So this weekend the CQ World Wide DX Contest is happening on the HF bands. I’m not interested in contesting myself but I do use them to catch myself some new countries or prefixes I have never worked. I’m still relatively very new to HF so working Europe still has some panache for me.
The CQ World Wide DX Contest is a contest that takes place twice a year and is open to all amateur radio operators. The contest is designed to promote international goodwill and cooperation between amateur radio operators and to encourage participation in the hobby of amateur radio. During the contest, participants try to make as many contacts with other amateur radio operators around the world as possible, using voice, digital, and image modes. The contest is held over a 48-hour period and is divided into different categories based on the type of equipment and the location of the operator.
The pileups indicate to me that ham radio is not dead and that there are still many of us with all kinds of various interests, equipment, and personalities. It is refreshing to see this after my 15-year hiatus from the hobby. I was fearful the Internet had killed the hobby.
I’m also getting back into the software available to today’s hams. I am a little surprised at how little has changed in this regard. Sure there is some nice stuff out now like logging programs with built-in rig control, but I still see a lot of DOS software. DOS??? Are you kidding me?
Speaking of software, I was watching a DX cluster during this contest to see if it could help me catch some good countries. The clusters are crazy with activity. The call signs scroll constantly! But I learned very quickly that during a contest a DX cluster is useless. It actually adds to the pileups. The better tactic is to slowly prowl the band as we did in the old days.
The new rigs with spectrum scopes help here. I’m getting the hang of my IC-756 Pro in this regard.
- Set the spectrum bandwidth fairly high, like 50 kHz
- Let it sweep a number of times, for about 20 seconds.
- Press the Hold button.
- Tune up and down to the peaks (don’t skip the small ones!).
On a side note: I managed to get my 20m doublet up higher this weekend. It’s now higher than my ham shack LOL (hi)!