30 Ham Radio Contest Tips — Test Equipment Before Contest

Testing antennasThis month, I’m providing a ham radio contest tip-a-day (along with other posts) to help you trigger your own contesting activities.

Today’s tip: Test Equipment Before Contest.

You know something won’t work, don’t you? Even when you were on the air last night? Yeah, it breaks.

What should you test? Here’s a checklist for what to test before a contest:

  • Each antenna on each band. Somehow, the SWR always goes up before a contest.
  • Each rotor. For some reason, they won’t turn the day of a contest.
  • Each radio can receive. Make sure the radio can hear signals on the band.
  • Each radio can transmit. With an SWR that makes sense.
  • Each computer. Make sure the software comes up and can see the radios and rotors.
  • Each macro. Make sure your CW/SSB/RTTY/PSK messages work as advertised with your function keys, including transmitting.
  • Each sound card. Make sure the levels of the sound card are set correctly and work with the radios.

Testing is so boring. But much better to find out that the 80-meter vertical doesn’t work in the daylight than finding out in the heat of battle when it is dark outside.

Scot, K9JY

We proved that Murphy’s Law still worked this weekend. A lot of us in the area (Knoxville TN) love to communications for some of the local bike rides. This weekend was one of these weekends… Mr. Murphy was running wild. LOL
We liketo incorporate APRS into our bike rides to help give us a visual indication of what is going on. Most of the time it works great, this weekend my EC had his laptop up and ready to go, it was going to be great he had PC wireless card and was going act as a mobile IGate station to help increase coverage we hoped.
Well Friday night we checked it all out had it humming along… non conflicts everything was working perfect…. Then Saturday morning at 5am when we were leaving… it all went to crap! Needless to say the computer was mostly useless but it was good practice for us.

I hope it gave everyone a good laugh because that was all we could do.

73, de N4CQW Moe

Scot, K9JY

Hi Moe,

We successfully tested everything when we went to TI there for the contest. Then the contest started and stuff started to go poorly very fast.

Turns out that the network was tested on all Ethernet cables, but when the contest started, my laptop was on wireless. That’s just where it was at the time.

Now you wouldn’t think that would make a difference, but that was the problem. Going to all Ethernet was just fine…

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