Contesting opportunity....maybe

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Scott Parker K7LU

Dec 7, 2018, 1:05:40 PM12/7/18
Something I should have mentioned during last night's net but I didn't remember until about 15 minutes after net closed....

Anyone interested in contesting might want to check out the ARRL 10m Contest this weekend.  So you're probably thinking, at this point in the sunspot cycle, why should I care about an activity that is confined to 10m?

Well, that's what I was thinking exactly 11 years ago.  But as luck would have it, I was employed by Wilson Electronics (then still owned by N7JW) and one of the employee benefits was a ham shack right there in the plant.  So around 5:00 PM, I went over to the station just to see if anything at all was happening on 10.  To my surprise, there was enough activity that I did not emerge from the shack until 10:00 PM. (Whereupon, despite my best efforts, I quickly tripped the motion detectors and had a stumbling and bumbling trek across the production floor in the dark on my way to the alarm panel.) I had done well enough that evening that I decided to put in a serious effort, as can be seen here.

But as they say, past performance is no guarantee of future openings.  10m could be totally dead this weekend.  But the band can definitely produce some surprises.  I was hopeful of a repeating the 2007 experience in 2008.  But at the times I bothered turning on the radio, I found the band to be dead as a door nail.  I think I made some four (local) contacts and turned in a checklog that year.  But even in 2008, 10m offered rewards for the persistent.  Take a look at the scores from Utah for 2008.  It looks like most of us were put off by the dismal conditions and didn't spend much time behind the radio....except for N5LZ (in Cache Valley) who put in the time required (or was just lucky) to be there when the band decided to open - netting 420 QSOs!

If favorable propagation does happen, the 10m contest can be a fantastic opportunity for someone just getting started in contesting.  The 10m band is plenty wide, minimizing QRM and making it easy to secure a run frequency.  Also, contest activity tends to concentrate toward the bottom of the band.  On other bands, that restricts the bulk of activity to holders of higher license classes.  But on 10m, the bottom of the band is available to ALL license classes.  Equal opportunity for all!

For anyone interested in getting on in the contest I would suggest watching a DX spotting network (like this one) for 10m spots coming out of Utah or adjacent states.  That way, you'll know if it's worth your time to head over to the shack.  If there's 10m propagation happening during the contest, it will be spotted for sure.  If you don't see spots coming out of our region of the country, you probably don't need to worry about getting on the air: propagation ain't happenin'.


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