I love talking with newly licensed hams to find out what brought them to the hobby, and what they intend to do now that they’re licensed. There are so many different aspects to the hobby, and the first few years can be especially exciting. It’s really a time for discovery and figuring out what parts of the hobby you enjoy.
For me, lately, it’s contests. I’m not a major contester, with my modest 100-watt station, but I love an opportunity to work a new state or country. In my short time on HF I’ve worked 48 states (45 confirmed through Logbook of the World) and 46 countries (30 confirmed through LoTW). Not too shabby. I’m slowly chipping away at the Worked All States and DXCC awards. As for states, I’m still pursuing confirmed contacts in Georgia, Maine, Montana, Nebraska and West Virginia.
In talking with other hams, it seems everyone has their own ideas about what’s fair in the pursuit of awards. Some hams are real purists, it seems, and are chasing the awards without using digital modes, contests and QSO parties or scheduled nets. For others, it seems, anything goes.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I haven’t delved into digital modes yet, so my contacts have all been phone or CW. I tried a scheduled net once or twice, but it felt a little inorganic. I don’t want the fastest way to the award. I want to enjoy the journey. For me, I’m okay using contacts made during state QSO parties and other contests. Maybe after getting my first Mixed WAS award, I’ll start working digital modes and maybe join nets to go for band-specific and mode-specific awards.
I’ve calendared the state QSO parties for five states I’m still chasing, and four of the five are during the next two months. Yay! Nebraska, meanwhile, was supposed to be the weekend of April 20-21, but it’s been canceled. The website says they hope to reschedule it for the Summer or Fall. Argh!
As for countries, last month I participated in the ARRL DX contest, during which I picked up confirmed contacts with Honduras, Mexico, St. Lucia, Aruba and Haiti. I also participated in the CQ World Wide DX contest where I picked up Bonaire and Costa Rica. In both contests I worked stations in other needed countries who have yet to confirm through LoTW. Fingers crossed I get a few more confirmed. “I’m talking to you, Argentina, Paraguay, Turks and Caicos, and Puerto Rico!” Checking LoTW’s website has become something of a ritual bordering on addiction.
And all of this during a time when band conditions are at their worst. Yet, during a DX contest, the bands are hopping. Sooo much activity! It’s almost hard to find space to call CQ. It’s great that these contests get hams on the air. It’s also great hearing other CVARC members on the air and chasing the same stations. If you’re interested in joining the fun but have questions, we’re here to help.
Update: Turk and Caicos is now confirmed! Woo Hoo!