I admit that I was not sure how long that digital mode communications were going to be able to hold my interest after a few awards were achieved. The communications are very short and functional. Literally 14 or so characters per message. On FT8/FT4 It goes something like this ( With my translations =) ):
- CQ KJ7DJR DM43 (Hey, helloooOoooo, anyone out there? I’m KJ7DJR in grid square DM43 Can anyone hear me? Call me back!)
- KJ7DJR N9XXX DM55 (Hey, I hear you KJ7DJR! I’m N9XXX and I’m in grid square DM55. Can you hear me?)
- N9XXX KJ7DJR -08 (I hear you N9XXX and your signal is reaching me at -08dB below the noise floor)
- KJ7DJR N9XXX R-11 (I heard your signal report and you are reaching me at -11dB below the noise floor)
- N9XXX KJ7DJR RR73 (I heard your signal report back to me, thanks for the contact N9XXX! Bye-bye, See ya later!)
- KJ7DJR N9XXX 73 (Thanks KJ7DJR! Goodbye! N9XXX out!)
As you can see, there’s not a lot of personalization or small talk! The most personal it gets is those thrilling foot chases of wiley stations from locations that are difficult to get.
But enter the Special Event Station (SES).
Special Event Stations are call signs that are assigned temporarily to a person or group for a specific event, celebration, or public service cause.
Most of them are visually noticeable in the band activity because they are very short– shorter than the call signs you could get permanently, for example three characters. (The shortest you can get as your permanent call sign is 4 characters)
When I see a three letter call sign zip by when I’m working digital, I usually go look them up at QRZ to find out what the special event is to see if I should “give chase”.
Since special events are of limited duration– a couple of days to a couple of weeks– they make for interesting pursuits.
The thirteen colonies special event stations that I wrote about earlier are an example of a short “contest” to contact as many of them as possible. It was a lot of fun trying to find them on the different bands and modes, and actually make contact!
This week, there are several special events going on that are a little bit entertaining, including a chase of “teapot” stations, attached to a teapot festival in Chester, West Virginia.
The claim to fame for the town holding the event is that they have the world’s largest teapot! (I just can’t shake the entertaining image in my head of beauty and the beast and the animated singing, dancing teapots! Lol.)
Other fun events this week that I’ve seen special event stations for:
Lighthouse activations, of stations around the country set up or broadcasting near lighthouses. For example W8L, which calls itself the worlds loneliest lighthouse.
A special event station attached to a historic church in Mexico ( call sign 4A2MAX ).
A bicentennial celebration for the anniversary of the state of Missouri becoming the 24th state in the United States. (Call Sign W0M)
An event for Ham Radio Village called Defcon 29 (apparently some sort of hacker convention! Call sign K3K)
Sometimes there are certificates you can get for participating, or you can get interesting QSL cards from these events. Usually there is a small cost of a few dollars to cover the costs of mailing and supplies, but it’s a fun way to get new awards and certificates for your shack walls 🙂