KB6NU places second for Michigan in the Florida QSO Party

I got this in the mail yesterday:

2012-fqp-certificate

My first thought was, “Boy, it sure took them a long time to send this to me.” I honestly don’t even remember working this contest.

Then, I saw the info sheet for this year’s contest. The 2013 Florida QSO Party takes place the weekend of April 27-28. They’re just trying to drum up business. I’ll have to try to get #1 this year. If you’re in Florida, listen for me.

WA2HOM Operating Report: Toad Suck, counties, Polish DX

I had a blast down at WA2HOM today.

One of my first contacts was with W5STR, the club station for the Small Town Amateur Radio Service (STARS), a club in Arkansas. The club was operating from a campground in Toad Suck, AK. Yes, you read that right–the place they were operating from is named Toad Suck, a place that a recent poll says has the “most unfortunate name” in the U.S.

As you may know, I’m a sucker (pun intended) for odd place names. That being the case, I had to find out how Toad Suck got its name. According to their website:

Long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock and Dam now spans the river. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern there, to the dismay of the folks living nearby, who said: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend lives on.

I love it.

og3077f_back_1_

Next, I worked Heikki, OG3077F. On his QSL card, found on QRZ.Com and shown above, Heikki says, “I applied for this special callsign to commemorate my contacts with all 3,077 U.S. counties, all on CW, which took me 24 years to complete. I started chasing U.S. counties in 1987, which I met Bud, W0UBT, in Minnesota. He gave me the USA County Record Book, as a gift, and upon my return to Finland, I started to fill it up. Many thanks to all of my local and international county hunter riends for all of your support throughout all of these years.”

Finally, I worked 20 stations in the Polish DX contest. One of the stations I worked was SP9ATE, whose QSL card will be a nice addition to my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words. I almost worked SP9GEM, but after many attempts to get him to copy my callsign, he gave up and went on to the next QSO.

Operating notes: DX, OKQP, U-M net, LOTW

DX, DX, DX. I’ve been working a lot of DX lately. It’s almost as if I can’t avoid working DX. About half my recent contacts have been DX contacts, when you subtract the 50 Qs I made in the WI QSO party last weekend. A lot of these have been made calling CQ. It’s still a rush when a DX station answers my CQ.

Working the OK QP at WA2HOM. The Russian DX contest just swamped the Oklahoma QSO Party yesterday. I worked a few OK stations on 20m CW yesterday from WA2HOM, but just about as soon as I worked them, they were gone, as stations working the Russian DX contest took over the frequencies. Phone operation was about the same.

10m was dead yesterday. I only made one contact, EA5BY (which I can hopefully add to my QSL collection as I don’t have a “BY” yet). I called CQ TEST for about ten minutes 3 kHz below EA5BY, but never got any replies.

LOTW. I don’t know what I did differently, but I just got the N3FJP ACLog program to upload my log to Logbook of the World (LOTW). Not only that, LOTW processed the upload in a matter of minutes. So, it looks like the ARRL folks really nailed those LOTW problems…at least for now.

There were four new entities in this latest upload, including Uganda, Oman, and Burundi. This brings my DXCC total up to 118 now, and that doesn’t include my contact with TX5K on Clipperton Is.

U-M ARC Net.  The University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club Net meets every Sunday night at 8pm on the W8UM repeater on 145.23 MHz. It can also be accessed via EchoLink (W8UM-R). It’s a very eclectic net, and you never know who will join us. One guy checks in from Honolulu, mainly to gloat about the weather. Another is  U-M astronomy professor, who sometimes checks in from Chile, when he’s working at a telescope facility down there.

Tonight, I put out a call on Twitter, and Flo, @WM6V joined us from Livingston, TX. Flo is the first of my followers to check in to the net as a result of my Tweets. That was pretty cool.

Amateur radio in the news: School Roundup in WA, Laporte (IN) hamfest, the magic of ham radio

Middle schoolers in North Bend, WA participate in the School Roundup.

Two Rivers calling: Ham radio roundup connects students with learning moments
After a slow morning of attempting to contact other ham radio operators, middle-schoolers at Two Rivers School in North Bend enjoyed an afternoon chatting with people all over the world, as part of the annual School Club Roundup.

Amateur radio enthusiasts flock to La Porte for annual event
For one man it was the discovery of a nearly 100-year-old radio in his attic. For another, it was a Christmas gift that connected him to voices from around the world. And for a third, it was his father’s military career that led him into the world of amateur radio. Hundreds like them gathered in La Porte on Saturday for the annual Cabin Fever Hamfest at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.

Magic Valley Ham Radio Operators Share the Fun
Video allows Magic Valley (ID) amateurs share the magic of our hobby.

Operating Notes: Africa, four new countries, JT65

Operating notes from the last couple of days:

Africa
I finally worked the 5X8C DXpedition in Uganda Thursday night on 40m. They must have worked nearly everyone that’s wanted to work them because they were actually calling CQ. I got them on the second or third call.

On Friday night, after the DX contest had started, I worked 9U4U DXpedition in Burundi on 30m. I thought this a bit odd because I would have thought they would be operating the contest, but apparently not. That made it much easier for me to work them. They were actually calling CQ, and I was able to get them on the second call.

Three new countries for WA2HOM
Yesterday, I went down to WA2HOM. I hadn’t really intended to participate in the ARRL CW DX contest, but after making a couple of phone contacts, I couldn’t resist tuning around to see how conditions were. As it turned out, conditions were pretty good on 10m and 15m. Ii was able to add four new countries (errrrrr, DXCC entities) to the WA2HOM log:

  • New Zealand: ZL3IO, 15m.
  • Peru: OA4SS, 15m
  • Senegal: 6V7S, 10m

@kb6nu
I’m @kb6nu on Twitter and enjoy tweeting about my operating activities there. Several of my followers have said that they enjoy reading my reports. One night last week, after complaining about not getting any replies to my CQs, @VA5LF saw that tweet, fired up his rig, and came back to me. We were having a nice chat until his QRN level jumped.

A lot of the guys on Twitter seem to enjoy working JT65. I’m going to have to look into that.

Why don’t we have a Spanish-language QSO party?

I think that this is an idea whose time has come. What do we need to do to get this started?……Dan

Several days ago I ran the idea of an annual Spanish language QSO party by the PR reflector. An ARRL Spanish language annual QSO party brings many benefits to Amateur Radio, to the League, and to those of us who look for PR opportunities for Amateur Radio.

Let’s look at the benefits!
For the League to reach out by incorporating Spanish would, in my observation –

  • further globalize US Amateur Radio,
  • make US hams more useful and valuable when events like hurricanes, typhoons, and earthquakes hit Spanish speaking areas,
  • demonstrate by action that we are truly an international community of communicators,
  • bring more Spanish speaking DX into US sub-bands, making stations in many countries easier for US Amateurs to talk with,
  • strengthen Amateur Radio in Spanish speaking countries, which gives Amateur Radio better standing at the ITU when frequency allocations are handed out,
  • and be an electronic person-to-person ambassadorship that’s priceless for making friends and building relationships people-to-people, culture-to-culture, and nation-to-nation.

Hispanics are the fastest growing components of our American population.  According to the US census, the U.S. Hispanic population surged 43%, rising to 50.5 million in 2010 from 35.3 million in 2000. Latinos now constitute 16% of the nation’s total population of 308.7 million

A Spanish QSO party would be a great annual PR event, tied in with either cinco de mayo (although that’s an American-adopted Mexican holiday) or tied in with national Hispanic Heritage Month which takes place every year from September 15 to October 15.

My experience in broadcasting shows well that Spanish language TV station intensely serve their core markets – a great PR opportunity for PIO/PIC’s to spread Amateur Radio’s story to a part of our population that is both growing in number and gaining political strength every day. I guarantee great Spanish language and local TV coverage of a Spanish QSO party that also incorporates some field-day-like operation from public spaces (parks, malls, etc.)

The League could publish a handbook of Spanish Amateur Radio phrases that would help us all work Spanish speaking DX.  Exchanges during a Spanish language QSO party could be in Spanish, Spanglish, mixed Spanish and English, or in EnglishMultipliers would be given based on the number – or percent – or whatever – of conversations conducted at least partly in Spanish.

As some of us dust off or begin to practice our beginning Spanish language vocabulary, I expect Spanish speaking foreign stations will begin to spend more time in the US Phone Band Segments of our HF allocations, making them easier for the casual DXer to work!

Particularly for those of us in border states and other states with burgeoning Hispanic populations, an annual Spanish QSO party is the perfect PR, public-serving, new-ham-generating, all-inclusive event promoting the growth of Amateur Radio.

Listen for a few minutes to the Citizen’s Band along our southern border and in many other places.  Many of the truckers’ conversations are now in Spanish.  We’ve benefited by bring a number of CB operators through the years into Amateur Radio’s “Big Tent.”  Let’s keep up the momentum!

If you’ll give it a moment’s thoughts, I’m sure you’ll come up with additional benefits for Amateur Radio, for the League, and for our PIO/PRC participants. I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface. I hope this Spanish language annual QSO party idea will catch hold, and will be a real “plus” for Amateur Radio and for being one more step in making the world of Spanish and English speakers together.

A short bit of personal background
Here in New Mexico, the “border state” where I live  we have two official languages.  You can speak only Spanish and participate in state court proceedings, follow legislative initiatives, vote, read bus schedules, subscribe to city and council notices of meetings and their contents, and choose from several Spanish over-the-air TV channels and many Spanish language radio stations.

Nearly a third of our state’s residents speak Spanish (although perhaps not exclusively) at home.

My QSL card says, on its front, “New Mexico – where the sun shines on three cultures, two official languages, and the greatest scenic beauty in the southwest.”

My first job at age 19 in commercial radio engineering was at a “bilingue” radio station.  Every weekday night, movie tickets and other prizes were given away to listeners who could answer “Preguntas de la noche.”  I usually had no problem knowing the answer – but I had no idea what the question was.  Once a week or so one of the non-English speaking announcers (Jesus Buenrostro) and I would go to lunch, determined to talk with each other.  I learned some Spanish; he learned some English.  We’d end up scribbling on napkins and gesturing to each other, and frequently would attract the attention of folks at nearby lunch tables who spoke Spanish and English – and we’d all end up in roundtable conversation with smiles and grins at each other’s attempts to use a language we were just beginning to learn!

Our daughter, Susan (bear in mind that my wife and I are purely of northern European descent) teaches English as a Second Language to high school students from predominantly Spanish speaking households in Albuquerque’s most centrally downtown located high school in the mornings, and is a certified legal interpreter English/Spanish – Spanish English in the State and Municipal Courts in the afternoons. Not bad for a German-Irish gringa (young white woman)!

Yes, Spanish is an integral part of our community, and of our family’s lives.  And more and more, it’s becoming an integral part of yours!  Language shouldn’t be a barrier between neighbors.  And I hope the League will commit to spearheading a thrust to make Amateur Radio here in the US even more inclusive than it is today!

It would be great if the answer to the question “Can we (hams) talk” would be both a resounding  “Yes!” and ¡Si!

I would love to be part of whatever group forms to spearhead an exchange with Board members of the League and with League headquarters staff to create an annual Spanish language QSO party, with all the improvements that I expect you can and will offer.  It will be a big plus for Amateur Radio!

Let’s carry this message, to all interested parties!  We can make it happen for the good of Amateur Radio!

Siete tres a todos
73, everyone!

First Annual Antenna Party on the Air

Tripp Brown, AC8S, e-mail me yesterday:

I’m sponsoring the first anual Antenna Party on the Air the third weekend in in September! We’ll have hundreds, if not thousands, of stations on the air that weekend! So many antennas will be used by so many stations!

Whether you want to make just a few contacts, or, if you want to make a lot of contacts, don’t sit this one out! Get on the air and have fun talking about your antenna and learning about other’s antennas.

Here are more details:

Starts: 2300Z, September 21

Ends: 0400Z, September 23

Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, and 2 meters

Modes: AM, CW, FM, SSB

Purpose:
To get as many hams on the air as possible that weekend and to help hams learn about different types of antennas. The idea is for the participants to demonstrate their antennas and describe them to other hams, so that if they hear one they like, they will be able to put up one just like it.

Exchange:
Signal report, US state, Canadian province, or dx country, antenna being used, where it’s located, for example, on a balcony, in an attic, how high up it is, and, how much power you’re running. An example exchange might be:

you’re 59 Alaska, running a long wire, in a backyard, up 10 feet, running 200 watts.

Other Rules:

  • Stations should only be worked once per band, once per mode.
  • Only single station, single ops. This will get as many stations on as possible.
  • Power:  200 watts or less.
  • Must run only from a fixed location, such as, your place of residence.
  • Logging: no logs need to be submitted. Just take down any info about the other stations antenna that you need to know, such as what is given by the station. The station can give as much info on the antenna as needed, such as, how to build it, or, tell the station you’re working, that they can find directions on how to build and put up the antenna at a certain web site, or, to send you an email with a request on info about the antenna.

Field Day in the news for 2012

Newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations all over the country covered Field Day last weekend. Many wrote stories before the event, many after. Below, are only some of the stories that appeared after the event.

Amateur radio operators practice communications as hobby and …
KY3 – SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When disaster strikes, communication often breaks down. Without cell phones and the internet, most of us would be lost. But a fraction of …

Amateur radio operators provide lifesaving communication and …
KSPR – Local operators assist in disaster situations and help to spot storms.

‘When all else fails,’ there’s amateur radio
Helena Independent Record – Amateur radio remains part of the emergency communications system, but another appeal for the users is being able to do a lot of things with different gadgets.

Amateur Radio Operators Prep for Disaster
WAAY – The technology was invented nearly a century ago, but today, these radios can be the most effective form of communication when disaster strikes.

‘Hopping and popping’ on radio in Live Oak
Appeal-Democrat – Microphones in hand, fingers at the radio dial, the amateur radio operators … About a dozen members of the Yuba-Sutter Amateur Radio Club joined radio hams …

Amateur radio operators connect Anderson to the world at training
Anderson Independent Mail – Ham radio operators from Anderson County spent Saturday telling the world about the 90-degree weather in Anderson.

Amateur radio operators have a busy weekend at SCCC
New Jersey Herald – NEWTON — When Kelly Leavitt wanted to send his stepdaughter in Florida a message Saturday afternoon, he didn’t reach for his cell phone to instantly text her …

Amateur radio operators prepare for disasters at the 5th annual Field ...
Billings Gazette – When disasters strike, ham radio and amateur radio operators are sometimes a … The club, a group of about 60 amateur radio operators, have helped out local …

Radio club practices craft for Field Day
Lawrence Journal World – The Douglas County Amateur Radio Club on Saturday had its annual Field Day, when amateur radio members practice their skills by making contacts all over …

Ham radio preps for disaster
Times Record News – Members of the Wichita Amateur Radio Society operate radios to contact other sites across the United States …

Amateur radio operators participate in field day
Janesville Gazette – Carl Cramer and about 15 members of his ham radio club, the Greater Beloit Amateur Radio Club, have been camped out this weekend at Thresherman’s Park …

Ham radio operators stay in practice
BlueRidgeNow.com – A handful of ham radio operators, with the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club, tapped on keyboards or messaged Morse code across the wires during Field Day, …

Amateur Radio Field Day Held in Bend
KTVZ – BEND, Ore. — Amateur radio is a hobby for most people interested in communication, and this weekend, several people in Bend participated in a national …

Amateur radio operators demonstrate hobby
Marshfield News-Herald – Members of the Marshfield Area Amateur Radio Society gathered at the Miller Recreation Area shelter Saturday and Sunday to hone their skills and show off …

Amateur radio still proving useful in an emergency
YNN – It can’t exactly be described as a lost medium, but as new communication technologies have evolved, amateur radio has been pushed to the back burner. But as …

Amateur Radio Operators Often Help In A Crisis
WDEF News 12 – It may seem just like another hobby to most, but Amateur Radio operators, known as Hams are often called upon in a crisis. And the Bradley County club has …

Huntsville area ham radio operators have a ‘fun’ time during a mock …
al.com (blog) – Enlarge Dave Dieter Field Day is the climax of the week-long “Amateur Radio Week for the national association for Amateur Radio. Using only emergency power …

Amateur radio enthusiasts ready for emergencies
Dothan Eagle – To the average person, ham radios may seem like relics – ties to the first half of the 20th century useful only for nostalgic reasons.

Debby heightens significance of amateur radio
WJTV – GAUTIER, Miss. (AP) A weekend of “field day” activities for the Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association and the Jackson County Amateur Radio …

Local amateur radio enthusiasts practice their emergency response
Norman Transcript – Throughout the U.S. and Canada, ham radio enthusiasts spent 24 hours over the weekend practicing for emergency situations like Norman’s April 13 torna.

Amateur Radio Operators Participate in Nationwide ‘Field Day’
Patch.com – Saturday event at Horton’s Point Lighthouse was a blend of ham radio fun and emergency preparedness.

Small Town Amateur Radio Society participates in Vilonia field day
Log Cabin Democrat – A mobile weather spotter, James Cope of Vilonia, was in his vehicle seven miles south of the city on April 25, 2011, when he “had eyes on the tornado” that …

Debby Heightens Significance of Amateur Radio
ClaimsJournal.com – A weekend of “field day” activities for the Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association and the Jackson County Amateur Radio Association gained significan.

Hams succeed during national field day
Jackson Progress-Argus – The Butts County Emergency Communications Auxiliary participated in the national Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day event during a 24-hour …

Field Day offers radio club a chance to shine
Weatherford Democrat – Members of the Amateur Radio Club of Parker County took part in a worldwide Field Day Saturday to raise awareness for what the club does. Will Teague, left …

Field Day shows off ham skills
Ramona Sentinel – Amateur radio operators—usually referred to as “hams”—have long communicated with each other without the benefit of the Internet, cellphone towers or other …

Amateur radio operators prepare for ‘worst’
Sand Springs Leader – Tulsa area amateur radio operators gathered Saturday at Chandler Park to practice for a “worst case scenario.”

Yuma’s Amateur Radio Ops Demonstrate Emergency Capabilities
KSWT-TV – Yuma’s Amateur Radio Operators joined thousands across the country in demonstrating their emergency capabilities Saturday.

Lake of the Woods Amateur Radio Society makes connections …
Daily Miner and News – Members of the Lake of the Woods Amateur Radio Society were among thousands of ham radio operators across North America reaching into the airwaves…

Police Explorers Begin Amateur Radio Classes
The Missourian – When four young members of the Pacific Police Explorers Club signed up to take classes for the amateur radio federal license exam, Keith Wilson, Franklin …

Amateur radio operators prepare in case of an emergency
Kalispell Montana News – GREAT FALLS- When disaster strikes and all communication lines are down, its licensed amateur radio operators that step in to help, and many of them …

Amateur Radio Event Showcases Emergency Preparedness Skills
Emergency Management – More than 35000 amateur radio operators participated in Field Day and demonstrated the practical uses of ham radio during an emergency.

Local club practices emergency readiness
Jacksonville Daily Progress – Amateur radio enthusiasts gathered together on Saturday to test their emergency readiness. The Cherokee County Amateur Radio Club participated in the.

Emergency radio operators hone skills
Navarre Press – The Navarre Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Amateur Radio Club held a field day from 1 p.m. on June 23 until 1 p.m. on June 24 to test …

Is this thing on?
Maple Ridge News – The Mission Amateur Radio Emergency Services group braved the inclement … This year they joined in with the Maple Ridge Amateur Radio club station who …

Amateur radio connects Coweta County, world
Newnan Times-Herald – Online edition of The Times-Herald, Newnan and Coweta County’s Online Source. Find the latest local, state, national and international news. View and place classified ads online.

Amateur radio club tests emergency communication
Star Community Newspapers – A friend in radio broadcasting attracted Hansen to amateur radio frequencies while he was living in southern California. Just a few months after obtaining his amateur radio license and his own call sign, Hansen’s house was a victim of the Northridge …

When all else fails…Local Ham Radio operators give demonstration for Gordon …
Calhountimes – The Cherokee Capital Amateur Radio Society held its annual field day event in Gordon County on Saturday, June 23, 2012, where the club set up a three alpha station, using no commercial power, to demonstrate how communication could be established, via …

Hamming it up
Coeur d’Alene Press – This past weekend the world got a little smaller. Every fourth weekend in June since 1933 Amateur Radio operators (Hams) have participated in Field Day.

Hams’ Offer Information Lifeline When All Else Fails
The Epoch Times – Hams are the operators of amateur radio, the old-time tech that once connect people across oceans. Nowadays, hams are practically a stereotype—laid back, white-haired retirees who fiddle with dials and antennas, talking to fellow operators across the …

Ham Radio
Santa Ynez Valley News – Field Day is the annual test of radio operators’ ability to set up emergency communications under field conditions and operate solely on emergency power systems for 24 hours, said Ray Lischka, the emergency coordinator for Lompoc Valley Amateur Radio …

Ham radio operators hold annual Field Day exercise
Clay Today Online – But amateur radio operators in the area were on the air within hours after the hurricane hit.” As emergency coordinator for Clay County, Gray said, “We work through the Clay County Emergency Operations Center in Green Cove Springs as an alternative in …

Having a field day: Amateur radio operators contact Croatia
The Union of Grass Valley – The Nevada County Amateur Radio Club held a field-day event on June 23 and 24 at Empire Mine. More than 375 contacts with amateur radio stations all (read more)

Ham radio demo held
Shore News Today – The Shore Points Amateur Radio Club hosted Amateur Radio Field Day last weekend at the North End Observation Deck Ham radio operators from Atlantic County participated in the emergency preparedness.

Local radio operators gather
The Hillsdale Daily News – The Hillsdale County Amateur Radio Club Field Day was held recently. Here, Club member, Milt Bowers, communicated with various parts of the country and said between 600 and 700 contacts would be made by the end of the 24-hour period depending on …

Field Day Report

Field Day 2012I was holding off on reporting on my Field Day activities this year because I thought I would do a comprehensive report on the entire Field Day. Well, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, so here’s a report on the operating activities.

Unlike last year, I  operated with ARROW, our club here in Ann Arbor, MI. I was the main operator of the 40m CW station. We had 866 total QSOs. I made 540, KD8LWR had 197, N8OY made 109, and N8SBE pounded out 19. Here are the top runs as reported by N1MM:

  • 2012-06-23 1806 – 1849Z,    7022 kHz, 51 Qs, 70.5/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-23 1903 – 2245Z,    7021 kHz, 214 Qs, 58.1/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-23 2245 – 2311Z,    7021 kHz, 25 Qs, 59.4/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-23 2313 – 0040Z,    7017 kHz, 87 Qs, 60.1/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-24 0051 – 0124Z,    7013 kHz, 37 Qs, 66.5/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-24 0633 – 0655Z,    7023 kHz, 17 Qs, 46.6/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 0705 – 0909Z,    7035 kHz, 102 Qs, 49.4/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 0923 – 0938Z,    7023 kHz, 12 Qs, 49.2/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 0946 – 1033Z,    7036 kHz, 35 Qs, 44.8/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 1103 – 1211Z,    7030 kHz, 53 Qs, 47.0/hr N8OY

These are the top runs that included more than 10 QSOs.  I don’t know if you can ask it to give you 10-min. or 1-hr. rates, but that would have been interesting to see.

Unfortunately, this station did not operate for about three hours from 11:30pm – 2:30am, when I got back to the FD site. Next year, we’re going to have to find more CW ops and schedule better. It might have been possible to hit 1,000 Qs if it had been operated all 24 hours.

21 Things to Do: Participate in a contest

21 Things to Do After Getting Your Amateur Radio LicenseHuman beings are competitive by nature, and since amateur radio operators are human, they find ways to compete with one another. Almost every weekend—and some weekdays, too—there’s some kind of amateur radio contest. They are a lot of fun, and all classes of amateur radio operators can participate.

Most contests have some kind of theme. For example, nearly every state has what’s called a QSO party. During a state’s QSO party, stations outside the state get points for contacting as many stations in as many counties inside the state, while stations in the state get points for contacting stations outside the state as well as inside the state.  There are also QRP contests, where all stations must operate with low power and DX contests, where the goal is to work stations outside your own country.

Most of these contests take place on the HF bands, but even as a Technician you can participate in these contests if you know Morse Code. If you haven’t yet cracked the code, you can still participate in the contests that take place on the 10m band and above. Another way to participate is to be one of the operators in a multi-operator setup. As long as one of the operators with a General Class or Extra Class license acts as the control operator, you can operate in those portions of the bands where you don’t have privileges.

I prefer operating in the smaller contests, such as the state QSO parties, to operating in the big contests, such as the CQ Worldwide DX contest or the ARRL Sweepstakes. There are a lot fewer stations competing and the bands are a lot less crowded. Sometimes with even a modest effort, you can earn an award. It’s also easier to compete in a smaller contest with a modest station—like the one I have—than it is to compete with the big guns in the major contests.

One way to get started might with the ARRL’s Rookie Roundup. This contest was designed to get newcomers involved in contesting. It takes place three times per year in April, August, and December, and lasts for six hours. Rookies score points for all their contacts, while “old timers” only score points by contacting “rookies.”

I hope you’ll give contesting a try. They’re a lot of fun and a big part of the amateur radio hobby.

Resources

  • National Contesting Journal (http://www.ncjweb.com/). The National Contest Journal is published six times per year (Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct and Nov/Dec) and is dedicated to covering the competitive contesting aspects of amateur radio. Each issue is loaded with information of interest to contesters (and DXers, too!); from casual observer to hardcore competitor, from little pistol to big gun.
  • WA7BNM Contest Calendar (http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/). This site provides detailed information about amateur radio contests throughout the world, including their scheduled dates/times, rules summaries, log submission information and links to the official rules as published by the contest sponsors.