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.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Contest Community College 2010

The Big Guns over at Contest University have announced the opening of registration for the 2010 session of Contest University, to again be held in conjunction with (but not affiliated with) the Dayton Hamvention.

Most of us LIDS never make it to Dayton and if we did, we'd be too intimidated to enroll in something as prestigious sounding as Contest University. So if you're like us, but still think education is the path to Big Gunnery, don't forget the LIDS own Contest Community College. It's a correspondence course, so you can save your money, and we grade on a curve (if your check clears, you pass).

Below are some of the topics for the 2010 session of the LIDS Contest Community College. Compare our curriculum to the Contest University one and see if ours doesn't meet more of your needs. Registration is open now.

CCC 2010 Topics:
Radio Contesting Relaxed Ethics - Bigger scores, less work, mo' fun
Logging - Accuracy = How to Up Your Rate
Ergonomics and Station Efficiency - How to make room for your keyboard and your beer
Very Basic Antenna Applications - The PL-259 goes where?
Where to put your antennas -NOT where your XYL suggested
VHF Contesting - Yes, Virginia, there's something besides repeaters up there
DX Clusters and Contesting - how to hide your IP address from K1TTT
RTTY Contesting - F-keying your way to victory (some material may duplicate CW Contesting)
Mobile Contesting - As if cell phones weren't distracting enough
CQWW and ARRL DX Contests - Four events you'll never win
Advanced Antenna Applications - Fitting a Big Bertha into a suburban backyard
Sprint Contesting - a whole weekend of insanity compressed into a few hours
Advanced Sprint Contesting - caffeine is you friend
QSO Parties - just because it's a "party" it doesn't mean you break out the hors d'oeuvres
DXpedition Contesting - DX you'll never work from places you'll never be able to afford to go to
Propagation - No, we STILL ain't got no sunspots
WPX Contest - M/S means what now?
CW Skimmer - I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that .
Big Gun Station Economics - Ponzi schemes for beginners

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Considerate Operator's Net

The Lost Island DX Society is proud to announce a new on-air activity. The LIDS are sponsoring the Considerate Operator's Net, an event to celebrate the public service, friendship and utility of the plethora of nets, formal and informal, that operate throughout the amateur radio bands.

The burden of calling, controlling, and guarding the frequency of a net falls upon the shoulders of a handful of dedicated net control stations. The Considerate Operator's Net's goal is to train new net control operators as well as celebrate participation in nets.

Participants in the Considerate Operator's Net are encouraged to train as net control operators by finding a frequency and calling their own net. The suggested procedure is to call "CQ Considerate Operator's Net Test". This is somewhat unwieldy, so it is expected that many participants will shorten this to "CQ CON Test".

Participants not actively training as net control stations are encouraged to check into the nets being called by the net controllers. It is recommended that net control stations give check-in stations a signal report and indicate their approximate location by announcing their CQ zone number. Likewise, check-in stations should also give the net control station a signal report and their CQ zone number. The net control station may then dismiss the check-in station from his/her net and allow them to proceed to check into other nets while the net control station continues to take additional check-in stations to his/her net.

Net control stations and net participants are encouraged to maintain a log of all nets checked into and net check-ins that occur during the activity period. Certificates will be awarded based on the number of total net check-ins and nets checked-into. There is no differentiation between checking into a net or being a net controller and taking check-ins. Both activities count equally. Net logs will be collected and the activity reported at a later date.

Final details and timing of the Considerate Operator's Net activity have not been determined at this time, but preliminary planning indicates the last weekend in October might be a good date for the activity. If it proves popular, we might expand the Considerate Operator's Net test to other weekends.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tis' the Season

.... to wonder just what kind of word is tis'?

Given the current state of the economy, most of us aren't looking for a new Alpha under the Christmas tree or for Santa to leave a load of Rohn 55 in the driveway this year. But don't despair, you can find some inexpensive goodies at the official LIDS store to stuff your stocking with. And for less cheesy stocking stuffers, the LIDS recommend checking out the books and other items from our friends at Dashtoons as well.

We now return to our usual programming.