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Operating Challenges

Centurion #2166

It has been a long time coming — perhaps too long — but I finally made Centurion through the SKCC.

Some six months ago, I started making contacts through the club, making a few on one day, then going a day or two, perhaps a week or two, before getting on the radio again.

Inspiration struck one afternoon in September and I decided to make a QSO-a-Day for a month. During that period, I made some sixty-two contacts in less than thirty days. Initially, the challenge was exhilarating. I learned that making contacts on low power was not nearly as hard as some made it out to be, even during the solar minimum.

After a few weeks, the hobby began to control my life. It became a chore to operate everyday and I started looking forward to getting the daily contact out of the way. It was gaining the potential to impinge upon the lives of others as well. My wife was supportive of my challenge, but after a couple times of asking her to make accommodations to my radio operating schedule, I decided that this was not fair to her and against the ham spirit in general.

In a nutshell, I went about gaining the C at the two extremes: with lackadaisical unconcern or with maniacal obsession.

After a two-month burnout-induced hiatus, I made the final five contacts I needed for Centurion status. Achieving this milestone has been quite an education, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend that any new CW operator undertake. I learned what it takes to learn the code, to use the ionosphere to your advantage, to breakthrough a pileup, to work a pileup, to communicate the essentials, to shoot the breeze.

My favorite part of achieving the C was getting to know people. Now that I have the C, the new challenge for me will be to work on head copy and ragchewing.

For now, I’ll go back to operating at a leisurely pace, making a contact or two about every other night or so. It’s more fun this way for me and I get to know people better this way. Plus, I’ve got a backlog of QSL cards to send off. Those of you whom I worked to get here, be on the lookout!

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