Getting Started in Digital Contesting Steve Ford, WB8IMY Why Contest at All?
To enjoy the pleasure of the challenge you against the world or just you against yourself To sharpen your operating skills To better understand your station To better understand the vagaries of propagation To contact states, grids, counties, DXCC entities, etc for various awards
Contesting is Growing and Breaking Records Despite poor HF propagation, the 2008 and 2009 ARRL CW and Phone Sweepstakes saw a record number of log submissions. The 2011 ARRL 10 Meter Contest log
submissions broke historical records for this contest (more than 5,000 logs submitted). The 2010 and 2011 RTTY Roundups set records for log submissions at 1500 and 1800 respectively. Why Digital Contesting?
It is easy on the body no sore throats or worn out fingers It lets you explore the pleasures of integrating your computer and your radio You dont need a big station to make a difference Its quiet! RTTY Is the King of
Digital Contesting Radioteletype (RTTY) is one of the oldest digital modes in Amateur Radio, but it remains the most popular mode for digital contesting. RTTY is fast (as fast as most of us can type) and it avoids the capture effect
common to other digital modes (where the strongest station is the only one copied). Other Contest Modes There are also PSK31 contests and even Hellschreiber contests, but none have yet matched the popularity of the RTTY slugfests.
14 Major RTTY Contests per Year First weekend in January ARRL RTTY Roundup Last weekend in January BARTG RTTY Sprint Second weekend in February CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest
Fourth weekend in February North American QSO Party Second weekend in March BARTG HF RTTY First weekend in April EA RTTY Contest Second weekend in May A.Volta RTTY DX Contest Third weekend in July North America QSO Party Third weekend in August SARTG RTTY Contest Last weekend in September CQ WW RTTY DX Contest
Second weekend in October BARTG RTTY SPRINT Third weekend in October JARTS World Wide RTTY Contest Second weekend in November Worked All Europe DX Contest Third weekend in December OK DX RTTY Contest
RTTY and the Casual Contester Casual contesting is competition for the sheer fun of it, on your own terms as your time permits. Many contesters have very modest stations (like this one). Digital contesting is ideal for modest stations because you can accomplish a lot with relatively little power and minimal antennas
What Do You Mean You Dont Have a Digital Station? All you need is . . . An HF SSB transceiver A computer with a sound card or sound chipset A sound card interface Software Refreshments optional
Sound Card Interfaces They can be simple or complex If All You Want to do Is Control Transmit/Receive Switching, a Single Transistor Does the Trick Or You Can Buy an Interface Off the Shelf
Digital Contest Software Contest-specific programs are best because they provide all the features you need . . . Automatic scoring Duplicate contact checking Multiplier tracking Log submissions WriteLog
$30 from http://www.writelog.com/ Includes sound-card based RTTY functionality N1MM Logger
Free for downloading at http://n1mm.hamdocs.com/tiki-index.php Does not include a RTTY application, but can be used with the free MMTTY software available at http://hamsoft.ca/ Contest Tips and Tricks! Read the rules before the contest starts Choose your operating category . . . Single Op All Band or Single Band? MultiSingle? (Several operators, but
only one transceiver) MultiMulti? (Several operators on different transceivers) Contest Tips and Tricks! Know the exchange Examples . . . Signal report, serial number (beginning with 001) and time
Signal report and state Serial number and age Signal report and IARU Zone Many contest programs already know the necessary exchanges for all major contests OK DX Contest Example Contest Tips and Tricks!
Running vs. Searching and Pouncing Contest Tips and Tricks! Make it easy with Macros (Writelog examples) KEY F5 = WB8IMY WB8IMY %E KEY F4 = %D 599 CT CT DE WB8IMY K %E
KEY F9 = MY STATE CT CT CT CT DE WB8IMY K %E Contest Tips and Tricks! Watch out for duplicate contacts, better known as dupes Contest Tips and Tricks!
IF filters are a must 500 Hz or even 250 Hz in extremely crowded conditions Without filters to separate the signals, youll quickly go insane. References Common RTTY Contest Frequencies 3570 to 3600 kHz 7030 to 7050 kHz 14075 to 14110 kHz
21075 to 21100 kHz 28070 to 28100 kHz References Get On the Air With HF Digital ( www.arrl.org/catalog) CocoaModem (MacOS) http://homepage.mac.com/chen/w7ay/Site /index.html
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