Welcome VE5ZX as our new Surveys Manager!
Dave Pascoe KM3T
January 21, 2003
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Please join me in welcoming Sylvan Katz, VE5ZX as the new Surveys Manager at contesting.com. Sylvan brings many years of radio contesting and professional experience to the job, both of which make him uniquely suited to the task.
Here's Sylvan's bio which will help you to get to know him a little better...
Welcome Sylvan! Also check out Syl's home page !
My journey into amateur radio contesting began with a mystery. My father had
purchased a WW-II tank set in Pittsburgh where I was born. As a youngster he
told me I could take it out of the original packing boxes when I learned how to
build a power supply to run it. By my early teen years I was spending endless
late night hours listening to foreign stations on my American-made Russian-
labeled tank set. With my headphones on my ears and in the darkness of my room
with only the fluorescent glow from the tank set dials to guide my fingers I
explored the mysterious world of radio communications.
During my undergraduate years at the University of Saskatchewan I earned my
ticket. Almost as soon as I earned the right to man the helm of VE5US, the
University club station, Doug, VE5UF, introduced me to contesting. I was
immediately hooked! From the late 1960's through the early 1970's we operated
VE5US in most major contests as either a single or multi-single op entry. After
I left university I worked contests from home as VE5ZX, op syl.
Late at night during contests, especially when an ionospheric disturbance had
plunged stations in the northern latitude into a propagation black hole, I would think about frustrating aspects of contesting. My mind would frequently wander across one question time again and again. I wondered how a small northern station could compare its contest performance to a well-equipped southern station.
In 1990 I had a mid-life crisis. Well I call it a crisis even though it was a
well-planned event. I packed my bags and my rig and I headed to the UK to become a student again. While I kept my contest skills honed at GB5DX and 4U1ITU, I explored the bands as G0TZX from a cold, fifth floor, student flat only two blocks from Brighton beach. To this day the thing that sticks out most in my mind was how easy it was to work dozens of East coast US stations on 40m in an evening using a 100 watts and a random wire hung from the balcony. Working one European station a week on 40m from VE5-land with the same setup would have been a remarkable feat. This experience again made me wonder. Is it possible to compare the performance of two contest stations no matter what their setups and geographical locations?
Another memorable experience about the evolution of contesting has helped me
shape a very different question. When I started contesting the primary tools
were a hand-key, a paper log and a transmitter that you had to zero beat against a receiver when you QSY'd. Over a couple of decades the technology evolved to the point where a memory keyer, a computer log and a transceiver were the primary contest tools. Today we are approaching the point where the rig and the Internet are converging. Someday a station will simply be a node on the global network that can be operated from anywhere on the planet. I wonder how the rapid convergence of amateur radio and the Internet will reshape the amateur radio contest community? And could this evolution provide the contesting community with an opportunity to make more novel contributions to science and technology?
I invite you to help me ask bold questions of our community in contesting.com
survey section. Perhaps by asking questions that probe the foundation of amateur radio contesting and the rapid evolution of contesting technology we can help ourselves understand the unique opportunities before us. So please submit survey questions that explore the foundation and frontiers of contesting with the same enthusiasm that you explored the mysteries that originally brought you into the amateur radio contest community.
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