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Contesting from Jordan

Peter Dillon (N3FNE) on August 5, 2000
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to operate a big contest with an exotic callsign? I've been enjoying that feeling for over two years now, and it is fun. I am moving back to the United States in a few weeks, and I would like to share some of that excitement with you before I leave Jordan.

I received my Jordanian call, JY9NE, in March 1998 and did not originally intend to become a "contester." My equipment is modest: an Alinco DX-70TH and a Cushcraft R7 on the roof of my house in western Amman. There is no room for a beam up there, and 100 watts suits me fine. When I first arrived, all I wanted to do was earn DXCC. 

For a few months, I would take refuge from the big HF contests by retreating to the WARC bands. On 12 or 17 meters, all of us refugees would grumble about those dang contesters hogging the frequencies and disrupting our QSOs. It wasn't long before I began to drift back to the contest bands, however, and discovered that an easy way to DXCC achievement was through contesting.

Pretty soon, I was blocking out weekends on my calendar for contests. While the big ones brought the most new countries and QSOs, I also enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the smaller ones. Looking through my logging software, I see that I ended up participating in the All Asia, ARRL International DX, ARRL 10 meter, CQ WW DX, CQ WPX, IARU HF, IOTA, Italian ARI, Scandinavian, Worked All Europe, 10-10 Sprint, and 10-10 QSO Party contests. Phew, that's a lot of contesting for someone who never intended to do it! 

I soon noticed that not many locals participated in contests. The JY9 prefix in Jordan is reserved for resident aliens and the JY8 prefix is for temporary visitors so it is easy to tell just from a person's call whether or not he is a foreigner. In the beginning, I would only hear George, JY9QJ a German ham and big gun who often employed the help of the Bavarian Contest Club. George's company recently transferred him to Saudi Arabia. A bit over a year ago, Koji, JY9NX, a Japanese ham and another big gun arrived to take up the contesting challenge. The only true Jordanian I have heard during contests has been Ali, JY4NE. 

I believe there are two reasons that more Jordanians do not contest. First, the weekend here does not correspond to the weekend in most other countries. When I first arrived, Jordanians only received Friday off, meaning that a Saturday-Sunday contest effort would require two days away from work. This year, the government initiated a 2-day weekend. Originally, the country started with Thursday and Friday, which was even worse for contesting, but then it switched to Friday and Saturday. Now a dedicated contest effort only requires one day away from work. Second, Jordanian hams, by nature, are not as competitive as hams in some other countries. They enjoy rag chewing much more than contest exchanges. 

By now, you probably have noticed that the three current Jordanian contesters, JY9NX, JY4NE, and JY9NE, have very similar callsigns. This coincidence has become a curse. Several times in recent contests, I have had stations tell me that we had already worked when, in fact, they had actually worked either Ali or Koji. How frustrating! Some stations will search back in their logs and discover the error, but others won't waste the time.

In the end, my DXCC plan is succeeding. I've worked 136 countries, and currently have 91 confirmed. Something else happened in the process; I've become addicted to contesting. I just bought a house in Maryland with five acres, no antenna restrictions, and ample room for a contest shack. Looks like I've been infected by some kind of contester virus!

Member Comments: Add A Comment
Re: Contesting from Jordan Reply
by KB1GW on August 16, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Really interesting report from Jordan, Peter!
Found the Jordanian weekend info of interest.
Thanks for posting the insigts from JY1.
Good luck with your new home in Maryland.
Hope you don't end up too close to W3LPL! ;-)
Sincere 73,
Glenn, KB1GW
North Ganby, Connecticut
Contesting from Jordan Reply
by W6RCL on November 1, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Good Note, Peter.
In 1985 I was posted to Jordan for a three year stint and was issued the call JY9RL. I had just been bitten by the contest bug before being transferred to JY. I moved out of the hotel and into my apartment during the weekend of the 1985 CQWW. I put up a dipole and worked a few contacts on 20M and after that always tried to enter the All Asian, the CQWW, WPX, and ARRL DX Contests (subject, of course to my employer sending me on a business trip during the contest weekend!).

In 1986, a group of US DX-er's came to work the CQWW SSB Contest (N6TJ, N6ZZ, N6AA, N6VI and others who operated as JY7X---if I remember correctly) and I was hoping that would help light the competitive fires, but it didn't. I wrote (for the Royal Jordanian Radio Amateur Society) a monthly bulletin-newsletter and included a "how to contest" primer, and still did not generate much interest.

My last contest from JY was when my USA QSL Manager, WA6POZ, came for the 1987 WPX SSB contest and we worked multi-single and had a great time using his call JY8GO. We were the only ones in that category from JY and Jerry still has the winner's certificate!

During my three years there, I didn't make any great scores, but I had a lot of fun. And found Mohammed Balbesi, JY4MB, and Prince Raad din Zeid, JY2RZ, to be incredibly helpful and encouraging of Ham Radio. After the JY7 contest effort, JY1 hosted the team at the Palace. He was, of course, very supportive of amateur radio and made it easy for resident aliens to get their licenses.

The irony for me: I've been a ham for more than 40 years, a serious DX-er for the last two decades and EXCEPT for when I lived in Jordan -- I have not worked JY from my home QTH! I ought to be ashamed.

73, de alan, W6RCL

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