[CQ-Contest] Get it right

PaulKB8N at aol.com PaulKB8N at aol.com
Tue Sep 12 06:07:25 EDT 2006

I was one of those guys who required an explanation from Mark that he was  
not a dupe.  Sometimes you see what you want to see when you look at the  
visible dupe sheet.  As a very part-time contester, I've struggled with  some pretty 
horrific logging problems over the years and I've made some  adjustments that 
I think have helped, despite a bonehead error or two during  this most recent 
Here are a few things that I know have helped:
Keyboard/monitor alignment:  I think it is vital to have the  main  portion 
of the keyboard directly below the monitor.  I bought  one of those space-saver 
keyboards to help accomplish this.  At first I  thought the crowded keys 
(much like a laptop) would only make things more  difficult, but after getting 
used to it, I think it is much better.  The  keyboard being only 11" wide allows 
me to position my paddle and my remote VFO  knob where the num pad normally is 
on a full-sized keyboard.  This makes  everything much more accessible for 
Use a keyboard arrangement that works for you:  I decided to try  a black 
keyboard with white letters and I find it is easier to see the  keys.  Another 
advantage is that I can use an indelible Sharpie marker and  black out all those 
extra markings on dual function keys and other keys that are  never used with 
TR.  I've also had an O versus 0 issue, my current computer  shows a slashed 
0 which really helps, can this be set for most computers?
Wear glasses!  I'm one of only a few people my age (58) who can  get by most 
of the time without glasses.  I've finally decided to use  readers that have 
only a minor correction, and it does make the screen and the  keyboard look 
much more crisp and well-defined.
Use the automated features of the software for checking info.  In  my 
situation with Mark, I saw K5OT on my dupe sheet and responded that he was a  dupe.  
Had I typed in his callsign as I heard it (N5OT) the computer would  have 
overridden my mental processing error and completed the Q without  disruption.
Record yourself for practice.  The little Sony minidisc recorders are  really 
super for this.  In the LP4 recording mode they'll go for over 6  hours in 
stereo on one disc with very good quality, and a single AA battery  seems to 
last forever.  You can insert a track mark very easily to  highlight problem 
areas for review.  Its also very easy to record  to your computer hard drive, I 
just like the convenience of the little  recorder, I can plug it into my car 
stereo or listen to it on an airplane.   There are also a couple of hard-drive 
recording devices similar to an iPod that  record for a zillion hours directly 
into stereo MP-3 format. They are still  pricey, but the price will eventually 
come down.  Listening to yourself  struggle with keystrokes and callsigns is 
painful, but illuminating. After  listening to your own recordings, go to 
K5ZD's site and listen to Randy's  contest recordings to see how it should be done.
I hardly one to be an example of how to "get it right", but I've learned a  
few things and I hope to get better.  I'm interested in hearing from  others 
about their improvement efforts.
Paul, K5AF

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