DuBOIS — “CQ contest, CQ contest, Kilo Charlie Three Juliette Alpha Sierra, CQ” — This phrase was repeated probably more than a thousand times during the 20-hour period Treasure Lake, DuBois, resident Judy Smith participated in the 2019 Pennsylvania QSO Party.
The annual competition, in its 164th year, was held Oct. 12 and 13, and is for amateur radio operators state-wide who aim to make as many radio contacts as possible in 21 hours, Smith said. The winner is determined based on a point system, with respect to contacts made.
“CQ” is basically a way of saying “Hello, hello, is there anyone out there?” Smith explains.
The first goal is to make contact with at least one person in each of the state’s 67 counties, she said. Points are then given for contacts in other states and foreign countries and one bonus station.
One of her foreign-country contacts was with a gentleman in Slovakia, Smith said. She also made contact with someone in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
Smith competed in this year’s competition as a rookie, she said, since this was the first year she was able to participate after obtaining her general amateur radio license in March 2019.
With a total of more than 68,000 points, Smith was not only the highest point earner in Clearfield County, she won the category in the state competition. She will receive a plaque from the PA QSO Party Association.
Smith said 483 people submitted logs to this year’s contest. This is typically a hobby that very few women participate in.
“During the competition, I only talked with about four women,” Smith said. “In fact, after reviewing all the winners of this year’s competition, I did not see any other women’s names listed as winners.”
Smith said she originally became involved in ham radio with a group of people who were interested in communication in the event of an emergency.
“I then discovered the ‘fun’ side of amateur radio in the contesting,” she said. “I have always had this competitive side, so it was right up my alley.”
Smith’s husband, Steve, who is an electrical engineer, set up the radio and antennas and kept them operating for her, she said.
“I would not be able to do it without him,” she said. “The day of the contest, he cooked my meals and brought them to me so I did not have to leave the radio.”
Smith said the contest was similar to the concept of fishing.
“You throw your signal out there, and you never know what you are going to catch,” she said.