The French REF CW contest was held on Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th of January 2017 on the HF bands from 10m to 80m. For stations outside of France, the object was to work as many French stations and departments as possible.
I hadn't really planned on taking part but once I worked the first few, I just kept going. In the end, I ended up with 138 QSO's on CW.
As expected, the best bands to work into France were 80m, 40m and 20m. The best DX contacts were with FY5KE (French Guyana) on 15m and FY5KE, FG4KH and FG/F5HRY (Guadeloupe) on 40m.
The antenna on my side for all contacts was an 80m dipole about 7m above ground level feed with 300 Omh ribbon cable from an ATU.
Yesterday, I downloaded a copy of the SD Contest Software by EI5DI and registered it. As with anything new, it took a while to get used to all the commands but I managed eventually to put in all the contacts.
Entering wasn't without its problems though as I got several error messages when I tried to upload it to the contest website.
a) Error found in your file : LOCATION field not found. This field must contain DX for all non french stations. eg: LOCATION: DX
......With some help from EI5DI, it seems as if the French entry system didn't recognise the standard entry for location. In SD, it is 'CATEGORY-LOCATION: DX' whereas the French website was looking for 'LOCATION: DX'. Obvious to the eye but a robot system just rejects anything that isn't in the exact format. It was easy to edit the .LOG file with Notepad, remove the CATEGORY- part, save it and then try again.
b) At this stage, the French website thought I was trying to put up Spam with my multiple attempts so it rejected any more efforts. I was stumped for a while but I then used another browser to fix that problem. i.e. no cookies on that one.
c) Back in again but another error message...
Error found in your file : CATEGORY-OPERATOR field is not set properly. This field must contain operator-category. operator: SINGLE-OP or MULTI-ONE or CHECKLOG eg: CATEGORY-OPERATOR: SINGLE-OP
We found the string below in your log file: CATEGORY-OPERATOR: SINGLE OP (please check the op SINGLE-OP or MULTI-ONE or CHECKLOG)
Again, it was just a case of editing the .LOG file and I changed the 'CATEGORY-OPERATOR: SINGLE OP' to 'CATEGORY-OPERATOR: SINGLE-OP'. The French system wanted a hyphen in there.
Tried again and it worked!
My first entry for a CW contest and I would guess that it's my first entry for a big contest in about 15 years.
The next question is how many of the contacts will count? How many errors were there? I used a straight key for all the contacts with some being in the early hours of the morning....plenty of scope there for mistakes ;o)