A pre-contest checklist is designed to stop you making mistakes by forgetting some minor task that, if not done, can have major consequences to your contest event. It might just be annoying, such as forgetting to set the computer clock to GMT, thus requiring a full edit of the log. However, it could be a major omission, such as forgetting to remove the QRP SWR meter you have on the 160m antenna lead, or neglecting to remove the rope tied to the end of the beam on that windy day last week, leading to major expense and the abandoning of the entire contest. Mistakes generally happen at the worst possible time, in the middle of the night when you are most tired; a Contest Checklist can help to stop these happening.
Have a look at the comments here, then adapt the list to your own situation.
- Set the computer clock to the correct date and exact GMT time.
- Caps Lock and Num Lock set as required.
- Configure Logging Progam for this contest.
- Load the CW or Voice Memories, and listen to them through the rig.
- Prepare the Keyboard Overlay sheet.
- Simulate five qsos on computer, then erase log file.
- Check computer is on same band and mode as transceiver.
- Print out full Contest Rules, and re-read them.
- Print out latest Propagation Forecast for the bands needed.
- Print out Contest Bandplans from EI8IC's pages.
- Print out Announced Operations from NG3K's pages.
- Print out your Logging Program command-set.
- Get an EI8IC Zone Map, for contests based on zones.
- Prepare Floppy Disc or SmartDrive for log dumps.
- Visual check of all antennas and cabling.
- Check rotators are calibrated and functioning.
- Test station on all bands, noting for any RFI.
- Check the position of all knobs and switches, especially:
- Noise Blanker
- Vox Delay
- Split Frequency
- Upper/Lower Sideband
- Tape card behind linear amplifier and ATU controls, and mark all tuning positions in coloured text, using one colour per band.
- Un-plug the shack telephone, and turn on answering machine.
- Gather together all contest necessities:
- Notepad and pencils
- Spare headphones and microphone
- Throat Lozenges or Cough-Syrup
- Damp cloth and towel for accidents
- Food and Drink
- Clean clothes for mid-contest shower
- Torch and spare operating-light bulbs
- Box of fuses and test-meter
- Check location of all backup-equipment and cables.
- Review past contest logs and magazine results.
- Plan strategy, and prepare band change and off-time plan.
- Feed the cat.
- Make a backup of the log on floppy disc.
- Make a backup copy of the log on another computer.
- Don't try to edit the log whilst you are tired.
- Unplug all power and antenna plugs.
- Respond to answering-machine messages.
- Feed the cat.