Kirk K4RO is a local and fantastic contest op. He recently asked on the Tennessee Contest Group Google Group page what the community thinks are the top ten rookie contesting mistakes. Kirk writes the Contesting 101 page for the National Contest Journal. I can’t wait to see the article he produces as it will speak directly to me.
Here is my contribution:
I am a rookie, here are my mistakes:
- Not having a goal. I forgot to set my QSO goal before the contest.
- Bad band plan. I neglected to start on 40M, which is my current best band. Had no idea where I needed to be and when.
- Knowing only the basics of my logging program. Got caught up on a strange error message and apparent split operation…it wasn’t anything but me not knowing how to abbreviate “Union” (brain fart) and logger not letting me log. I should have typed “union” and move forward. Cost me a couple QSOs while figuring out I was dumb. At least the cost wasn’t as high as other times I figured out I was dumb.
- Station in a constant state of disrepair. I would love to someday have a modest, two-radio, auto switching with no cables showing setup. Until then I suffer from occasional snafus usually with cable failure. I roll over them with my chair.
- CQ interval too fast. I wonder if my CQ interval is too fast and scares away a casual contester from calling.
- Confirmation CW macros not definite enough. I wonder if a simple “TU” is enough to give the other station a confirmation. Maybe another second spent in a simple 73 or QSL might be better.
- Getting tongue-tied on SSB. Often had problems…like Julius N2WN said, more funny than mistake, but still affects rate. Need a script (if not using DVK) for quick, friendly, efficient exchanges.
- Bad audio. Bad bad audio. I don’t know if my SSB is bad or good (mistake) although have commented positively.
- Bad timing, especially in pile-ups. Get so excited I sometimes jump quickly to call rather than listening for a few to get the cadence of the other station — bad habit and I know better given I am usually one of the weaker stations.
- Not having fun. I have to admit that 20M vexes me, and I know why…I have a bad antenna for 20M. Until I put up a better antenna I need to remind myself 1) just a game, 2) do the best I can, 3) have fun. If I am not convincing myself (for some reason) then its 4) OK to turn off the radio and walk the dog, talk to my wife, ride my bicycle.