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There are a wide range of events which involve contacting stations, according to certain criteria, to gain points. For VHF and UHF contests Maidenhead locators, also called Gridsquares, are often the basis of scoring. In some cases distance is a factor. A signal report and a sequence is often sent.
Some station are "rovers", who move from gridsquare to gridsquare.
A typical VHF Field Day exchange might be:
There may be more repetition, and more use of phonetics, depending on conditions. Additional components might be asking about having other bands, or a suggestion such as to "QSY" to "160", meaning to move to XX.160 MHz.
Contest loggign software, such as VKCL, would indicate that this is a distance of 186.90 km.
Some contests are more light-hearted, with other information exchanged. Others are "Sprints", contests lasting one to a few hours, with one based on postcodes. Some contests have multiple classes, from all-bands, all-modes, with multiple operators, down to one band, one mode (SSB or CW) with one operator. Occasionally doing something like having a club station make one or few CW contacts changes class, and might mean winning in the conbined class, rather than placing in the more popular SSB only one.
Being a narrow band, not available in all nations, contesting is often not permitted on 30 metres (10 MHz).
Logging is often done using a computer program, such as VKCL, which keep count of contacts, worked stations (indicating whether a station can be worked again), and scoring. The examiners want you to know that "Cabrillo" is a format exported from these programs, and used to submit entries to the contest organisers.
Not all special operations are contests, for example, International Marconi Day, which involves contacting stations with a historic link to Marconi.
In the US and Canada, one famous event is "Field Day". This involves establishing a station in a park or similar site, with stations on various bands, and operating various modes. This is a contest, practice for setting up stations for emergency support, and an event which publicises Amateur Radio.
For several major contests one strategy for cashed-up entrants is to travel to an in-demand DX entity in Latin America; or from VK, in the Pacific or Indian Oceans.
Automatic Packet Reporting System, APRS, is a system which uses Unnumbered Information (UI) packets to send small amounts of information, such as weather and position. The designer realised that it is better to wait for updated information, rather than requesting a resend of aging data. Position is typically derived from GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems, such as GPS, Glonass, Galileo, QRZZ, etc. APRS is useful in public service and emergency events for sending the position of operators shadowing the event doctor, on a sweep boat or "autobus" (pick-up van for stragglers). Trackers can also be clipped to a searcher's backpack, etc.
It is speculated that the UK may even build its own GNSS system, as relegating themselves from the EU means relegation from full access to Galileo, such as military and survey grade signals.
Digital signals, specifically JT65, allow modest stations to make contacts using signals bounced off the moon. JT65 is designed to be able to resolve signals at very low levels, and to handle variability on signals reflected from the irregular surface of the moon, including variations in signal phase.
MS, meteor scatter, uses FSK411.
Note that before these modes CW was used for "Moon-bounce" or EME, and fast CW or SSB were used for Meteor Scatter (MS). The very largest EME stations could use SSB.
Contacts are confirmed by stations exchanging "QSL" cards. Stations operating in remote locations, and DXpeditions, often appoint a "QSL manager" to handle cards. In many countries around the world, the national association operates a QSL card bureau for members. If you are a member in the US, and you make contacts with various "DX" stations, you can send your cards for non-US stations to the US QSL bureau. They are then grouped with cards from other amateurs for France, Australia, Cuba, etc, and these bundles are sent to these associations. Cards getting to Australia are distributed to states and territories. NSW (VK2) cards are sent to Westlakes club, then from there to members. Non-members can pick up their cards at the Wyong (CCARC) Field Day.
DXpeditions and many other stations require a "Green Stamp", meaning one or more US dollar notes. International Reply Coupons have been used in the passt, although some postal administrations hae stopped selling or accepting them. A larger self-adressed envelope with a stamp may also be sent with your card, if the station is in the same country.
A factor in selecting bands is the simple rule: The higher the sun, the higher the frequency. For example, for daytime DX 20 metres or even 15 metres (14 or 21 MHz) might be used, while 40 metres crosses a dark Pacific, connecting a station in the evening in VK2 (NSW) with early-bird operators in Oregon (W7).
These are the actual questions from the Extra licence exam pool, as published by the NCVEC.E2C01
No indicator is needed, answer D.
The district numbers are now somewhat meaningless, given a vanity call can have any number, and there is no longer a need to change calls when moving house between districts.E2C02
Self-spotting is listing your own station on DX-clusters, and similar websites, and it is generally "verbotten" in contests, answer A.E2C03
It is the itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie 30 metre band, answer A.E2C04
Hacked WiFi equipment is used on frequencies shared between (legal) unlicensed users and amateur radio, being 2.4 GHz, and now 5.8 GHz, answer B.E2C05
In some cases a DX station, meaning a station in a country many Amateurs which to contact may be humanitarian worker, operating in their spare time, and often they do not have time to manage a large pile of QSL cards. Also, these countries may not have a reliable postal services. Thus these operators appoint a QSL Manager to handle these, answer B.E2C06
This is typically in the weak-signal part of the band, near the calling frequencies, answer C.E2C07
This is an electronic logging programme output format, answer A.E2C08
Between US and non-US stations, answer B.E2C09
A hacked WiFi router, answer C.E2C10
All these reasons, answer D.E2C11
Just your own full callsign, answer A.
In the unlikely event grid-squares are needed, they are sent later. The only exception is if you had moved to a new grid square, and wanted to indicate you could be worked again, but saying "new square" is probably more sensible.E2C12
Pretty much like connecting a device to a library WiFi system, discovery and link establishment protocols, answer C.E2D01
FSK411, answer B.
WSPR is mostly used at HF, and the other two require a steady signal strength to work properly.E2D02
The trick with MS is a signal type which will take advantage of the short duration of the ionised trail behind a meteor, and all of these techniques do this, answer D.E2D03
This is JT65, answer D.
This handles very weak signals, which have bounced off the uneven surface of the moon.E2D04
This uses a lightweight GNSS (GPS, etc) receiver, a processer IC, and a small VHF transmitter to send its location, including altitude, using the APRS protocol, answer C.E2D05
The receiving station can decode signals which have a very low signal-to-noise ratio, such as signals returning from the moon, answer B.E2D06
Stations take turns in transmitting, using PCs set to an accurate time source, answer A.E2D07
AX.25, the packet protocol, answer C.E2D08
UI, or Unnumbered Information, answer A.
This is because stations using this mode do not "connect", or request re-sends.E2D09
This is multi-tone audio frequency shift keying, answer A.
PSK is NOT used, as being reflected off the moon affects the phase content of signals.E2D10 (C)
It can show this location of stations, such as sweep boats, answer C.E2D11
Latitude and longitude, typically derived from a GNSS receiver, answer D.
On to: Operations 3 - HF Digital
You can find links to lots more on the Learning Material page.
Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, July 2022.
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