[AMRadio] RE: Contest signal reports

Todd, KA1KAQ ka1kaq at gmail.com
Tue Oct 2 10:51:37 EDT 2007

On 10/2/07, D. Chester <k4kyv at charter.net> wrote:
> I don't recall it always being that way.  I seem to remember that once upon
> a time it was standard procedure to give a real signal report, particularly
> for Field Day, and I seem to  recall that Sweepstakes used a serial number
> that simulated a message preamble and that part of the exchange was the RST.
> But that was in the days when hams built transmitters too... and most phone
> was AM.

Yes and no, Don. When I first got involved in amateur radio in the
mid/late 70s via a local club, it was through Field Day. Even though
they were using a Yaesu FT-101 and Atlas box on SSB, they were still
using accurate signal reports then. I know because one of the ops I
was logging for late at night decided I was going to operate for a
while, despite not being licensed, with him as control op. He took the
time to explain the importance of not only prompt exchanges, but also
accuracy in the information exchanged, including RST.

But then again, he and the others still saw Field Day as an emergency
preparedness drill as opposed to yet another contest. Obviously things
have changed in 30 years.

I also dispute the notion that contesters are great emergency traffic
handlers, from first hand experience in many drills as RACES State
Director for ten years. The OTs tended to handle themselves pretty
well perhaps due to plenty of NTS training, but the newer crowd got
flustered easily when traffic/messages started to arrive in rapid
succession, and included more than a few, simple groups. They'd either
send too fast and need to repeat the message several times or fold and
need to 'go get some coffee' etc. I attribute it to the new age
contesting approach, where minimal exchanges and numbers are all that
matter instead of content and accuracy.

They might make good dispatchers for a taxi service, though. Minimal
information required and maximum throughput.

~ Todd,  KA1KAQ

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