Radio Magazine Calls New Contest a Dramatic Failure

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By WBØRUR, on the scene

NEW CAMBRIDGE, Maryland – The staff at a national magazine devoted to amateur radio is calling its most recent radio contest a “dramatic failure.”

Darius Von Sparringburg, Chief Editor of “73s and 88s” magazine, says logs submitted for the recently completed “North American QSO Championships” contain an unusually high number of errors. So many in fact, that the contest may be declared invalid.

“At this early stage of NAQC log checking, we’re finding 99.3% of all logs contain errors.  Most logs are so riddled with mistakes they are not even worthy of inclusion in the contest results. Our log checking software is overwhelmed. We’ve had to hire additional interns to manually inspect the entries.”

Von Sparringburg attributes the multitude of disqualifying operator errors to an overly complicated contest exchange, which is he adds “sounded good when we were talking about it in the planning meeting.”

“The exchange included a contest serial number, followed by a signal report.  The operator then sends a driver’s license number, operator’s mother’s maiden name, the serial number of the radio being used on the air and a ZIP+4 postal code.  DX stations were also required to include the AT&T international calling code for their respective country. Apparently, this turned into an unwieldy exchange for many.”

A typical DX exchange (example is station located in Liechtenstein):

009 599 965427047 SMITHFIELD 094362 72703 3297 011 423

Alarmingly difficult to communicate on SSB, almost impossible on CW and time consuming to the extreme on PSK31, editors at the magazine say operators sounded off in the “Soap Box” section:

  • “Who the hell came up with this exchange? FOOLS!”
  • “My mother’s maiden name is Rickenhausingfield. I had 50 characters in my contest exchange!”
  • “It took 8 minutes to send my information to the other station.”
  • “I was killing it with a QSO rate of 5 QSOs per hour.”
  • “It took me 15 minutes just to program my CW keyer.”
  • “I went to town and did some grocery shopping while my macros sent the contest exchange.”

Von Sparringburg says the magazine may consider running the contest again next month.

“But we’d use a new contest exchange – something simple like year of license, ITU Zone, CQ Zone, Maidenhead grid square locater data, and maybe the type of antenna being used,” he says.

Editor’s Note:   “73s and 88s” magazine is published bi-monthly. It features interviews and articles about ham radio. Each issue includes a “centerfold” pull out section, featuring a ham radio operator “suggestively” displaying a piece of HF gear from his shack.

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