[CQ-Contest] Secrets of contesting - my bit

CT1BOH - José Carlos Cardoso Nunes ct1boh at sapo.pt
Mon Feb 2 02:31:10 EST 2004

With Packet on the side of the casual contest participants and SO2R on the
side of the DX station, rate is again becoming one of the most (if not the
most) important skills to win DX contests.

The three most important things about rate are (1) Callsign capture, (2)
Rhythm and (3) call sign identification!

Focusing on Call sign identification, if you are a DX station,

For the DX Station, call sign identification every QSO, prevents big time
rate thus preventing QSO maximization.
For the casual contest participants, call sign identification every QSO by
the DX Station, prevents QSOs that could have been made while the DX station
is sending redundant information to the majority of the pile-up

In every pile-up as far as call sign identification is concerned there is a
price to be paid and a reward to be gained.
The price is QRM, pile-up disruption, break of rhythm and break of
concentration, preventing QSO maximization.
The reward is big time rate and maximization of QSOS.

In every pile-up there are some coming in, some going out, some calling and
some listening. Tremendous and continuous concentration and judgment are
needed on the part of the DX station to best act for the situation. The DX
station controls only 1 out of 4 of these flows (the ones going out, he
works), but he can influence and get information from 3 out of the 4.
Processing this information he will then know when to send his call sign
next, and therefore get the most reward out of the price he is paying to run
the show.

I have done a lot of testing before the contests in what call sign
identification is concerned, in different rate situations and bands, and I
assure you this skill is one of the most difficult to learn and use. I am
absolutely convinced it is a key success factor to win contests.

With SO2R the DX Station joins the casual contesters in many pile-ups. When
I bump into a pile-up and my fellow DX station does not ID often enough, I
start sending "?", and keep sending it in every exchange until I get the
call. I expect the same from everybody in my pile-ups. I never send "Call"
or "CL?" or my call "P40E" if I do not have my fellow DX station Call. I
always send "?". I do not want to disrupt my fellow DX station pile-up,
because if I do so, I will hurt myself - I will spend more time to get his
call sign, work him and start looking for another DX on the second radio. I
keep it as short as I can, and that is "?".

I am not focusing here on (1) call sing capture, but if I want the DX
station to hear my "?" I am hoping the DX station running the pile-up has
the ability and the skill to hear the pile-up while focusing on a call sign
and process all that information that will help him judge when to send his
call sign next.

Every pile-up has 3 dimensions. The first dimension is determined by the
bandwidth of your ears - the length. The second dimension is the number of
stations scattered on the bandwidth - the quantity, and the third dimension
is the number of stations that have others on top of each other - the
layers. The really successful DX operator must have the ability to visualize
and hear all the three dimensions of a pile-up. Only by doing so he will be
able to scan the length of the pile-up and pick the easiest layer - he will
be then rewarded with a full call sign out of the pile-up.

I have operated  28 CQWW Contests as a SOAB since 1989 from DX locations
around the world, from all the continents but Asia, logging more than
175.000 QSOs. Although I like to think I understand and control some of
these pivotal skills, when I go back and listen to the recording of my
contests I am crushed to ground and amazed how much better I could and
should have done in so many situations. The potential from improvement is

On CW, the first time I broke 5000 QSOs was in 1991 as HC5M - 5096. The
first time I broke 6000 QSOs was in 1996 as 9Y4H - 6422. The first time I
broke 7000 QSOs was in 2002 as P40E - 7162. This last CQWW CW I broke 8000
QSOs. I had 8183 QSOs before dupes as P40E. I believe 8500 QSOs on CW could
have been possible to make last CQWW from zone 33/35 with more four good
hours of propagation in that part of the world than in zone 9 (08z until
11z). I am convinced 9000 QSOs will be made on CW in the SOAB category
before the next sunspot cycle maximum. This does not depend only on the
skills of the DX Stations though. It depends mostly on the skills and
correct operating of the (casual) contesters...

Spread the knowledge! Everybody will know what you know and you better know
you need to find more to know than what is known to have a new unknown edge


José Nunes

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list