I’ve worked contests before. Typically if I hear a contest taking place on the bands I’ll tune around and answer a few CQ’s to give points away. However, I’ve never been serious enough about it to spend several hours working a specific contest and do most of it while running a specific frequency. Most contests (excluding Field Day) I generally use the search and pounce method of scanning up and down the bands listening for contest stations calling CQ, then pounce and answer their CQ.
I’ve had the Colorado QSO Party on my calendar for a few weeks now and coordinated the time with my wife so I could work the contest. From the beginning I decided I wanted to try my hand at contest operations and I would log my contacts in a suitable logging software and submit my log. I really had no expectations of just what the outcome would be. My goal was to have fun and represent my state of Colorado as proudly as possible on the amateur bands.
The Colorado QSO party was scheduled to start at 6 AM (local) and run for 16 hours until 10 PM (local). The work week prior had been difficult and I decided I wouldn’t get started too early of a start. I had my priorities in the right order and made sure to switch on the coffee pot before the HF rig. With coffee in hand, I turned on the computer and the HF rig just a little after 8:30 and positioned myself on 14.280 and began calling CQ contest.
The Q’s began flying into the log book and I probably had logged 30 or so within what seemed like no time at all. I quickly recharged my coffee cup and logged another 30 or so before lunch. I took a short break for lunch and then things slowed down. 20m had been hot in the mid-morning hours, but all that changed after lunch.
The best laid plans, well…are not always exactly what you want them to be. We’re trying to get new windows installed on the ground level portion of our house this year. The salesman was dropping by for the contract signing and this took a little longer than planned. After about 90 minutes the changes were incorporated (gotta keep the wife happy) and I was back on the air. But I would have another 2.5 hours off the air as we agreed to attend a neighborhood BBQ (gotta keep the wife and neighbors happy). I got back home and got back on the air for the last 90 minutes of the QSO Party.
The final 90 minutes was slow and I switched between the 40 and 20m band and managed to work an additional 10 QSO’s. All-in-all it was a lot of fun. I worked a total of 138 QSO’s for a total of 8004 points.
My setup for the Colorado QSO party consisted of my Yaesu FT-950 (I really love this rig), a Heil Pro-Set headset with the HC-4 mic and for true hands free operation, I dusted off my Heil footswitch. I also logged using N1MM software for the first time. I had searched for logging software which would work for the Colorado QSO party. This did the job and I look forward to using it again for other contest logging.
In closing, I’m not sure where my numbers will rank in the totals. I know others who participated scored much higher. I didn’t begin it to win it, I did it to have fun and mission accomplished. I do look forward to the next contest and of course next year for the Colorado QSO party. Radio Sport is fun, exciting and ham radio.
Until next time…
73 de KD0BIK/AE