Sunday, July 3, 2011

Contest Impressions from W1UE

Prior to last weekend, I had never operated a contest in this manner.  My impressions:
1. The playing field was about as level as its ever going to get.  Everyone had 1 watt to a small antenna, and
everyone was situated roughly 50M from the nearest stations, then another 50 M to the second nearest station, etc.  
2. The contest required CQ and S&P strategies.  Sitting on one frequency and calling CQ would mean you were losing. 
3. Frequency choice was also required.  In retrospect, I don't think it was an error that the only non-LZ station to break into the Top 10 captured the bottom of the band.
4. Unless you sat there and listened to the entire QSO of the previous station on the frequency, you could not guess at the exchange.  The exchange was made of your 3 digit serial number, and a 3 digit serial number your previous QSO had given you.  You had to copy it; it was not like CQWW where you know 99% of the reports as soon as you have the call.
5. A number of stations had problems with equipment, setup, etc.  IMHO, when setting up 86 stations everything is not going to go 100%.
6. I was the N1MM "expert" for the contest.  I probably helped 30 ops set up their computers for the program.  Unfortunately, many of them had never used it before.  Learning to use any program, let alone one as many options as N1MM, during the contest is not a good choice.
7. I was constantly busy during the contest.  Call CQ, tune the sub rx, call CQ, turn the sub rx, swap VFOs and work someone, swap back, check band map for blue colors, etc.  There wasn't time to waste.
8.  A large part of an international gathering of ops is the social connections that you make.  For me, I had never met a number of the ops.  There are some great ops out there, some that will never make WRTC but are great nonetheless.
9.  After the results were released, competitors were given their UBN report.  You could see what errors you made, and why. 

1.Propagation was eliminated as a variable.  No knowledge of it was necessary to successful compete.

Bottom line: Would I do this again?  Would I come all the way to Bulgaria or New York or somewhere to enter a competition like this?  Yes.  The social aspect, the competition, the uniqueness of the setting all contributed to an enjoyable experience. 

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