[CQ-Contest] Whither Africa?

Jack Haverty. k3fiv at arrl.net
Wed Oct 30 15:07:05 EDT 2013

IMHO, Charly's analysis is right on target.  Contests are quite different
when viewed from the perspective of the "casual operator".

My own station is just a quite modest LP setup, far from being a "contest
station".  Judging from the pictures I see on QSL cards, many DX operators
also have simple stations, perhaps a transceiver and a low beam, vertical,
and/or dipole.   That's probably especially true in Africa, except for the
well known superstations or well-equipped DXpeditions.

My closest experience to "being DX" is in the California QSO Party, where
I'm a fairly rare multiplier.   So I occasionally experience a bit of what
it's like to "be DX".  Managing a pileup, pulling callsigns out of chaos,
and typing as fast as I can -- it's all fun, for a while.  But I can't
imagine doing it for hours on end.   It's just not fun, for me, to sit for
hours, or days, feverishly copying callsigns.   Perhaps the ops Charly
describes feel the same way - sitting for hours "running" is simply not
their goal in enjoying the hobby.

Perhaps, like me, they would enjoy getting on the air for a while, staying
as long as it was fun.  Last weekend, that was my intent.  An hour or so
after the starting gun, I got on the air, and discovered that conditions
were "excellent".  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder however.

Even with my modest setup, stations were coming in from all over the
world.   Loud.  All at the same time. All on the same frequencies.   All
CQing endlessly, and trying to extract callsigns out of the cacophony.   I
could hear a superstation from SA CQing on the same frequency as a
superstation from AS, or EU, or NA.   Or all together.   SO2R means we can
now transmit more than ever before, filling the bands with RF.   Spotting
networks save time.   We don't even need to listen anymore, except for our
own callsign coming back.

With worldwide propagation, I couldn't hear anything but superstations.   I
wouldn't expect to hear much AF from this QTH on the California coast, but
my proximity to the salt water usually means I can easily hear stations
from all over the Pacific, especially the islands.  But all I heard were
JAs, lots of them, and a sprinkle of others - HL, DU, VK, ZL.   The rarer
Pacific stations weren't around much either.

Even with a 1.5KHz filter applied, it was still almost painful to listen,
with all the overlapping signals just a few hundred Hertz, or less, apart.

CQing would obviously be hopeless, but I enjoy S&P, so I dove in.  But what
I found was that, with such "excellent" propagation, my modest signal was
never the loudest.  There was always someone, elsewhere in the world, who
got the runner's attention.

No fun to be had.  It was a beautiful weekend, which I spent mostly working
outside.   I certainly wasn't missed.   Perhaps other "casual contesters",
i.e., with modest stations, did the same in Africa.

IMHO, if contest organizers see the dearth of "casual ops" as a problem, it
would be worthwhile thinking about how a contest looks from that casual
ops' perspective.  If you'd like to get them in your logs, it has to be fun
for them too.  It's not necessarily all about rate.

/Jack de K3FIV
Point Arena, CA

On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM, Charles Harpole <hs0zcw at gmail.com> wrote:

> What I hear "foreign" operators say about contests.....  By "foreign" I
> just mean operators who are in fairly rare spots;  of course they are
> residents, not foreigners, where they live.
> What I hear is that ops in these places 1. got their licenses for different
> purposes than contesting or being DX, 2. want to use ham radio for other
> non ham -type goals, and 3. do not enjoy trying to ride herd on a mass of
> rude bad operators.  They do not enjoy responding to QSL requests, paper or
> computer data bases.  They do enjoy an hour or two here and there around
> their other daily duties of relaxed chat and no-pressure on-the-air
> experiences.
> There are likely a majority of hams that are very similar except those
> other hams are in locations surrounded by many Type A contesters, and thus
> their presence is not so much missed--although it would be great to have
> more casual ops to work.  The "rare" ops think of contests as just a wall
> of noise, well beside the point of their goals.
> Believe me, it is very easy to get sick of scads of people calling while
> you are trying to work one.  Many just opt out.
> 73, Charly HS0ZCW
> On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 6:24 AM, Chip and Janet Margelli <
> margelli at socal.rr.com> wrote:
> > Several folks have remarked about how bad the Sunday afternoon dawg piles
> > on Africa were, especially on ten meters (C91KHN and 5H3EE were utterly
> > buried).
> >
> > Surely there must be some connection to the fact that there are so few
> > African stations on these days. How many of the following did you put in
> > your log?
> >
> > 3B8, 3B9, 3C, 3X, 5A, 5N, 5R, 5T, 5U, 5V, 5X, 5Z, 6W, 7P, 7Q, 7X, 9G, 9J,
> > 9L, 9Q, 9U, 9X, A2, C5, EL, FH, FR, S7, S9, ST, SU, TJ, TL, TN, TR, TT,
> TU,
> > TY, TZ, VQ9, XT, and Z2. . .not to mention some of the rarer islands.
> >
> > Where have all the Africans gone?
> >
> > IARU--there are a lot of countries there that seem not to have any
> > activity. More pile-ups to distribute the stations more widely surely
> would
> > ease the pressure on all.
> >
> > And it would contribute to fewer flying objects on Sunday afternoon in
> the
> > shacks of folks who are getting trampled.  ;o)
> >
> > 73 de Chip K7JA
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> --
> Charly, HS0ZCW
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