[CQ-Contest] Getting Kids into Contesting

Doug Grant k1dg at ix.netcom.com
Thu Oct 19 12:49:08 EDT 2000

I read with interest the recent discussions about the lack of new blood in
contesting and ham radio in general, and "the thrill being gone".

For the past several years, I have opened my station for visits from the
local Boy (and Girl!) Scouts during the Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA). I have
found it to be a very rewarding experience, for both them and me.

JOTA takes place on the 3rd full weekend of October, one week before WW SSB,
so this is now Officially a Contest-Related Post (tm). It's a great way to
make sure your station is in good shape, because anything broken will be
revealed during a demonstration.

I have noticed that there is unfortunately not much overlap between the
big-signal contesters and the public-service-minded hams. Well-meaning hams
with below-average stations attempt to impress Scouts from the
Web/MTV/cellphone generation with how cool ham radio is by struggling to
complete a shaky QSO using their tuna-fish-can QRP rig and random-wire
antenna. Duh.

I found operating from home with a KW and stacks to be much more effective
in making demonstration QSOs. The kids also thought the antennas were pretty
cool ("You climb all the way up THERE?!??"). I have also found that the
packet cluster was a cool demo...I put out an "Announce/FULL" asking
stations to send TALK messages back with their QTH, name, etc. Messages
poured in for the next half hour!

One year, I was asked to help out with a JOTA demo at a local campout. The
previous year, the hams that helped had strung up a trap dipole at about 10
feet. They didn't work many people. I showed up with my slingshot, sinkers,
and other tools for installing high wire antennas. The open-wire-fed 80M
dipole up 80 feet or so played VERY well, even barefoot. In fact, I got
almost as many questions about how I got the ropes holding the dipole "up
there" as I did about the radio stuff (answer: slingshot, several sizes of
line, and knots I learned way back when I was in Scouts ).

I would like to encourage you big-signal guys out there to do a small part
in the demonstrations that will be on the bands on October 21. Listen for a
Jamboree station, and call in to say hello. The participants on the other
end will appreciate the big signal to work, and their demos will be all the
more effective. If you are on a DXpedition for the contest, and running a
pileup warming up for the WW, take a break once in a while and listen for
the Scouts who might be calling
(Ben - please don't make me use the cell-phone to call you in Morocco!).

If you have a big station and have a connection to an active Scout group,
invite them over...and invite the parents too. I have found that they are
also curious and learn as much about ham radio as the kids. And since
Scouters tend to be active in a lot of community affairs, good publicity
with them can pay dividends when it's tower-permit-hearing time.

There's a lot of stuff on the ARRL Web site regarding JOTA, and an Official
JOTA site at http://www.bsa.scouting.org/international/jota.html with a lot
of suggestions on how to get kids to get over their mike-fright, and
suggested topics. It's been interesting to watch the troop's "tough guy"
melt down in front of a mike, while the shy kid who's been quietly watching
and paying attention takes his/her turn and reveals N5TJ-level operating
skill. There really are "naturals" - I've seen them!

I cannot say that any of the Scouts that have visited my station have gotten
licensed or into contesting as a result...yet. But I think the seeds have
been planted, and someday I am going to hear "K1DG, you're 5909, and thanks
for the introduction to ham radio back when I was a Scout 20 years ago."

And since the latest fad is pre-event promotion, please listen for K1DG on
October 21, probably on SSB on the highest band open. I will be operating
portable (yes...one of those weak stations, but with 200W and a high dipole
on a hilltop, hopefullly not TOO weak) at a local district Camporee with 400
Scouts running around, most of them seeing and hearing ham radio for the
first time...and maybe hearing YOUR voice!


Doug K1DG

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>From Leigh S. Jones" <kr6x at kr6x.com  Thu Oct 19 00:23:18 2000
From: Leigh S. Jones" <kr6x at kr6x.com (Leigh S. Jones)
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 16:23:18 -0700
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Grounding
References: <39EDE9BE.C2DA03D3 at pi4cc.nl>
Message-ID: <002001c0395a$66cacae0$ede3c23f at kr6x.org>

1) I advise you to use a separate ground system for each operating position.
This means that each operating position should be isolated from the AC power
mains by a "brute force" RF filter.  The brute force AC line filters often
take on the appearance of two tri-filar wound ferrite chokes similar to the
chokes used in grounded grid directly heated cathode power amplifiers at the
filaments, together with a handful of 1000 pf bypass capacitors.  It may be
smart to mount these filters directly at the ground rod used for each
operating position.

2) Separate the operating positions as far as possible.  Separate ground
systems and power lines as far as possible.  Separate the coaxial cables as
far as possible along their entire lengths.  Do not pass coaxial cables used
for any two different operating positions through any common patch panel; if
it is necessary to reconfigure the antenna connections during a contest,
walk the cables from position to position.

3) Stub filters, usually open quarter wavelengths tuned for the next higher
band mounted at the transceiver antenna connector, do not provide very much
protection unless the coaxial cable is very low loss.  This means that it
may be at a higher frequency (such as protecting the 15 meter rigs from 10
meter interference) where the length of the cable would be very short, or
perhaps may require special cable construction (such as a cable made of two
lengths of copper pipe of two different sizes, one inside the other, perhaps
33 feet long to reject 40 meter radiation at the 80 meter transceiver).

4) Experience shows that the most troublesome interference often comes from
a higher frequency band interfering with a lower frequency band.  The basic
rule is that the antenna that is too short to resonate will intercept very
little signal energy, while the antenna that is longer than resonance will
often intercept a great deal of signal energy.The exception is 80 CW
interfering with 40 CW (due to harmonic content of the radiated 80 meter
signal).  This exception is due to the narrow frequency ranges used, which
results in the 80 meter harmonic almost invariably being within several kHz
of the 40 meter operating frequency.

5) The corrollary to the basic rule is that the interference is only rarely
cured at the transmitting end.  More often, troublesome interference is
cured by filtering at the receive end.

6) The effectiveness of L-C filtering is dependent on the care with which
the station ground has been implemented for each operating position.  Good
L-C filters for receiver protection require careful design and very low loss
coils.  The most effective narrow band designs will usually result in
objectionable transmitted power losses if they are mounted anywhere that
transmitter power passes through them.  It makes the best sense to begin the
design of filtering systems with the assumption that low pass filters and
sometimes high pass filters are required, rather than bandpass filters.
Transmit filters used for rejection frequencies above 30 MHz can be
frequency scaled if attention is taken to tune the notches to the bands to
be rejected.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter" <pb0aiu at pi4cc.nl>
To: <cq-contest at contesting.com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 11:19 AM
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Grounding

> Hello,
> Here at PI4CC we have a lot of interference from a station on a other
> band during a Multi/Multi contest. We tried to make filters with stubs
> and there work well but still some qrm.
> We have all antennes mounted on a patch panel. The patch panel is made
> of Lexan. There is no connectivity at all.
> Now our question:
> 1) Does it make any sense to connect all the coax shield a 1 central
> place? Eg at the patch panel. Or will this make more qrm?
> 2) Will have making a ring of solid copper and a connection to the back
> of the rig any sence?
> 73 Peter
> Internet DX-cluster at:
> telnet://dxcluster.shacknet.nu or
> http://dxcluster.shacknet.nu/cgi-bin/clx-cgi
> Homepage PI4CC: http://www.pi4cc.nl
> --
> CQ-Contest on WWW:        http://lists.contesting.com/_cq-contest/
> Administrative requests:  cq-contest-REQUEST at contesting.com

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