Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Contester Forgets Contest

Last weekend's popular Florida QSO Party was absent one enthusiastic participant. Die-hard contester Len Krinkleklotz, WD4FLA, of Lands End Ranch, Florida completely forgot about the annual state QSO party for his home state.

"I look forward to the FQP contest every year, even more so than the big contests. It's my own state's QSO party, so even with a modest station I can be the 'DX' for once. Plus, I get to re-connect with lots of old friends on the air then, too. Make no mistake, though, I'm competitive when it comes to this contest, so I go all out," said Krinkleklotz, 66.

So what happened this year? Krinkleklotz got so wrapped up in an online argument on the CQ-Contest email reflector that he forgot about the contest until after it was over.

"For more than a week now I've been arguing with these knuckleheads on the contest reflector about how all this new technology is just ruining amateur radio and destroying contesting as we know it. The back and forth has been furious. Probably twenty emails a day or more. We keep going back and forth with straw man arguments about sailboats, and motorboats, and rowboats. Someone even chimed in something about snowmobiles. I still ain't figured that one out yet."

"Well, I got so worked up that I spent the whole weekend individually dissecting their faulty arguments and rebutting them. Before I knew it, it was Sunday night and I had missed my favorite contest!"

While disappointed, Krinkleklotz is not discouraged. "I want to make sure that next year when the Florida QSO Party rolls around, I'm working a real live human being on the other end and not some contest robot. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to set some whippersnapper straight about how to use cut numbers properly. I just saw his post and he's got it ALL wrong..."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Contester Criticizes New Technologies

Traditionalist contester and DXer Giuseppi Giancarlo, IB1OF (Italy-Bravo-One-Oscar-Foxtrot), is highly critical of new computer and internet based technologies begin introduced into the realm of HF DXing and contesting. Giuseppi, who has been licensed for over fifty years and an active DXer and contester for most of that time, complains that the blending of computer and internet technologies is destroying the core RF basis of amateur radio.

“All this computer and internet stuff is like rowboats competing against sailboats for traditionalist like me. Once they put those big sheets on tall masts, the real, he-men rowers couldn't compete. No matter how many big, strong paisons you had pulling an oar, it's just not fair watching those “sailors” pass you by while they sit there letting the wind do all the work,” said Guiseppi.

“Me, I believe in amateur radio they way Guglielmo Marconi invented it. They won't let me run my spark gap anymore, but I still use my TNT transmitter and regen receiver. And I still log everything on paper by hand. Well, it's actually parchment, and I use an ink-dipped quill and record every QSO in calligraphy.”

A log checker for a major international DX contest confirmed that Guiseppi's submitted logs are on parchment and in handwritten calligraphy. “They are absolute works of art, but it is a complete PITA to deal with them because someone has to read that stuff and enter it all into the computer for cross-checking. His log takes five times longer than any other just because of that,” said the log checker who requested anonymity.

“All this DSP, and Skimmers, and clusters, and internet stuff. Pretty soon, we won't need the radios and antennas all together,” Giuseppi complained. “It's not the way Marconi did it and it's not the way Hiram Percy Maxim would have done it. Ham radio is supposed to be an old man and his radio, that's it.”

Giuseppi's criticisms were aired on both a posting to the CQ-Contest reflector and on his blog page.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dayton Fashion

We're only about a month away from the Dayton Hamvention, so time to start planning in earnest. In particular, the fashion scene is an important component of the Dayton experience. Big guns, little guns alike, the look at Dayton is as important as it is during Fashion Week in NYC. The top photo shows one of the vendors at a recent hamfest hawking the latest in haute couture for public service activities. Yellow safety vests never go out of style in the ham radioverse, just ask around on your favorite repeater.

The LIDS can't compete with the yellow safety vest, but over at the Fi-Ni Report's home for official merchandise, we do have a new shirt in yellow certain to get you the attention you crave, and an apt description of most of the official LIDS. See the second picture above.

We still have official Lost Island DX Society logo shirts and the beeutiful Dr. DX shirts. Order yours now so you'll have them in time for Dayton.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

CQWW Phone Changes for 2010

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.