Changing it up


The old setup

As an avid contester, I find myself sitting at the radio for long periods and I am no longer a spring chicken my body is not as forgiving as it used to be. Some of the changes in the past I made were getting a proper desk chair, and making sure the monitors I look at for long periods are at eye level. Also getting up each hour and doing a little walking around also helps.
As I became more involved in my love of contesting, meaning I extended my operating times I then found other issues regarding age and repetitive moments that hindered my contesting time. To continue to enjoy my contesting adventure some changes needed to be made at the station. 

During a CW contest when your QSO count is over a thousand plus imagine how many times your baby finger hits the "enter" key on your keyboard. Let me tell you it is  TONS of times. I found some tendons in my right hand became very sore.  The problem was it did not go away after the contest it affected me for close to a month off and on. I changed it up by daily stretches for my hands, during a contest not hitting enter all the time but also using the F1 key. Both keys send "CQ TEST VE9KK" and I also added a wrist support to my keyboard and my mice for my right hand. 

Keyboard support.

During a contest many times, I would be spinning the VFO and changing RF gain to name a  few things. My radio was far back on my radio desk which meant I had to lean forward each time to play with the radio controls. After some time my back and shoulders would get very sore. Most times I noticed this the next day and not right away. To solve this I moved my Icom 7610 forward on the desk, this way there is no more stretching or leaning forward to make radio changes. 

Mouse support.

The next change I made was my Begali Key and it had nothing to do with my body aches and pains but the placement of it was just very awkward. During a contest, I may use my key to send a partial call, repeat my call or send my exchange again. Where the key was I had to monkey my hand around the radio to get to it. I now have the key on my pull-out desk shelf. I have it held in place with 2 sided  Gorilla tape. It now is a simple movement off the keyboard and then back again.

The next change was dual mice for my desktop using a free software program called Either Mouse. Why 2 mice you ask.....well on my desktop during a contest I have N1MM+ contest logging program on the go and Win4icom radio control software running. During a contest, I  may need to change filter settings, adjust the audio peak filter (APF)  and so on. While doing this during a contest contact in the past meant moving my mouse off N1MM+ program and over to Win4icom program and then back. The "and back" part most of the time gave me an issue. In the heat of battle, I would move the mouse too fast and lose track of it or accidentally click the mouse let's say on a macro and send something that just confuses the get the picture. 

During a contest, I have one mouse pointer on Win4icom program and the other on  N1MM+ contest logging program. This way I can click on either program. I also am using wireless mice as I found the corded mice were affected by RFI. 

The new setup.

Well, that's if for changes here and all for the love of contesting!

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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