Posts Tagged ‘CW contesting’

Hold on folks!


 Now that I am retired long weekends seem to sneak up on me as when I was working it seemed they never could come fast enough. As with CW contesting they just don't seem to come fast enough  but space weather has a way of sneaking up and spoiling the contest....well that is what I used to think anyway. In the past, I would faithfully check out the space weather to get a sniff of upcoming conditions for a weekend contest. If things looked rough I would either skip the contest or dip my toes in it just to see how the ride would go. 

Recently I have changed my outlook on the dreaded solar storms. This weekend was the CWops open contest and it is divided into 3 sessions. I took part in the 2nd session only as I had other things on my agenda for the weekend. From 9 am local time to 1 pm is session 2 I jumped in even with a Kp index of 5. I understood it was going to be rough, and I most likely will not beat last year's score but I have decided to use the poor conditions to hone my CW skills. 

In the past when calling CQ contest and having a station come back to me who was almost non-existent and fading in and out I struggled. Now I have the opportunity thanks to the poor solar conditions to practice this skill! I had a ton of fish on 40m and 20m just waiting for me to dig them out of the mud and toss and turn with them as we both faded in and out.

That was how I spent my 4 hours in session 2 of the CWops CW open contest. My score was not the greatest but that was not my goal and considering the poor conditions I would have been frustrated. Instead, I used it as a learning session to work weak and fading stations. When I say weak at times their signal was not even moving my S meter and fading as well. 

Below is my final score and I ended up operating for 3 of the 4 hours as I started late by 30 minutes and I took some breaks. 


Reverse Beacon Network surprises

 Last weekend I took part in the WAE DX CW contest and most of the time when I calling "CQ contest" on my second monitor I have the RBN or reverse beacon network up and running. The main reason for doing this to see where my signal is reaching and if it is targeting in the case of the WAE contest Europe. Now and then I see my signal has been spotted in both interesting places and far away places. This contest was no different, on Sunday morning I was spotted in New Zealand by ZL3X multiple times from 4dB to 11dB, VY0ERC in Eureka in Nunavut at 7dB and finally 5W1SA in Samoa at 8dB. Nice to know my 100 watts are getting out there!

The IARU contest….DONE!



Good afternoon all.....The IARU contest has come and gone. This one is a CW and SSB contest but as for me, it was 100% CW. The WRTC (World Radio Team Championship) happens alongside this contest. These folks are the best of the best and competing both in CW and SSB to be the best! This year's WRTC was held in Italy and all the WRTC stations are designed so no one station has an advantage over the other. The power is maxed out at 100 watts as well. For more info click on WRTC. 

Ok well, I am not even close to qualifying for a WRTC team member but I did take part in the IARU contest this weekend. I took part for about 11 hours of the 24-hour contest (social engagements cut into contest time) and for the time I was on the air it was great. Propagation was good and some highlight contacts were KH6, JA, ZL and UP2L in Kazakhstan to name a few. I found my average running (calling CQ contest) speed was around 32 wpm. My contest code practice is paying off as I have no issues when someone comes back to me at 36-38 wpm. I don't call CQ contest at that speed as I feel it limits my score. I have an Icom 7610 at 100 watts with a Huslter 4BTV not a KW of power and huge beams. My best one hour run was 60 QS0's in the log BUT at 2100 things were HOT and I had to pull the plug after 30 minutes and my count was at 50 QSO's. I have to keep my dear wife loving my hobby which means radio does not trump our social things.
I had no technical issues at all....finally and had a great time. 

 Now the above score is not earth shattering at all but last year my total was 84 QSO's.

How fast is to fast?

Good afternoon blog readers I hope you are still enjoying the summer heat and are putting it into perspective as it compares to winters freezing cold? 

I have a question, when it comes to CW contesting…how fast is to fast? I have asked myself this question during CW contests, when I decide to search and pounce most of the time the speed is in around 30-34 wpm. Now having said that there are some big guns that run at close to 40wpm. BUT they have been spotted and always will be thus for the most part then the caller already knows their call. It is just the exchange that has to be handled and if it is a contest that has a generic exchange (CQ zone, ITU zone so on) then the software fills in the exchange details.  

For a small gun like me it’s only now and then I get spotted on the cluster and I know when this happens as I get into a pileup situation. I am not some multi operator high power station with dream antennas I am just small potatoes. I feel that if I was to knock out code at 36 wpm I think my contact rate would drop? In my humble opinion ( please correct me if I am wrong) I should stay in the 30-34 wpm range to gather fish in my net? 

What say you fellow CW contesters… a dark place in my mind I am thinking that for me its a waste of time to practice for the 38-40 wpm goal because with my 100 watts along with a simple vertical antenna at that speed I will hear crickets when calling CQ contest? What say you…………

Butt in chair theory


This past weekend we had record-setting temperatures and amazing weather! Unfortunately, I heard the call of the wild and not what contesters call "Butt in chair" My name was being called from many directions..the BBQ, the deck chairs, sunny skies and later in the day a cold beer. This was a small still voice of the CQ WPX contest but at times was silenced by the fair day voice. I chose to mostly enjoy the day as there will be more contests and over the summer I will get tired of the very warm weather. 

The contest conditions when I was taking part were filled with QSB and many repeats of progressive serial numbers. For the time I spent in the contest I was happy with my results and I could tell that my consistent contest practice is paying off. I can copy much faster and more accurately. In all CW contests that involve numbers in the exchange, many stations will send what is called cut numbers. These are letters in place of the actual number. The most common are 9 (N), 1 (A) and 0 (T) there are some others but these are the most common. Why am I telling you this.....well for the first time I heard a station ID his call with a cut number. As an example, my call VE9KK would be sent as VENKK. Most contest rules if not all do not allow this as well I would think the telecommunications governing body of the country they are from would not be pleased. As always I entered the contest as Low power (100 watts or less), unassisted (did not use spotting assistance) single operator and single transmitter. I used my Icom 7610 and Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna.

CQ WW WPX CW contest!


 This coming weekend is a long weekend for our American friends as well as it is the yearly running of the CQ WW WPX CW contest weekend. If you are into CW contesting this is one of the big ones to get involved in. As for me, I am hoping for a nice rainy weekend as this will keep me in the operating chair longer. Last year I used my EndFed antenna for this contest as I had the Hustler 4BTV but it was not as of yet installed. 

Now I am curious to see how I do with the Hustler 4BTV compared to my EndFed antenna. I try to keep my CW contesting pencil sharp by taking part in the weekly 1-hour medium speed contests which max's out at 25 wpm and the CWops weekly CWT's which plain and simply just max's out! I also have daily practice with 2 contest simulation programs G4FON and Morse Runner.

 CW is my thing and contesting is my thing, so for me this coming weekend I will be doing my thing.

Hard work reaps rewards………

 I was always told from a young age "something worthwhile ALWAYS requires hard work" That has stuck with me and at times when I was about to throw in the towel a voice inside said, "it requires hard work". I am so thankful that I had an amazing job that gave me benefits and a pension for life BUT I worked my ass off for it.

 For me CW is worthwhile and at this point in my ham radio adventure CW contesting has attracted me. Each day I practice my code on a few contest simulators and pileup simulators. Today for the first time I had a perfect score! Now that may not happen again tomorrow, this week or this month BUT today the score was perfect.


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