2005 ARRL International DX Phone Contest
HF = Historically Fascinating
My name is Aaron Stella (KD8AVA), and I had the privilege of participating in the international phone contest, Saturday, March 5th, using HF for the first time. My many thanks to Keith Delong (N8XD) for his willingness to spend his free day for the purpose of giving people like myself a chance to experience a new face of this mysteriously exciting hobby.
What is so fascinating about communicating around the globe using RF? To be honest, as Iíve stirred over this perplexity, I havenít come up with one solidifying reason; yet I am fascinated. I was excited about this hobby long before I knew what it was. Perhaps itís just another area of technology Iíve yet to explore; perhaps itís the fact that there are multiple facets of this hobby that can engage you. Whatever the reason, Iím sure my wife knew me to be slightly insane. After all, this was an ďold-personĒ hobby, and it was out-of-date right?
After a working through a class taught by Lee (KC8ITI) and Keith (N8XD) this past December, I was able to pass my technician and code tests, and I was ecstatic. Continuing to work hard, I passed the General and Extra exams by the end of February. This does not mean that Iíve learned what I need to know; Iíve always just been a good test-taker I guess. Learning from others has always been more beneficial to me than reading from books, which is the reason I joined the SVARA club in the first place, and the phone contest that Saturday was a delightful, and at times nerve-racking, opportunity to do just that. Though I do not have the official list of who made an appearance, there was a perfect mix of newbieís and long-time operators.
Standing in the back room at the American Red Cross with three other first-timers, I became hesitant. We coaxed Rodger (KB8QO) into showing us how itís done, and without any hesitation he made a contact in about 6 seconds on 15 meters. He made it look easy. With the tension eased a bit, Gordon (KC8YVD) took the captains chair and made a contact. It all took about 10-20 seconds. So I give it a try and made two contacts. It was actually very fulfilling!
Congratulations were exchanged all around, and with a swelling of pride and confidence we kept going, sharing the helm. The anticipation grew with each contact to see who could identify which country they were from. Wales, Africa, Caribbean? What a thrill to think that we just spoke with someone from Wales, and that an invisible signal that I was ďin control ofĒ just made it there and back in a matter of micro-seconds! Sure I felt geeky getting excited over such a thing, but I was proud.
I went home after a few hours to go about my Saturday, and had hopes of catching a movie that night since my wife was out of town. I went about my business for a few more hours, randomly checking repeater activity, until I heard Joe (K8CQF) speaking of the contest still going on at the Red Cross. It was about 7pm when something happened. No longer did I desire to spend my night relaxing in front of the television eating junk food I would inevitably regret the next day, I wanted to go back and be with the people at the club and continue to explore this newfound passion. So I went back!
I stayed until about 10pm working with a wonderful gentleman, Bill (call sign unknown), on 80 meters. He shared a wealth of knowledge and experience with me with patience and kindness that taught me a deeper level of what Amateur Radio is all about, and I left that night amazed that some can think this hobby out-of-date. It is leading the communications world. After all, where would cell phones be if amateurs hadnít come up with the technology?
I look forward with much anticipation to the many wonderful learning experiences that lie ahead of me.
Aaron Stella, KD8AVA