[CQ-Contest] Take my frequency!!

n6tr at teleport.com n6tr at teleport.com
Wed Mar 1 17:43:06 EST 2000

N5OT writes:

> I would like to hear from Tree and Fred, both of whom get the highest
> respect from me, the answer to a simple black-and-white question:
> Is it okay for someone, who knows they have the resources (mental and
> hardware) to easily TAKE a frequency from another station who has a run
> going, to do so on purpose and with intent?

The real key here is what does "okay" mean.

Is it an accepted practice - not generally.  

Is it illegal - I would say not.  I think we pretty sign a waiver
eliminating protection from QRM when we enter a contest.  Intentional
QRM would be if you QSY and then I QSY to stay on top of your frequency.
Without this - it is impossible to prove "intent" to QRM. 

Is it okay for you take MY frequency?  That really depends on a lot
of things:

1. What am I doing with the frequency.
2. What you are able to do on the frequency.
3. What part of the world are you in?
4. How are conditions changing?

5. What are my reasonable expectations on holding a frequency?  If I am
   QRP - I am going to have this happen a lot.  Get used to it and find 
   another frequency to use for a few minutes before somone else blasts
   me away (typically someone who is close to me and skips over my).

6. How rare of a DX station are you?
7. How loud am I in the receiver of the guy taking my frequency?
8. How much effort am I willing to put into keeping this frequency?
9. Is my rate really affected (sometimes it seems like my rate is
   higher when I have some QRM).

10. How competitive I am trying to be (this could work either way 
    in my decision.  If I am not very worried about my score, I might
    stick around longer).

There are many times during a contest when I lose a frequency.  Typically,
there is a reason why I lost the frequency and it isn't something
personal with the person who "stole" my frequency.  Often, a European
station will fire up on my 40 meter frequency after my sunrise.  He
honestly doesn't know he is doing it - since he is working stations 
who are 30 db stronger than I am.  Depending on what I am trying to 
do - I may - or may not stay on that frequency.

I have a few actual examples of frequency wars that might help.

1. While on 7047.4 during the SS CW contest, I find some station 
asking me to QSY.  There was no place to QSY as I had stations 
above and below me at 300 Hz spacing.  After about 5 minutes, I
was totally blown off the frequency by W1AW code practice.

2. Someone (I forget who at the moment) and I had a big frequency
fight during the last SSCW.  I forget the exact details, but it
involved continuous CQing by both of us on top of each other for
about 5 minutes.  It was the classic frequency fight!!  

We actually exchanged e-mails afterwards and shook hands.  We both
realized that was during the heat of battle and it wasn't anything

3. I remember having a big frequency fight with W5WMU about 15 years 
ago.  I think changing conditions and the fact that he was pointing
somewhere else (i.e., Europe) for awhile contributed to it.  I guess
we were both okay with the situation for awhile but then we both 
thought we owned the frequency.  Needless to say - this hasn't 
been a personal issue.  

4. During some of the 160 meter contests, I often hear stations
calling CQ over and over again with rates around 1 QSO / 3 minutes.
If I am a fresh station on the band - and can't find a place to CQ,
I will sometimes end up CQing very close to them.  Typically, I will
run off a bunch of stations within 1000 miles of me since I am fresh
meat.  After awhile, the east coast station who is 30 db weaker than
I am will either move - or live with the QRM.  My rate meter is over
100 and his is at 20.  Who really owns the frequency?

5. I remember Gary, WA6VEF, telling me he had success on 10 meters
during a California QSO Party calling CQ on my frequency (we were
about 350 miles apart).  Our skip zones were sufficiently different
that we could both work stations on the same frequency.

I think this demonstrates the fact that anyone calling CQ CONTEST
really doesn't own the frequency.  They might be allowed to keep
the frequency if nobody is willing to challenge it, but if someone
comes along and decides they can make a move that will help their
score - then that is PART OF THE CONTEST.  Depending on the situation, 
the other station may or may not be offended.  If you offend enough 
people, your reputation will get around.

You make the choice of how hard people will fight you for your frequency
by your frequency selection.  If I am just getting on for an hour
or two to hand out some QSOs, I will go way up the band where there 
isn't much reason for someone to give me a hard time.  

If I decide to CQ near the bottom of the band (before it opens), it
would be unrealistic for me to expect no challenge to ownership of
the frequency as the skip comes in.

Interference to non contesters is not really addressed here.  This
happens as a byproduct of the activity generated by the contest.  
When you have 3,000 stations trying to use a band - it is going
to get crowded and those with smaller stations - or lower thresholds
of "QRM tolerance" will get frustrated and turn off their radios
in anger.  Personally, I think a contest is the most efficient use
of radio spectrum there is (in terms of # of people enjoying their 
time in front of the radio per kHz).  However, other reasonable 
people will have a different view on this and feel exchanging
meaningless numbers isn't a worthy use of spectrum.  Keeping 
contests off of the WARC bands helps a lot with this problem.

73 Tree N6TR
n6tr at contseting.com

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