CQ WW SSB — Dry Run

Station readinessThe CQ WW SSB contest is coming up pretty quick. After the contest, watch the reflectors you belong to carefully. How many people will wail and knash their teeth on the reflector about equipment not working, antennas not turning, and software not doing the job?

Now, there is some legitimate breakage during the contest. But you see those posts as “20-hours into the contest, my amplifier blew up and I had to continue on barefoot…” type of comments.

I’m not writing about those types of issues. I’m writing about those contesters who tell us they started the contest and nothing worked right. The antennas had high SWR, the radio wouldn’t connect with the software program, or the rotors wouldn’t work.

The cure for common failure is this: do a dry run of your station before the contest starts.

Here are the critical components to test:

  • Radio, amplifier, and antenna transmit with low SWR
  • Antenna rotors turn
  • Contesting software is set up for the contest at hand
  • Contesting software networks with other computers
  • Software drives the antenna rotors if so configured
  • Software and radio works to transmit your messages
  • Your sound card works to receive signals
  • You work five imaginary stations in your contest program — check to ensure it is scoring the contest correctly.
  • On each antenna, preferably on each band

You’ll be glad you tested at least a week before the contest — it gives you time to research, fix, and air ship any parts before the big one.

Otherwise you can go crazy watching everything break and enjoy the pressure of trying to fix 20-things one hour before the contest.

Hey — you get to choose!

Scot, K9JY