30 Ham Radio Contest Tips — Filter your Packet Connection

VP9-K9JY WriteLogThis 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: Filter your Packet Connection.

I was working a significant implementation of software for my work several years ago. It was a ton of work and a lot of pressure to get things done. Yet, one of the great breaks for me was the ability to contest — it totally gets you out of the pressured environment.

The really interesting thing about this project was that it was the first time I had worked with “human interface” consultants — people who made it their profession to understand and make recommendations for how software should be presented on the computer screen for people using the software.

On the Friday of the contest, I was speaking with one of these consultants and the cardinal rule for the number of windows open on the desktop at one time for clarity and understanding was: four.

The information in four windows is the most humans can realistically deal with at one time.

And then I went to CQ WW SSB and had our contesting software open on the desktop and, for the fun of it, I counted the number of windows open at one time.

You know it was more than four, right? I counted a total of eleven.

For our hobby, we’re willing to almost triple the number of windows open on our desktop compared to what people who do this for a living recommend. That’s contesting!

But, information overload is an important subject for contesters. We have all these windows open, asking for our intention. We have our paper based plans, propagation plans, and operating schedule by our sides. We have at our instantaneous access all that we need to do operate during a contest.

So information overload is actually something to think through. And one of the things that we can do to reduce the volume of information coming to us during the contest — and asking for our limited attention, tiring us more with insistence of concentration on the information, and distracting us from getting the call and exchange right — is the amount of packet information coming to us from the network.

Most clusters and/or software programs allow you to filter the packet spots you want to see, whether by band, by mode, or even from which operator locations making the spots.

Customizing these filters for each contest you operate is a great idea to reduce the information overload experienced during the contest.

Scot, K9JY