A modest tribute to contesting's favorite double mult...

(Jim originally posted this to the Contest Reflector in October 1996)

"I realize that it's now the 'in thing to do', i.e., have your very own web site to publicize your upcoming contest operation. Unfortunately we ZD8's are few in number, have no PhD's resident on our staff, and definitely represent a low budget operation. But what the heck, you'll probably want to work us (me) anyway (nice juicy double mult oughtta do it) - so we don't have a web site!

"But if you allow yourself to expand your imagination, you can perhaps visualize what the ZD8 web page might look like... depicting an incredibly magnificent tropical island, a thousand miles from anywhere, surrounded by deep azure waters, glorious white sand beaches, palm trees wafting in the southeast tradewinds, and beautiful bare-breasted native girls frolicing amongst the rhombics and log periodics. No noise, no neighbors, no TVI -- just ZD8Z forced to go it alone.

[Imagination-expansion stuff goes here.]

"Please look for me the end of October, unless I get side-tracked in the antenna field."

Very 73,

Jim Neiger, N6TJ/ZD8Z

(... and he posted this one just after the 1997 CW WPX Contest; it includes some interesting comments on headphones -- and Jim also tells how he does "48 straight" at the age of 58!)

Having just returned from Ascension Island and a 36-hour stint in the WPX code soiree, I confess I'm amused to read about the trauma induced by so-called "cut numbers". Since the first dots and dashes were sent over the wires a 100+ years ago, CW operators have been trying ways to take short-cuts and to maximize data sent with minimum keystrokes. Comparing on how we all had to do it before memory keyers and computers, I think it ironic that now that the sending part is soooo much easier, we suddenly can't handle the receiving end.

At ZD8Z two weeks ago, I spent the first half sending serial numbers in a conventional sense. Most of the weekend, I sent at 38 wpm with the signal report (5NN, of course) at 10 wpm faster, and then QRS (that means send slower for those having trouble with "cut English") back to 38 wpm for the serial number. For the second half of the contest I switched to "cut serial numbers" and felt, at least psychologically, that the rate really took off. As anyone who worked me will attest, I was all too willing to re-transmit the serial number until the recipient had it 100%, and to QRS to whatever speed required to get my call right. By the way, after many contests and several hundred thousand QSO's with ZD8Z, it's not that I hit the airwaves with some really tricky call like we've all had to endure in the past. (A couple of my all-time favorites were 6E5EBE and L8D/X).

Also, 99.9% of my 4000 QSO's resulted from my CQing, and anyone calling me had the advantage of hearing sequential serial numbers before, and (hopefully) after, theirs. I had one shot at hearing the serial number sent, probably with a significant portion of the pile-up still QRMing, and I'm not complaining about cut numbers. It's not that many weren't received with some difficulty, or that I didn't have to ask periodically for repeats, I for one liked the challenge, and enjoy the WPX because you're supposed to actually "copy" something. What a unique idea that is!

I've read occasionally about some trying to find a better headset. Let me please tell you what I've been using for the past 10 years. (Also it may be of interest to know that my friends W6YA, CT1BOH, and OH2BH, when they saw what I was using had to have some too).

The headphones are FOSTEX Model T20, available at many stereo/music stores. I've also seen them used in recording studios. I like them because they're quite comfortable, and I have no trouble wearing them for 48-hours straight, as required. Price is about $80. A machinist friend made me a small threaded stud that I simply epoxy to the side of the earpiece. I then attach the Heil boom mike (HC-4 cartridge, of course), and away you go. At ZD8 I operate in a room so noisy it's impossible to carry-on a conversation without shouting, yet the T20's do a pretty good job in shutting out the noise. If any of you try these phones, I'd be interested in knowing your reaction.

And finally, on the subject of how to do 48-straight in a contest without sleep, I'm sure I do all the wrong things, but still managing to do the 48 at the age of 58 (that has a nice ring to it):

1. Big, hot satisfying meals are definitely out. I eat nothing more than handsfull of M & M candy and Oreo cookies (NO I don't own stock in either company).

2. I drink only Gatorade and orange juice. Lots. Especially on phone.

3. I don't like coffee, so I take an occasional No-Doz when things start falling apart. In the recent WPX I had to take two of them Sunday afternoon, a I've got to tell you, I felt I was operating on another level, when usually by then everything starts falling apart. It was great, and I finished my alloted 36-hours at 1938Z feeling more-or-less rested and ready to go for another 10 to 12 hours, if required.

Anyway, just a few opinions, for what they're worth.

Vy 73

Jim Neiger N6TJ/ZD8Z


For a picture of Jim at Dayton, 1998, click here (many thanks to talented photographer K8CX).
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