Beetle Valley lives

cmschonewaldcox at cmschonewaldcox at
Sun Aug 14 22:07:44 EDT 1994

A Beetle Valley Tale.

A Little Story
You can't tune the same band twice.
   The alarm clock rang. I shook myself and wondered where I was. The clock
glowed 5:30 AM just as I had set it the night before. My mind clock 
earlier had
brought me from deep sleep quickly to lazy resting. The alarm had a different
purpose than time. It told me I had to get up. I must be there for the band
opening. A band opening, as anyone knows who has waited for one, is special.
When you catch it just right, like that perfect wave, it gives you a complete
feeling. I couldn't miss it. Not after so much planning. And I wouldn't 
the alarm
had seen to that.
   I don't know quite why but coffee helps me enjoy the feeling better. There
I was sitting with my earphones on holding the cup close to my mouth, not 
drinking it. The view out the window told me I was secure. It was pitch 
I would see the band grow as the sun filtered through the trees. 
Everything was
in perfect harmony. I would catch the first ripple and ride the building 
wave for
all it was worth.
   The band was completely dead. Searching for the first sign of life 
takes a
plan. Experience dictates it. Point the beam just south of east and tune. The
band always opens that way. Percentages point to keeping the beam on Africa.
Some of those boys never get on again. Ideas race through my head as I wait
and tune. I peak and re-peak the receiver for fear that I accidentally 
hit the
tuning knob.
   Sitting, listening, drinking and waiting for it to happen. 6AM now. So any
   Tune. Tune. Stop. I don't know why. I certainly didn't plan to stop. 
It must
be that some deep unconscious process is at work. I rock the receiver 
knob over
the KHz. There it is, too weak to even get a tone yet but unmistakably a
manmade noise. Peak it with the antenna. Peak it with the preselector.
Concentrate on it. What it needs is a little more sun. I mark it down on 
my paper
and search again. More ripples, all still too weak. The coffee somehow 
was gone.
Why do I feel I must hurry if I'm to get some more. I almost run to the 
pot. I must not miss anything. I must not lose my grip on the band. I am
controlling it. I was the master of it so far. Later it would prove too 
much to
hold, but now I felt secure. Ham radio is infinitely more than 
electronics. It's
     Sitting, drinking, waiting for it to happen. Thoughts fly through my 
     I earn my living as a contester. This was my 16th Universal Contest. I
remember when it used to be hard to get all the calls right. Some calls 
in a log
were always broken. I still have some friends in prison. They got caught 
the use of digital exchanges. They had 1% percent error in their log and 
off to
jail they went. 
     Contest exchanges became more secure when mandatory digital exchanges
were instigated. Each exchange was accompanied by a digital burst. There was
no room for error. I had the Ra-1000 the top of the line. To be 
competitive you
could leave nothing to chance. Nothing. To prepare myself for the ordeal 
of 48
hrs non-stop, I had spent the previous week stocking up on the proper
nutrients.Six hours before the contest, I dusted off my old copy of the 7th
episode of Joseph Campbell's mythology series. You know, the one on the
importance of "OM". For five hours, I repeated this ancient activator of 
energies. I was ready.
     I had decided to enter the partially human category. This allows me 
to just
find the stations and nothing else. The radio and computer do the rest. 
It is
more fun to me than the totally automated group. I guess I'm sentimental 
the human involvement. As computers became more involved in contesting there
developed no excuse for error. Still small pirate groups using pencils 
get on. It
is sad when they ask for a repeat. 
     Later today the JA's will be pounding into my ears. I thought the west
coast finally got what it deserved when Japan ran out of calls and started
issuing decimal call signs. This, I guess, is another thing that did in 
the human
element. You just can not make a dupe sheet big enough. Where do you put
JA3.789ADE? The computer had no problem meeting this challenge. Of 
course, the
prefix boys went crazy. The problem was obtaining enough prefixes to make the
minimum of 50,000 for first stage eligibility while keeping a job. 
Hunting for
prefixes is now only for the wealthy. They have to be on the air all the 
time to
catch the 1,000,000 plus prefixes. Every QSO is a new one. Usually 
marriage or
a job are out of the question. But alas the East coast just waited. Soon most
countries went down the decimal path. 
     By using the digital bar code system, clean copy in excess of 800/hr was
common place. Deciding how to handicap top contesters so everyone was equal
was more difficult. The Department of Contesting (the government office 
in charge
of contesting) first tried applying a voltage to the receiver knob. The 
better the
operator, the higher the voltage. This led to disaster when the # 1 man 
in the
world was electrocuted when he held the knob too long on an expedition pileup
frequency waiting for them to identify. Temperature is now the standard
handicapping method. I have to operate in a room at 110 degrees F. 
     The signals are becoming stronger. As I sit and think, a 1E4 pops 
out from
the noise. A 1E4! These native people had just reclaimed their mountain 
they lost 6700 years ago! Only a few were active and one was in my beam 
My computer quickly calls him hoping no one has yet found him. Instantly his
digital burst shows up on my screen. He is in the computer! In 1997, the 
court had ruled that all peoples have a right to their native lands no 
matter how
recent or far back their claim. An ingenious solution was hit upon by 
high rises, where earliest claimants occupied the first level, and later 
occupied successively higher levels. Each level was self contained and 
over their native land. My computer tells me that 1E4 is on the third 
level of
what used to be called Nigeria. I've got to move fast. S99? What was 
that. Quickly
my computer goes through all bulletin boards and data bases. S99A, that 
be must
it. A dxpedition by the Finns. I push the button. Braaap! He is in the 
log.  But
I will have to wait for more sun. Then the beam will swing further north. 
year I had a multiplier of 1560. Ever since PTI came on the air years ago 
have been 1230 additions to the DXCC. 1E4 was just the latest.
      Soon it happened. I lost control. The band was full of signals 
stacked on
one another. RF-audio frequency stacking allowed as many as six signals to
occupy the same frequency without interference. I moved the dial with all the
speed I could muster. The computer screen showed 500, 700 then 1057 QSO's/hr.
Each QSO was checked against the Sampson data bank. Everyone entering the
contest was required to register their call. You could not work anyone in the
contest who was not registered. Still, every once in a while you would 
run into
a South American you needed. In your enthusiasm to get a number out of the
guy, you would forget he was not registered. All you did was waste time since
the QSO was screened by the computer and never made it into memory. But 
the joy of the partially human category: the operator can still make 
      Finally the final bell! The hard disk lights up. After whirling for 
a few
seconds I can hear the familiar tones of modem calling the Department of
Contesting being called. My results enter the headquarters data bank. 
About five
years ago, a ruling was made that if your results were not in the 
data bank by 0015Z after the contest your registration for the next 
contest was
withdrawn. A strong incentive. I sure liked the more relaxed deadline of 
one day
after the test, but numerous people were caught by the Contest police tape
recording the contest. That was ruled OK. But then some were found to be 
sonograms to analyze the voice characteristics of questionable QSO's to 
their logs. That was too much and the 0015Z deadline was imposed. So now 
all I
have to do is wait till Tuesday at 0015Z for the results. 
     Its a long time to wait, but I can prepare for next weeks Worked all New
Zealand test. Ever since the study in Science Weekly conclusively 
that being isolated on a remote island increased your chances of cancer and
heart disease, and that talking rapidly to total strangers reduced your 
risk, you
can now run the ZL's at 200/hr. Contesting is cheaper than 

 I vote for that 73 K3EST

>From Lee Hiers <0006701840 at>  Mon Aug 15 06:24:00 1994
From: Lee Hiers <0006701840 at> (Lee Hiers)
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 94 00:24 EST
Subject: Packet spots
Message-ID: <60940815052406/0006701840PK4EM at>

Hey Eric...

That would make all the callers try to copy the calls off HF, but it would
kill the sport some of us have made identifying all the folks who put out 
the spots with the wrong call!

Anybody who logs a QSO from a packet spot without verifying the callsign
is crazy!!  Way too many bad calls get put out on the least
here in the SE.

73 de Lee
AA4GA at

>From DAVID ROBBINS KY1H W-413-494-6955 H-413-655-2714 ROBBINS at GUID2.DNET.GE.COM <robbins at>  Mon Aug 15 12:08:09 1994
From: DAVID ROBBINS KY1H W-413-494-6955 H-413-655-2714 ROBBINS at GUID2.DNET.GE.COM <robbins at> (DAVID ROBBINS KY1H W-413-494-6955 H-413-655-2714 ROBBINS at GUID2.DNET.GE.COM <robbins at>)
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 94 07:08:09 EDT
Subject: packet spotting
Message-ID: <9408151103.AA06931 at>

>   Instead of posting the entire callsign in a packet spot, just post the
>prefix.  People hunting multipliers off packet will get the same thrill seeing
>"21025.0  FR5    <2130z  K3NA>" posted as they would if the full call was
>posted.  But then they will be have to copy the callsign off HF.
>-- Eric K3NA

this would defeat the purpose of the 'new qso' filters in ct, we use packet
not only for mults but often for new qso's, especially sunday on the slower

also, about the 'called me' dx spots... I find them very useful, they let you
know the band is open to strange areas, and can let you know that you should
be calling cq instead of s&p'ing so that the station has a chance to find 
you.  i do tell my operators that when they put out 'called me' spots to 
change the freq to the band edge so they don't get a packet pileup on their
cq freq.  hopefully no one would go to 14000.0 and start dumping in their 
call!  especially on a ssb test!!

73, Dave KY1H  Robbins at

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