testing Q&A

W8JITom at aol.com W8JITom at aol.com
Mon May 27 23:07:51 EDT 1996

In a message dated 96-05-25 17:24:16 EDT, you write:

>Gee...when I took my GENERAL (1966) and ADVANCED test exams, I used the ARRL
>license manual which had ALL THE QUESTIONS and ALL THE ANSWERS.  Hmmmm.....
>de Doug  KR2Q at worldnet.att.net

In 1966 the study guides contained the general overview of the questions, and
a complete technical explaination of the answer. There is a large difference
between that and having actual Q's and A's published.

If I'm not mistaken, you also copied one minute solid out of five, and had to
pass a sending test.

Now even the CW test is multiple guess.

This says nothing about the exemptions given by doctors for CW, and help
given by instructors. We are either becoming a pretty unhealthy society, or
people are cheating and lying to get out of the CW exam. Look at the nuber of
exemptions then and now!
73 Tom


>From syam at Glue.umd.edu (De Syam)  Tue May 28 03:33:07 1996
From: syam at Glue.umd.edu (De Syam) (De Syam)
Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 22:33:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: CW WPX Test: K3ZO Score and Comments
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.3.91.960527222729.21123B-100000 at cobol.eng.umd.edu>

Thanks to all of you at Visalia and Dayton who told me you enjoy my
contest after-action reports, and here is another one.   The one
FAQ by many of you was about the technique of composing this type
of report.  No, I don't take notes during the contest about what I
want to say, but I do make mental notes about some things, and I
use a print-out of my contest log as an aid while writing this up. 
Generally speaking a particular call sign in the log will bring
forth a particular mental note, as long as I write this shortly
after the contest is over, which usually means Monday A.M. about
0100 or 0200 local after I have awakened from my first post-contest
First, the numbers: (single-operator, all-band):
   BAND   Raw QSOs   Valid QSOs   Points   Prefixes   
   80CW       80          80        444       18 
   40CW      742         741       3334      352 
   20CW     1059        1057       2572      335 
   15CW       55          55        147       20 
 Totals     1936        1933       6497      725 
    Final Score = 4,710,325 points.
There are a few salient points about this contest which distinguish
it in propagational terms from other major HF contests.  Aside from
the IARU HF Competition, the CQ WPX CW Contest is the only one held
within one month of the longest day of the year for those of us in
the Northern Hemisphere.  This means:
1) The sunspot cycle has relatively less influence on this contest
than on the others, since the key factor here is the great amount
of the North polar area which is in constant daylight this time of
year.  This means that 40 and 80 will be open fewer hours while 20
will be open late to Europe.  And a good 20-meter morning opening
to Asia is practically assured for those of us on the East Coast.
2) Along with a high solar angle for us comes increased daytime
absorption on 20 meters, which is why European signals are so weak
between about 0900 and 1300 local time.  As strange as it seems at
first glance, this time period amounts to an ideal "off time" for
those of us in the all band category.   
3) Late May is also well into the Sporadic E season so "short skip"
is likely to appear on 10, 15 and 20 without warning.
Well this contest started for me just as a nasty cold was ripening
in my throat and chest.  No, I'm not saying this was necessarily a
disadvantage in a CW contest.  When you're feeling lousy it's
sometimes easier to take a "hell bent for leather" attitude about
the contest, just get in there and "kick butt".  Also if you have
to have a cold (this is the first one that hit me in about a year
- is it just a coincidence that my driving partner and room-mate at
Dayton, W3ZZ, had a cold there?), what better way to endure it than
to be in a contest where the fun you are having will tend to keep
your mind off the misery of the cold?  Actually I feel a lot better
now than I did when the contest started -- Can it be that for those
of us hooked on contesting, contesting is actually part of the
cure?   Still, I have to say thank goodness it wasn't a phone
contest, and thanks to Price Club for stocking those little bottles
of grapefruit juice which allow you to drink it right out of the
bottle during the contest -- fortunately I had laid in a good
supply prior to the contest.
A real disadvantage for me this year was that the Chief Cook and
Bottle Washer (my XYL Somporn) is in Thailand visiting her family,
which means that my diet has been limited this weekend to what I am
capable of fixing myself, chiefly spam and tomato sandwiches.  
Also forgone was that bracing cup of coffee at just the right
moment, although for me coffee and colds don't mix very well so I
might not have had it anyway.  An occasional Dr. Pepper gave me
that minimal amount of caffeine that I needed.   
I started the contest on 20, since it was still open to Europe, in
the belief that for the first hour or so of the contest the
Europeans will be engaged in working each other on 40 and it won't
be so easy to get runs of them going from over here.  So I resolved
to stay on 20 until the rate meter dropped below 100, which
occurred at 0042 GMT.  At that point I went to 40 -- a key factor
in this contest is the double points on 40 and 80, which mean that
a rate of 50 on 40 is just as good as a rate of 100 on 20.   
Forty played well although the tell-tale signs of ionospheric
disturbance began to show up about 0430 GMT with strong W6's with
polar flutter calling me with my beam on Europe beginning about
that time.  Thus it was no surprise for me to see, in checking the
packet node after the contest, that WWV reported a K-index of 4 for
the 0600 time period.  I am blessed with a 40-meter beam with an
exceptional front-to-back ratio (a 3-el Telrex on a 46-foot boom)
and therefore it is an excellent early-warning detector of radio
storminess.  (It also screens me nicely from the QRN in W4/W5-land
this time of year when I am beaming Europe.)  How do you know when
you have a good front-to-back ratio on 40?  When P42V is 30-over-9
with strong polar flutter when you beam north!
The disturbance, though brief, had the effect of dampening the
Asian opening on 40 and slowing the opening of 20 Saturday morning.
With a K-index of 1 you would normally be able to run JA's from
here on 20 starting at about 0900 GMT this time of year even at
solar minimum, but such was not the case this weekend.
I had decided that when the rate meter on 40 dropped below 50 I
would take my first break.  Actually this was probably a mistake
since the rates later in the contest would at times be much lower
than this.  Point #1 to remember for next year.  But with my cold
it's doubtful that I could have held out much longer at any rate.
Anyhow, I packed it in at 0600 and came back at 0900 to try to
catch the 40-meter JA's.  There weren't many, though AL3/N7DF and
W6OUL/WH7 were nice surprises, and I went back to bed at 0945 to
return at 1130 -- 20 didn't look very promising.            
Line noise bothered me on 20 the first morning, especially later in
the morning when absorption made signals from Europe very weak.  I
must have been a terrible alligator at times with the European
runs.  About this time it dawned on me that KE2PF was putting up
some real big numbers.  Until the session on 3830 after the
contest, I blithely assumed that this must be a multi operation. 
What a surprise to find that it was a single op effort.  Congrats! 
He should be writing this, not me!  In looking over the band-by-
band numbers, I think the major difference between him and me was
his ability to run on 20 meters at a good rate all Saturday
morning.  There was a 300-QSO difference on that band in his favor,
and the total QSO advantage was posted almost entirely during the
first 24 hours of the contest.   Meanwhile I took another break
from 1300-1500, in part induced by the cold, which was just about
at its worst Saturday AM. 
Back on 20 at 1500, 20 was still no bargain, though I was happy to
get a few Europeans on 15 around 1700, an unexpected surprise at
this solar minimum.  I had noticed some 15-meter put-outs on the
packet the preceding week at about 1700 so had resolved to give it
a try at that hour.  Yes, it is excellent preparation for the
contest to do a "sh/dx/100 21" and "sh/dx/100 28" Friday before the
contest and see what comes up.  Keeping the times thus discovered
in mind during the contest helps a lot.   Fifteen was well worth
the effort as my 55 QSO's there included 20 new prefixes, including
6W1, 9U5, CW6, and ZW2!      
The contest was still Dullsville for me so I took yet another time
out from 1730-1900.  Finally at 1900 20 was playing!  Signals from
Europe were at long last at a level where the line noise didn't
make any difference.  Things on 20 finally slowed down a bit at
2330 so I decided to go to 40.  Now that the Europeans had had 24
hours to work each other on 40, I figured it would be easier to
crack through earlier than the previous day, and I was correct. 
Conditions to Europe were very good, but the number of callers was
disappointing.  It seems like the number of casual operators who
are up in the wee hours of the morning in Europe are few and far
between in this contest as compared with CQWW.  Given the time of
the year, those who are up at that hour are probably out at the
lake fishing instead of doing ham radio.  Whatever the reason,    
I had to wait until European sunrise for the rates to come up to
normal.  Once again, there were periods of loud polar flutter on
West Coast signals with my beam on Europe, indicating another
period of disturbance.  Subsequent checking with the packet shows
that the K-index remained at 3 throughout the 0000-0900 time
Unlike the previous evening, when my one look at 80 had revealed
tremendous QRN (the front-to-back ratio on my 80 meter beam is not
nearly as good as that on 40), this evening I decided to try 80
beginning at 0120.  Remember, sunrise in Europe this time of year
comes so early that if you want to work Scandinavians and Russians
you have to hit the band early.  Sunrise in Moscow is 0054, St.
Petersburg 0049, Helsinki 0108.  (Thanks to John, ON4UN, for the
excellent sunset/sunrise table book, an excellent reference work
which is always at hand at my operating position in every contest! 
Yes, I do have Geochron thanks to PVRC, but my one and only
computer is otherwise engaged during contests, and I don't think
the XYL would appreciate my dragging her computer into the shack
just to have a sunrise-sunset display during the entire weekend).
Not wanting to be the complete alligator, I limited myself almost
completely to S&P, but the resulting 80 QSO's, almost all 6-
pointers, were well worth the effort.  A pleasant surprise answer
to one of my few CQ's was LW2DFM.  
Finally at 0615 I decided that rates on 40 were so low it was time
for a break, so I went to bed from 0615 until 0830.  With the wife
out of town, incidentally, I indulged in my favorite method for
assuring only the minimum required amount of sleep will be taken
during time-outs.  Since my QTH is within four blocks of
I-95, I leave my bedside Sony 2010 tuned to CB Channel 19 the whole
weekend.  When the XYL is here, such language is not permitted in
our bedroom!  (OK, I admit 3895 would be a reasonable substitute,
but with Channel 19 you get a much wider variety of voices as the
packs of truckers come and go.   Also the conversations are
generally more enlightening than those on 3895.)
I came back to the rig at 0830, and while the band was better to
Japan than the previous day, I could only envy the JA pile-ups on
8R30K and NP4Z.  I could hear all of their JA callers just fine,
but my CQ's somehow didn't produce the same results.  To those
complaining that JA activity isn't what it used to be, there are
still plenty of JA's on the air, but most of them have given up
contesting for DX'ing, and a K3 just doesn't rate.  Especially with
the K3EST multiplier available on the West Coast!
The payoff for using up all but 2 and a half hours of my off-time
already became evident when my first look at 20 meters at 1035
revealed absolutely no line noise at all.  I admit that my cold
played a large part in my off-time decisions, but there was also
some strategy involved.  With a station like mine, at least, when
the rate meter sits between 20 and 50 you might as well quit for a
while.  And I also watch the Weather Channel carefully before each
contest to get some idea of forthcoming humidity levels, which is
the principal determining factor for my particular line noise.  A
dewpoint of 60 or above practically guarantees that the line noise
will go away.  And Sunday was predicted to be more humid than
Saturday, and the prediction turned out to be correct.  There was
also a reasonable JA run between 1115 and 1300.  As soon as that
run was over, I took my final time-out, figuring that the 20 meter
band would be best later.  
When I got back on for the final time, it sure was nice to be able
to hear everything that called me for a change.   Especially nice
were HS50A at 1503, VU2PAI at 2038 and JT5AA/1 and JU1T at 2215. 
With the normal line noise I never would have heard them.
There were a few minor equipment and antenna/rotor problems, none
worth writing about here, as they were little more than nuisance
factors in the contest.  On 20 meters I have a 6-el Telrex Yagi (46
foot boom) at 150 feet and a 4-el W6PU dual-driven quad (33-foot
boom) at 78 feet.  During the hours of weak Europeans on 20 the
lower quad with its lower ambient noise level was definitely a
pleasure to have.  The reflector wire has been broken for a while
but it doesn't seem to make too much difference in its performance.
The driven cell of the W6PU quad is a ZL-special which has a pretty
good front-to-back of its own without the additional reflector
thrown in.
                                 Very 73,
                               Fred Laun, K3ZO                    

>From steven at zianet.com (Steven Nace KN5H)  Tue May 28 04:04:03 1996
From: steven at zianet.com (Steven Nace KN5H) (Steven Nace KN5H)
Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 21:04:03 -0600
Subject: WPX off times
Message-ID: <03040357813931 at zianet.com>

At 01:52 PM 5/27/96 -0400, KM9P wrote:

>Now that I have operated both modes of WPX this year as a SOAB I feel
>qualified and compelled to comment on the 36 hour format....
>                            IT SUCKS !!!!
>Bill, KM9P
>I'm done complaining now... back to net.


Why not complain about stateside being worth zero points. 

Correct me if I am wrong but do Europeans work neighboring countries for 2/4
points?? So a DL can work an F for 4 points on 80 mtrs. How far apart are
they?  A couple of hundred miles? Not even that. I work KM9P in Georgia,
about 1600 miles away for nothin'. Hey, maybe there is some part of the
rules I missed that says I am wrong. Enquiring minds want to know.

Geez, if USA guys were worth something, there might be an incentive to go to
80 and 160 and 10 mtrs. Hey, maybe there would be more overall activity from
this mythical younger generation of non-contesting hams that we all seem to
worry about not wanting to contest.

So, WPX in May, no spots, no stateside QSO points. Thank God for JAs.

de Hose  KN5H

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