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Collected Wisdom and Lessons Learned for the Little Pistol

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1 Collected Wisdom and Lessons Learned for the Little Pistol
General Notes – READ THIS This presentation is meant for contesters that want to improve their scores. It is not meant to be a basic introduction to contesting, and makes assumptions that the audience has basic contest knowledge. However, this version does contain a short tutorial/refresher on how contests work and are scored, as well as a few other basics to accommodate the occasional non-contester that might be subjected to the presentation. Those sections can be skipped by clicking the appropriate hyperlink button at the lower right of the slide. The home button on each slide links back to the agenda, which contains hyperlinks to the various sections I have other presentations mean to entice non-contesters into the fold, as well as teach the basics. This presentation created for me to give, so there is significant content not on “paper.” If the potential presenter has not heard my pitch, then my notes attempt to give a flavor of what I intended or try to add to each slide. Experienced presenters, and audiences for that matter, will tell you that reading slides to the audience is certain to put them to sleep. Finally, there is a significant amount of animation in the presentation. Don’t click too quickly – you may miss something! At the least, take a slow browse through the entire pitch to see what’s worth waiting for and what is not. Animation – some is timed and delayed, some works on clicks. The presentation needs to be played in Presentation Mode or as a PPS. 73 and GL, Dan Z K2YWE (K3AU) Collected Wisdom and Lessons Learned for the Little Pistol Dan Zeitlin, K2YWE (K3AU) Revised July 2007 Copyright 2006, 2007 All rights reserved Dan Zeitlin, Annapolis, MD Free use with prior permission

2 Acknowledgements Thanks to all those who shared their thoughts with me directly and through review, especially K4ZW, K3ZO, K3RA, K3MM, and KE3Q, and to the many who continue to educate me by example. Thanks to W3LPL and K3RA for awakening my competitive instincts and introducing me to PVRC.

3 Agenda What’s this about? Who is K2YWE? Elements of Success
Preparation Contest Basics (refresher) Strategy Station Considerations Antennas Software Operating Tips and “Best Practices” SO2R Resources Summary Appendix A – Interfaces and Accessories Appendix B - Best Practices Collection

4 What’s a Little Pistol? A Little Pistol in this context is Low Power
Single Op Modest Antennas Wires, maybe a low Beam NOT big towers and/or stacks If you came to hear about how to optimize your stack or which amplifier to buy, you’ll be bored. If you came to try to glean some ideas on how to score better within whatever constraints you may have, then you may like what follows.

5 What’s this about? Objective Improved Scores for Little Pistols (LP)
Intended Audience Modest low power HF stations Parts may apply to VHF/UHF+ How? Make the most with what you have Adopt successful operating practices Virtually all of this presentation applies to high power big-time stations too. It’s just focused on Little Pistols, because brute force is usually not an option. Much like in sailboat racing, Little Pistols should be able to outscore may of high power stations that don’t know how to “point the boat in the right direction” or “make it go fast.”

6 About Dan Licensed in 1956 (KN2YWE) Limited casual contest background
Mostly CW. Mixed rag chewing and DXing Limited casual contest background Occasional FD and Sweepstakes 1996 FD with dyed-in-the-wool contesters Broke the ice. I took the bait. Fell in with a bad crowd. Little part of “Big Gun” team for a few years Same crowd at W3LPL. Set the hook, reeled me in. Little Pistol home station 100W, wire antennas and recently a small low tribander Occasional guest Op elsewhere, usually K3DI CARA/PVRC FD team Primarily 80 CW You’ll probably want to skip this one if you’re not me!

7 Elements of Little Pistol Success
My observations are relevant to most successful endeavors The Right Frame of Mind Preparation Practice Attention to Detail Perseverance Learning from Others

8 The Right Frame of Mind Don’t forget it is a competition
“it's a jungle out there” de N6TR You will not be alone “. . . contesting skill includes the ability to tolerate high levels of QRM, and if you can't do that, you might as well hang it up.“ de K3ZO Think Big “If you think and act like you’re a big dog, you will convince most of the pack that you are, although you may get bitten once in a while.” de K2YWE Accept the environment, and jump into the fray. Show nor fear! QRL!

9 Preparation Have a strategy – write it down
“Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.” Sun Tzu Have a strategy – write it down Provides baseline guidance Try to optimize within your constraints Modify as needed in “battle” Reassess your strategy during the contest Expect to change the details Take radical departures only if you have good reason to, like one or more of your baseline assumptions was wrong Strategy is simply a framework. Depart from it and change it as your environment or assumptions changed. It simply provides guidance.. Strategy is kind of like Store Policy. The store policy is “we don’t cash checks,” but when the bosses wife comes in with a check to cash, we adapt.

10 INSERT key seems to stick!
Preparation Get your act in order before the performance Check your set-up well before the start Antennas, Hardware, Software, support files Set appropriate software defaults Provide enough time for fixing any problems Be well rested for the contest Listen day(s) before to get a feel for Condx Have a simple means to restart software What did I call this file . . .? Re-use the same name for the current contest files. Rename after the contest. INSERT key seems to stick! Listen days(s) . . . Sailing the race course before a sailboat race starts allows the competitor to understand the winds and currents to make use of them during the race. Similarly, checking condx in advance of the contest on different days, bands, and times, will give you a leg up on those that haven’t and help set you strategy. Have a Simple … I learned form W3LPL to always call my contest startup file for ANY contest at hand “Contest.” and change the name afterwards. That way there is no confusion during the contest. Skip Next - Contest Basics Jump to “Strategy”

11 Contest Basics Rules are published well in advance
Individual contest rules spell everything out, including scoring Rules are published well in advance Valid contacts exchange two-way information Contest rules define the specific information Final score is composed of two pieces QSO points – Based on number of valid contacts Points per contact may vary Multipliers – Based on a unique characteristic Usually location - State, Country, Zone, Grid Total Score is QSO points times the Multipliers Total Score = “Q pts” x “Mults” Same stations may provide multiple Qs or Mults Contacts on different bands or modes may each count 31 W6IXB SCV 32 W5AFX STX Basic stuff that you can skip (click) if everyone is a contester Skip Contest Basics Jump to “Strategy”

12 Scoring Example Simple Multi-band contest
Pts/QSO may differ within some contests Might be different by mode, or by local or “DX” QTH Skip Contest Basics Jump to “Strategy”

13 Sample Exchange (CQ WW HF Contest)
Stations try to exchange required info as efficiently as possible “CQ TEST PA0LOU” PA0LOU calling CQ contest “K3AU” K3AU responds “K3AU ” PA0LOU sends the callsign he is responding to, then exchange of RST and Zone “599 5” K3AU sends his exchange “TU PA0LOU” Thanks K3AU and waits for next station to call Results in one “Q” for each station, and a multiplier if the other station’s zone or country has not yet been worked on this band (CQ WW) Efficiency is the key Skip Contest Basics Jump to “Strategy”

14 High Level Thoughts . . . More Q’s are key to producing higher scores
Some reasoning to frame the problem More Q’s are key to producing higher scores Q’s and Mults are both important but . . . Q’s fuel the engine, Mults provide the turbo boost Operating Time is fixed, so Rate must go up! Concentrate on achieving Higher Rates Rate Drivers Successful Running is best rate generator Being Heard and Hearing others At fixed power level, this mainly means better Antennas Efficiency - Less wasted time in and between QSO’s Look to Operating Practices and Shack Arrangement Attracting the other stations Operating Practices

15 Strategy Class Selection Bands and Modes Propagation
Having a game plan pays off during the contest Class Selection Band(s), modes, assistance, number of Ops, … Leverage your strengths Bands and Modes Which, when? Propagation What’s best for Q’s and Mults ON/OFF times selection Time limits Meals, sleep, “real life” periods Operation CQ vs. S&P Rates, Speeds and Timing SOA, MUF, S&P, rates, snacks . . . Q’s, Mults, Bones . . .

16 Strategy Focus on making the most Q’s
Remember that maximizing Q’s is primary to success Focus on making the most Q’s Block out expected S&P and Run times, ground rules Balance with occasional short checks for Mults Base primarily on expected Propagation Range of prediction tools are available QST or CQ tables – simplest Models – most complex, better “Rules of Thumb” GeoClock can help real-time, especially on 160m and 80m Temper predictions with your own observations Allow for time-of-day considerations What’s going on elsewhere in the world

17 ON/OFF Times Choose OFF times at lowest expected Q rates
Make the best use of your time Choose OFF times at lowest expected Q rates Base on your own or other station history Don’t forget minimum OFF time rules Try to ensure using your full time allotment Allow possibility you may want a late slot Don’t get caught short of time at the end I usually leave a late half-hour insurance slot It’s tricky, considering the bullet above Synch with your personal needs (duhh)

18 Rate Rules Set an average rate you want to achieve
Setting Rate Rules helps you achieve QSO goals Set an average rate you want to achieve (Total Q’s) / (Operating Hrs) Set minimum rates you’ll accept Acceptable rate will vary over the contest period Include minimum rates in your Strategy Make a change if you drop below the Rate Change Freq, Band, Mode Swap Running and S&P Chase some Mults some animation here Change your shirt Change Something !

19 Contest Hound Practices with CT
It may not make you perfect, but it will make you better! Be thoroughly familiar with your software A contest is not the time for first trial Gain familiarity in day-to-day use Exploit helpful features Use practice programs and modes Modify settings to suit your style Be comfortable with Run techniques Practice with a simulator Try to operate “run style” (5NN MD DAN BK TU) Pick a day with a good conditions on your best band Use the Best Practices mentioned later in this presentation Contest Hound Practices with CT Most people wouldn’t enter a sports tournament without practicing between events. Radio sports is no different. Train for it and you start out ahead of 75% of the other competitors. Another boring sailboat analogy. We used to go out and perform 30 or 40 of the most difficult maneuvers in practice. We certainly had an advantage over those crews that just encountered them once or twice during a race and never practiced them.

20 Station Improvements Assess Station Strengths and Weaknesses
Put method behind your madness Assess Station Strengths and Weaknesses Take band by band inventory based on performance history Attack Weaknesses with biggest payoffs first Incrementally fill in the holes Expect Antennas to rank high Don’t forget to pick “low hanging fruit” Assess your Operating Practices Bounce your operation against the Best Practices (later) Adjust accordingly Improved Antennas & Running payoff most But every improvement counts – they all add up

21 My Experience Operating Practices Station
Performance improved with incremental changes Operating Practices Better exploited software features (Bandmap, SCP, …) Discovered and incrementally adopted “Best Practices” Biggest single payoff in Operation was Running Started Running – Had assumed not possible for an LP My running rates improved with experience and trials Station Improved antennas – eventually migrated to monobanders None exotic – Delta loop, bent dipole, and lazy U wires Recent addition of small Yagi made a big difference Made shack changes for better” operating efficiency” . . .

22 “Better Operating Efficiency”
No Help! Ugh! Mic Prop Life is Good! Footswitch & Prop Boom Mic & Footswitch Details of my personal phone operation evolution. I’m a CW OP. Was not prepared for a phone contest. Needed too many hands to hold the mike near my mouth, push the PTT, and enter data in the computer log. Desk mike with PTT on base - nice unit, but a pain. I needed more sets of hands. Added a “stand” (books), then a footswitch, and finally a boom set. – ahh! (Applause sound from the computer at end of animation)

23 Station Improvements at K2YWE
Improvements aimed at higher rates Footswitch Frees hands for undisrupted keyboard use CW - Quick T-R transition without listening to QSK noise Boom Mic Less fatigue, freedom to move, respond to local “QRM” . . . Antenna Switching Quick band changes. Replaced connector swaps. Added or Improved Antennas More chance to sustain Run, snag S&P Q’s with less calls Make more “second” tier QSOs “Sensible Rearrangement” of Equipment More efficient, less effort to operate . . . Examples of contest-driven changes that are enjoyed every day as well, and the perhaps obvious benefits.

24 Antenna Improvements What assets exist to hang antennas on?
Be innovative within your constraints What assets exist to hang antennas on? Use all the property lines to full advantage Try to design a system using monobanders Add/change antenna to help your weakest band Consider fixed antenna with gain to EU or West Enable a new band, like 160m for New Mults and more Q’s during slow times Put up even a minimal Yagi if possible

25 Antenna Growth at K2YWE Began with Multi-band loop with uneven performance and a lot of tuning. Made incremental improvements to fix deficiencies 270 ft Horiz Loop Two 40m Deltas Two 40m Deltas and 160/80m Vertical(s) vg gd ok p vp 160 80 40 20 15 10 40m Delta, 80m Dipole, 40m Delta, 80m Dipole 160m Lazy-U 160m Lazy-U, C3SS I did OK with the single all-band antenna, but when I added more band-specific antennas it got better. The monobanders simply worked better. Even the C3SS beam is really three two-element yagis on one boom!). I use the delta as backup all-band antenna. For example, if my beam is pointed in the wrong direction to grab and S&P station or I have trouble hearing an off-bearing response, I try switching to the delta. Often it’s louder. That kind of capability is a nice bonus. Current System with better and more balanced performance

26 on a 45’ AB-577 “rocket launcher”
K2YWE Antenna Farmette Squeezed in three wire monobanders and a 12’ boom tribander 160m “U” 40m Delta serves as m Rx only and Aux Ant for m Small tri-bander on a 45’ AB-577 “rocket launcher” Force 12 C3SS (12’ boom 24ft max element) 75’ 40m Inv Delta 80m Droopy-End Dipole 125’ You can sure cram a lot in 1/5th acre, XYL willing!

27 Software (S/W) Use your Radio and Keying interfaces
Use a contest-oriented program and set it up to facilitate high rates Use your Radio and Keying interfaces Build or buy and integrate them if you haven’t already (Appendix A) It’s very hard to make and sustain high rates without them Recommended S/W Setup (CT shown) WORKDUPES - BANDMAP Window CORRECT call signs - RATE Window Super Check Partial - SCP Window Stop on auto CQ - SCORE Window Spotting Network? View as a strategic decision Can be a valuable asset, especially in S&P Remember caveats about wasting time chasing Mults Some contests force you into Unlimited category Thee settings are in synch with the Best Practices later in the presentation

28 My Favorite Software Features
You can skip to the bansmap if everyone is used to computer dupe checking and using super check parioal (SCP). The bandmap is worth going over, since many people don’t use it. It’s a real boon for S&P. Skip all All Detail- Jump to Best Practics Skip All but Bandmap

29 Dupe Alert (CT screen) Check for duplicate entries is automatic upon callsign entry Alert as DUPE with time & date of previous QSO TI3TLS TI3TLS Skip All but Bandmap

30 Check Partial Call (CT screen)
Call fragments yield possible known contester callsigns The animation helps to explain that fragments anywhere are detected. It is important to point out that this is an aid to help make decisions on what you hear or think you hear. You should not take these callsigns “to the bank.” Matches callsign fragments against database created from recent contest logs and current logged contacts . . . Skip All but Bandmap anywhere in the callsign

31 the Bandmap (CT and N1MM screens shown)
The bandmap saves time in Search & Pounce mode Tells you who is on what frequency, if worked before, and if needed as QSO or multiplier Data is entered by hand or automatically from spots Map updates periodically to expunge stale data Own frequency can be ‘centered’ or scrolled Skip Bandmap Jump to SO2R

32 Time Entered into Bandmap
the Bandmap - CT Time Entered into Bandmap Frequency Call Already Worked in Black Current Transceiver Frequency Needed QSO in Blue Needed Mult in White This animation steps through a scenario. Notice that the bandmap frequency changes in concert with the transceiver, and the time changes. For each step, I usually mention what has just transpired (just worked N4CW) and explain how I can see that. Then I do the same for what is going to happen next (K2YWE has not been worked and he’s close by, so I’m going after him). Radio tuned to N4CW No # or on black bar indicates Worked before Going to tune up to K2YWE, a needed QSO * 21:24:48

33 Time Entered into Bandmap
the Bandmap - CT Time Entered into Bandmap Frequency Call Already Worked in Black Current Transceiver Frequency Needed QSO Needed Mult in White Tuned up to K2YWE Radio tuned up to K2YWE and blue indicates Needed QSO Intend to work K2YWE * 21:25:03

34 Time Entered into Bandmap
the Bandmap - CT Time Entered into Bandmap Frequency Call Already Worked in Black Current Transceiver Frequency Updated Time & Status Needed Mult in White Worked K2YWE (turned black, # went away, time updated) WA6AQQ is a multiplier and is nearby. He looks like good next conquest. Worked and logged K2YWE Status changed to ‘Worked’ and time updated Intend to next work WA6AQQ, a needed Mult 21:25:15

35 Time Entered into Bandmap
the Bandmap - CT Time Entered into Bandmap Frequency Call Already Worked in Black Current Transceiver Frequency Next Needed QSO in Blue Needed Mult Tuned to WA6AQQ, ready to work him Radio tuned up to WA6AQQ # and red bar indicates Needed Mult 21:25:38

36 Tips and Best Practices
“Best Practices” are what successful competitors say works for them.

37 Some CW Tips* - CW Don’t let your code speed keep you from enjoying CW contests Do not be intimidated by stations too fast for you to copy. Start with the slower stations higher in the band. Don't worry if you have to hear a call several times to get it. As the contest goes on your will improve! Call CQ high in the band at a speed comfortable for you. Don’t be shy about sending QRS. Most stations will slow down to your speed. Try moving frequency a bit if you can’t seem to be heard. Often receiver bandwidths in a crowded band are set very narrow. *Some tips are courtesy of the 1999 YCC “Cookbook”

38 Some Phone Tips Use conventional or unmistakable phonetics
Apply these basic Phone tips for starters Use conventional or unmistakable phonetics “Duck Soup” are poor phonetics for “D S” Maintain a “friendly sense of urgency” in your QSOs Chattiness will slow your rate and lose you contacts. Do not be intimidated by stations talking fast or unintelligibly. Firmly ask until you get all the exchange info. Use “again?” It is usually better to ask for one piece of missing info at a time. Listen to what is on your frequency when working split. If you can hear it, you can better time your call or defer until later.

39 Best Practices Basics* - Overall
Every point counts! There’s no such thing as “not worthwhile” When things are slow, call for “anybody” A rule of thumb strategy Work bands that may close first. Move with propagation. This often means in a.m. then later on. Try running rather than chasing spots when high bands are open. Go after the Mults when 20 has slowed, but 40 hasn't opened yet. Keep multipliers in mind “Move” Multipliers if you can do so efficiently Have frequencies on each band set up for quick jaunt Balance the effect on rate and total score when chasing Mults Explain that the value of a mult is not really evident when your Q count is low at the beginning of a contsts. But it will become obvious how much they count when you get more contacts in your log. Moving mults is a skill that ahs to be acquired. Pay attention so se if you need the station on another band. Ask to QSO there if it makes sense. *Some of these tips are courtesy of the 1999 YCC “Cookbook”

40 Best Practices Basics* - Overall
Overall - continued Verify the callsign of the station you're working BV6U and 5C8N are not real callsigns (6V6U and HC8N) Don't log them that way. Always HEAR the call that the station is signing and log it correctly. Animation – some delayed, some on clicks You mean that’s a busted call? The Master Callsign Data Base is not the Bible *Some of these tips are courtesy of the 1999 YCC “Cookbook”

41 Best Practices Basics - Overall
Overall - continued S&P rates can be high early in the contest Everyone is for you. You can quickly hop from station to station with little fear of Dupes. You are usually safe to call first and fill-in the call at the QSO end. Use early S&P to find a spot to CQ You can maintain a high rate while searching for a clear spot. It beats the alternative of establishing a frequency before the Test Be sure to try CQing late in the contest You will be new to many of the stations that have been CQing all along. They will be seeking to squeeze out the last few QSOs. Repeat only what is missing when asked for a fill Repeating known parts wastes time and possible “clear spots.” QRL? . . . “fresh meat” Watch the fresh meat come in !

42 Do you really want to ask QRL?
“Can anyone honestly believe that there is a single KHz anywhere in the relevant portion of the 20 meter band that is NOT in use somewhere in the world during the CQWW?” de K3ZO Mouse click through this one, one panel at a time. It’s an important point. Pick a “clear” spot and CQ without “QRL?” You will only invite others to take the frequency by asking. You’ll find out quickly enough if the Freq is in use by calling CQ.

43 Best Practices General Use K3ZO's "Rule of TWICE" - modify as sensible
If you can't get a station after calling TWICE, move on If he doesn't ID after transmitting TWICE, move on Don’t waste time repeatedly calling DX that has moderate Sigs when the band is otherwise quiet from their part of the world They are probably “opening the band” with lots of ERP Enable and use the band map in your logging software Insist on fills until you get all the info. Use “Again?” on phone Keep the width of an SSB signal in mind Be sure you are away enough from strong stations running not to be covered by a pileup you can’t hear “Twice” doesn’t need to be exactly twice for everyone. My signal is smaller that Fred’s – my rule is three or four . . Point is in S&P it wastes time, and when running people will tire of waiting for you and disappear, breaking your run. .

44 more Best Practices . . . Running
Use the widest IF bandwidth you can stand Less chance to miss off-freq callers, especially on CW Don’t break a run pulling one station through Your rate will suffer if you take too long You will drive away impatient waiting stations Use only a quick ‘Thanks’ if stations are waiting They know your call. Don’t waste time on it. Throw in your call every few Q’s for the uninitiated Send complete exchange with a partial call Nearly all will correct you, good Ops without a missing a beat Fix the call during his transmission

45 more Best Practices . . . Running - continued
Call CQ when bands are dead for the day or worked out Call CQ when the band is active if you are able to find a frequency and hold it Always work Dupes ("WORKDUPE" in CT) If you can't drag a station's call through after trying TWICE, ignore him and start calling CQ again. This is part of K3ZO's "Rule of TWICE." Modify "TWICE" to suit your station capabilities and contest circumstances. Enable call sign correction in your software. This will send the corrected call as part of your goodbye message ("CORRECT" in CT)

46 more Best Practices . . . Running - continued
Speed up if your run is being sustained This is especially true in contests like SS where the exchange includes your call sign. Slow back down appropriately Hit the SEND key as soon as the call is in your head Finish typing in the log during the automated response or while talking TR can do this automatically after 4 characters Move Multipliers to other bands if you have the time Pick frequencies in advance

47 The Complete Best Practices Collection
more Best Practices . . . Running - continued If another station calls CQ on your frequency, try "QRL" or "Frequency in use, QSY" Don't engage in extended frequency fights If QRL/QSY fails, it almost always pays to move Sometimes you can move up or down a bit in order to lessen the QRM and still hang on to "your" frequency NEVER NEVER NEVER acknowledge a "jammer". NEVER. Just keep your pace, and don't change your tone of voice on phone or even synchronize your calls to his QRM. Often throwing in a few fake Q’s will discourage the jammer The complete list is worth looking at. The Complete Best Practices Collection Appears in Appendix B

48 A Word About Single Op 2 Radio
Everyone has their own idea of an efficient SO2R layout . . . K1PT S02R Setup two radios, two computers “Special” contest switch at DF0WA Fun stuff DF0WA’s switch in the vise usually draws a few chuckles - Hey, it’s exactly where he want it. That’s what counts. Old Collins station usually draws some comments. I do point out that most of us mortals are closer to my station, on the lower right. S02R one computer An earlier two radio setup (no PC)

49 SO2R It’s easy for SO2R to be a distraction
Save SO2R until you have nearly exhausted other improvements It’s easy for SO2R to be a distraction KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is key Start with a bone simple independent setup - rigs and logs Use SO2R only when things are slow CQ #1, S&P #2 Alternate CQs Modify your setup operation with experience Many top Ops swear by it (i.e. N6TR) It has potential to add significantly to your score Some don’t use it at all (i.e. K3ZO) p.s. I’m at stage one - less than five SO2R contacts per contest - dbz The top bullet says it all

50 Miscellaneous Receiver Tricks
Hints and Kinks that you may not have considered If the IF is being "pumped" by stations nearby (and in the AGC bandpass) trying running with your AGC OFF”. . . de K3RA Noise limiters can cause noise or clicks when “pinged” by strong adjacent signals. Turn off unless you have no choice.* Just some info. I usually keep the RF gain down and sometimes use attenuators. I do occasionally turn off the AGC, but move if it gets too bad. Fortunately with roofing and good IF filters this does not happen very often. *On the Yaesu 1000MP, turn the adjustment knob full CCW, even when both NLs are off.

51 Local PVRC Resources Multi-Op Station Opportunities
There is ample opportunity and willing help available locally Multi-Op Station Opportunities K3DI in Arnold – Dick Wilder WX3B in Frederick - Jim Nitzburg Help (order not significant!) K3RA – Rol Anders KE3Q – Rich Boyd KD4D – Mark Bailey K2YWE – Dan Zeitlin K3ZO – Fred Laun W3LPL – Frank Donovan ND3F - Brian, VHF+ Single Op Opportunities Often “unused” stations are available Post a query on the PVRC reflector Your chance to volunteer yourself and others. Add or substitute your local resources. (The handsome 15 year old in the background photo is K2YWE)

52 Internet Links Contest Organizations, Calendars, Info, and Sponsors
Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) Contesting.Com Frankford Radio Club (FRC) CQ Magazine (CQWW, WPX, and others) National Contest Journal – NCJ (QSO parties, Sprints, more) ARRL (Sweepstakes, Field Day, DX, UHF/VHF, more) SM3CER Calendar WA7BNM Calendar VK4DX Contest Logging Programs CT NA TR Log Writelog N1MM AC6V’s Logger Links* “includes non-contest loggers

53 “ It’s not the size of your station, it’s how you use it! ”
Little Pistols can successfully compete You can do well with a modest station Prepare and pay attention to detail Remember Sun Tzu Adopt proven Best Practices Don’t be afraid to experiment. Keep what works for you. Run, big dog, run Try to Run if at all possible Start now making incremental changes Make an improvement list and work it down Strategies are important Pick and plan the contests. Use the plan for guidance. There are lots of resources to help you Just ask “ It’s not the size of your station, it’s how you use it! ”

54 Interfaces and Accessories
Appendix A Interfaces and Accessories

55 Hardware Interfaces Complexity Functionality Interface
H/W interfaces vary in complexity Can be from rig or computer. RS-232, parallel, or discretes Switch Relays and Point Rotors Antenna & Rotor TNC or Internet using RS-232 cable or no H/W at all (Telnet, etc) Annunciate and track needed Mults and QSOs Spots Varies with DVP type, but interface itself is not complicated Send CQ and Exchanges with DVP or card Voice “Keying” Simple interface, usually to parallel port Send CQ, Exchanges, keyboard CW, paddle CW CW Keying Varies from RS-232 cable alone, to simple electronic interfaces Track & control Freq and Mode, maintain Bandmap Radio Complexity Functionality Interface Plans and parts for home building are readily available

56 Typical Parallel Port Keying Interfaces
P/O LPT1 1K Low-level positive center keying to rig. Grounded on key down. KEY DRIVE 17 2N2222, 2N 0.01uF STROBE 1 GND 18 1K PTT DRIVE 16 2N2222, 2N Low-level positive PTT to rig. Grounded on PTT keyed. 0.01uF STROBE 1 GND 18 DVP and Band Data discrete outputs are also available on parallel ports. 10K PADDLE A 12 PADDLE B 13 PADDLE CENTER 14 KEYER PADDLE

57 Opto-Isolated Interfaces
Replacing transistors with Optos can improve RF immunity P/O LPT1 1K Low-level positive center keying to rig. Grounded on key down. KEY DRIVE 17 0.01uF STROBE 1 4N25, 4N35, 4N37 … GND 18 1K PTT DRIVE 16 Low-level positive PTT to rig. Grounded on PTT keyed. 0.01uF STROBE 1 4N25, 4N35, 4N37 … GND 18 DVP and Band Data discrete outputs are also available on parallel ports. 10K PADDLE A 12 PADDLE B 13 PADDLE CENTER 14 KEYER PADDLE

58 Typical Serial Radio Interfaces
to PC to Transceiver RS-232 to TTL TTL to RS32 +/- 12V RS-232 5v / 0v TTL Many older Rigs, especially Yaesus, need level translation to PC to Transceiver RS-232 +/- 12V Most newer Rigs only need a simple cable

59 MAX-232 IC 5V/RS-232 CAT Interface
For older Yaesu and other rigs with 5V TTL I/O

60 Discrete 5V/RS-232 CAT Interface
Transistors replace IC as TTL/RS-232 level-shifters

61 Some inexpensive foot switches
The one I use (cheap) $ 8.70 $ 6.95 Best Buys, Baynesville (Balto) and other electronics stores also have inexpensive foot pedals meant for games or music.

62 Best Practices Collection
Appendix B Best Practices Collection

63 Best Practices Collection

64 Best Practices Collection (con’d)

65 Best Practices Collection (con’d)

66 Best Practices Collection (con’d)

67 Best Practices Collection (con’d)

68 Best Practices Collection (con’d)

69 Best Practices Collection (con’d)
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