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Old June 4th 17, 01:19 AM posted to,,
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Default [FOAR] Getting an elusive contact ... fly-fishing style.

Foundations of Amateur Radio

Getting an elusive contact ... fly-fishing style.

Posted: 03 Jun 2017 10:00 AM PDT

Foundations of Amateur Radio

There's a phrase that I use quite often, "Get on air and make some noise!"

In terms of Amateur Radio that makes people think that I mean that they
should turn on their radio, pick a band and call CQ, for hours. I can tell
you now, if you're a QRP station, this is going to be a frustrating
experience unless you're lucky or happen to be located in a place where
other Amateurs want to talk to you, like an uninhabited island, or a
low-tide reef, or some other place on the DXCC most wanted list.

I liken operating a low power or QRP station to fly-fishing. To get a fish
takes patience, skill and persistence. Would you start fishing in an
industrial sewer in the hope that you catch something, or would you attempt
to learn something about the fish that you're trying to catch, before
seeking out its hiding place and throwing out a bait?

Operating your Amateur Station should be more of the baiting and less of
the industrial sewer.

So what does this look like in your day-to-day operation of your station?

Well, for starters you'll need to figure out where all the other Amateurs
are. You can do that by listening for other stations, or by finding
automatic beacons and seeing if you can hear them. That takes care of the
first problem, is it at all possible to catch anything here?

The next challenge you're faced with is when to find these stations. You'll
need to do some reverse investigation. If you're trying to contact the
other side of the globe, it's likely that the station you're looking for is
going to be asleep when you're awake. So, calling a station during your
lunch break is likely to mean that it's midnight over there. So, pick a
time when they're likely to be awake, the beginning or the end of their
day, which happily coincides with the grey-line, when the sun is just on
the horizon, when radio propagation goes through some magical

If you call on a Wednesday, it's likely that they're also in the middle of
their work week, so think about how to plan for this. If it's a public
holiday, check to see if they have one too, or plan for operating during
the public holiday at the other end. If there is a large Amateur Radio
contest at the other end, you might find that your station is desirable as
a contact, or the opposite might be true, so check that out.

Of course, I'm not able to cover all the variations of this and it will be
specific to your station, so spend some time planning and learning about
what a contact might look like.

Now, if you take this advice to the extreme, you'll end up never getting on
air and calling CQ, which means that you'll never get a serendipitous
contact, nor will you capture the exception where an insomniac operator is
trolling the bands to talk to someone, which would be a shame, so, do your
homework, learn about when and where to operate and in the mean-time, get
on air and make some noise!

I'm Onno VK6FLAB
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