I offer below some operating procedures I feel would improve the
contest experience for a lot of us, based largely on the fresh
memories of the ARRL contest last weekend. These are my personal
opinions, with which I don't expect all to agree, so take them for
whatever they're worth. I'm not going to argue about them. I will
note, however, that I place a high value on accuracy, regardless of
what the log checkers do.
1. Learn to zero-beat accurately. The station you are calling may
have a clear window only a couple hundred Hz wide, and won't be able
to hear you if you are even 100 Hz off. Sometimes it is useful to
deliberately call a little off zero-beat, but you still have to know
exactly where your transmitter is.
2. Don't send your exchange until the other station acknowledges
your call correctly. However, don't repeat your call unnecessarily.
DX: TEST DX0DX
DX: K0MA 599 KW (DX busted my call)
DX: K9MA (Acknowledgement of corrected call, without exchange)
ME: 599 WI
Note that DX can be sure he got my call right, because I won't send
the exchange unless I actually hear him repeat my call. If I send my
exchange the first time, his acknowledgement could be wiped out by
QRM, my attempt to correct it again could be lost in the pile-up, or
DX may just fail to acknowledge the correction. All it took to avoid
all this was for DX to send my call back to me one time.
3. Always acknowledge a corrected call. Even if you got it right
the first time, the calling station may not be sure you did. Just
send the corrected call, don't repeat the exchange if you already
4. Don't let your computer send faster than you can copy!
5. Try really, really hard not to call any dupes. Even harder if you are QRP.
6. When a dupe calls you anyway, don't argue, just work him. You
may actually not be in his log.
7. For cut numbers, use only T and N. Don't use A or the letter O.
If you are QRP, send "T5", as the leading T is distinctive. If
individuality in your exchange is really important to you, go ahead
and use A and O, but keep in mind you may be making copy more
difficult for others.
8. When asked for a repeat, just send the requested information, not
the whole exchange. Repeat the RST only if you sent something other
than 599. (When signals are really week, the 5NN may be useful as a
"synch" pattern, though.)
9. Sign your call after every QSO, unless you got at least a piece
of the call of another station and can specifically call that one.
Space Science and Engineering Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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