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2018-08-12

Brett - Where to start?


Jim Smith VE7FO Also Remembers Brett

My own involvement with SARC started when I was recruited by John VE7TI, as a Field Day operator. 

There are many enjoyable ways of conducting FD which range from everyone sitting around the BBQ, telling stories and making a few contacts to the hard core contest style where everybody goes all out to WIN.

I was told that it would be a hard core, win for Canada, situation.  Being a hard core contester myself I took the bait.
Well, it turned out that the operators, while enthusiastic, didn't have the HF contest experience necessary to achieve the goal.  Nonetheless, it was obvious that the potential was there so, once FD was over, I joined the Club and made a FD training proposal to the Exec with the goal of winning for Canada, which was accepted. 

This training started in October (I think) and ran until next year's FD.  It consisted of many formal training sessions including class room style and participation in the major contests, during which the ops received coaching on the operating techniques for maximizing the number of contacts per hour.

This would be a very significant investment of time for the trainees.  Brett realized that many people might be worried about this so he started a "Get Your Feet Wet" program to provide a low commitment introduction to contesting so that they could see whether or not they liked it. 

Here's how it worked.

A potential trainee would sign up for an hour or two of operating time during a major contest.

The trainee would operate the contest while being mentored by one of the experienced members, with no requirement that he sticks to it for his entire shift. 
If, after 15 minutes or whatever, the trainee says, "This is not for me" and ends his session then it will be obvious that attending the formal training would not be a good use of his time.

Conversely, if he really enjoyed the experience then he was more disposed to make the time commitment required by the formal training.

Brett managed the whole thing.

Altogether, a stroke of genius on his part.

Some trainees enjoyed the Get Your Feet Wet program so much that they repeated it three times!

Brett was also very involved in the formal training and was a great help to me.
Did the training achieve the #1 Canada goal?  No, but we did move up to #2.  After a 2nd year of training we made it to #1.

Brett was both persuasive and persistent.  Over the course of several years on the FD Committee he kept pointing out that some QRP FD operations did VERY well using only 5 watts of power, making better scores than us with 100W.  (QRP is ham lingo for operating at 5W or less.)  The way that the FD scoring is set up, a CW contact using more than 100 watts is worth 1 point, one using 5 to 100 watts is worth 2 points and one made using less than 5W is worth a big 5 points.    Sounds like a no-brainer.  You want to maximize the points?  Go QRP.  Just one problem.  People find it hard to hear you so you get fewer contacts per hour.

Finally, the FD Committee started paying attention to his point of view and consulted propagation predictions to see what we might be able to do with just 5W.  Hoo boy!!  With some adjustment to the antenna lineup we could do very well indeed.
Did we?  We sure did.
 
Shattered the Canadian record for all categories.

Out of 2,719 FD stations in the US and Canada in 2015, some with more than 10 transmitters and most running 100W, we ranked #91 with our 3 transmitters and 5W.
Altogether a VERY significant achievement which any club would be proud of.
Wouldn't have happened without Brett.

We were very fortunate to have had Brett as a member.

Brett's gone

Damn!

~ Jim Smith VE7FO


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