p43e @ hotmail.com
CC# 1649, silv# 415
HAM RADIO and CONTESTING
In February 1997, I passed my complete license
A: HF/UHF/VHF, but the paperwork took until October 1997, for me to get the license
in my hand. Without it, I did not hay a callsign assigned. This was
received, just two days before CQWW
Not really knowing the magnitude of the CQWW, I decided I wanted to be on the
air, and I entered the contest. This happens to be quite an overwhelming,
and challenging contest to start with, but I loved it. I made over 1700
contacts, and almost completed DXCC in a weekend. WOW! What could be better,
I was looking forward to the next contest.
Being from Aruba, means that we get a large
number of famous contesters here. As a brand new licensed operator, I got
so much mentoring from AI6V (P40V/P49V, SK in Dec 2014) and CT1BOH (P40E). Over the
summer, I participated in the IARU contest (Jul 1997), and was a member of the HQ team. While my
actual license was not out yet, I had proof that I passed the exam and I did not
need my own callsign for the club competition. All of us (mostly newbies) were
listening attentive to P40V whom took the time to guide us what was expected.
For CQWW, CT1BOH was on the island, and he too
was bombarded with questions by the newly licensed P4's, and Jose answered us elaborately,
and with patience.
advice, I was able to quickly learn the basic ropes in contesting that helped me
win the WPX Rookie Contest LP in 1998 and 1999, and later placing third in the Tribander Single
Element (TSE) category in 2000. Both in the SSB mode. And little by
little they convinced me to do more CW operation. At first a very rusty and slow CW, but over time
improved. I have even done a few CW contests from time to time.
ADVICE RECEIVED OVER THE YEARS FROM TOP CONTESTERS
This is written specially for the new contester. These
were hints given to me, and were the foundation of my operating skills. As
a brand new operator and contester in 1997, I was very impressed with CT1BOH for
taking time to talk to a group of local hams and pointing us in the directions
that allowed us to maximize our scores. Talking to seasoned contesters,
they will be glad to give you many tips and hints. Never be afraid to ask how something
is done, as you will get a more elaborate answer than you ever expected.
These are some of the suggestions that have stayed with me.
- Know who will be on the air (e.g.
http://www.ng3k.com/Misc/adxo.html), and the many DX bulletins also will
publish who will be on.
- Learn the propagation of your location,
and print your azimuthal graphs if possible by the hour. Add the
feature of the grayline as well, and you can see that it is worthwhile
pointing the antenna in those directions as well.
- With the above two information, make a
note of the Sunrise (SR) and Sunset (SS) hours of the needed DX on your
azimuthal pages. This becomes a reminder hour by hour, whom you can
expect to start hearing on the bands, and whether you should be turning the
beam towards e.g. Africa to grab a few multipliers.
- Know the contest rules. Is there a
15 minute rule or not, is the cluster allowed, etc etc. The rules do
change over the years. Normally, not every single year, but over time, they
- Do not scream when calling CQ, but
speak clearly. The microphone will do the job for you. Screaming will
actually make it harder for the other side to hear you when conditions are
poor, as you do not tend to articulate. If at the end of the contest you
have a sore throat, chances are you were speaking to loudly if not
- Make sure you get familiar with your
contesting software, as there are many helpful tools in the softwares e.g.
score, rates, needed multiplier. Nowadays many contesting softwares
are even free of charge. Remember, a contesting software is NOT a
regular logging software. After a contest, you can export your file in
the format that your regular logging software requires. The cabrillo
format has become the standard for uploading your contest score to the
- Calling CQ: CQ CQ contest de P43E.
CQ contest de P43E. CQ contest, CQ contest de P43E. These
are all valid CQ's. But the bigger the pileup, it is no longer needed
to have a long CQ. QRZ P43E, or Thanks P43E or even P43E is enough.
Make sure you keep IDing though. Keep contacts as short as possible,
and when the pileup has a good rate, you can forget about the extra comments
like: thank you for the multiplier, thank you for the contact, see you on
another band, thanks for 3 bands etc etc. In a contest, the people
waiting in line, are more likely to wait on you, if they know you will not
have an entire conversation with the entire world, and that you are very
quick with your exchange. They will not think of you as rude, but
consider it good operating procedure.
- Being the DX, you can get asked to move
to another band. Make the decision if it is the correct time for you.
And if you need a station on another band, ask when they will move to the
band, or if they are willing to QSY on the spot. Be prepared however,
to have a clean frequency in mind if they accept. You will be
surprised that how people will accept the offer to QSY.
- It took me many years before I did CW
contesting. Again the advise was to just try it, at the speed you
are comfortable receiving. If people reply too fast for you,
eventually they will QRS if they want to work you. In my case P4,
often is a needed multiplier, and they did.
While I am on the air quite a lot, specially on
weekends, contesting is still my favorite part of the hobby as that usually
means pile-ups. With each contests my skills are honed, and it gives me great satisfaction to
improve my own scores, and sometimes that of others as well.
Nowadays, I divide my operating time in half between SSB and CW. Regularly you can find me in the following
- WPX, CQWW,
- WAE, IOTA, IARU, ARRL DX, ARRL10 Meter
- and numerous smaller contests
There is a period of minimal activity 2006-2009 due to
multiple equipment failures (rotor, antennas, radio, amplifier).
- In 2011,
the TH7 was serviced, and it received a new coax.
2 rotors were combined to create one, to have a fully functional
station on 10-15-20m again.
- In Feb 2015, the TH7 was replaced by a new TH7 antenna, plus a new Yaesu G-1000 DXA rotor.
- Still pending are the WARC bands, the 40m monobander, and a
See you in the next contest.