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Mar 29, 2009

CQ Contest

So this weekend there is some kind of contest happening on the HF bands. I’m not interested in contesting myself but I do use them to catch myself some new countries or prefixes I have never worked. I’m still relatively very new to HF so working Europe still has some panache for me.

The pileups indicate to me that ham radio is not dead, that there are still many of us with all kinds of various interests, equipment, and personalities. It is refreshing to see this after my 15 year hiatus from the hobby. I was fearful the Internet had killed the hobby.

I’m also getting back into the software available to today’s hams. I am a little surprised at how little has changed in this regard. Sure there is some nice stuff out now like logging programs with built in rig control, but I still see a lot of DOS software. DOS??? Are you kidding me?

Speaking of software, I was watching a DX cluster during this contest to see if it could help me catch some good countries. The clusters are crazy with activity. The call signs scroll constantly! But I learned very quickly that during a contest as DX cluster is useless. It actually adds to the pileups. The better tactic is to slowly prowl the band, like we did in the old days.

The new rigs with spectrum scopes help here. I’m getting the hang of my IC-756 Pro in this regard.

  1. Set the bandwidth fairly high, like 50 kHz
  2. Let it sweep a number of times, for about 20 seconds.
  3. Press the Hold button.
  4. Tune up and down to the peaks (don’t skip the small ones!).

On a side-note: I managed to get my 20m doublet up higher this weekend. It’s now higher than my ham shack LOL (hi)!

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