Try to be more aggressive when a station calls you and you miss part of their call sign. Rather than saying "Alpha Radio, your call again?" take the high road and say "Alpha Radio you're 59001...your call?" More often than not, you'll eliminate an unnecessary round of transmissions, making your operating more efficient and productive.
Having considered the topic of packet this month, I thought it would be appropriate to suggest something radical--at least for the 1990s! Try operating for a week or so without the packet screen glaring at your face. With the advent of multipliers being "hand fed" to us these days, many of us have lost that treasured skill of "finding them on our own." The art of sniffing out multipliers is a major differentiator in contest score making. Try looking for them the old-fashioned way—it's great practice for your next single operator effort.
When tuning for multipliers, don't forget to look way up the band. In last year's CQ WW CW Contest, I worked several key multipliers on frequencies such as 14081, 7062, 3566, etc. The only limit to working CW stations in a contest is when the "beeps" stop. Add to your score with your VFO!
Have you checked out the Internet lately for contest information? There's a wealth of information and key contacts that's available for free! As an example, take a look at
Given the subject of this month's column is rules. I thought I'd share a story and contest tip for you to consider. In 1998 ARRL DX Contest I forgot about the new multi-op rule change that eliminitated the 10 minute rule in lieu of six band changes per hour. If I had not had an improptu conversation with someone right before the contest. I would have operated incorrectly the entire weekend. Even old dogs should face a look at a contest's rules - just to be sure!
Don't ever get so intimidated by the size of a pileup that you simply tune by the station without calling. We all have a story or two about the time we broke trough a pileup without a clue how our station pulled it off. Here's the answer: operating skill! There's one guarantee when chasing rare contest multipliers: If you don't at least try to call them, you absolutely won't work them!
Have you taken a hard look at your station's layout lately? Comfort is a controllable factor in contest operating. If you have to see your chiropractor after every time you change the bands, you probably need to pay attention to this month's contest tip. Think "out of the box" when it comes to your station's physical design. Ask your fellow contesters what they're doing. You'll be suprised how a few small changes can impact your operating enjoyment - and score!
Most of contesters finally get serious about their antenna work around this time of year as the contest season approaches. Often tower work is the major part of the task list. If you haven't climbed your tower lately, take a few minutes to inspect your guyn wires. There's nothing more frightening than climbing a tower to discover a large tree limb is hanging on one of the guys, or worse, discovering a major problem at one of the guy anchors - while you're on the tower. An extra ten minutes work may mean thousands more QSOs in the future. Be careful this fall!
As we enter into this years's fall contest season, do you know who's planning on a contest expedition? A little research through the current magazine/newsletters and the Internet can help you build a list of probable multipliers that should be prominently displayed in front of your operating position for the upcoming fall contests. Always remember that extraordinary pre-contest preparation can dramatically improve your final standing and has little to do with signal strenght or location. To put it in ham terms - it's free!
As I've been doing some recent maintenance work lately. I learned an old lesson yet again: label the cables. So much of success in contesting can be controlled by preparation that has nothing to do with the actual process of operating. Nothing is more frustrating than experiencing a malfunction during a contest and spending more time deciphering your cabling scheme than actually fixing the problem and getting back on the air. Remember, your contest score will only increase when you're transmitting and not debugging. Take the time to anticipate malfunctions by clearly labeling everything in your shack. You'll thank yourself later!
John Dorr K1AR
Mailing Address: 2 Mitchell Pond Road, Windham, NH 03087
Back to 1992