[CQ-Contest] Get it right

Dale Putnam daleputnam at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 12 18:02:01 EDT 2006

Hi Paul,
  Thanks for the comments, and suggestions, good ideas. And like you said, all are applicable, and some are more appropriate or useful or productive than others. One of the most productive things I have done is improve the antenna system. No, not the 300 foot tower with stacked beams on all bands, just simple things, like another dipole, or another vertical. I've found that a different antenna, one with low angle and one with high angle will allow a more effective operation especially during times when the band is changing. To put it more to the point, the times that qsb is happening, may not necessarily be that the signal fades away. Just that it goes to a different angle of approach, and yes, it seems to fade, but if another antenna is used, the signal is still there. Thus, no repeats or at least fewer. Yes, you must become quick with the antenna switch, and stay with the atmosphere. Practice, as in all things makes it work better. At least for me. 
  This can be expanded upon be a bunch, for more info.
C U in the next test, Paul,
--...   ...--Dale - WC7S in Wy

From: PaulKB8N at aol.comDate: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 06:07:25 -0400Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Get it rightTo: daleputnam at hotmail.com; n5ot at n5ot.comCC: cq-contest at contesting.com

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 Sprint.
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 me.  
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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