[CQ-Contest] K1VUT ARRL DX Contest: ramblings of the sleep deprived (long)

David Clemons dave at egh.com
Wed Feb 20 14:17:44 EST 2002

I've been doing this contesting for a number of years, and have been
operating more and more of the 48 hours the last few years.  One thing
I've become familiar with is the strange mental effects of sleep
deprivation.  They are interesting to be sure, and fortunately are
also temporary (I hope).  Also interesting is the fact that I still
learn something new about propagation every contest.

So, in the interest of furthering the art of amateur radio contesting,
or at least in causing a laugh or two, here are some random thoughts from
during and after the contest -

biggest lowlight:

        There's usually a few lowlights of one sort or another (equipment
        failure, rfi, intentional qrm'ers, etc.), but this time there was
        only one for me -

        Saturday afternoon I was parked on 28.028.5 for about 1.5 hours.
        I am concious of the amount of time I spend in one frequency because 
        I will miss out on multipliers if I just cq in one place.  During
        this time period, I was running at a rate of about 80-90 an hour,
        so I stayed put longer than usual instead of s&p'ing.  During the
        1.5 hours, several people whose calls I heard were just above me
        in frequency (350 hz?), but they came and went their way without
        bothering me while my "minipileup" continued.  At the end of this
        time period, someone else came along above me (again 350 hz), and
        after a little while started telling me to QSY.   I realize that
        propagation changes can occur which may mask low power stations,
        but this seemed ridiculous.  What about all the stations calling
        me?  If I was inaudible, then certainly these EU stations weren't.
        Also, I did not change antenna direction or change frequencies.
        Since people were still calling me, I kept working them.  Then
        this operator zero-beat me and started talking to me.  Since people
        were still calling me, I kept working them. When I worked the last
        one, I started to listen to the conversation but by now the op was
        saying something like "GL" (polite but possibly sarcastic) and
        he/she disappeared.  This operator definitely was a contester
        because he/she had something better to do than waste a lot of time
        like the non-contest qrm'ers do.  If you are this operator, please
        understand that I do not do anything to intentionally steal
        frequencies or qrm other contesters.  I understand that everybody
        can't be nice and friendly, but I sure do try.

biggest pileup:

        Late Sunday afternoon I encountered the biggest pileup of the
        contest.  I waited a couple qsos, then heard a YI callsign.  I
        didn't even try to break that one......

sleep deprivation oddities (due to 46 hours operation):

        1.) Saturday night while cq'ing on 40 meters, I lost my mental
            understanding of what these things were that were giving
            me callsigns and numbers.  Since I have again become somewhat
            rational, I can no longer remember what it was that I thought. 
            Perhaps that is for the best anyway...

        2.) After waking up from my 1.5 hour sleep Sunday morning, I worked
            30 or so qsos on 20 meters before I really understood what a
            radio contest is.  I've heard that the military has studied
            sleep deprivation in great detail, and during these times they
            have found that learned motor skills suffer little, but thought
            processes hardly function.  I believe that morse code copy and
            typing in of calls and exchanges became a learned motor skill
            for me a long time ago - good thing.

        3.) Midway through Sunday afternoon, I looked over my left shoulder
            at the floor and started to get dizzy.  Whoa, I guess these
            heights bother me.  (I have worked on many towers, going as high
            as 120 feet without this problem.  I guess the operating chair
            exceeded this height.)

QSO B4 nonsense:

        Five different stations claimed "QSO B4" and refused to work me
        even when I sent "NO NO".  As it turned out, two of them were broken
        calls on my part.  The other three will be lost points on their
        score.  I appreciate it when they follow my "NO NO" with "WKD
        1329 UTC" as it can save me a broken call.  However, just ignoring
        me sometimes will cost them points.  I have seen this discussed on
        the reflector several times, but some people still don't get it
        that they stand to lose as much or more than they gain.


        46 hours was a new operating time high for me.  I could have
        continued on through my 1.5 hour nap on Sunday morning if it didn't
        seem like I had worked everyone on the night bands and if I wasn't
        concerned with running out of energy on Sunday afternoon.  As it was,
        after the contest I took a shower, ate a fantastic supper cooked by
        my wife, slept from 9:00 to 9:30 in front of the tv, then watched tv
        until midnight.  I guess I could have made it straight through 47.5
        hours!  The other 30 minutes off were mandatory for me, spread out
        for a shower and a few pit stops.


        having an understanding wife who appreciates the fact that I get so
        much enjoyment out of such physical and mental exhaustion, even though
        she doesn't understand how it could possibly be fun.  (Sometimes I
        wonder too .... but I manage to put such delirous thoughts out of my
        mind before the next contest comes.)  This woman, to whom I've been
        married for 30 years, has truly been a gift from God in many ways.
        (Did I also mention that she cooks well?)

temporary(?) effects of sleep deprivation:

        Today at lunch I started to pour my orange juice onto my salad.
        Had I not caught myself, I probably would have poured the salad
        dressing into my cup and then not noticed until the first swallow.
        It's three days since the contest - does anyone know how temporary
        these effects really are?

final analysis:

        I don't think we should tell anyone how much fun radio contesting
        is - if we do, someone may tell the government.  They will then
        either tax it or outlaw it.

73, Dave Clemons K1VUT

Dave Clemons

dave at egh.com
Evans Griffiths & Hart, Inc.
55 Waltham Street, Lexington, MA 02421
(781)861-0670, (781)860-9321 (Fax)

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