It my seem like a small thing to some of you, but when operating in the multi-operator category in a phone contest, take the time to reprogram your voice keyer when changing operators. In last year's CQWW, K3IXD ecountered tremendous QRM while calling a multiplier and almost didn't complete the QSO because the voice answering him was different from the CQ voice, making him think he was working someone else. This is another situation where having a "unique" is not helpful and may cost you QSOs! (tnx K3IXD)
Ever wonder what to do with all those memories in your new, fancy transceiver? Take a few minutes before the next contest to load a few of the WWV frequencies into your radio's memories. Keeping abreast of the propogation data that is transmitted regularly at 18 minutes past the hour is a great way to focus your operating strategy. And, with WWV now at your "memorable" fingertips, it couldn't be easier to keeping an eye on the propagation landscape.
Most of us are amazed at how our equipment/antennas stand up over years of use in the contest battlefield. However, it's only a matter of time before something fails, and this usually happens at the most inconvenient moment in a contest. This month's tip is simple: Do you have a game plan to deal with failures? For example, if your amplifier fails, have you arranged for a back-up "loaner" from a good friend ? What would your strategy be if your rotator froze on Saturday morning ? There are preemptive steps you can take to maximize contest effort, even when your equipment gives up. Think about it. I'm sure you'll be able to make a contingency list, too.
Planning on operating as a multi-single (or multi-2) in the next contest? Most traditional multi-op setups (unless you're one of the fringe players) have a run station and a multiplier station. Serious competitors will tell you that the addition of a third operating position can make a big difference in your total score by giving your station another set of ears, especially when conditions are as good as they are now. And, if you have a number of operators, it gives the team members more to do when they're not actively operating. Next time you do a multi-op, consider adding a third station. I guarantee your score won't go down!
An old trick that I've used for years is monitoring overseas broadcast stations to give an indicator of what conditions are like on a given band. The best example is to listen above 15 meters. If you're interested in learning wether the band is about to open, there's no better way than to let a 100 kW broadcast station give you the answer. Take the time to discover broadcasters that are appropriate for your QTH and get a free heads-up on the competition.
John Dorr K1AR
Mailing Address: 2 Mitchell Pond Road, Windham, NH 03087
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