[CQ-Contest] The April Fast Operator Opening Line contest

Chet, N8RA chetsubaccount at snet.net
Sun Apr 1 08:58:19 EDT 2007

I had a ton of problems with this contest today.

The object is to work another station as soon as they get on the air, and be
the first one in their log. That is the only qso that counts for credit.
Contacts on each new band count as new opening contacts. WARC bands are

To participate, you must have your logging program connected online to the
Lively Scores website, the box for "whole log, whole hog" set, and your
PayPal number on file. The software running on that site will verify each
contact in near real-time, identify each valid #1 contact, and automatically
report your current score.  Your PayPal number is required because you will
be penalized 25 cents for each wrong or invalid contact. This encourages
accuracy better than any other method tried so far. 

This is a one hour early morning contest to accommodate the older crowd. The
wild card is that the exact start time is selected at random by the
sponsor's computer sometime during that hour. So no one really knows what
qso is the first one until so scored by the lively scores site. This helps
level the playing field for all, another attraction of this contest for
those who have not bothered to develop an operating strategy. 

At the top of the hour, I was all set for the SO6R class: 6 radios, one on
each band, ready to go. Special beta version of software from N1MM to run
the radios semi-automatically had been installed.  All I needed to do was
push the F1 key. At the top of the hour, I smashed the F1 key and the
software started the transmitter sequencing and sending the first CQ at 48
wpm.  This is where my troubles began. After the first CQ on the first
radio, the software controlled second radio detected the first radio's CQ
and jumped on it's frequency and answered it. But I didn't have the 6
microkeyers set up quite right and there was a millisecond hesitation in the
software. The first radio missed part of the call and sent out a quick
"AGN". The second radio immediately sent my call again and the logger
completed the contact this time. Just as the software put the second radio
back on the second band and called a CQ there, the lively scores website
sent back the message "invalid contact, invalid contact". The rules say you
cannot work yourself for point or log stuffing credit. Darn! And there is
another rule that says this message must be acknowledged before another CQ
can be attempted. This put another delay into the SO6R loop, but due to its
speed, it looked to me like a static display for the next hour while I tried
to figure out what was going wrong. (The software was actually alternating
between CQ'ing and trying to answer the lively scores server.) All the
flashing LED's in the shack were impressive, but the only thing changing on
the computer display was the PayPal total window on the second monitor,
which continued to increment by 25 cents every couple of seconds. 

At the end of hour I see that $257 has been charged to my PayPal account,
and that my call is at the top of the bad boy listing on Lively Scores
summary for having the most invalid contacts and penalties. The real winner
of the contest was someone from Minnesota who just happened to call a CQ
with a straight key on the right frequency at the right time and made one
contact, proving once again that you cannot win if you don't play..  Oh
well, there is always next year...


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