ARRL DX SSB 2014 Fun and Earache
I was active this weekend in this year’s ARRL DX single-sideband contest. . . . .well at least active for me. I’m not a hardcore contester, but besides meals and sleep and a few hours of TV with the XYL, (wife for you non-hams), I was pretty much listening and sitting at pile-ups waiting for the big boys to clear out. Patience had its rewards! I worked 22 new countries and 61 new prefixes over the weekend! Even more interesting was that I could walk down the bands and work several stations first on 10m, then 15m and then 20m. If I had antennas for 40/80/160 meters, I probably could have worked them some more.
One black eye was how inconsiderate some hams, or maybe they’re radio pirates, could be. I’d be straining my ears listening to make contact with a far-off station when a whine blats the earphones off my head! Sure I know I have to wait for the high power club stations with multiple beams to make their contacts….yes I’m jealous. But, why would someone just come on frequency and start tuning their rig….and take forever to tune up. If I had my transceiver tuning for that long I’d surely blow the finals. Two days layer and my ears are still ringing!
And of course there is always the recurring contesting QRM, or interference. It’s not everyday, sadly, that you hear so many hams on the air at one time. With propagation playing a big part, I know some of this is unintentional. But some of us need to remember the test questions on the FCC exams about how wide is a SSB or CW or PSK signal. Unfortunately there are the intentional and irresponsible ones who just do it because they can.
Overall a contest is a great way to test out the equipment, the antenna(s) and your operating efficiency. So if you don’t have your license yet, listen in and tune your radio and your ears. If you are licensed, jump in, make a contact or two. Just remember to listen and listen some more before transmitting. You could save someone’s ears! 😉