[CQ-Contest] FD - yeah, it's different

Rich L. Boyd rlboyd at CapAccess.org
Sat Jul 12 03:07:12 EDT 1997

N4UK has again done what he does best, stir the kettle.  Well, that's not 
the only thing he does well -- look at his SS phone score from last 
year.  I think he won his division plaque.

Several thoughts on FD:

1.  For many years I had never done FD because:
    a.  I didn't come into ham radio through the normal local
        club route, which would probably have brought me into
        contact with FD
    b.  When I did hear about FD or read about it in QST it
        sounded pretty weird to me, not like a "real" contest,
        weird rules, etc.!
        1.  The weirdest things:
            a.  No mults
            b.  Crazy "bonus points" -- nothing like this in
                other contests

     c.  To do FD you had to go out and acquire some items you
         don't normally have in your station, e.g. emergency
         power.  I never had a generator and never ran my gear
         off batteries.  My SX-101 and Viking Adventurers plugged
         into the AC on the wall.  Or...you had to hook up with a
         local club or other FD group who had this stuff.

When my buddy W3IO started pestering me to do FD (he hadn't ever done it 
either) one year I resisted.  He finally convinced me there was nothing 
to lose.  It took a while for me to figure out the weird category 
designations and the bonus points.

Surprise:  I started having fun.  Setting up the station out in the duck 
marsh at the hunting lodge was fun.  And the rates in the contest were 
amazingly good.  And I started developing an interest in generators and 
battery power, things I'd never been interested in...we rented a 
generator that first year, bought an old clunker later, etc.  Though 
emergency preparedness wasn't my primarily interest, I found that I was 
acquiring some knowledge and equipment that tended in that direction.

I've now done FD for the last 8 years or so, haven't always sent the log 
in.  Most of my operations have been 1B with 100 watts and a generator, 
and dipoles between a couple trees, me alone or me and one other op (like 
W3IO or W3HVQ).  I'm impressed with how much there is to FD, how much 
advance planning is important and helpful, etc.  I think the advance 
planning is a large element of emergency preparedness, such as having a 
geneartor available and knowing it's going to start and continue to run 
for 24 hours, etc.

In the FD discussion Ken has started, I don't understand why so many 
people are sheepish about or apologetic about the idea of running a KW or 
operating from a comfortable trailer or van, or using computer logging.  
If you can run your KW and computer on emergency power, what's wrong with 
that?  And if they helped in a real emergency situation, wouldn't you 
want to use them?  If it was a real emergency is there some reason you 
would want to do things in a more primitive way if there was otherwise no 
reason to do so?  I'd say the more sophisticated a station you can field, 
as far as antennas, power, computer logging, keyer, etc., and 
successfully get it all up and running on emergency power, the better.  I 
don't suppose you'd be "logging" in an emergency but you might find it 
more expeditious to type health and welfare messages on a computer than 
to write them out longhand.  So, I see merit in it.  Likewise, why not 
operate from an air conditioned "emergency van" if you go to the trouble 
of getting one and equipping it, and can run it on emergency power and 
such too?  If I was going to operate in a real emergency I guess I'd just 
as soon be in as much comfort as possible, and I guess comfort would help 
me stay at the radio longer in an emergency.  If I can sit on a 
comfortable chair and operate for an extended period, why sit on a rock?

Another point I've made before:  If FD is not a contest it's close enough 
to being one that it certainly brings in new contesters and breaks down 
anti-contesting bias among others.  FD is sometimes called an "operating 
event" or "emergency preparedness exercise."  I've taken to calling all 
"contests" "operating events."  I think we can even make a case that 
contests develop skills useful in emergencies and hence could be 
considered to be "emergency preparedness exercises" too!

It's clear to me FD is a highly constructive part of ham radio and very 
helpful to contesters, in subverting anti-contesting bias!.

73 - Rich Boyd, KE3Q

CQ-Contest on WWW:        http://www.contesting.com/_cq-contest/
Administrative requests:  cq-contest-REQUEST at contesting.com

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list