Remembrance Day Contest 2018

Remembrance Day Contest is a 24 hour amateur radio operating contest conducted each year by the Wireless Institute of Australia, to commemorate those Australian licensed amateur radio operators who lost their lives in World War 2. It is ‘designed to encourage friendly participation and help improve the operating skills of participants‘, and is held on the weekend closest to the 15th August, the date on which hostilities ceased in the southwest Pacific. This year it commenced at 1pm local time on Saturday August 11th.

At the start of the ceremony, a roll call of amateurs who paid the supreme sacrifice is read, preceded by the statement — “We pay tribute to those members of the Wireless Institute of Australia who became silent keys“. This has particular significance for me as the first holder of my callsign VK3HN, J. McCandish, of the Australian Military Forces, was one of the 26 Australian amateurs who died in service. I believe the second holder of VK3HN was one Harry Newland, who held it up to around 2002, when I acquired it.

This year I entered the RD Contest in the QRP category, using my multi-band QRP SSB and CW rig (Summit Prowler IV) as a 5 watt SSB and CW base station, with 80 and 40 meter dipoles. Conditions were rough on Saturday night with QRN as you’ll hear on the video, but cleared Sunday. The numbers being exchanged is the number of years since you were first licensed. For me, as a Novice licensee in 1977, that number was 41.

This year

The contest rules allocated one point for each call worked regardless of call area, and double points for 160m and CW contacts. Stations can be worked every 3 hours. A highlight this year was the availability of a times 3 multiplier between 0100 and 0600 Sunday morning, which created a lively hour of operations from 1AM until about 2:30AM, when it appeared that everyone had worked each other, and the traffic on 80 meters eased off.

Next year

I observed that my scoring rate peaked with the passing of each 3 hour period. While 80 and 40m were busy enough, there were not so many stations that I could work new callsigns continuously. Many stations worked both CW and SSB interchangeably which really is essential for building a score. After 3 or 4 hours continuous operating the whole thing gets tiring, so I think it best to cycle in and out of the contest operating during the day. This leads me to the strategy that I will try to adopt next year, other life commitments permitting:

  • work both CW and SSB interchangeably
  • concentrate on 80m and 40m — judging by the small amount of 160m activity I heard, putting up an antenna for this band is marginal
  • align operating times with the 3 hour blocks, operating for about an hour to 90 minutes, exhausting most of the available operators, then taking a break
  • the 3 hour blocks could be — Saturday 1300-1400, 1700-1800, 2100-2200
  • don’t miss the 1AM Sunday triple-score happy hour, so 0100–0200 Sunday
  • get some sleep, then get back at it around 0700-0800
  • that leaves one more block, 1130 to 1300 on Sunday.

I missed the Saturday afternoon and early evening periods due to a commitment this year; with these, I could have extended my score by a good 30%. This operating strategy should maximise QSOs with the group whilst minimising operator fatigue.

Update 15 Sep 2018

Results are just out, I got 2nd place in my QRP category. No catching VK2IO, congratulations Gerard, a huge effort!

Thanks to the WIA RD Contest organizers who obviously worked hard to set up the rules, log ingestion and processing, and for very fine looking certificates.

Thanks to all participants who worked hard for 24 hours exchanging numbers in what was a good-natured and friendly contest. I’ll update with my result in the QRP category when announced.

“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them…”

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