[CQ-Contest] Two-Radio Debate

Fred Laun K3ZO aalaun at ibm.net
Tue Jan 27 10:45:45 EST 1998

Bill, W4AN, said: "I think you tend to find more interest in doing two
radios the further you get from a favored QTH.  For example, in the DX
contests the closer you get to Boston the more chance you have of running
the boys at 100+ per hour...
Which brings me to Freds points #1 & #2.  I find that if the rate is below
100 per hour, I'm bored.  The 2nd radio brings back the fun for me.  I'd
rather listen to a 2nd radio than read old NCJ's."

While granting Bill the point that being able to run Europe for hour after
hour in a DX contest makes it easier for me to keep from getting bored than
someone from a less-favored location, he misses my point that contests can
be a lot of fun without a participant having to maintain a high rate at
all.  What about S&P?  I think it's more fun than running people,
personally, but it's not going to get me the highest rate.  To use a
drinking analogy, is it more fun to chug-a-lug beer or to slowly sip a fine
wine, savoring every drop?  The chug-a-lugger wants to show off, to have
those witnessing the event marvel at his drinking capacity and therefore
his manliness.  The wine sipper, on the other hand, doesn't care about the
surrounding diners at all -- he is just quietly enjoying his good fortune
at finding an excellent wine to savor.

What I am saying is that contesting has both of these same elements in it.
For those whose location or station hardware make it impossible for them to
chug-a-lug Europeans with the best of them, why not focus on a different
facet of the contest which can bring them an equal amount of enjoyment?
Find a rare and unusual opening on a particular band and work a few
stations that nobody else is getting.  Move to the Novice band and log a
few 2E's and EC's.  Find a rare station's pile-up and fight through it to
get him.

I haven't always lived on the East Coast, and I didn't move here to improve
my chances in the contests but because I was hired by the Government after
college and this is where the job was located.  By the way, there was a
time when no one recognized that New England was the place to be to win
contests. I can recall during my days as one of the operators at Ed
Bissell's super station W3MSK/W3AU, more than one group of W1's dropped by
to learn what the secret was of Ed's location and hardware.

But I grew up in Wisconsin, often referred to these days as part of "the
black hole".  Was I bored by contesting?  I don't remember ever being bored
there.  Some of my fondest contest memories are from those days, operating
my own station W9SZR with 150 watts and a trap dipole which I worked for
days to get in the very highest branches of the trees over my house, or at
W9YT or W9EWC where big antennas and amps opened my eyes to another world
of contesting.  

I don't get bored when the rate drops below 100 because I am thinking while
my MFJ Grandmaster is calling yet another CQ Test about what is going to go
into the account of the contest that I write on this reflector after it's
over, or about propagation conditions and whether I should move the antenna
or change to another band, or about the J45 I couldn't get on 80 the night
before, or about the great JA opening I had on 40 earlier that morning, or
about how the Bureau will forward another eagerly-awaited box of QSL's to
me as a result of all the QSO's I'm making in this contest.  In other
words, when there is a lull in my rate, I let my mind wander a bit so that
I get to savor the different elements of the contest I am in while it is
still going on.  I fear that if I used two radios these quality private
moments would be taken away from me, and the contest would turn into a rat
race just like the one that I was involved in at work before my retirement.
 Who needs that?      

I am distressed to read on this reflector accounts from people who despair
of ever being able to enjoy contests because they are financially or
geographically disadvantaged and therefore can't win.  All I'm trying to
say to them is that, instead of trying to find a new category somewhere
which may allow them to win something or get bragging rights among their
peers, they might just shift gears and learn to enjoy the inner fulfillment
that comes with savoring the contest of the moment for its other qualities.  

73, Fred            


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