Newbie questions on contests and nets

Discussion in 'On-Air Operations - Q&A' started by KD2TTM, Jul 27, 2020.

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  1. KD2TTM

    KD2TTM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm a new General and have been having a lot of fun making contacts with my 20W G90 on battery power and SOTAbeams dipole set up in the back yard.

    This weekend, I heard a lot of calls from DX stations I would have liked to contact but they were calling "CQ Contest." I took that to mean that you shouldn't respond unless you were also participating in the contest?

    I also hear a lot of calls from Nets. They solicit responses from anyone on the frequency but I don't really know anything about nets (other than my club's 2m/70cm ragchews and tech nets) so I don't attempt to contact them. It sounded like the guys were taking turns trying to contact specific calls and using the others on the net to relay the calls? I couldn't really figure it out and didn't listen for long.

    What's the scoop on contest protocol/etiquette and nets?
     
    KF5KWO likes this.
  2. K7GQ

    K7GQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Funny - I just responded to a nearly identical question in this forum.

    There are usually a dozen contests each weekend and perhaps a dozen are significant over a period of a year. The best contest source at present is WA7BNM and most contests do not require you to be a member of anything. If you decide to participate, be sure to read and understand the rules so as not to cause unnecessary anguish to the other participants. Contests are a great way to work towards operating goals such as "Working All States" or "Working 100 Countries (DXCC)".

    (I presume that) the HF nets you've monitored sound like many on 40m or 80m and were considered to be "Traffic Nets" for the passing of personal messages in the days prior to the Internet, cheap Long Distance calling and cell phones. They continue but for the most part, their original purpose is obscured now and they've become a meeting place for those participants.

    However, there are several nets for the blue water sailing community that serve a continuing communication need for the casual or lightly-equipped (ham) sailor.
     
    KF5KWO and KD2TTM like this.
  3. KD2TTM

    KD2TTM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks very much for the information. I guess I'll look more carefully at the contests going on when I'm on the air. The link you provided will be very helpful.

    The nets I heard were on 20m and 40m. I am familiar with the Marine Mobile Service Net on 20m. That was the only one I was able to pretty much figure out just by listening. I had also read an article about that network... interesting.
     
  4. WG7X

    WG7X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Being a part time contest operator, I don't have any problems talking a new operator thru a contest exchange. I've done it lots of times. However, not all contestants are as easy going as I am.

    So, be sure to just listen to the contest exchanges to get a feeling for what they are exchanging. Also, as mentioned before, the contest calendar at WA7BNM is a great resource.
    Don't worry and just jump in when you feel ready!
     
    N5AF, KF5KWO and KD2TTM like this.
  5. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    And, when it comes to contests, remember that "you don't have to be in it to win it." You can enter just for the experience, or just to log new states, countries, etc. This year I have been entering CW contests to work out any bugs in my computer/radio integration, logging software and operating techniques. I'm surely not going to win anything with 100 watts and a ground-mounted vertical, but I do have (I think) as much fun as anyone else does. For me, that's what it is all about. (Oh, and I have added a few new countries, too.)

    As for all those SSB nets. . . I'm still workin' on that, too. I just haven't spent the time to figure out how I would fit into the picture -- and that's after 50+ years on the air. I guess that's what I get for spending all my time down on the CW portion of the bands.
     
    N5AF, WG7X and KD2TTM like this.
  6. KF5KWO

    KF5KWO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congratulations on your upgrade! I do contests when I can, they’re a great way to make a lot of contacts, snag some countries/states/“all time new ones,” and learn how to operate your radio according to conditions. If you’re interested in doing so, listen listen listen, and do check out the contest website above like the other hams have mentioned. It’ll have links to the rules for all of them and what the “exchange” is, meaning what information you pass to the other ham, which is usually just a signal report and your state or geographic section or a one-up serial number, something like that. They’re open to anyone, so even if you aren’t a full time participant, you can certainly get on the air and make some contacts. I find them particularly addicting. :)

    As for those nets, sounds like you were listening to some county-hunter or worked all states nets. You just call in when the net control (or a relay station) asks for check-ins, they put you on the list, and when it’s your turn, you either call a station or go “up for grabs,” meaning anyone else on the list will call you and you just pick one to reply to and give the standard signal reports. Be sure to listen to the other stations that call, and when net control reads them/calls them for their locations. If none of them are in a location that you really want, just go “up for grabs” for anyone else! As for the signal reports to pass, hey range from 59 down to “2-2” and have some unique euphamisms, like “rifle shot” for 2-2, “triplets” for 3-3, “nickels” for 5-5, etc. This helps the other station make out what you’re saying if your signal is very weak and down in the weeds. So a “true” signal report, not a contest “5-9” is what you use in this case.

    Just keep listening to get a feel for how the contests and nets work, and jump in when you want, tell net control you’re a new ham, and he/she should help you. :)

    73 and good luck,

    Jeff, KF5KWO
    San Antonio, TX
     
    WG7X and KD2TTM like this.
  7. KD2TTM

    KD2TTM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you very much, Jeff. That really clears up my confusion on what was going on in those nets. I appreciate you and the others taking the time to explain things to me and other new folks who might be reading the thread.

    Harry, Gary, Stephen and Jeff are the kind of guys that make this hobby so enjoyable!
     
    KF5KWO likes this.
  8. YC2TFB

    YC2TFB Ham Member QRZ Page

    A very good answer and useful for novice members
     
  9. N5AF

    N5AF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't know the specifics on interfacing a G90 with a computer for digital mode use, but there are quite the number of digital mode (RTTY, FT-4/8, etc.) contests going on all the time. You can monitor them and get a "feel" for how they operate as well. 20 watts and a good dipole will do wonders on digital. WSJT-X and Fldigi are both free software.

    I finally got serious a few weeks ago and configured my TS-590SG for true FSK keying so I could participate in the RTTY contests. It was nagging me to death having a feature on the rig and NOT utilizing it. ;)

    Great site for many things digital: https://www.rttycontesting.com/

    All things RTTY: https://www.aa5au.com/rtty/

    WSJT-X: https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/wsjtx.html

    FLDigi: http://www.w1hkj.com/

    Congrats on your General. Now go for that Extra. :)
     
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