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Contesting Online Forums : Tips : neewbie contester Forums Help

1-8 of 8 messages

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neewbie contester Reply
by n4sxx on February 9, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have been a ham since 1987 but have just thought of setting up a possible contest station I have looked at NCJ for a one year period to get some idea now I am looking to other mediums (here)give me your ideas PLEASE ! station is as follows,

icom 706m2g primary rig
icom 735
kenwood 2570 2m fm
drake t4xc trans.
drake r4b Rec.
yeasu ft-101b

B&W folded dippole @ 85ft. in sloper configuration
mosley ta-33
crushcraft 3 el. 6meter
2m 8el. quad
440 10el. quad
then of course a computer for logging and rig control
If anyone has an idea about an amp please advise I have been looking but can't get stright answer.
thanks in advance
RE: neewbie contester Reply
by K8GU on February 9, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I think you have a perfectly adequate station for contesting. Specifically, what would you like to be able to do better?
RE: neewbie contester Reply
Anonymous post on February 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I forgot to say what I would like to get out of contesting, I would like to post a Great score in both CW and phone from S.C. I don't see many good scores from the deep south, in some of the better contests. Thanks for the GREAT forum for people like me.

73's Randy
RE: neewbie contester Reply
by K8GU on February 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well, that wasn't as specific as what I expected. But, here are my thoughts, do with them as you please:

The single hole that I see in your station is the lack of a "contest-grade" transceiver. I'm thinking of one of those big radios with lots of knobs or a big screen on the front of it. IC-765/781/756PRO#, TS-930/TS-850, FT-1000D/MP/MPmkV, TT Orion, you get the idea. It doesn't have to set you back a lot of money. But, you'll be able to hear better in crowded conditions with some of those rigs than say your '706. If you aren't up to laying out that much money right now, you always want your main radio(s) to be loaded with IF filters.

The next thing to do is OPERATE. Gear means nothing if you don't operate. It's hard to make objective decisions about equipment if you can't look at the scores and say, "Gee XXXX beat me because he made more QSO's on 80 meters." If the guy is from the same area of the country, then it's a good comparison. If you're getting beat on a band, put up a bigger/better antenna for that band.

An amp may give you a better score; but, it's not necessary to contest. Like anything else, you get what you pay for...Alphas, Acoms, big Ameritrons, Henry's...are what you'll find in most contesters' shacks.

A lof contesters have info on their stations listed here:

Good luck...and see you on the bands.
RE: neewbie contester Reply
by W9WI on February 22, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
South Carolina can be pretty popular in some contests - there aren't a whole lot of folks active there - often if you don't find W4OC, you're out of luck!

You've got a good start from the hardware standpoint. I agree with the other post: you're probably going to want to look at another transceiver. I have a 706MKIIG and it's a great mobile rig but it'll probably "fold up" with intermod when hooked to your base antennas during a contest. The Drake line is a fantastic contest rig - except it won't interface to your computer. The ability to QSY quickly (and without having to worry about manually setting your computer log to match the radio) is something you'll find yourself wanting fairly quickly.

I think a used rig of the IC-765, TS-940, etc. type is an excellent value. Make sure it has a computer interface - on some models that's an option. If you have more budget, something like a FT-1000 (or even a new rig) might be worth a look.

The other thing you're going to need is practice. Make general QSOs when you have time, play around for an hour or two in smaller contests, etc.. Don't be disappointed if your first serious efforts don't go well. In time your scores will improve.

Be sure your shack is comfortable. It's hard to motivate yourself to stay on the air for hours if your chair is hard or you have to lean over a stack of QSTs to reach the antenna switch. Probably the best investment I made in my station in 2004 was a new chair!

RE: neewbie contester Reply
by W2CDO on March 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Welcome, newbie.

You can do a lot of damage with 100w and good antennas.

First, improve your ability to hear by adding a 500hz filter (CW) AND a SCAF-1 outboard audio filter (SSB and CW) to your '706, or invest in a contest-level transceiver, the ones noted earlier are the best ones currently.

Second, improve your antenna system. Dollar for dollar, you get more from improving antennas than any other investment. Upgrade the TA-33. Raise tower; stack tribanders if you can. Put up a half square or 4-square for 40 and/or 80. Put up something for 160 if you can. Deploy RX antennas: pennants, Beverages, K9AY, whatever, for lowbands. You can do a LOT of points damage with 100w and a superior antenna farm.

Third, upgrade your infrastructure. Better coax, a robust tuner, switching, grounding, ventilation, best possible matching. This maximizes the investment you already have. Not sexy but squeezes out dBs.

Fourth and finally, invest in an amp that puts out at least 750w. I recommend older amps using a pair of 3-500Zs, like Heath SB-220, Drake L-4B. These are robust, overbuilt amps that have stood the test of time and are available used in good condition. New tubes won't break the bank. If you've done everything else, buy a big solid state, no tune Alpha amp. But that's the very last thing you should be thinking about buying. I often beat those big ones out in the pileups with half the RF they have because of operating savvy, luck, propagation, Fate.

Having enough dB at the other guy's front end is the equipment part of the game. You can do that a lot of different ways. The other part of the game is knowing when and how to put those dB where they're needed. That's another question entirely.

Welcome aboard, good luck and best wishes,

Peter W2CDO
RE: neewbie contester Reply
by vk2cz on April 25, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I think your cart is before the horse.. Get on air with a long wire and antenna tuner and get some experience, and work out what you like doing. I've run about 5 contests from my car with a mobile whip [and thats from Australia !) AND ranked..

Contests push:
- Your stamina to keep on air for up to 48hours
- Your rig, as it runs near flat out
- Your antennas (the real key)
- Your logging accuracy
- Your ability to placate your wife/family/neighbours
- Your ability to make a strategy from the rules
- Your sanity on 40m.

If you can walk into a station like KH7X/K3LR etc, AND know you have the mojo in ALL the other skill areas, no amount of antennas, rigs will help you.

Its the journey, not the destination.

Cheers, David VK2CZ,VK9XD
RE: neewbie contester Reply
by KB9CRY on June 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with the other posters. Your antenna system is the key to performance but also in contesting, your rig's capabilities are also a key. Your 706 is a mobile rig and that along with the 735 do not have the recieving, filtering, notching, sensitivity or selectivity to handle lots of signals close by or pulling out the weak ones with loud signals nearby.
Personally I use a TS-930S along with a TS-830S. I also like any of the FT-1000 series.

What bands & modes do you plan to contest on?

What is the dipole used for?

Do you plan on domestic or DX contests?

For domestic contests, your antennas seem to be very usable provided you pick your contest category properly.

For DX contests, your antennas probably will become your limiting factor. On the low bands you'll need some gain and directivity and on the higher bands, your litter TA33 will be killed by the multi-element monobanders or stack of the same at the bigger guns. Also on the low bands you'll need to improve your receiving antenna situation since those will become key.

But again, you can get contest awards and certificates if you plan your category properly.

For amps, I'm still using my trusty old SB-220 which I bought used over 10 years ago and the used tubes that came with it are still chugging along. For 160M I use a SB-1000 which works great and for 6M I use a Mirage solid state amp.

Here's a url to my website on my club's website. Click on the Shack or Antenna button in the upper left to view my goo; a dream which recently became true.

Phil, KB9CRY

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