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Re: [CQ-Contest] To cut or not to cut?

To: "'CQ Contest'" <cq-contest@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] To cut or not to cut?
From: "Robert Brandon" <rb@austin.rr.com>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2012 08:54:46 -0500
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
I've copied quite a few serial numbers in my time, but I'm still startled
when I get a cut number.  I can usually decode it, but it takes me an extra
beat or two to do so.  And guess what -- that erases the time saved by
sending it.  

Fortunately, N1MM (and other?) contesting software will let you type "ANTN"
into the exchange field and convert it to 1909.  That's certainly helpful in
the wee hours.

I have warmed up a bit, though, to the dah-dah-dah for zero that a number of
JAs use.  The unusual length of the three dahs makes it stand out.  With a
weak signal, if you only copy one dah, it could be A, N, or T.  

Robert K5PI  

-----Original Message-----
From: cq-contest-bounces@contesting.com
[mailto:cq-contest-bounces@contesting.com] On Behalf Of Pete Smith N4ZR
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:23 AM
To: CQ Contest
Subject: [CQ-Contest] To cut or not to cut?

There's nothing like a CW serial number contest to get you re-thinking 
about the use of cut numbers.

For situations where first-time intelligibility is important, I think 
use of cut numbers probably costs more time than it saves.  Here's why:

The basic Morse Code 0-9 character set has two important characteristics 
- each number is five code elements long, and each one gives you two 
chances to copy correctly or confirm that you have done so. If you hear 
the first dit of 1, or the last 4 dahs, then you know what the number 
is.  This is because, with the regularity of computer-sent CW and the 
presence of "5NN" as a signal to expect the number to begin at a certain 
time, you can often infer from the length of the "lost" portion of a 
number what it must have been.  Even if you only get the two dits of 8, 
depending on when you hear them, you can have pretty good confidence 
that it was, in fact, 8, and not seven with one unheard dit.

How much time is saved by sending A instead of 1?  How much time is lost 
by responding to "AGN" or "NR?"

Opinions?  I bet there are a few out there.

73, Pete N4ZR
The World Contest Station Database, updated daily at www.conteststations.com
The Reverse Beacon Network at http://reversebeacon.net, blog at
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