[CQ-Contest] station improvement

bogus at does.not.exist.com bogus at does.not.exist.com
Tue Jun 13 16:27:20 EDT 2000

There have been several great suggestions put out, most leaning
towards one area or another.

One that always applies is Rag's, LA5HE, that is work on your skills.
Of course, the question was about "station improvements", not to say
the operator isn't part of the station. ;-)

Before leaning towards antennas, amplifiers, accessories, etc., decide
what contest(s) or type on contests you wish to improve in. In the
domestic contests, antennas can be too high, but I don't believe this
is going to be the problem here.

Let's start with antennas. I am a firm believer that traps are a big
loss. Also, I believe if you can not get good height, let us say
60 to 70 feet, consider a 2 or 3 element quad. Get rid of the
traps. A C3E does well, too, and works nicely on 12 & 17 meters
with a little high SWR. Use good feed line. If it's over 5 years
old or one of the smaller varieties, it probably needs to be
replaced. Low bands, 40, 80 & 160 need to be considered. 
A 2 element beam on 40 seems to be pretty normal now, but a
dipole works well for domestic contests and a vertical for DX
contests will get you in there. For 80, minus the beam, the
same applies and 160, the vertical nearly always wins. Receive
antennas for improved signal/noise ratio are a plus for 160 and
80 meters. Oh, a general rule on height increases is, 50% increase
is worth the increase. Less, don't worry about it doing it. Oh,
I am still using tower that I've put up and taken down over 30
years ago and it's going to Belize when we move full time.

As for the inside station, start with a comfortable and convenient
operating position. Try to plan ahead for tatter station improvements.
Acquire the best rig you can afford, preferably with a computer
interface, but do not sacrifice radio performance to get an interface.
A TS-930 with the interface modification looks good. A lot of discussion
goes on about the transmit side of signals, but they are still all
close. It's the receiver that counts.

Next interfacing all this. The computer logging program can do a great
deal for you in this area. I prefer TR, but the others work well and
you should take advantage of all the features you can. I know there
has been a lot of discussions about the programs doing to much, but
what ever legally lets you log faster, easier and with accuracy,
use it. Automated band switching is one of the features. Either
have your rig or computer switch the antennas. I, often, QSY and
put the amplifier in standby, for the quick multiplier. If needed,
I then switch the amplifier on and retune with the help of knob
setting masks. Yes, an auto tune amplifier is in the future, but
until then, I use this method. It goes along with do the best
with what you have. On CW, the computer does 99.999% of the sending.
With TR, I have the paddles handy, but seldom use them except
for QSY requests and the like. On 'phone, I am going that way
with interfacing the DVS-2 to the computer, but it still works
best with your own voice in the heat of the particular moment.
An easily recordable DVK is necessary. I use the "CQ" and "QSL,
QRZ..." buttons the most on voice. I like a foot switch for the
most used computer function, like CQing. It lets me move my
sitting position. Ah, yes, the chair. You can't make QSO's when
you're not in the chair, so don't cheat here. A good chair keeps
the fatigue level down. Lighting is another important item, often
over looked. In general, make it comfortable and functional.
Put important items, like the monitor in front of you with the 
Watt meter, keyboard at a comfortable level and angle. Use a foot
rest with the foot switch on it. Adjust the chair height for
leg comfort and elbow height to the keyboard.

Take a look at the above, budget for them, and consider your
locations restrictions, then lay out a plan of attack. It won't
happen over night, but you will have objectives to work for.

73 de K8 Joe "Palooka" & Beverly
Joe Pontek
26441 Devaney Road
Arcadia, IN 46030
K8JP, V31JP, VP5/K8JP, VP5JP, K8JP/VA2, ex-K8HKM
Read "The Contest Traveler" in The National Contest Journal
CJ5 '65

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