Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Leftovers

As most folks know, we had the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US last week. It's a tradition to not only eat turkey with "all the fixin's" but also have have some leftovers for a few days after that. I've got the same for my blog mostly with respect to things that were still around after Thanksgiving. So, in no particular order:

I did my usual "playing around" in the big CQ World Wide DX contest this past weekend. This is one of the "main events" in the ham radio contesting world, and while I didn't really have time for more than just a few hours of making contacts, I did note a few interesting/amusing/annoying things. In this contest, you get points for working stations in other countries (not your own) with what's called a "multiplier" based on the country and something called a zone. (The term "DX" refers to a station from another country.) Without going into too much detail, it's relevant to know that there are 3 zones within the US. Your score is calculated by multiplying your points (number of contacts with stations outside your country) by the zone and country multipliers. You are allowed to work stations in your own country for the multiplier value, you just get zero points for doing so. It's important to note that while you can get the 3 zone multipliers that are available for the US by working stations in Canada, if you want the country multiplier credit for working the US you must work a station in the US. Since it's a zero-point contact, what I try to do is to find a US station that's not busy and work them, since I don't want to take them away from working their DX. Most operators understand this and have no problem with it, but on at least one occasion I called a US station who was CQing (repeatedly) with no responses only to have him respond "SRI ONLY DX". In other words, he was telling me that he would not make a contact with me.

As noted, I only work US stations when they aren't busy which was the case here. A complete contact with both stations exchanging information during a CW contest (which this was) takes around 20 seconds or less. So instead of helping me out by just completing the contact, he probably saved maybe 10 seconds by sending that other information. So much for good sportsmanship. (For what it's worth, I noted his call and will avoid making contact with that station in the future, even in contests where non-DX contacts "count".)

Also during the contest, I was working stations on 20 meters just calling stations and tuning up the band to find the next station. It's not unusual, while doing this, to have another station that is doing the same as you are, and depending on what band you are on and the propagation conditions, you'll sometimes be able to hear the other station. Sometimes, you wind up moving with that other station (sometimes more than one) and working the next station up the band either just before or just after that station repeatedly. Normally this isn't a big deal, but I got stuck behind the equivalent of tractor-trailer truck on small road doing 20mph below the speed limit:

There was a station that would usually call the DX station before me and work him first. No problem. However, unlike the normal orderly contact sequence (which for this contest is very simple: a signal report, normally 599, then your zone, which is 5 for me, meaning my half of the exchange is send in CW as "TU 5NN 5", with "TU" meaning Thank You, acknowledging that I got the contact information from the other station) he'd send something like "TU 5NN 4 4 4 TU DE (his callsign) (his callsign) (his callsign) 73". You might send your callsign if you think the DX station didn't get it, but the accepted way of doing it is prior to the other information and only if you think the other station might not have gotten it correctly. What wound up happening is that the DX station (who is normally working stations very quickly; remember that I mentioned it normally takes 20 seconds or less to complete a full contact) would hear the "TU 5NN 4 4" then assume that the other guy was through sending and send his "TU QRZ?" (meaning he got your info and is moving on), only to realize the guy was still sending. In one case I heard the DX start to send his final sequence 3 times "TU ...  TU ... TU" before the other guy finished.

The problem with doing this is that you slow everyone down, and while it's not against the rules to do this, it's another example of poor sportsmanship. The station doing this had to know that he was slowing everyone down. (And before everyone jumps on me, this was definitely not a new contester, so it wasn't a case of "not knowing better".) I'm not sure why he was doing this, but finally I just gave up and jumped far enough up the band so that he was no longer "in front of me" anymore. (In fact, I went way up the band and started tuning down, meaning that while I might cross paths once more, it would be in opposite directions.

I've got a few more leftovers to go, but I think I'll just put them back in the 'fridge for next time.

1 comment:

  1. Bill N7VEA9:23 AM

    I saw some of that too David. After bumping into the same guy 3 or 4 times I jumped to the end of the band and started working my way the other direction. Wouldn't you know, I got behind another one going the same way I was hihi.

    During the WW SSB I remember calling a dx station, with a whole bunch of other guys, and a high powered W4 came in giving his callsign twice, first a little on one side of the dx frequency, then a little the other side, back and forth, quick calling before the "TU QRZ" and then next time late calling the pile... finally the dx took him and you know what the guy said?

    "Thanks alot for the return on my call. I'm not in the contest but I heard you calling and I wanted to tell you you were 20 over 5 by 9 here in Cowwallow XX. We last worked on 20M back in 2001 and blah blah..." (town name changed to protect the stupid)

    Yikes! I've forgotten to hit the split button a couple times, but if I ever get that bad would one of you guys come over and take my microphone away?

    73, Bill N7VEA