I decided to participate in the ARRL 160m CW contest this weekend and although I was not expecting a tremendous showing (which proved to be accurate) I did realize how slow my code copy was and how much I really need to work to try to gain some accuracy and speed if I am to participate in any other upcoming CW contests.
There were "tells" of those that were using completely computer interfaced operation at the 25+ wpm speeds as well as the ones that were actually doing it by hand. Those that were doing it by hand tended to be a bit 'sloppier' and really provided a challenge to finally get the call correct (I think) before returning an exchange. This has lead me to two options that I can see; either get a better setup for interfacing with the computer or actually get my hands on speed in copying and sending code up above the 21 wpm level. I think the former may be the more practical for me to do since I am still very slow at copying code. Either use it or lose it!
Now with that contest (nightmare) out of the way I am now looking at a couple of upcoming contests that should prove to be more enjoyable and possibly I can present a better showing.
- ARRL 10m Contest (Phone, CW) - Dec. 10th through 11th
- ARRL RTTY Roundup [Digital | 80,40,20,15,10] - Jan. 7 – Jan. 8, 2017
- CQ World-Wide 160-Meter Contest [CW | 160] - Jan. 27, 2017 – Jan. 29
- CQ WPX RTTY Contest [RTTY | 80,40,20,15,10] - Feb. 11, 2017 – Feb. 12, 2017
- CQ World-Wide 160-Meter Contest [SSB | 160] - Feb. 24, 2017 – Feb. 26, 2017
Above are the main ones that I am looking to participate in and even though my CW skills are lacking, I would hate to pass up a World Wide DX 160m contest since that is when I am able to gain the most new countries on one of the hardest bands to work DX without a very elaborate transmitting and receive antenna setup.
Now the CQ WW 160m SSB Contest is indeed one of my favorites and I am working to do all that I can in preperation for this years event. I was fortunate enough to make it into the top 5 for the state of Georgia (5th) for the 2016 year and I am really hoping that I can more than double my 35,035 points in the 2017 contest. It is a very hard row to hoe. Effective 160m contesting and DX stations are very difficult to set up and generally require a great amount of land for the multiple beverage receive antenna arrays which tend to work best for hearing the very weak stations.
Some amateurs despise contesting and don't understand why anyone would 'waste' parts of the bands to participate. For me it tends to accomplish two goals. The first being just an alternate activity that breaks the monotony of the same ole same ole. The second, there is rarely a better way of racking up the hard to get DX contacts on bands such as 160m than during a contest when all world wide amateurs are participating.
Just the fact Jack!