Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fi-Ni Report's End of Year Top Ten List

End of the year means it's time to look back and look forward. My crystal ball is a little murky, but here is Cousin QRM's Top Ten Contest and DX Events for 2009. This is a very scientific culmination of what popped into my head. Agree? Disagree? Enjoy.

1. Sunspots
Or rather the lack of them. The predictions by the 'experts' throughout that year that cycle 24 would start "any time now" had the hollow ring of the politician's cry that the economic recovery was "imminent". Finally, we did see some sun spots toward the end of the year. But so far Cycle 24 has been about as robust as the economic recovery.

2. CQWW Contest Committee Gets Some Cohonies
After years of not-so-quietly-whispered rumors about rampant cheating by some competitors, the contesting world was SHOCKED to see several disqualifications handed down by the CQWW Contest Committee. On a roll, the contest committee then implemented some rule changes, among them the requirement for competitors to allow on-site visits to stations during the contest. No more looking at your neighbor's paper for the answers. Now if the ARRL would follow suit.

3. New contest clubs
2009 saw it's usual bemoaning of the death of amateur radio. But the sport of radio contesting continues to attract more and more participants, except from the world of nets. The most encouraging sign of the growth in contesting is the establishment of at least two new regional contest clubs. The Arizona Outlaws and the Louisiana Contest Club opened up shop this year, bringing new blood and camaraderie to the contesting scene. Growth is a sign of health.

4. DXpeditions
It seems no matter where we are in the sunspot cycle, there are always intrepid adventurers ready to go to some rock in an ocean and provide The Deserving with a new one, or two. For 2009 we tip our hat to the folks who brought us K5D, K4M, TX3A, and VK9GMW. They brought us top drawer entertainment, not to mention a couple of new counters.

5. 7O1YGF Accreditation
This one belongs among the Eternal Enigmas of DXing. We had long ago tossed this card in with our Romeo collection for the DXDCCC award. Suddenly, eight years after the fact, this one counts. Like manna from Newington, the news had many of us jumping for joy. Given recent world developments, this may likely be the last operation from 7O for some time, unless you count occupation forces.

6. Xtreme Contesting
The CQWW Contesting Committee makes our year end list again. Showing foresight and courage, they created a new just-about-anything-goes category to encourage advancement of the technology that is going to take radiosporting into the 21st century. While we've yet to see what will be made of this new opportunity, we applaud the effort to make it available. Ultimately, Machco Cueso and Leche Dinero will be recognized as the champions they are.

7. Blogs
This entry might seem a bit self-serving, but as the year came to an end, Cousin QRM had an epiphany. I get more of my day-to-day amateur radio news, information and entertainment from blogs than anywhere else. KA3DRR, K3NG, and G4ILO are must-reads on a regular basis, for their blog rolls if nothing else. is THE source for actual contesting news. Sad to say that the traditional dead-tree news sources have shrunk in importance. They are still enjoyable for the articles, but there is little 'news' in them by the time they arrive on the doorstep. This is true throughout the publishing industry, but our small niche is perhaps more vulnerable than the mass-market magazines. Hopefully, they can still turn a profit and keep publishing.

8. CQ-Contest
Like a pair of favorite worn-out jeans, the CQ-Contest reflector continues to provide comfort and utility. Comfort in knowing that regardless of whatever else may happen in the world, we can count on the annual arguments about cut numbers, Sweepstakes checks, and packet cheating. Somewhere among all the chaff, is an occasional nugget of useful information that (usually) makes all the other worthwhile. Not to mention that it provides inspiration for at least half the entries on this blog.

9. LoTW
The ARRL's Logbook of the World has matured into a useful tool for the DX'er. It still has it's many flaws, but it's still the best show in town. We still miss getting those pieces of cardboard with funny looking stamps on them, but the cost and time savings make LoTW a winner in my book. When first announced, I wondered how LoTW would affect the "business" model of DXpeditons depending on QSL donations for support. It appears that DXpeditoners have adapted to the new realities and it does not appear that LoTW is severely hampering their operations. Now, if we could only get ARRL and CQ and all the other awards to play nice and share with one another.

10. Did I say Ten?
Well, I can only think of nine.

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