Top 10 Rookie Mistakes

Kirk K4RO is a local and fan­tas­tic con­test op. He recent­ly asked on the Ten­nessee Con­test Group Google Group page what the com­mu­ni­ty thinks are the top ten rook­ie con­test­ing mis­takes. Kirk writes the Con­test­ing 101 page for the Nation­al Con­test Jour­nal. I can’t wait to see the arti­cle he pro­duces as it will speak direct­ly to me.

Here is my contribution:

I am a rook­ie, here are my mistakes:

  1. Not hav­ing a goal. I for­got to set my QSO goal before the contest.
  2. Bad band plan. I neglect­ed to start on 40M, which is my cur­rent best band. Had no idea where I need­ed to be and when.
  3. Know­ing only the basics of my log­ging pro­gram. Got caught up on a strange error mes­sage and appar­ent split operation…it was­n’t any­thing but me not know­ing how to abbre­vi­ate “Union” (brain fart) and log­ger not let­ting me log. I should have typed “union” and move for­ward. Cost me a cou­ple QSOs while fig­ur­ing out I was dumb. At least the cost was­n’t as high as oth­er times I fig­ured out I was dumb.
  4. Sta­tion in a con­stant state of dis­re­pair. I would love to some­day have a mod­est, two-radio, auto switch­ing with no cables show­ing set­up. Until then I suf­fer from occa­sion­al sna­fus usu­al­ly with cable fail­ure. I roll over them with my chair.
  5. CQ inter­val too fast. I won­der if my CQ inter­val is too fast and scares away a casu­al con­tester from calling.
  6. Con­fir­ma­tion CW macros not def­i­nite enough. I won­der if a sim­ple “TU” is enough to give the oth­er sta­tion a con­fir­ma­tion. Maybe anoth­er sec­ond spent in a sim­ple 73 or QSL might be better.
  7. Get­ting tongue-tied on SSB. Often had problems…like Julius N2WN said, more fun­ny than mis­take, but still affects rate. Need a script (if not using DVK) for quick, friend­ly, effi­cient exchanges.
  8. Bad audio. Bad bad audio. I don’t know if my SSB is bad or good (mis­take) although have com­ment­ed positively.
  9. Bad tim­ing, espe­cial­ly in pile-ups. Get so excit­ed I some­times jump quick­ly to call rather than lis­ten­ing for a few to get the cadence of the oth­er sta­tion — bad habit and I know bet­ter giv­en I am usu­al­ly one of the weak­er stations.
  10. Not hav­ing fun. I have to admit that 20M vex­es me, and I know why…I have a bad anten­na for 20M. Until I put up a bet­ter anten­na I need to remind myself 1) just a game, 2) do the best I can, 3) have fun. If I am not con­vinc­ing myself (for some rea­son) then its 4) OK to turn off the radio and walk the dog, talk to my wife, ride my bicycle.

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