I am currently working, we can classify events based on mode/type of contest.
- Mode: Cw, Ssb, RTTY/FT8, Mixed-mode
- Type of contest: DX, Domestic, QSO Party, SPRINT
- Contest Length: 4, 12, 24, 30, 36, 48 hours
- Serious operation / Casual operation
I make the required preparations enabling me to run the best contest event I can.
- Before EVERY contest for WQ6X certain things apply, including:
- Checking the Space-WX as well as the local WX
- Eyeball the radio equipment, the antennas, the cables, and anything
- Make sure there is plenty of Kona coffee ready for brewing,
along with a supply of Cherry Cola.
- The rules of EACH contest are read thoroughly to determine:
- Should I run Single-OP Assisted or Unassisted?
- In single-band contests, should I run Cw-only, Ssb-only
- Should I run single-band or multi-band?
- Should I run high power, low power or QRP?
- Before a Cw contest, a number of things should be attended to:
- Code Practice - W1AW @048.5 Khz on each band.
- Tune the band(s) testing the Cw-narrow/audio filters.
- Load up and test the Cw memory keyer memories.
- Check the Key/paddle cables and repair them if necessary.
- Make TEST CQ calls and note the RBN statistics.
- Before an Ssb contest I usually do the following:
- Test the microphone(s) and their cabling.
- Practice speaking your callsign & each element of the exchange.
- Load up and test the voice keyer memories.
- Before an RTTY contest both ends need to be tested:
- Tune the band(s) for RTTY signals ensuring proper decoding.
- I transmit a special "Tasting 1,2,3...." message which allows determining the proper transmit audio levels and the duty cycle for the power level being run. Luckily, my FT-1000mp can run full-duty at the full 100 watt level with barely
a trace of dissipated heat.
- Before Dx contests, a number of things are important:
- Checking DX Maps at different times to see the propagation paths,
offer a propagation picture as reported by the spotting websites/receivers.
- Listening for signals at different times of the day give an indication of what propagation is REALLY like.
- Listening to the NCDXF and Letter beacons can offer insight as to what areas of the world will be most beneficial to focus on.
- Before domestic contest events like Sweepstakes and Field Day, certain things
- Tracking the Space-WX K-Index levels just-before/during the event offers
an indication as to the continent signal levels that can be expected.
- Checking the RBN stats from my test-CQ's on each band to determine
what are the most effective "pipelines" to what areas of the continent.
- Before state/area QSO parties I make it a point to find out what the county structure is. Most state QSO party websites have information (or a link to such information) about the counties. Logging software (such as N1MM+) has built-in county lists for each event.
Being well-prepared for every radiosport event makes a huge difference, not only when everything runs well, but most specifically when things go wrong. Proper event preparation makes it easier to more easily switch to a "backup plan" immediately and continue forward as effectively as possible.
Do YOU make elaborate preparations for radiosport events?
What steps do YOU take?