The CQ 160 contest is one that will go down in history. Many records
were broken. However, along with that went really bad QRM as the narrow
spectrum available to places like Europe and Japan were packed full of
This situation really requires some improved operating techniques to
make as sure as possible that real QSOs are being made and logged.
Most of these have been mentioned before, but are worth repeating.
1. Learn how to QNZ!! QNZ is a old CW traffic term that really should
have a "real" Q signal. It means to zero beat your signal to mine.
The term zero beat can be best understood if you listen to two carries,
slightly off frequency, in the AM mode of a receiver. As the two
signals approach the same frequency, you will hear a beat tone that
represents the difference between the signals. When the signals are
on the same frequency, there is "zero beat".
When the band is crowded - most people have to crank in narrow filters
in order to hear weak signals calling them. I was running at 250 or
300 Hz bandwidth many times. This means I can "hear" signals that are
only 125 or 150 Hertz withing my transmitted signal. Furthurmore, the
guys next to me are listening to signals that might be only 200 Hz from
my signal. If you call me 200 hertz off (as perhaps one or two percent
of the people who call do) - I might not hear you. And if I did, the
guy on the next frequency might think you are working him instead of me.
This results in a certain number of "not-in-log" situations every contest.
I always kind of laugh to myself when someone calls me way off frequency.
I can only hear this when they are pretty loud - but what it means is
that when they call a DX station - there is NO WAY they are going to be
heard. If you are having a hard time having people come back to you, it
might just mean that you need to turn off your RIT. I had one station
calling a DX station who was up about 300 Hz right in the middle of my
passband. He wasn't ever going to work that DX station and he was just
making a bunch of QRM for me. This was not a good situation for anyone.
2. I have ranted about this before - but there were times that I was not
sure a QSO had occurred because the guy who called me never bothered to
send my call. I have two QSOs that I initially took out of my log because
I was not 100 percent sure I was the one being worked.
Imagine the following situation. I am happily CQing and working USA
stations, and out of the blue - a DX station sends his call just after
I finish a CQ. Normally, I would expect that this station is calling
some loud zone 15/16 station that I can't hear - and I ignore it. But
let's say I just decide that maybe this guy is calling me... so - I get
brave - and send the call back to the guy and then I hear an exchange
come back with the right timing. Did I just have a QSO? Furthurmore,
if I ask something like "call?" - I often get nothing in return. Normally,
I will erase these "QSOs" from my log. Had the station just sent my
call once - then I would have known for sure I was the one being heard.
I know it takes some time - but if you don't do in cases where the QSO
isn't a "slam dunk" - you are risking a not-in-log. I ended up putting
these two QSOs back in my log because they were at the start of a run
of DX stations - so I had more confidence that I had control of the
Sometimes in this situation, the station calling me bothers to send THEIR
callsign - when I sent it perfectly. This really confuses me even more
and makes me more likely to think they were talking to someone else.
3. Move up the band if you can!! Lots of people reported having good
results up the band.
73 Tree N6TR
CQ-Contest mailing list