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[CQ-Contest] What should the threshold be?

To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: [CQ-Contest] What should the threshold be?
From: George Fremin III <geoiii@kkn.net>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 09:45:50 -0800
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
I am not sure I care anymore if there is an single op two radio (SO2R)
category or some separate listing or whatever someone wants to see.  I
tend to lean towards not having an SO2R category.

One thing that does strike me is that SO2R seems to have been placed 
very high on some peoples lists of things that make for a high score.
Some contest and modes and even radio propagation conditions make
two radios more useful - and some make the second radio much less useful.

I was just reading over several messages that express a need or desire
to list or mark SO2R efforts in the score reporting for contests I had
a thought along the same lines as KR2Q.

What is the threshold for SO2R?

I think it should be fairly easy to answer but that got me thinking
about my own contest operating and station evolution and about how I
have used or not used two radios over the years.

It also got me to thinking about what order hardware should be added
to a station in order to increase your score - where is the most bang
for the buck so to speak.

Generally speaking I think that adding a second radio does not make
the huge difference in the contest score of a given station.  I know
that is a very general statement and some modes and contest formats
benefit more from highly skilled second radio use than others.

But there are many more things you can and should do to your station
if you have a limited budget and you want to increase your scores.

In the SSB SS - I would not feel very much hindered if I had only one
radio - in fact except for finding a new frequency for my band changes
I am not sure I would miss the second radio much.  What I would miss
is if I only could point a beam in one direction at a time in the SS -
that would hurt my score quite a bit.

When I started doing radio contests back in about 1979 or so I had a
small station - single TS-520, 2 element quad at 40' and some wires
for the low bands at 30'.

The first thing I did to improve my scores in domestic contests from
here in Texas was to get some second antennas - beaming to the NE and
the NW at the same time or just being able to switch between the two
directions is a big deal.  It helped quite a bit.


The next was to get a small amp - the IARU and 10 meter contests did
not have low power categories and I liked these contests so getting an
SB-200 and running 300-400 watts improved my contest scores.

Adding a second TS-520 (borrowed from a friend) was also very useful -
it allowed me to move between two bands quickly without having to tune
up tube finals in the radio.  While not huge it was nice.  In those
days I never thought of listening on two radios. Many folks had setups
like this - some even had single band amps so that was one less thing
to tune up.  While it looked like SO2R it was not - it was one radio
at a time.  This is how I pretty much did 'two radio' and 'three
radio' contesting for many years.  The other radios were used to
change bands quickly and find new frequencies on the new band before
giving up the current frequency.  Should this put someone in a SO2R

Aside from the hardware - getting better at operating has had a huge
impact on my scores.  There is quite a bit of skill involved in radio
contests and just like anything that requires skill the more practice
you get (the more contests you do) generally the better you will do in
this game.

In the last seven or so years that I have had a home station I have
been able to invite some guest ops over - and it has been very
interesting for me to get to watch different people with different
levels of skill operate in contests.

It has been really fun watching WM5R do the 10 meter contest year
after year.  The first year or two that Ken was coming out it was
taking all of his attention to just run guys and get them in the log
at 100+ hours.  Switching antennas, rotating antennas, making or
listening to a comment from me - was just too much more - forget
anything to do with a second radio.  Six or seven years later with
many contests under his belt - he is much more relaxed, he can think
about the contest, his rate is better, he can use a second radio etc.
So, get on the radio and get better at contests.  Do what you can to
improve your scores.  Dont get hung up about needing a second radio to
do well in a contest.

Chances are that if you are not making it into the top ten or top
twenty in a contest - the main reason is not lack of SO2R hardware
and/or SO2R skills.  

George Fremin III - K5TR

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