water polo ball Foundations of Amateur Radio
What to pack for a Contest?
In the past I’ve talked about what kind of station I have, how I tend to operate and what kind of tools I use in my day to day running of an Amateur Radio station. This week I want to take a closer look at what I do when I participate in a contest.
I’d previously been to a few stations that were participating in a contest. Some of those were in a club shack, others were set up portable in the field. For my first contest I was going to set up my station in the field, so I needed to bring everything myself. Fortunately I was with friends, one with a camper trailer, so I didn’t need to bring a roof, or the kitchen sink, but I did bring pretty much everything else.
My list included tables, chairs, antennas, radios, headphones, connectors, soldering iron, power boards, extension cables, logbooks for paper logging, pens, clipboards, two computers, four spare batteries, power supplies. It took hours of preparation, packing and not to forget, lugging, and when the contest was all done and dusted I noticed that while I brought everything,
I didn’t bring the right things and some things were missing.
For example, the little connector cable between the front face of my radio and the back of my radio was not packed, so I could only work with a long cable, which was subject to interference which I couldn’t fix because I didn’t have any ferrites. Other missing tools were a multi meter, an antenna analyser and a dummy load, to name just the ones that come to mind today.
A wise man once told me that the more you camp, the less you bring.
Combined with my first contesting experience, that’s become my motto.
So last week, I packed much less and much more precise. My total packing list was:
A radio and a tuner, wire for wire antennas, crimp connectors and a crimper, a multi meter and antenna analyser, a dummy load, barrel connectors and adapters from N to PL259, BNC and the like. A computer for logging and a CAT cable, a headset, a foot pedal, a notebook and pen.
That’s it other than a toothbrush and a sleeping bag and warm clothes.
As it was, my foot pedal didn’t work, because there was a fault in the adapter cable and I’ve added fixing that to my list of to do items. Which brings me to the next thing I learned.
It doesn’t matter what you start with on your first contest. What matters is that you track it and then after the contest try to spend some time figuring out what worked and what didn’t. If you update your list then over time it will become better and targeted to your specific circumstances.
When I do a contest mobile from my car, my packing list is similar, but not the same. I’ve not yet got it down to a fine art, but I’m getting better. One day I’ll have the perfect kit, but then something unexpected is likely to happen and the perfect kit will change, again.
What is currently in your contesting list,
what do you bring and what do you leave at home? What adventures did you have with your latest contest and what lessons could you share with others?.