The K1EA DVP keyer sounds like a neat piece of hardware. I think
we have all dreamed of operating a phone contest without a micro-
phone. I doubt many of use will actually do this in a serious
contest, but having it available to handle the routine QSOs will
certainly decrease the fatigue factor. However, there are appear
to be some expectations that I feel are unrealistic with this
First off, while the comparison of a live voice to the recorded
voice proves the hardware is working, this does not mean your
live voice and the recorded voiced are going to sound the same
during the course of a contest. There are two major reasons this
is true. First, your voice and what you say will change depend-
ing of your rate and target audience. The other is that your
voice is going to change during the contest as you use it up.
You could create a number of different messages that are appro-
priate for different times of the contest with different rate
situations, but you may have a hard time predicting the situation
and how your voice will be sounding ahead of time.
Is this important? Does it matter if people know you are using
such a device? This is a point that will probably be debated,
but I feel that if non contesters can tell you are using some
sort of prerecorded message, they are less likely to give you a
contact. Most phone contests require you to appeal to a larger
audience than just the contesters. The people at the top of the
boxes all know they are giving a performance during the contest
and it is necessary to lure in the non contesters so they will
help you out.
Many of these people are listening to you while doing something
else in the shack. They turned on their radio and tuned in a
loud station and are "reading the mail". Eventually, you need to
get the person to go over to the radio, press down their PTT
switch and say their callsign. The most effective way to do this
is to make your performance interesting and fun so they want to
be a part of it.
If they are comfortable listening to you and start feeling like
they know you, and you say something like: "Only 2 hours to go
and I need 200 contacts to break the record", they will probably
make an effort to work you.
I have operated the California QSO Party a number of times from
California. In 1982, I set a new record mostly because of the
rates I had in the last couple of hours. I used the technique of
saying how many minutes were left in the contest and how many
QSOs I needed. The response was amazing. Even some of the
members of the household came and watched me operate.
As the contest wears on you, and your voice changes. This can be
part of the act. If you sound like you can barely talk, you can
use that to your advantage. I have had many "sympathy" contacts
To me, the use of a DVP keyer would eliminate my ability to draw
in non contesters. I would sterilize my operation to the point
that it is no longer a human performance. I don't work many
phone contests seriously these days (maybe one or two a year),
but I do search around for a few hours on Sunday and help guys
out. I think I would be less likely to work someone using such a
device. For some reason I feel insulted if someone is using it
to try to work me. If he can't take the time to really talk to
me, why should I go to the effort to work him? I really do not
enjoy working people who are using a CQ tape and then answer me
with a totally different voice than the one I heard in the CQ.
Another issue with this type of operation is the image contesters
portray to the rest of the amateur community. Phone contests are
much more visible than CW contests. If you have ever listened
around 20 phone minutes before the sprint starts and compare it
to what is happening 5 minutes into the contest, you may feel
ashamed to call yourself a contester. I am not sure what effect
universal use of the DVP device would have on this image, but I
am afraid it would not be good. If people catch on to the fact
that we are calling CQ over and over again by just pressing a
button, I would have a hard time feeling that their use of the
frequency might not be more worthy.
I know it is the same thing as punching the button on your memory
keyer, but the CW bands are not as crowded as the phone bands and
there are not anywhere the number of people listening to us.
Also, it is possible to use a memory keyer without anyone being
able to tell the difference between a live performance and a
prerecorded on. Again, I feel strongly that this is impossible
on the second day of the contest unless you keep rerecording your
messages over as your voice changes, or just never use your live
The recorded receiver audio feature is another matter. This can
be used without any impact to your performance. This feature
alone may be worth the money. I plan to support the DVP card
with my logging program mainly because of this.
My point in writing this is to make sure people think about how
this device will affect their score in ways they may not of
before reading this. If I have made you think seriously about
some of the potential downfalls about using this device, then I
have achieved my goal.
Has anyone thought about how to efficiently handle the multitude
of stations who call you with just the last two letters of their
call? Boy I hate phone contests anymore!! Maybe the DVP can
record "Please whole callsigns only" in 100 different languages.
You could use separate transmitters pointing into different
directions and have it in the appropriate language for each
different beam heading. Japanese for 300 degrees, Spanish for 150
degrees and a random language for 30 degrees.
PS: My return address is not what appears above. Try something
like email@example.com or (503) 658-6012