Foundations of Amateur Radio Why do you contest? The other week I participated in a contest. This particular contest was on the 80m band, around 3.5 MHz. The contest itself, while worthy of a mention, the Harry Angel Memorial Sprint, runs for 106 minutes and commemorates every year of Harry's life, at the time, the oldest radio amateur in Australia. I made two contacts. Count 'm and weep. Two. So, you could do the thing that I might have done in a previous contest, smiled, thought, ""Wow, that's not very many contacts."" and got on with life. You're free to do that, but I wouldn't be talking about this today if I shared your view. In fact I'm sure that in my activities as a radio amateur I've managed to learn, and in some ways unlearn some things along the way. In a previous contest I might have operated a club station, made contacts a plenty, added to the overall club score, added new countries and multipliers, had some good natured ribbing to go along with it and walked away with nothing to show for it on my own log. The truth is that for many of my on-air contest activities I made contacts for other callsigns, those of fellow amateurs, clubs, special events, you name it, I made contacts. Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, nor was it a waste of time. I learnt loads from those experiences, but my own callsign log rarely, if ever, got an outing in such activities. So, this contest was for me. For my callsign, using my radio, my antenna, my location, my patience and my skills. I did the contest because I wanted to, for me. As you know, I'm a fan of operating QRP, that is, low power, so this contest I used 5 Watts, a Yaesu FT857d, a multi-tap vertical antenna, screwed onto a mount on the back of my car, parked next to a river with water to the East of me, so I could benefit from any gain that water nearby might offer me. As an aside, I'll talk more about water and gain at some other time, because it appears that not is all as my handed-down in hush-hush terms from mentor to me, would have me believe. I don't yet know enough to point at anything, but there's more than apparently meets the eye. Watch this space. Anyway, two contacts. Not even that far from me, about 230km South and 20km North East. Both with SSB. I heard about 20 stations, some up to 3,500km away, but they were dealing with S7 noise where I had none. That's right, no noise, S0, in the middle of the city. In addition to a heart stopping moment when the lights came on in the car park where I had set-up, my biggest fear being noisy lights, which turned out to be unfounded, my other take-aways were that I really should bring spare batteries for my LED lamp, and that I called it an LCD lamp last week. Not sure what I was thinking. I logged using pen and paper, in doing so I was upholding a fine tradition of radio amateurs everywhere, pen and paper is by far the most popular method of logging and with two contacts made, that's not surprising. I'm still on the lookout for sensible logging on a phone, but so-far that's eluded me. Perhaps I should write one and sell it, become rich and famous, retire, become loved in the community, kiss babies ... who am I kidding? Seriously though. What would the ideal phone based logging app look like to you? As for the baby-kissing famous one, let me know when you meet them, I'll stay away. I'm Onno VK6FLAB To listen to the podcast, visit the website: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/ and scroll to the bottom for the latest episode. You can also use your podcast tool of choice and search for my callsign, VK6FLAB, or you can read the book, look for my callsign on your local Amazon store, or visit my author page: http://amazon.com/author/owh If you'd like to participate in discussion about the podcast or about amateur radio, you can visit the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/foundations.itmaze Feel free to get in touch directly via email: email@example.com, or follow on twitter: @VK6FLAB (http://twitter.com/vk6flab/) If you'd like to join the weekly net for new and returning amateurs, check out the details at http://ftroop.vk6.net, the net runs every week on Saturday, from 00:00 to 01:00 UTC on Echolink, IRLP, AllStar Link and 2m FM via various repeaters."