QRP ARCI contest query

Like other QRP ARCI members, I received an email today from QRP ARCI requesting my thoughts on a variety of topics regarding QRP ARCI’s contests. Presumably, contest participation has been lacking and they would like opinions as to why that may be the case and what might be done to fix it.

I think the single biggest factor may be the momentum of recent solar conditions. And by recent, I don’t mean the great conditions of the past few months but rather the sorry conditions of many previous years. When conditions deteriorate, QRPers are among the first to notice. Activity declines. Maybe more building and QRP-L’ing takes place but contesting suffers and that slow-moving train takes a while to get back up to speed after conditions improve.

Fair or not, contests are judged generically by potential participants. For example, if I participated in a “QRP to the Field” event and a decent follow-up by the sponsors wasn’t forthcoming, I may be less inclined to participate in future contests including those sponsored by other organizations. One outdoor-type weekend event sponsor lost logs, another failed to provide contest results for a year. This poor performance takes a toll across the board and sours people on contesting in general.

Log submission requirements for QRP ARCI are unnecessarily complicated. One recent contest required participants to break down their log into number of members on the continent, number of non-members on the continent, number of members off the continent, number of non-members off the continent, etc. I want software to do all this so I can Click & Submit. I don’t want to write a Michener-length novel after 12 or 18 hours of dot-dashing my way through a headphone-wearing weekend. Perhaps QRP ARCI can use a simple program that would do the acceptable grunt work for all their contests and sprints. That would make it equally easy for the participants and the contest manager.

Contests are also poorly advertised and this is not the fault of Jim K9JWV (QRP ARCI’s contest manager). I’ve seen his timely announcements to various YahooGroups, QRP-L and other places. The problem is, the announcements grow stale rather than taking on a life of their own like a “KX3 vs FT817″ thread would. A solitary post, unresponded to, is a lonely thing. It informs but it doesn’t generate the all-important enthusiasm necessary for good participation and a lively contest.

Ditto for post-contest chatter. There ain’t much of that, but there sure used to be and it was fun as hell to read. Folks who participated were glad they did; those who didn’t made it a point not to miss out next time ’round. Call it pre-motivation.

In other words, much of the responsibility belongs to us would-be contesters to promote and enthuse our fellow participants. Rather than being passive about the endeavor, a bit of active online pre-contest enthusiasm may go a long way toward contaminating our brethren ;-) 

I know QRP ARCI publishes results in the Quarterly but this is the internet age. Supplement the paper results with something more instant…the score or the soapbox; one online, the other published in the Quarterly. Photos are good and easily made available online.

Could one or two issues of the quarterly have a beyond-the-basics article on contesting? Maybe Bob N4BP or other top-scorers can be sweet-talked into writing something to educate, inspire & motivate? By far, most of the articles in QRP Quarterly are on stuff rather than operating technique…soldering this and that, winding a coil more easily, etc. Those articles put people at the workbench, either actually or “in spirit”. How about some articles on technique that will put people in front of the rig come ‘test time.

I do like the variety of contest offered by ARCI. My all-time fav is the Fall QSO Party. And the sprints offer a “less filling, tastes great” way to enjoy the fun without dedicating a weekend to it. Of course, all this depends on other’s participation.



  7 comments for “QRP ARCI contest query

  1. February 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Very well put John, I am a new member to ARCI and have just received my second quarterly magazine from them. I have taken part in the Pet Rock contest and am looking forward to the other contests. It would be great if some of those in power at QRP ARCI check out some of your suggestions. I too would like more input about contesting and the hands on stuff for field QRP as well. Thanks for putting it so well.

  2. February 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm


    Just a quick word on more-rapid feedback after contests. The club isn’t taking advantage of the power of scripts and databases which I suspect can be set up on the club’s server. These can be used quite effectively to set up on-line forms that allow participants to enter and post their claimed scores. And the preliminary results show up instantly on a standings table. I presume the club will want to retain some sort of vetting process for logs. Still, this would provide instant feedback and at least initial bragging rights, with the final tally coming post-vetting. This would be especially powerful for sprints.

    I’m also a member of the Straight Key Century Club. All of our activity’s results have this instant-feedback mechanism.

    Also, one-off announcements are helpful, but not enough. Publishing announcements in the magazines are great, but regular “countdowns” on various email lists probably would help.

    And as for pre- and post-event chatter, the QRP-L list may be perceived as too general-interest to encourage a lot of traffic specific to the events. The club might want to set up its own email list, which members might be more inclined to treat as their “water cooler” than the excellent but still broad QRP-L. Yeah, I know, one more list. But that’s why email clients have folders and filters. ;-) It’s easy enough to set up as a Yahoo or Google group.

    Random thoughts…


    • February 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks for the reply, Pete. QRP ARCI used to have their own online forum – QRP-F. I loved it. It seemed to stay on-topic more often than QRP-L and served the very purpose you mentioned…among others. I guess the powers that be didn’t think its usage justified its continuation, though I remember there being something more than a mere “handful” of us who used it regularly & as did probably more who lurked there.

  3. Rich
    February 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm


    I agree with what has been said about QRP ARCI contests. I learned about the contest survey by looking at the website which I don’t do too often. Your comments mentioned an e-mail that flagged you about the survey. I never received any e-mail nor have I ever received any e-mails from QRP ARCI. I suspect this is a problem which I will look into. I too enjoyed the QRP-F Forum. My survey suggested a a Yahoo Group or e-mail reflector for QRP ARCI contests similar to what the VHF/UHF Contest Group has. I too would like to see more operating techniques articles in the magazine. I would also like to see more technical articles on propagation. I will let the editors know of my interests.

    Rich N0EAX

    • February 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Hi Rich,

      I think a Yahoo Group for QRP contesting – whether by QRP ARCI or others – is a great idea. There’s certainly room for one and it could serve as a on-stop-shopping for all contests that might be of interest to QRPers – something that doesn’t currently exist. There have been more than a handful of times I’ve learned of a contest only the day before or even a day later just because I didn’t happen upon the relevent website in time.

      Regarding the survey, I probably should have posted a link. Here it is:

  4. Eric VA7DZ
    October 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    After the ARCI QRP Fall QSO party I went looking for the claimed scores – nothing!
    Not on 3830 Reflector, nor on the ARCI website.
    WHy not have this? Not hard to set up, a great motivator.

    • October 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      They want you to subscribe to their magazine and so only post the scores there. I no longer do subscribe, although not for this particular reason.

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