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Contesting Online Speak Out

Speak Out: How do you explain contesting?

Ham Radio in general, and Radio Contesting specifically, can be difficult to explain to the "layman". How do you describe "what you do?"

36 opinions on this subject. Enter your opinion at the bottom of this page.
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N5OT on 2005-05-05
What we do is simple to explain. We can draw parallels to all kinds of hardware-intensive racing that are big on strategy - my favorites are bike racing and boat racing - but one answer I've heard stands 10db above the noise. The comment was not so much about what we do, but about why we do it. I think our departed brother Bill Fisher put it best when he said "this is the one thing that I have a chance at doing better than anyone else in the world." I try to remember W4AN every time I ring my multiplier bell.

W3PT on 2005-05-04
Like many other emotional maladies that are not explainable, the long-term results are mostly positive. There is no known cure other than some “Hair of the Dog.” This disease is known to rear its ugly head like clockwork. One can predict on a yearly basis when episodes will strike. The only temporary help is good propagation, low noise and plenty of old fashioned adult refreshments.

k4za on 2005-04-26
I resisted replying for two whole days....but noodling around, I noticed the query again.
So... I usually try to say something about the rise of "personal" electronics--think Internet, tiny cell phones & other wireless connection tools--saying that the world of ham radio seems to have been passed by, forgotten, or otherwise relegated to the basement, or worse. But this hobby holds on, fascinating and attracting those wanting more, some means of talking, chatting, meeting, even interacting with the world at-large. Who want something besides giant corporations (primarily concerned with profit/loss) and those often silly can-you-hear-me-now keyboard manipulations. Something beyond the anonymous nature of what we call commercial radio.

Hams, by and large, remain a curious lot--curious about how and why radio works. And curious because how is it possible to sit in your room, talking with someone else halfway around the world, without wires or other connections? Curious about the nature of communication itself, about who might be on "the other end" of that hookup. And curious about who or what they might be & do. The process occurs thousands of times, day and night, spanning everything, from continents to cultures to countries to crazy dreams and ideas. There's a romance to it, listening to signals that are all around us, unseen or felt, until we hook up a radio and detect them. Ham radio lets you put your own message out there, into that vast ethereal space, seeking something only you know about, something only you want.

Contesting is this process ramped up to the Nth degree. DX contests, especially! It's all about having fun, an intense focus, being competitive (if you're serious), and being part of something truly world-wide, a connection "to the world" without wires or corporate sponsorship, that maybe you built yourself, and so forth. Magical, in other words. Radio, a sporting event, wow....

k1oz on 2005-04-23
This is an interresting question as I enter my 25th year as a licensed ham. In the beginning my friends would ask "isn't it just like CB?". And I'd go into long details about the differences with little more than blank stares. Now that I'm older and wiser I just tell people "it's alot like CB".


shlelah on 2005-04-20
As a new ham and "outsider" I agree with the description "lots of Hams losing their minds". That leaves me with only one question: How do I get started without making a complete fool of myself?

K3BU on 2005-04-17
Ooops, twice!
See what I mean?

K3BU on 2005-04-17
Bunch of Hams go nuts for 48 hours, lose their minds and love it!

K3BU on 2005-04-17
Bunch of Hams go nuts for 48 hours, lose their minds and love it!

K2DRH on 2005-04-15
To explain VHF contesting I tell non-hams the object is to contact and exchange location information with as many different hams in as many different places on as many different radio frequency bands as you possibly can, all within a predetermined ammount of time. To win it's necessary to talk to hundreds, even thousands, of people one right after another all day and all night until it's over; all the while correctly recording their callsigns and locations. Afterward everyone's results are cross checked against each other and the winners are declared several months later.

When asked why I do it, I tell them it's to challege my abilities and test them against other people's, just like any competition. I point out that while my 50+ year old body may not be competetive in athletic events anymore, I can still talk with the best of them! When they ask "so what do you win?" I simply tell them "bragging rights among my peers!" They usually understand that just fine!

yc2ecg on 2005-04-05
I agree with the term "Radio Sport", "Self Measure" for our endurance to compete up to 36 hours! And off course a full of enjoyness.

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