Mike Row Fone - The Shunning
SSB Myth Busters- Chapter #2
After pulling your legs in Chapter #1, I wound up with a hand full of legs laying around here. But since I have never known when to shut up, here I go again. (Hey, not knowing when to shut up should help me learn to be a SSB run operator, shouldn't it???)
In the first passage, I discussed the primary accessory usually required for SSB contesting, the MikeRowFone. But of course, I jest. We all know what a MikeRowFone is, so today I will continue the discussion with a look towards welcoming the CW operator into(or back into) the SSB Brotherhood(i.e., “Silly Squawk Box Brotherhood”), as we are all trying to row the same boat. Overwhelm NCCC, et al.
In SSB Sweeps it is easily possible to develop a worthy score just by “cherry picking” the run stations, chasing spots, or even programming a voice keyer to do all of the heavy lifting and save your voice. SSB run ops just love answering the ladies, and a lady can break a pileup as easily as they can a man's heart. This is NOT a myth. So, if you can get your wife, daughter or female friend to sit down and record the exchange information in a sexy contralto voice, you could even operate the entire contest as a genuine pile-up MAGNET. No one will question your attire - unless you are running a live web cam. “CQ Bayybeeee!” Ahem.
The additional challenges of “Animal Husbandry”:
SSB operators are already familiar with a host of barnyard antics that may be a real challenge for a CW operator experimenting with a MikeRowFone after a long period of inactivity.
Yes, Donald Duck is a real SSB operator. Again, this is NOT a myth. It seems like he is always parked just barely within your pass band, but working someone else your antennas are not good enough to hear. He is especially a problem for run operators, but a CW op doing a casual SSB effort is sure to run into Donald during the contest. Donald is probably the reason many ops originally gave up on SSB in favor of CW.
The real problem is that Donald is probably one of the very best SSB operators out there, because he literally seems to be EVERYWHERE during a 'test. No one knows for certain just how good he really is because he never submits his log. Because he talks so fast, he is believed to be a “2” located on NLI. For S&P, the strategy for dealing with Donald is not to sit out the contest on the sidelines, but to move faster than Donald. Cherry pick the most audible stations first. For a run station - well, sorry, that's part of the game.
The Care-takers of Swine and MCO's
First, I need to object to the more commonly known term for this character, the “pig farmer”. In the interest of full disclosure, my family raised pigs when I was a youngster, and I personally take offense that the boorish behavior I am to outline below is associated with “pig farmers”. It's a slight to all pig farmers everywhere. Instead, lets refer to this lack of courtesy as Manners Challenged Operators, or MCO's.
Many SSB operators are often plagued by objections voiced during a contest to their choice of frequency, their manner of operation, and even their very existence on the amateur bands. These objections are foreign to a CW op who has long been sheltered by the general good manners normally practiced by gentlemen during a CW contest, but all of the following objectionable behaviors might be encountered on a SSB excursion.
Often MCO's will challenge any operator within 20kc of a frequency they have ever commonly used for a regular ragchew net, based on the firm knowledge that discussing the lack of function of their kidneys and bowels is far more important than any “silly contest” exchange. The MCO, instead of a polite request to QSY, will often demand that you leave “his” frequency immediately, despite the fact that his ragchew is still four hours away.
Another often observed manifestation of the MCO is the “tuner upper”. Apparently the MCO's have yet to discover that the advent of the notch filter has made this particular obnoxious habit far less objectionable than in years past. The “tuner upper” is also often creative in creating malicious interference, sometimes whistling or sometimes spinning Elvis as “mood music”. Good filters are a must.
MCO's can often be avoided by focusing on S&P operation - to the detriment of score.
So, it seems to me a CW op should look at the realm of SSB as a whole brave new world of valuable and challenging experiences. After all, a seasoned veteran operator able to master 24 hours of 35 WPM CW SS exchanges, inaudible QRP stations, QLF lids, and S“221“ buzzing homebrew rigs, should not be troubled by these relatively minor challenges posed during a SSB contest. No one expects that CW ops will try to run SSB at the same outstanding rates they find normal in CW mode contests, or that they would even run on a first attempt. But it's a whole year before the next CW SS--don't let boredom set in! If the type A personality CW competitors show up on SSB too, the NCCC better not count on keeping that gavel.
If it is possible, don't shun the MikeRowFone. Loan out the MikeRowFone. Spot the MikeRowFone. Every point counts. There is a jackpot of Q's out there still waiting to be milked for 2006. I can guarantee at least one QLF lid will keep practicing for CW SS 2007.
For those who are already 'ambidextrous' - great work!
If in my lack of seriousness I have ruffled any feathers best left undisturbed, I apologize to one and all.
Continue on to Part 3 - SSB Myth Busters, Chapter 3-Shunning