such indicator, so "CQ TEST CQ TEST" gives no clue to the receiving station that a reply is needed at that point. this leads to point #2
  2. If you are leaving the receiving station time to assess if you have finished transmitting then leave more than 2 seconds to LISTEN for stations coming back. Heard several instances after a CQ call as above when after a second or so's delay many stations called to respond, but the calling station was already calling CQ again, possibly wondering why nobody was calling back. This went on for some few minutes when stations were obviously calling back.
  3. I heard a couple of pile-ups on a station who was simply giving the callers callsign then the report followed by QRZ. some 10 minutes passed when responders requested the caller's callsign, and this did not materialise for some time after that.
  4. The 'flow' of some languages or even regional accents are such that spaces between words are compressed, and coupled with national accents can mean call letters can run into each other if spoken quickly. having to repeat 2 or 3 times takes up more time than speaking more distinctly in the first place.
  5.  calling stations listen more. There is nothing more ridiculous than a station calling in, giving a 59 report then asking "what is your callsign?". 
  6. If the station being worked asks a particular station such as "station with DK in the call please try again" then don't try to piggyback the contact if your call does not match the pattern..

The protocol I tried to encourage was:
  1. Transmit on a clear frequency. Also remember it may be clear at your end, but in the middle of other stations which you cannot hear in the areas you are trying to reach. If nothing comes back after a while then QSY to another clear frequency - easier said than done I appreciate.
  2. Finish off a CQ call with the station callsign and 'listening' indicator e.g. "CQ TEST CQ TEST ... de G4EST and bye".
  3. Listen for more than 2 seconds - perhaps 5 or even more.
  4. If the station you are calling is attempting to contact or in QSO with another station then DONT call in.
  5. Give your callsign clearly and frequently.
  6. If after several attempts on responding to a CQ then log the frequency, QSY and go back later when conditions may be more favourable.
I hope these musing strike the right chords for some people.
REMEMBER: contests are not life or death, have fun and remember your manners at all times.

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