April 1, 2010, Hicksville, NY – The CQWW Contest Committee announced today that the 2010 CQWW DX Phone contest will be run exclusively on AM (amplitude modulation). No SSB (single sideband) contacts will count for the contest.
The decision by the contest committee is an attempt to merge the growing contest activity worldwide with the increasing interest in boatanchor radio gear as the aging amateur radio population becomes increasingly nostalgic.
“All the time we’re hearing hams complaining that radio was so much more fun in the old days – less QRM, more gentlemanly behavior. And they’re always talking about how great those old radios were. We can’t go back in time, but we can try to re-create those days by having everybody go back to using the gear they had back then,” said CQWW spokesmodel Gene Dylan, W3ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
The announcement has sent contesters hurrying to their user’s manuals to see if their current radios are capable of operating in AM mode. “On my radio, I had to go to menu 47-6, subfunction 23, option 17, alternate function ‘b’ to activate AM,” said contester Henri Poisson, AP/F0OL. “It took me four hours of reading and fiddling with the radio to find it. Once I turned it on, I couldn’t believe how inconsiderate those lousy SSB’ers were with their Donald Duck sounding signals.”
Others are rapidly scrounging for AM gear from their youth or before. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of AM-capable radios being sought and sold at hamfests and online swap forums. Heathkit DX-35 transmitters are reportedly selling for $300-500 more than they were just six months ago, which is to say they are now selling for $325-525.
The higher duty cycle requirements of AM will force participants to run radios and amplifiers at much reduced power levels than typical during SSB contests. Some Italian stations are reportedly only able to generate 2 kW of modulated audio with their amplifiers on AM, while several Russian contest stations have reportedly been able to achieve 5 kW of modulated audio while backing down their contest amps.
One of the side benefits of switching to AM for the contest is that most non-contest users of the bands will continue to operate SSB. Thus, contesters will suffer much less QRM from non-participants and won’t be able to understand their complaints.
The switch to AM for the CQWW DX Phone contest is but one new idea the CQWW Contest Committee is considering. If the AM version of the contest does not prove to popular, or propagation does not continue to improve, and complaints from non-participants continues, the committee is considering moving all of the CQWW contests over to QSOnet.com. But for 2010, it will be all AM.