Posts Tagged ‘RadioSport History’

RadioSport History | Chatting Up With N6AA

I enjoyed our hamfest in Santa Maria, California this morning and my opportunity to chat up with Richard Norton, N6AA.

We talked about what it takes to move to the next level and he shared a few stories about his 9Y4VT operation as well. The key to successful RadioSport, according to N6AA, is operate as much as possible, guest operate where possible, and call CQ alot even if one is low power, low profile.

Richard mentioned both the art and science of the game will surely follow as one pursues a Box score. I wanted to listen for hours however his duties were first given the hamfest, perhaps, next time N6AA will continue recounting his adventures to 40 zones stretching across the globe.

73 from the shack relaxation zone.

P.S. I purchased a Palomar R-X Noise Bridge and a 2009 ARRL Periodicals CD-ROM with QST, QEX, and the National Contest Journal.

RadioSport History | CQ World Wide DX CW 1981

There are many ways to enter RadioSport and one of them is finding a group of operators who share the competitive spirit. One may not want to spend an entire weekend in the pilot’s chair or other commitments may compete for attention. A multi-single entry is an excellent opportunity to share resources, time, and establish new friendships.

Participating in this category made a significant difference in my attitude about RadioSport as a teenager. I spent hours inside the cans learning how-to listen for needed multipliers. A day existed, when paper dupe sheets tracked the log, and I learned precision and orderliness. A mistake in the dupe sheet would result in a significant point penalty.

Additionally, competing in this category set my personal future standard in terms of operating skill, station engineering, and sportsmanship. I modeled those who sat in the pilot’s chair and admired their operating skill especially when rate met or exceeded one’s capacity to write with a pencil.

Cox and Brockman stated, “In the battle of the Goliaths, W2PV captured the top world Multi-Multi score, no easy feat for a USA station.” (1982)

Furthermore, “The contest community around the world will remember this fall when the signals are strong and clear that a few of our friends are not present. W2PV, UI8LAG, and W3KT have become silent keys. Each one contributed to what the contest stands for: enjoyment and excellence.” (Cox & Brockman, 1982)

I want to remember their words as the technological wave rolls into the future of ham radio. Has competitive pursuit finally crossed the border where enjoyment and excellence does not exist or even count anymore? Is RadioSport beginning to miss the forest for the trees?

There exists somewhere in the future, conditions like 1981, when the cosmos fell into place and records fell like dominoes. Cox and Brockman stated, “The top USA All Band score was decided by less than a minute’s operating time on a good band.” (1982)

The North California Contest Club in the same year went from 9 million in 1980 to 160 million. One day the west coast will again stake its claim inside the club box.

Multi-Multi titans in 1981 were W2PV, N2AA, and W3LPL.

Single Operator All Band in the USA was K1GQ.

Single Operator All Band World was 9Y4VT (N6AA).

Top Three Clubs in the United States were Northern California Contest Club, Yankee Clipper Contest Club, and Frankford Radio Club.

Top Three International Clubs were Lithuanian Contest Group, Voroshilovgrad Radio Club, and Kaunas Polytechnic Institute R.C.

If one wants to enter RadioSport think about creating a team of like-minded operators who enjoy the game while pursuing excellence.

73 from shack relaxation zone.

Reference: Cox, B. K3EST, Brockman, L. N6AR (1982, October). CQ Magazine: 1981 CQ World Wide DX Contest: C.W. Results. pp. 20 – 34.

RadioSport History | CQ World Wide DX CW 1981

There are many ways to enter RadioSport and one of them is finding a group of operators who share the competitive spirit. One may not want to spend an entire weekend in the pilot’s chair or other commitments may compete for attention. A multi-single entry is an excellent opportunity to share resources, time, and establish new friendships.

Participating in this category made a significant difference in my attitude about RadioSport as a teenager. I spent hours inside the cans learning how-to listen for needed multipliers. A day existed, when paper dupe sheets tracked the log, and I learned precision and orderliness. A mistake in the dupe sheet would result in a significant point penalty.

Additionally, competing in this category set my personal future standard in terms of operating skill, station engineering, and sportsmanship. I modeled those who sat in the pilot’s chair and admired their operating skill especially when rate met or exceeded one’s capacity to write with a pencil.

Cox and Brockman stated, “In the battle of the Goliaths, W2PV captured the top world Multi-Multi score, no easy feat for a USA station.” (1982)

Furthermore, “The contest community around the world will remember this fall when the signals are strong and clear that a few of our friends are not present. W2PV, UI8LAG, and W3KT have become silent keys. Each one contributed to what the contest stands for: enjoyment and excellence.” (Cox & Brockman, 1982)

I want to remember their words as the technological wave rolls into the future of ham radio. Has competitive pursuit finally crossed the border where enjoyment and excellence does not exist or even count anymore? Is RadioSport beginning to miss the forest for the trees?

There exists somewhere in the future, conditions like 1981, when the cosmos fell into place and records fell like dominoes. Cox and Brockman stated, “The top USA All Band score was decided by less than a minute’s operating time on a good band.” (1982)

The North California Contest Club in the same year went from 9 million in 1980 to 160 million. One day the west coast will again stake its claim inside the club box.

Multi-Multi titans in 1981 were W2PV, N2AA, and W3LPL.

Single Operator All Band in the USA was K1GQ.

Single Operator All Band World was 9Y4VT (N6AA).

Top Three Clubs in the United States were Northern California Contest Club, Yankee Clipper Contest Club, and Frankford Radio Club.

Top Three International Clubs were Lithuanian Contest Group, Voroshilovgrad Radio Club, and Kaunas Polytechnic Institute R.C.

If one wants to enter RadioSport think about creating a team of like-minded operators who enjoy the game while pursuing excellence.

73 from shack relaxation zone.

Reference: Cox, B. K3EST, Brockman, L. N6AR (1982, October). CQ Magazine: 1981 CQ World Wide DX Contest: C.W. Results. pp. 20 – 34.

RadioSport History | CQ World Wide DX CW 1980


RadioSport is fun although the level of fun one seeks is another matter. Certainly, the sport where wireless technology meets human skill and intellect, is my favorite niche within ham radio. My passion remained even during those days in uniform or while attending graduate school. Whatever the measure of one’s station, what really counts at the end of the day, is how one shares their enthusiasm for the game.

Perhaps, after all the trophies and certificates are won, what really matters is the moment when a rookie operator gets it.

The measure of our success is best exemplified by Doug, N6DFY and his smile.

Nuts and Bolts.
I hope a frank and earnest discussion begins regarding the trajectory of RadioSport and a bold vision is developed. Afterall, this is Dayton weekend, when the movers and shakers of the game gather for pizza inside the Contesting Suite. I believe such a vision is beginning to develop out of the genesis of the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF).

I’m not going to besiege with a list of complaints neither do I want to point a finger at anyone organization, institution, or individual. What I want is leadership, bold vision, courage, and something to believe in again.

The task before WWROF is not an easy one, in fact, why create a non-profit dedicated to improving the skills of amateur radio operators, if there was not a need?

Brockman and Cox (1981) pointed out padding in the logs, excessive dupes, sloppy copy, and operating outside one’s privileges to mention a few as problematic. However there something called honor, courage, and duty.

Please, if one is reading my blog in Dayton, take a moment and reflect about qualities rarely discussed anymore. Leadership. Honor. Courage.

I hope that in between all that is going on in Dayton that our movers and shakers take time to reflect as well. I believe WWROF is a good step forward in addition they are willing to confront the challenges ahead with leadership, vision, and courage.

73 from the shack relaxation zone.

Reference: Cox, B. K3EST, Brockman, L. N6AR (1981, October). CQ Magazine: 1980 CQ World Wide DX Contest: C.W. Results. pp. 13 – 16, 18 – 20, 22 – 27.

RadioSport History | CQ World Wide DX CW 1979

The rise of RadioSport talent begins in earnest and record makers are found throughout the pages of this article. Talent incubates somewhere albeit in the second chair while engaged in building the station that takes one or a team into the Box. They were younger men whose competitive spirit still burns brightly even today.

Operator Skill.
The captains of RadioSport like K3LR, K1AR, and N6RO are positioning themselves for long term success, essentially, as Cox and Brockman (1980) pointed out, “[I]ncreased operating skills were needed to cope with the onslaught…” (p 46)

Skill is an irreplaceable asset in any competitive sport. Technology continues augmenting and/or enhancing the enjoyment of our sport however it cannot diminish the importance of developing one’s RadioSport skill set. Physically sending Morse Code, listening before jumping into the swarm, understanding the vagaries of propagation, constructing antenna systems from one’s hands, are a few examples of skill building activities.

Controversy Rages On.
There is not much distance between 1979 and 2010 when reading about problems that plague competitive sports. RadioSport is not much different neither are we terminally unique when there are those who flagrantly violate the rules. Cox and Brockman cited infractions such as excessive power, unsportsmanlike operating techniques, and violations of the single operator category as problematic (1980).

I particularly like this quote, “When the statement you sign on the summary sheet becomes meaningless, it only serves to diminish the satisfaction of the achievement.” (Cox and Brockman, 1980, p 46).

Technology is now delivering the capacity to enforce rules from software defined receivers to audio recordings. I want the statement that reads I followed the rules to have credibility and meaningfulness at the end of the day.

Multi-Multi Titans in 1979 were K5RC, N4AR, and W3BGN.

Single Operator All Band in the United States was K1AR.

Single Operator All Band World was EA8AK.

Top Three Clubs in the United States were Frankford Radio Club, Yankee Clipper Contest Club, and Potomac Valley Radio Club.

Top Three International Clubs were Rhein Ruhr DX Association, Lithuanian Contest Club, and Voroshilovgrad Radio Club.

I’m still curious if any club west of the Mississippi garnered a top three position in the United States for at least two consecutive years? RadioSport history suggests otherwise and may explain the competitive importance of Sweepstakes for the West Coast.

73 from the shack relaxation zone.

Reference: Cox, B. K3EST, Brockman, L. N6AR (1980, October). CQ Magazine: 1979 CQ World Wide DX Contest: C.W. Results. pp. 46 – 64.

RadioSport History | CQ World Wide DX CW 1978

How did the titans of RadioSport in the 70s score inside the Box or achieve a world record score without our modern version of spotting networks? How did they manage without the availability of today’s technology such as software controlled radios, switching boxes for single operator 2 radios, or CW Skimmer capable computers?

Perhaps, hours and hours, of skill development in front of the radio, continually improving antenna systems, melting solder on the workbench, and listening to the airwaves for nearly the same amount of time.

Spotting Networks.
Brockman and Cox (1979) stated, “All of a sudden the adrenaline is flowing. The eyes are now bright and intense. In a flash our hero has his VFO zeroed in on the prize. There, on 40 CW, is zone 23! But who? Not to be denied, our hero plunges in with his call. As he comes up for air, he hears the prize once more. JT1AN.” (p 43)

Today, the art of listening before taking on the flash swarm generated by spotting networks, is in need of serious re-purposing. The proliferation of junk data is reaching epic proportions as described in various RadioSport reflectors. The utility of the networks, at least in my estimation, is in slow decline. One that, if, left on its own in its present configuration, may harm Box scores and world record attempts.

In 1978, OH2BH piloted CT3BZ in the Madeira Islands, to a new single operator all band world record held only for a year by Dick Norton, N6AA who operated 9Y4AA. Additionally, according to Brockman and Cox, for the first time ever a single band entrant broke the one million point barrier (1979). Jorge, LU8DQ accomplished the impossible.

It was a tremendous year for those seeking world or continental records.

599 Never Dies.
Are we still having this conversation? Apparently, we are, because in 1978 many operators according to the article lobbied the committee asking them to jettison the report. It was suggested that the committee would look into the matter.

RadioSport Ethics.
Computerized logging begins its slow march toward dominating RadioSport. However, in its infancy, an alphabetized cross check reference list was required. Padded logging plagued log checkers then like the unsavory method of rubber clocking in the 21st Century.

On the other hand, one entrant miscopied JA callsigns to the tune of 20 percent of the log total, according to Brockman and Cox (1979); it was unacceptable. The voice of history suggested everyone concentrate on accuracy and not as much on speed.

Conclusion.
They managed to compete and win without the aid of flash swarms generated by spotting networks. Perhaps, back in the day, data traveled slowly weaving itself through VHF/UHF links while a team of spotters carefully listened on high frequency. One’s reputation was on the line while waiting for an opportunity in the pilot’s seat.

I’m convinced a new spotting platform is needed for the longevity of the sport. One that will correct errant oft times malicious data which may lead to irreparable damage when chasing a world or continental score.

My take away in a sport that cherishes speed is one can be accurate and speedy however accuracy trumps speed ever time.

Lastly, will we ever retire 599?

73 from the shackadelic on the beach.

Reference: Brockman, L. N6AR, Cox, B. K3EST (October, 1979). CQ Magazine: 1978 CQ World Wide DX Contest: C.W. Results. pp. 43 – 53.

RadioSport History | CQ World Wide DX CW 1977

Cox and Brockman (1978) said, “People sure like to have a good time. The 1977 CQ WW Contest attests to this fact. In spite of less than normal conditions, interest and activity were never higher.” (p 10)

What makes a RadioSport event fun to operate like CQ World Wide franchise?

One answer is DXpeditions according to Cox and Brockman (1978) and another may include antenna system(s) and/or one’s receiver. The broader answer maybe active involvement of RadioSport clubs where resources and talent are focused around a specific goal like number one in the Club Box.

Cox and Brockman stated, “Not to be outdone, the Frankford Radio Club (FRC) repaired their antennas, turned their rigs, and walked off with the fierce Club competition title with a total of 62.7 M points. That’s alot of work and cooperation.” (p 10, 1977).

One senses club strategy beginning to develop with a score target inside the box. Additionally, FRC channeled their knowledge and resources into improving antenna systems-to-radios inside the shack. I believe individual initiative is important in addition to having a stake in the overall success of one’s RadioSport club.

If there is a moment when design specifications are pushed to the extreme, it must be during an event like CQ World Wide; when was the last time one thought about their audio gain control (AGC)?

For example, Richard Norton, N6AA operated from Trinidad and Tobago, as 9Y4AA in 1977 and logged 1400 Qs on 20m that year. He moved from third place in 1976 to winning first place in 1977 while establishing a world record. Undoubtedly, he understood the design specifications of his radio, inside and out.

An on-going conversation on CQ Contest Digest reflector inspired researching how-to improve my receiver and/or decrease listening fatigue. Admittedly, I set controls at near maximum, according to Eric, K3NA many operators run their gain controls too high, and I’m one of them.

His suggestions are straightforward and easy to implement to include adjustments for a specific set of headphones.

Additionally, when considering a DXpedition designed for an event like CQ World Wide, understand point structuring as part of one’s decision tree.

Cox and Brockman (1978) stated, “The Sochi Radio Club decided that 3 points per QSO would be better than 2, so they took a trip down to the Black Sea coast to UF6. It was well worth it, because their crew set a new world multi-single record with an incredible 4058 Q totaling out at 6M points.” (p 10)

Several fun factors contribute to the overall success of an event like CQ World Wide such as 1.) An active RadioSport club focusing resources and talent on specific achievable targets, 2.) Learning design specifications of one’s radio, and 3.) Understand an event’s point structuring and maximize operating time and/or operating location to that of the point structure.

Believe in your signal!

Reference: Brockman, L. N6AR, Cox, B. K3EST (September, 1978). CQ Magazine: 1977 CQ World Wide DX Contest: C.W. Results. pp. 10 – 12, 14 – 24.


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