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Contesting Online Speak Out

Speak Out: Lighten up guys!

A reader asks, "What was the biggest or funniest mistake you made on the air in a contest? How about off the air?"

37 opinions on this subject. Enter your opinion at the bottom of this page.
[Speak Out Home Page]


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VE3HG on 2002-02-01
Field Day with the Toronto Skywide Club almost 40 years ago was in canvas tents and lots of ARC-5 military surplus equipment. I was one a several unlicensed sons of hams (My dad, Leo, was VE3FWR -Fuzzy White Rabbit then.) who helped out. We were assigned to rotating the 80-meter (I kid you not) birdcage antenna. All night long we pulled up the stakes that support this monster and physically reoriented it with the licensd operator telling us when the signals peaked. It wasn't until dawn that we discovered we were always on the 80-meter dipole!!!

KW8W on 2002-01-31
A few years back I was operating the 20m position at KW8N during SS SSB. It was shortly before our sleep break and I was already half asleep. i was tuning the band with my head on the desk listening for any new signals when Bob yells over that I probably wouldn't hear much at 13.750.

KB1LN on 2002-01-29
It was during a Field Day and was actually before I was licensed. I had helped some friends set up and operate a single transmitter for Field Day in CT twice, I was studying to get my license, was familiar with the contest exchange and how to operate. That spring I moved to OH. I saw a bunch of antennas going up in a State Park on Saturday morning and decided to stop by to help out. We got about 8 stations set up and ready to go. Later that evening I went back to see the action and was asked by an operator to relieve him for a few minutes. Of course I said "Sure!". Made 40-50 contacts when someone else came by and asked me who I was. I explained that I was there earlier helping set up and I was studying for my license. He said he knew he had seen me earlier that day, but took control of the station anyway. It was a fun run for awhile and really gave me the Field Day bug. I didn't miss a Field Day for over 20 years after that!

w6te on 2002-01-28
My contest group was operating the Sept VHF contest a few years ago from a remote California mountain site. We had planned this for weeks and spent the previous week loading all the gear. We arrived at the site the day before the contest to set up. We had a great contest weekend working all bands from 6 meters through 1296 Mhz and had great results from out 7,500' mountain top. Finally, late Sunday afternoon, the 2 meter operator was working the ARRL Section Manager who asked us exactly where we were operating from.... (we had been giving out our grid square as DM07 all weekend). When told we were operating from Black Mountain, the SM politely informed us that we were in grid DM06! We all has red faces as we loaded up the gear and drove off the mountain top!

KE7NO on 2002-01-27
Both of my embarrasing moments have actually happened this past year. The first was during SS phone. After taking a nap the first night, I turned on the rig. To my surprise, and pleasure, on the frequency was a multiplier I needed. I made a call and they replied back. I typed in the information at the same time I replied with my exchange. The biggest problem was, generally, you need to key the mic. I was all the way through the exchange when they replied back "KE7NO did you copy?"

The second "operator error" was during the ARRL 10 meter test. Foolishly, I never checked my antenna switch when starting up the first morning. The night before I had chatted with a buddy on a 160 sked. My 160 dipole loads very well on ten, but no matter how much I rotate my beam the signals don't change. I finally figured that one out about two hours before the band shut down. I wonder how many mults I was penalized for being STUPID that time.

K0AD on 2002-01-25
My biggest contest mistake was not really an "on the air" one but was closely related. I live in the suburbs of Minneapolis in a development with antenna restrictions. I have several wire antennas on my roof that using fairly thin wire for stealthness. In doing my pre-contest check for NAQP CW in January one year, I noticed real high SWR on my 20 meter inverted Vee. I went outside and notice that one leg of the 20 meter antenna had come undone and was flapping in the wind. Unfortunately, there was several inches of snow on our sloped roof. I don't know what I was thinking but I got the ladder out and climbed up to the roof. I figured if I was real careful, I could crawl over and reconnect the flapping wire. The minute I stepped on the roof, I knew I was in trouble. I slid all the way down until one foot was in the gutter and one foot was over the edge. It was a long drop down and I know I was looking at lots of broken bones for sure. I yelled for my wife who, fortunately, was home and in a room close enough to hear me. I told her to hurry! She came running out in boots but no coat and stomped throught the snow drifts. Somehow, she was able to move and steady the ladder and I was able to back my self onto the ladder and climb down. We were both pretty shook up. Needless to say, I didn't operate the contest. I (we) still can't get over how stupid I was to attempt this. I won't say I've never done a winter antenna repair again since but I always wait for a thaw and a dry roof before attempting anything.


Al, K0AD

k2xa on 2002-01-25
I was operating the 10 meter position in a dx contest at W2PV multi-multi at the bottom of the sunspot cycle in the late seventies. I was tuning around and listening to the hash hoping to hear some signals come out of the noise long enough to be worked (A good weekend was about 50 Qs contrasted with today's 2500). Getting tired of the assault on my ears, I switch to the antenna with the lowest noise level. About a hour later I realized it was so quiet because it was the no antenna position. I never told anyone, but often wondered what Qs/mults I missed.

N8SM on 2002-01-24
In my teen years just after upgrading to a General class ticket, I unknowingly tuned across my first CW contest. Upon hearing a loud station calling CQ TEST, I fired up my trusty Knight T-150 transmitter and (with the best ~13 WPM Morse I could muster from a Radio Shack straight key) told him his rig sounded good.

k5iid on 2002-01-23
Many years ago, in the heat of the battle, I called CQ and then gave my call...I said K5IID, K5 Italy Italy
Diddley...unfortunately there were some local guys listening and I still haven't lived it down even though I haven't lived there in 16 years. Any time I work one of they bring it back up.

K5KA on 2002-01-23
A couple of years ago at 6D2X our team had just finished the Thursday preparations and were getting ready to go eat. A well known 6 who now lives in New Mexico managed to lock his keys in his car ... while it was running !
It took (1) 6 and (5) 5's about 15 minutes to break-in. Yes, we had already consumed a few 807's.

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