Monday, November 01, 2010

Not the CQWW SSB weekend...or shouting Elephant at contest stations!

Over the years, I've developed an aversion to having anything to do with major HF SSB contests unless I've got at least a beam antenna. Of course, you don't *need* a beam antenna and you *can* make contacts and good ones at that, with a dipole or vertical and perhaps 100w or less. The trouble is that each contact seems to go something like this

DX Station: QRZ Contest
Me (enthusiastically): Golf Four Victor Xray Echo
DX Station: QRZ the X-RAY
Me: Golf Four Victor Xray Echo
DX Station: Gee Four Vee Ex I you're five nine twenty eight.
Me (starting to lose enthusiasm for this): No, it's Golf Four Victor Xray Echo, Golf Four Victor Xray Echo, OK?
DX Station: QSL, Golf Four Victor Xray India you're five nine twenty eight. What's my report?
Me (thinking why did I bother....): No, the last letter is Echo, Echo Echo. Like Espana, Ecuador, Elephant (actually, I've never used Elephant as a phonetic, but I might now I've thought of it)... QSL
DX Station: QSL - Golf Four Victor Xray Echo - you're five nine twenty eight OK?
Me: Roger roger (Thinking thank heavens for that...) you're five nine one four. OK?

Disclaimer: I'm not singling out zone 28 stations! I was just listening to one last night. They're super operators with great ears...

So, you can see that each contact, even with a semi decent setup is a bit of a trial of patience and I have learned it's not good for my blood pressure. I'm quite happy to accept that I could put up a bigger antenna (but then it works ok most of the time for CW and data contacts) and that perhaps my voice isn't that clear (well, sorry, I'm stuck with that).

It's not that I don't like contests - I love hearing the activity generated, and I love hearing DX coming through from all parts of the globe. I'm inclined to think, though that there is now so much interference and general aggro that anyone with a normal suburban station is unlikely to have a great time in the major SSB events (CW and data are usually better options).

Anyway, that's a long way of telling you that I didn't have any contest QSOs over the weekend. Still, I did have a listen on 7MHz last night about 2100z and very interesting it was too. In between the very loud Europeans there was some great DX from the Far and Middle East. JA3YGP (from memory) and 9K2HN were doing great business and good signals on the vertical and there was an Indonesian station coming through too..

Having switched the HF rig on, I listened around a little more. The 5MHz channels were quiet, though I did hear some Spanish fishermen on 5398khz! Listened on 27.555MHz too - someone told me recently that this is a CB frequency that shows activity even when the 28MHz amateur band is quiet. Not much doing there, though I heard some meteor bursts!

It was nice to listen on HF again though. I realise that I have missed playing HF recently, although not shouting Elephant at contest stations!


Julian said...

I know what you mean, Tim, though in fact only about 4 of the 150-odd contacts I made went like that. I did get a lot of people who replied to "Golf 4 India Lima Oscar" as "Lima India Oscar." I even had one say "Limia Inda Oscar." But I think it's some strange mutation of my call that happens in people's heads, as I've even had folk switch it round in emails.

Steve Smith said...

I have to agree with you Tim. I had a go at getting some CQWW contacts on SSB and I found it very difficult and almost frustrating.

I have a modest HF Antenna (G5RV looped in my loft) because I live in a flat. I rarely run more than 50W in an attempt to minimise the chance of any local interference.

I managed 5 contacts, two of those within the UK. I was only in it to give a few points away. I'm hoping that the CQWW CW contest will be more successful for me.

73 de Steve G0TDJ

David, K2DBK said...

I had a similar experience (partially the subject of my latest blog entry). Usually, the loud guys have less trouble hearing me, but that didn't always seem to be the case. I'd assumed initially that they just had so many callers that they couldn't hear me, but sometimes, as you said, they'd just CQ on and on without answering. On the other hand, it did seem like things got better later on in the contest and I wound up intentionally "deafening" myself by putting attenuation in and only working the loudest stations. Very odd conditions, I think.

Steve GW7AAV said...

My kids and I have played a game for many years. While driving we look out for signs pointing the way to the zoo the symbol of which is an elephant. The first one to spot one shouts "ELEPHANT!" and is awarded one point. After reading this post I think we might have to change the rules and when ever we see the sign shout "G4VXE!" instead.

73 Steve GW7AAV

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim.

Even QRO stations with beams suffer the same problems sometimes, and it cuts both ways: even when I'm CQing and running a pileup, I find it very annoying when I accidentally bust someone's call but they don't correct it. I have been using the callsign database checks in N1MM religiously over the weekend at ZM4T, to identify calls that do not appear in the latest MASTER.DTA file. Some of them truly were 'uniques' (people who haven't contested much so aren't in the database) but some were busted calls. So if I saw the "UNIQUE" warning come up, I made the effort to ask the callers to confirm that I had their calls correct: some confirmed (great!), some corrected me (fair enough, mea culpa) but most worryingly of all a few did neither, just sent me their report and disappeared. I probably should have deleted them from the log!

As to elephants, I like working elephants, those being stations with small mouths and big ears. And I like to be an elephant - a big signal on the band but with the ears to match. It's the alligators I hate - all mouth, no ears.

Cheers mate,
Gary ZL2iFB


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