59? 59!

Today I received 4 CQ WPX CW awards. In fact only two but I got ‘m twice. A backup copy I guess. I completely forgot what I had done but these certificates refreshed my memory. Last year in May the WX (here we go again but the facts are what they are) spoiled my WPX CW effort with wind and T-storms so I limited my activities to fooling around. I did an all band effort as OQ5M and submitted SB40. Hence award #1 for "1st place Belgium 7 MHz". On Sunday 28MHz opened up so I opened a new log as ON5ZO. Voilà: "1st place Belgium 28 MHz" with about 170 QSO’s in the log. 28 MHz, a band that surprised me later that year in IARU and EUHFC but that really is dead right now. Too bad as I have very sweet memories. Good ‘ole Ten will be back in a few years time.

This weekend was CQ WPX SSB. I continued my low level activity streak and only made about 150 contacts, mostly on 20m. Conditions seemed poor so I guess I didn’t miss that much. On 15m all (only) signals from Kazakhstan were very loud. The rest of the world was absent. That’s partly because the tower was down and the yagi too low. But I mainly blame the sun.

What struck me was an increasing number of stations only giving the serial number for the exchange omitting the mandatory "59" RST part. That has been going on for a while now but this time it seemed worse. I wasn’t the only one to notice as Steve N2IC posted the following on CQ-Contest:

Is anyone else bothered by serious WPX competitors not giving out a signal report ?
"V. Exchange: RS(T) report plus a progressive contact three-digit serial number starting with 001 for the first contact."
A short list of those giving out only a serial number, from just a few hours of listening: 4O3A, ZW2D, N7DD
73,Steve, N2IC

Of course that triggered an avalanche of replies. Should we drop the mandatory RST that is ’59’ or ‘5NN’ for each contest QSO? It’s weird to hear ‘OQ5M 123’ and not ‘OQ5M 59 123’. It has no real value but in CW I use the ‘5NN’ part to get in synch to copy the real exchange. Granted: copying an exchange like a zone is no fun either as every JA is zone 25 etc. But it might help to copy real exchanges like serial numbers. I guess the debate will now split up in two parts with each item its own protagonists:

  • Should the RST-omitters be disqualified because the rules clearly state an RST is part of the valid exchange?
  • Should we continue to incorporate this in the exchange or alter the rules? And if so: what contest sponsor will be the first to do so?

Let’s sit back and see what the reflector will spit out over the next few days. Change is good but change needs to have an added value. Change for change’s sake is useless. I’ve become so Pavlovian about my "fanawafoo" SSB exchange in CQ WW SSB by now I always tend to yell that when working an SSB DX pile up.

To round this up a link to Belgium’s one and only M/M: OT5A @ ON7LR. Good stuff there but too bad the station is only around twice a year in WW SSB and WPX SSB. Yes they mention the WX too  ;o)

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