The New York QSO Party was a couple of weekends ago, and since I reside in the State of New York, I decided to participate! I’ve never participated in a contest before, but the coordinators of the party encouraged anyone to participate, and basically encouraged everyone to have fun.
There are a few reasons why I haven’t participated in contests before. The main reason is the time. Most contests I know are happening on weekends when I’m actually doing something else. Another reason is that I just put up a new HF antenna after losing it to a storm this spring. Another reason is that it just didn’t appeal to me. It seems to me that contesters take it way too seriously. Nevertheless, I decided to participate in the contest … if for no other reason than to just have fun. Besides, my wife was out of town that day, so I basically had permission to play radio all day!
The interesting thing about this particular weekend was the New York QSO Party wasn’t the only thing going on. The Boy Scouts were holding their “Jamboree on the Air” activity, which gives the Boy Scouts a chance to be introduced to the fascinating world of ham radio. The State of Iowa was also holding their QSO Party that same weekend. Needless to say, there was a LOT of activity on the ham bands!
Overall, I made close to 70 contacts, which is about 20 more than I thought I was going to make. Yes, I did submit my log. I don’t think I’ll even place, but hey, that’s okay! I still had a lot of fun! I developed a new appreciation for contesting. One of the things contesting helps with is to hone your amateur radio skills. I’ve heard this before, but really didn’t realize how true it was until I actually participated in the contest. Try listening for that weak QRP station who comes in just above the noise. It’s a reward for both stations: For the QRPer who enjoyed the challenge of competing against stations that run 100 or more watts, and for the station who answered the QRPer and being reminded that you actually CAN make a contact with 5 watts or less! Another thing I learned is that when you call “CQ,” you have to really listen for the calls … and be quick to respond!
The neat thing about the weekend of the New York QSO Party was that it was the same weekend as the Boy Scout “Jamboree on the Air” event. I was able to take some time and talk to a couple of the boy scouts. It was actually kind of rewarding to talk to young, perspective hams.
All in all, my contesting experience was a wonderful one! I was able to talk to more fellow hams in New York and surrounding states. My farthest contact was Georgia … and I believe that was on 20 meters! I wouldn’t hesitate to participate in another contest. Again, I don’t take it seriously, but I do like to have fun! If I place in a contest, wonderful! But, if I don’t, that’s okay. I still had fun.