Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Almost A Winner

I haven't written about ham radio in a while because it's been a while since I've played radios. It's come creeping back in in ways that I didn't expect lately. Last fall and over the winter when I had more time, I would get on the radio during on-air contests and try my hand. In a ham contest you sit at your radio and see how many other hams you can get in touch with. There are different rules for each one and dozens every year. Sometimes you're just looking for contacts in each state, sometimes from all over the world. There are contests where you use voice, morse code, computers (Yeah, two computers can talk to each other over thousands of miles without wires, 802.11b, eat your heart out.)

The first contest I ever entered was the School Club Roundup. In that one you rack up a point for every regular contact, three points for contacting another ham who's in the contest, and ten points for contacting a school. Then you get multipliers for unique states. It runs for a week of school days (instead of a weekend) and just during school hours. I racked up five hundred points or so.

The second contest was the November Sweepstakes. That's where you try to get a contact in every state. There's more to it than that but I'm trying not to bore you. I made one hundred and four contacts, racked up over two thousand points, and finished behind about 78% of the entrants.

I was also in an international contest and made some really cool contacts, including my farthest, 5500 miles to a guy in Brazil. I only made a handful though and finished way at the bottom.

Then there was the winter edition of the School Club Roundup. I had my contesting chops by then and was unemployed had the week off from work. I only racked up about twenty-five contacts, but a lot of them were schools.

There was also contest for Dutch stations, so I made five contacts in the Netherlands just for fun.

Enough about that stuff. A couple weeks ago I got a letter in the mail. It was foreign! It was an odd size and had strange stamps on it! It was those crazy Dutch! They had sent me a ribbon for participation. I wrote about it here. I hadn't ever expected to see the results from that one, let alone hear from them. Suddenly I was thinking about my hobby again.

I subscribe to a ham magazine, which posts a lot about contesting. There was a one page article in it this month about the School Club Roundup. In a sidebar were some comments that contesters had posted to the interweb about it. I decided to read them even for some reason and almost fell of my chair when the first one from the February SCR was from KC2PNF... ME! I crowed to all my ham friends and then promptly forgot about it.

My brother-in-law operated with his girlfriend last weekend at a serious contest station. Some guys take this pretty seriously, investing thousands, multiple radios, computers, the works. They had a blast, particularly because the guy who owned the station was defending the title from last year. It was at this point that I realized that I hadn't checked the standings on the SCR in a while. Most contests are tabulated by computer these days but it still takes a long time for all the entries to come in.

I logged in to the site and downloaded the scores from the fall and winter SCR. I scrolled all the way down to the bottom where the results from the Individual class are. The first one shocked the hell out of me. My measly five hundred points had landed me second place! I opened up the winter results, and there I was again... second place!

Granted, it's a tiny contest that only a few hams bother with, but still pretty exciting for a guy who usually finishes behind several thousand other hams. It looks like I'll be working nights during this years fall SCR. It's tempting to give though to loosing a couple hours of day time sleep to spin the dials and see how many schools I can snag.

Awright, enough ham stuff. I got that out of my system. Just thought you might like to know what kind of geek you're dealing with here.

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  1. I'm going to play WebKinz now.

  2. Nice, Sarah and I are going to be REALLY contesting this winter. Theres been talk of a 40m inverted V in the back yard. But we will see what happens with that.

  3. Nice on the wins :-) When Ben and I become rich and have our serious contesting station you should come over. Just as a warning, the antennas and radios might all be painted pink.

    I posted about our adventures at K1TTT's this past weekend on my blog. You should check it out. I put picts of his station and antenna farm up too.

  4. NERDS!!!

    just kidding that is pretty cool, I didn't know people did such things


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