Posts Tagged ‘CW contesting’

Major contest action this weekend!


This coming weekend is the annual ARRL CW DX international contest. This contest covers the whole weekend and is very well attended by some very nice DX and rare DX as well. Last year during this contest I was using my EndFed antenna and this year I will be using my Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna.

 If you are a CW contester this is a must-contest for you. If you are not a contester but into CW this also can net you some nice DXCC contacts. The exchange is simple, your 599 report and your State or Province and that's it. The DX station will send their 599 and the power they are using.

 Let's say your CW is a bit rusty and contest CW speed is beyond your comfort zone. Well, do what I used to do years ago use a spotting network to find the rare stations. This way you get their call and tune them in, now use a CW decode program such as MRP40 which was the one I used to use. It sets up via your sound card and decodes up to 60wpm. I found it very accurate and there is a full feature trial version available. Now you can read the machine gun code like a pro! 

As for contest software N1MM+ is free and many setup videos are online for most rigs. So there you go with a little effort you can stack up some nice DX over the weekend. 

Who knows maybe you will rekindle the love for CW and start a new adventure in ham radio.

PACC contest


I have read on a few blogs from the Netherlands about a contest called PACC it has been around since 1955 and is a mixed contest of CW and SSB. So there is a mode available that most hams would feel comfortable with.

 It is always on the 2nd weekend of February and lasts for 24 hours. On Saturday afternoon I was able to get some radio time in and I found several Dutch PACC contest stations on the bands. I set up my contesting software N1MM+ for the contest and in I went. The exchange for the Non-Dutch (me) is a signal report and QSO number. For the Dutch station, I was to receive a signal report and a 2 letter province code, of which there were 12.

I found the contest to be very relaxed and I only took part in CW mode, nothing against SSB but it would help if I had a mic but I do not so it was CW all the way. I was able to make contacts from 10m to 40m with at times some deep QSB but readable most times. It was a very part-time effort and I only made 16 contacts as I had other things going on around home I had to get back to. 

I did breeze over the rules but missed the part about a 10-minute band change rule. If you made a contact on a certain band you had to stay on that band for 10 minutes. Well for me that was not the case and the penalty was me going from the category of Single Op CW low power all band to Multi op two transmitters mixed category. Oh well, live and learn! I have attached my score and the contacts I made. 


2022 RAC contest in the rearview mirror

The Radio amateurs of Canada (RAC) winter contest has come and gone for 2022. This contest is both CW, AM, FM and SSB. As for me, it was the same old same old just CW. The propagation gods were smiling on this contest and conditions were great. I operated 7 hours on Saturday they were 1-hour sessions with about a 10 min break at each end of hour. I find this works best for me and I set in a lunch and or dinner time as well.

The radio, software and antenna worked great no complaints at all. The system I find works best for me is to start out searching and pouncing contacts. This gets in the log those who are only running in the contest and also it gets my ears warmed up to the code speed. I then move on to running which in this contest I did about 90% of the time. The participation was great and while running my best 1-hour count was 91 QSOs which kept me very busy and the hour flew by.
There were nice openings on all the bands my Hustler 4BTV provided for me 10,15,20 and 40m. The settings I find that work best for me on the Icom 7610 are;
Filter set to 400Hz so I can hear those that call a bit off frequency I find that 250 or less a bit too narrow. Now having said that during the "biggy" contests 250Hz is required due to the close proximity of signals.
I keep my APF (audio Peak Filter) on and set it to wide.
I keep the NR (noise reduction) on and set it to a low range.
I use the CW full break in and it does take some getting used to. As you transmit dits and dahs your rig goes back and forth from receive to transmit. This allows me to hear if anyone is trying to contact me while transmitting. You would be shocked at how many times I hear someone. Also when searching and pouncing as you call a station it allows you to hear if another station is also trying to make contact. In that case, I just stop transmitting as it would be just a mixed mess being sent to the station. Also, it allows you to hear if the running station is contacting someone and then you just stop transmitting as you don't want to QRM.  
Below are the end results of 7 hours on the air I am very pleased with the numbers and I am getting more confident in my contest running abilities. 

ARRL 10m contest is in the books

The areas I worked in the contest

Another contest in the books and I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the radio, software and antenna worked great for me. This is the first time for me to enter the ARRL 10 meter contest as in the past 10m was not open. I was shocked at the amount of action on the waterfall and how most of the time 10m is void of signals. It goes to prove that the band should not be overlooked. 

In this contest, I operated CW only, low power (100 watts) and no spotting assistance. I always avoid using spotting assistance as it hinders my goal of improving my CW. I found in the mornings I had a good path into the EU and as that closed down in the early afternoon the U.S. opened up.  By late afternoon South America was open to me. One of the highlight contacts was getting into Hawaii and I was also able to make numerous contacts into South America. 

Once it started to get dark the band for me closed down. In this contest, I did try running (calling CQ contest) but I found I was able to get better numbers with search and pounce. In most contests for me holding a frequency and calling CQ contest would always give me a good return but not in this contest. The 10m propagation for me had deep QSB and one moment a station was calling CQ and all of a sudden gone!

The final score

ARRL 10m contest brings the band alive.

Lots of action on the 10m CW portion during the ARRL 10m contest. During the morning today lots of EU stations to be had. As the afternoon started the EU faded and more U.S. and I am expecting later this afternoon South America possibly.

CQ WW CW contest wrap up

  Another CW contest is in the books and this is the first time that Murphy stayed far away from me. I spent the longest time I ever have sitting in the contest chair, one reason could have been it was rainy and cold outside. I took one-hour sessions at a time with about a 10-minute break and lunch and dinner. I found this worked very well and allowed me to focus better when I was on the radio. I spent most of my time in running mode ( calling CQ contest and listening for callers) I will be honest there were times I did have issues and most likely ticked off some contesters with my failing to get their call, but oh well we all have to learn.  A highlight was contacting a fellow blogger Bas PE4BAS on 2 different bands. With calling CQ or running I found the time just flew past and before I knew it I was coming up on my 1-hour break mark. Having said that at times when someone spots you on the cluster (thanks Bas) it can get jam-packed. At one point I answered and logged 136 QSO's in 1 hour! My theory is, keep my CW speed at a moderate level (around 29-27 WPM) and I figure I may get more callers. I could go faster but I feel I limit my prospects. Having said that while going at 29wpm I did get over and over stations coming back to me at 32-39 wpm, could be those I have worked in my weekly CWops mini contest and know the speed can be picked up a notch. But it does throw you off to all of a sudden get a call out of the blue at 36 wpm.  It was nice to see 10m open and I was able to make some DX contacts. On Sunday afternoon 15m opened to South America and Hawaii which allowed me to get some nice multiplier contacts. I was very happy with how the new Hustler 4BTV performed as this was the first major contest I was able to use it in. My dream goal was to double last year's score and I went way beyond that! As a side note: This morning was the weekly Monday running of the ICWC MST (medium speed 1-hour contest) I gave the morning session a go and what a DISASTER it was! Not sure if there is such a thing as day after major CW contest brain fog but I sure did have it. A half-hour into the hour session I was ready to pull the plug but I hung on and ate humble pie. I was hearing the correct call but typing differently, hearing letters that just were not there, logging a contact before I received their full exchange and as a call was being sent to me I was like a deer in headlights. I could not send or receive S.O.S. if my life depended on it.  Oh well, water under the bridge and just for the heck of it I am going to jump back in the operating chair for the afternoon MST session. What could go wrong eh?        

A weekend of CW


  If you were on the radio this weekend and are a CW buff then you know some QSO parties were in full swing along with the WAG (worked all Germany) contest were on. Since my blog title has changed to "The world of CW" you may have guessed that I was involved in something by the way of CW this weekend.

I decided to join in on the WAG contest, it's always very well attended, starts Saturday noon my time and ends Sunday noon. The German ops are great at CW and it gives me more practice at running in a CW contest. For the first time, I had no Murphy moments, no RF getting into anything to cause me side issues it sure was a nice change. I will be blogging in the near future as to what I ended up doing to get rid of my what seemed never ending surprise RF issues.  

In the picture above it shows how I use the Icom 7610 in contests.

- I have 2 band scopes up (VFO A and VFO B) at the same time the operating band (top slice) and the is it open yet band (bottom slice) 

- On the left-hand side tabs you will see "BK-IN FULL" or full break-in turned on. This allows me while calling CQ contest to hear the receive for very short times while transmitting. If a station starts to call me I can hear them and stop my transmitting. It takes some time to get used to but is a great tool. 

 - On the band, I am operating (15m in this case VFO A) I have the band edges set to 21.000-21.020 in a contest it can get very busy with signals and this visually spaces them out so when searching and pouncing you can click and tune easy.  

- The bottom slice (VFO B) the band edges are very wide so I can see the full picture of the band to see if it has opened up. 

- On VFO A the 15m band I am calling CQ contest or running as its called. I have the bandwidth set to 400hz. (seen at top BW 400) I do this as some ops come back off frequency and I have no issues hearing them. If I get spotted on a cluster and all hell breaks loose with stations calling me that BW goes to 200hz. if not you just hear a big mess of calls. 

-Some time ago I read a piece about the Icom 7610 contest radio settings. It was stated to use your audio peak filter (APF) set to mid-range, put the noise reduction on (NR), CW filters to either 600, 400 or 200hz and set to sharp not soft and to keep the internal ATU on as they said it can act as a filter. I do all but the last part regarding the ATU. My SWR on all bands is from 1.1 to 1.5. Anyway, I was shocked by just having the APF and NR turned on and how much of a difference it made. At one point in the contest not sure how it happened but the APF and NR were turned off. I was calling CQ contest and stations were coming back to me but they were right at the noise floor and many repeats were needed to make the contact. I then noticed after about 10 very difficult contacts the APF and NF were off. I put them back on and what a joy again. 

Well below is my score and I have to say that before the contest I had sugar plums dancing in my head with a high score but it turned out it was more like roasted chestnuts. Nothing wrong with that and I did have a blast.


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