Sad But True

This is one of those topics that usually turns nasty in a short period of time. I have written about this a few times in the past, but it is usually a subject I avoid. Why? Because nothing I write or say will sway those who feel strongly against it. I am talking about amateurs who complain about operators who participate in contests.

It never fails to see a few different threads spring up around the Internet bashing operators, the bogus exchanges or any number of other contest related items. Some operators might consider a contest a “waste of time” as I have seen posted before. When ANY contest springs to life over the course of a weekend, there is a good chance it will be wall to wall signals on the main bands. Depending on the contest mode (CW/RTTY/SSB) different portions of the bands will be used, so enthusiasts who don’t participate can use the remainder of the band.

Take for example this past weekend and the ARRL International DX Contest, there were signals on 20M throughout the entire band! But I did hear a few non-contest QSOs taking place, one which was a rather rude exchange between two operators who were allegedly being QRM’ed by a contest station calling CQ. Their answer was to key up their linear amplifier on the contester.

Sorry, but that should NEVER be the answer to any sort of problem, regardless of a contest weekend or not. Unfortunately not all operators are considerate and there seems to be some animosity between the contest and non-contest operators.

Many question the “mindless” exchange which usually includes a “59? signal report. I’ll admit that all of my contest QSOs have been 59(9) in every contest I have entered. But this past weekend I was able to pull out some “weak” (100w & 200w) signals with much louder stations around running a kilowatt plus. In my opinion I had to use skill in first finding the signal, tuning it and then making a valid exchange.

During a contest weekend there is ALWAYS a portion of every band available to use for those who are not participating. Many operators either dismiss the WARC bands or don’t want to break from their routine or a frequency/band they use daily, usually at a specific time.

I will admit there are some practicing poor operating habits during a contest. Mindlessly calling with their call sign when a DX station is looking for a specific region. I forgot what station it was, but they were looking for West Coast stations only, when suddenly W8 and W9 are calling. And yes, I did check QRZ and none of those stations were situated on the left coast of the USA. Then there are those that I eluded to earlier who tune up on a DX frequency for whatever reason.

Then there is the CW only contester who enjoys to join in on the bashing as well. Why, I don’t know. Contesting is contesting, the only thing that changes is the mode. The ’599? exchanges end up occurring in CW and RTTY just as they do for SSB. I see no reason why a SSB contest needs to be referred to as a “cesspool.”

As for myself I am not in a chase to be the top contester or win awards in every contest I enter. I do it because I enjoy chasing DX. Contests give you that opportunity to add some “new ones” to the list. Out of 71 QSOs this past weekend I had 54 that I had never worked before on phone. So while I had no goals set for this contest I saw this as a successful contest from my standpoint.

In conclusion, I don’t favor participating in EMCOMM, but I won’t be caught calling them derogatory names or bad mouthing their activities. I don’t participate in daily nets, but I don’t knock those individuals for their operating habits. Why? It does no good. Amateur radio is a extremely diverse hobby, there is room for everyone to participate and do what they enjoy. But to speak your mind on the Internet, which if I recall is NOT amateur radio, does nothing to promote what a great hobby we all participate in.

Unfortunately no matter how much I ramble about this topic it will continue to rear its ugly head prior to and after a contest.