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Re: [CQ-Contest] "?" not equal to "QRL?"

Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] "?" not equal to "QRL?"
From: W2RU - Bud Hippisley <W2RU@frontiernet.net>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 01:27:22 +0000
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
James Cain wrote:
>> When I was a big-time CW traffic handler in high school, after each message 
>> sent the receiving operator would send one DIT to indicate he'd received it 
>> and was ready for the next one. Efficiency was everything. (I learned this 
>> from W0BDR, who was blind -- he typed and read his messages on a Braille 
>> writer, sent with a bug, and never, ever made a mistake or asked for a fill. 
>> Sort of a cyber operator.) 
>> Today, contesting is ham radio's efficiency showcase. So, I may change my 
>> procedure. To check if a frequency is in use I could just send one DIT. This 
>> would reduce my electricity bill. 

Here's what I do:

If I find a frequency I think is not in use, I send a single DIT.

If that doesn't generate a response, I send DI-DIT DIT or "?", depending 
on my assessment of conditions.

If that doesn't generate a response, I send my call -- ONCE.

If that doesn't generate a response, I send my "Short CQ" message.

If that doesn't generate a response, I send my regular F1 "Long CQ".

If that doesn't generate a response, I turn off the rig and go to bed 
because I must not be getting out....

The problem I see with blindly following the dictum of starting with a 
"QRL?" is it can wipe out most of the exchange that actually may be in 
progress when you think the frequency is empty.  Even worse is the poor 
operator who sends two or three "QRL?"s in a row. 

Many times I've found that a single DIT will get me a DIT in return -- 
which is all I need to convince me I should move on.

"QRL?" was a wonderful Q-signal when I was a rag chewer or on the Novice 
bands.  It is totally inconsistent with the pace of today's contest 

Bud, W2RU
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