Topband: Where is everyone?

william radice k4owr at
Sat Oct 22 10:33:45 EDT 2016

:::: Reading this got me to thinking. I'm one of those "contestors" that 
seem generally despised, especially on 80 and 160 meters. I maintain a 
fairly decent station and listen as often as I can, especially on 160. . 
My experience during contesting, and this is over 40 years on the band, 
has been poor to say the least. There is no welcome mat for the likes of 
me. I do my best to operate with a clean signal, and always avoid 
interfering with others. Contesting is not that frequent on 160 so 
should certainly not be an inconvenience to others.

Instead of being happy that the band is occasionally jumping with new 
signals from places not normally heard, we are scorned. I have often 
been working a contest, sitting on a frequency for hours, working 
hundreds of stations, then suddenly been told to get off this frequency 
because "me and my friend meet here all the time". I will generally move 
up or down to accommodate this unreasonable character only to be told to 
move further because this guy has no idea that using his noise blanker 
in the presence of a strong signal (mine) will cause distortion in his 
receiver. I've even been jammed when I try to hear an answer to my CQ.  
I move, and they follow me, sometimes keeping it up for hours. 160 is a 
very large band with lots of room for everyone, but never have I 
encountered such hostility from so called "regulars'. This occurs 
primarily on phone, but I've overheard complaints of CW contest activity 
even though few old timers ever operate down there or use CW at all.

My point is that I find it ironic to see hams complaining about poor 
activity, then giving zero welcome to a few nights of amazing activity 
from contestors who provide lots of activity, the opportunity to work 
stations in areas you might never hear, a great chance to see how your 
station is performing, and the incentive for new hams to join the fun on 
Topband. Consider this when you get on the band and hear a contest and 
resent the activity.

Oh, by the way, I'm an old fart, licensed 62 years now and active every 
single day for the whole time. In the last 10 years alone I have made 
over 7,000 Qsos with stations in 300 countries, just since I moved to 
TN. Before that, three times that number! If you hear me on 160, give me 
a call....always happy to meet a new friend.

Oh, you will hear lots of stations this weekend down on CW. It's the 
Stew Perry Topband challenge.
Try to be patient. Maybe even call a few:-)


>> Here it is Friday  night, with relatively little QRN, but only a couple of
>> signals are audible across the entire 160m band.  80/75m has a few more
>> signals than that, but it's sparsely occupied as well.  Usually by this
>> late in the season one will hear plenty of activity in the evening,
>> especially on weekends.  I have noticed this dearth of activity for several
>> weeks now; it's as if this year's radio season hasn't got off the ground
>> yet, despite the fact that we are almost midway through autumn and the
>> summer QRN has substantially subsided.
>> Is this a trend, and is this becoming the new normal?  They keep telling
>> us we now have a record number of hams in the FCC data base, over 700,000.
>> Those hams certainly aren't on the air, at least not on 160, 80 or 40m.  I
>> can  remember not that many years ago when at this stage in the season on a
>> quiet weekend night one had to scout around to find a clear spot to call
>> CQ.  So far this year, the bands have all had vast swathes of unused
>> frequencies, but the signals that are heard appear to be at normal
>> strength, so the  bands apparently aren't dead.
>> Don k4kyv
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