Amateur radio has a vast choice of modes and operations, so how did I end up contesting.
I started in radio, as many do, on CB back in 1978 then progressed through to working DX on SSB which was the first catalyst toward contesting. I took the RAE in 1991 and like many other newly licenced hams progressed from working locals through repeaters to increasing my station equipment and operating capabilities over the following years.
Working DX continued on 6m especially during the sporadic E seasons in the summer months along with other interests such as satellites which I continue operating on today. I have dabbled with HF but mostly have concentrated on VHF, UHF & up. I spent time with the challenges of building a reasonable 23cm station but found that most of the time the band was dead… that was until I stumbled across a contest one evening and my eyes were opened. It allowed me to experiment and work DX with a guarantee of some good stations, both local and distant.
I have historically avoided joining clubs as I find the politics too much so have tended to operate alone. However a chance meeting with Carl M0ICR on our local repeater ended up with us joining a local club to contest on their behalf. After a short time of realising the rest of the club was not interested we decided to start the Drowned Rats with a goal of attracting like-minded hams to the group by focusing on contesting.
As time has progressed my station has grown details of which are shown on my QRZ.com page.
My ability to score well in contests increased when I started to understand and use the opportunities of aircraft scatter, which involves “bouncing” signals off the outside of aircraft. Software is used to identify a path “illuminated” between two stations by a passing aircraft allowing contacts beyond line of site even when the band is “dead”. It has also allowed me to operate successfully from home even though I have hills that extend from 090 to 190 degrees (most of Europe) from my location.
I enjoy passing on what I have learnt to newcomers to this side of the hobby and never stop learning myself. The Drowned Rats has given me the opportunity through its online private portal (Mattermost) to exchange ideas and view what other “Rats” are doing with their stations that encourages me to keep experimenting and improving.
Dave – M0SAT