30 Ham Radio Contest Tips — Have a Propagation Plan

Propagation plansThis 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: Have a Propagation Plan.

It is one thing to have an overall plan for a contest — what bands to operate, what QSO goals to have, and when to plan for off times. But a contest plan is not the whole story.

A big part of the contest is propagation and propagation is a variable right up to the contest, if not during the contest as well.

Knowing what bands are open to which locations is a critical skill to learn and this contesting skill can be significantly enhanced through the use of propagation programs.

What these programs can do is take the solar flux, K-index and/or sunspot numbers and provide you a decent indication of what bands will be open to various locations around the planet. Printing these predictions out and having them beside you while you contest can be a great reference during the contest.

I’m a great believer in not having the contester think much during the contest — because the longer we contest without sleep, the less thinking is capable of being done. We are capable of only doing basic activities — such as copying and sending code while working our logging program.

Consequently, a contest plan, propagation prediction and other contesting tools being available to a contester is an invaluable asset to help keep the contester oriented on the right band at the right time with antennas pointed in the right directions.

Scot, K9JY