[UK-CONTEST] 50MHz 1st contest observations

Peter Day microwaves at blueyonder.co.uk
Mon Apr 12 06:32:25 PDT 2010

Peter Bowyer wrote:
> Alex
> You've spotted the two-edged sword that is ON4KST, DX Cluster (etc). 
> They enable rapid dissemination of enhanced propagation
> opportunities, but also eliminate the need to be next to a radio all
> the time. So all the fill-in activity that used to go on, now
> doesn't.
> This has been happening progressively over the past 10 or more years 
> as DX clusters and internet facilities have grown in capability and 
> reach.

I couldn't agree more Peter! While both KST and the Cluster have a 
rightful place in amateur radio unfortunately, in contests, many so 
called casual operators just sit there looking at the screen rather than 
calling CQ and/or tuning around the bands.

This was very evident in yesterday's UK Microwave Group 23/13/9cm 
contest. I was operating /P, at a very good location (IO93AD), with no 
internet access and made only a dozen contacts, shared across the 23cm 
and 9cm bands, between 1000 and 1700BST. We do have a 144MHz microwave 
liaison(talkback) frequency which, years ago, was always buzzing with 
stations calling CQ for the microwave contest. These days you're lucky 
to find two or three folk using it as the rest are glued to computer 
screens! Some form of off band liaison in microwave contests is 
essential as the microwave antennas (especially on 2.3GHz and above) 
have extremely narrow beamwidths so calling CQ would certainly be like 
looking for a needle in a haystack.Nowadays, if you don't have KST, you 
have no idea who is on the microwave bands as there's little or no 
activity on 144.175MHz.

I've been doing microwave contesting every year since 1970 and can 
honestly say that my scoring rate and total number of contacts has 
dropped considerably since KST become the modus operandi for contest 
talkback. It's slowed things down in fact.

You may of course ask why I had no internet access yesterday. The truth 
is I do have a vodafone 3G dongle, which I bought under protest last 
year (if you can't beat 'em then join 'em!) but getting a good signal 
into it on hill and mountain tops is not that easy. 3G and even GPRS 
connection is often lost and KST chat messages disappear rapidly off the 
screen in a really big contest like the IARU 432 up.

Why we can't have the challenge of "pure radio" in all contests beats me 
... ie no internet crutches ... it would level the plyaing field a 
little :-)

All that said, I do use KST and the cluster for home, non-contest, 
operations where scoring rates are not important.

A thousand receivers make no noise ....

Peter G3PHO

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