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Re: Topband: CW speed

To: Tom Rauch <>
Subject: Re: Topband: CW speed
From: Eric Scace K3NA <>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 15:12:46 -0500
List-post: <>
I'll try to clarify my earlier comment.

Why sending faster helped me at the noisy VK9ML QTH:
    -- In between a pair of static crashes, I had a part of 
a second or maybe 1-2 seconds to get a piece of a call.  If 
the station sent slowly, I would only hear a couple of 
dot/dash elements.  If the station sent faster, I could get 
at least a letter and some part of the letters surrounding 
it.  That gave me a handle on something I could ask for: 
"8?", for example, knowing that I heard a dash ending the 
character before the "8" and a dot+dash at the start of the 
character after the "8".  So my next transmission would be 
"8? 8?"
    -- The other station repeats his call several times. 
With random luck, other parts of the call get revealed. 
Somtimes the other parts don't fit with anything I know yet; 
just hearing two consecutive dots, for example.  But I might 
hear the end of the "8" again and a clear "J" on the next 
attempt, or the next, or the next after that... so now I can 
ask "8J?" as a speculative fit.  [Of course, in this 
example, it might be "BJ" from another part of the call... 
but if I am hearing the station pause between repetitions of 
his callsign, and he is sending his call over and over again 
at an even pace, I have a good sense of where in the call he 
is sending when the static crashes pause.  He might send his 
call 3 times, and I would just send "8? 8?" again to get him 
to try another attempt, and he sends that call 3 times, and 
I keep feeding him the pieces that I know.]
    -- After enough repeats, all of the piece parts can be 
assembled into a consistent and whole callsign to offer for 
confirmation along with a report.  Sometimes this took as 
much as 5 minutes to complete a QSO on really bad nights. 
But some QSOs were better than turning the radio off.

It's a kind of mental integration of many repetitions of the 

The above works if the pileup is reasonably disciplined, the 
responding stations are reasonably loud (i.e., can be copied 
between most crashes), the responding signals are not 
fluttery, and I am sufficiently persistent (and awake!). 
Under these conditions 25-30 WPM might be just the right 
speed to be using... and that's what I would try to send at, 
in order to encourage responses in that range.

Sometimes stations slowed down when they heard me struggling 
with their callsign... which was a recipe for failure.  I 
would never get enough code elements at 15-20 wpm to put 
anything together.

Of course this doesn't work under other conditions; e.g., 
weak, watery signals on a relatively quiet band.  So, at 
another time, slower speeds are better... and I should send 
slower to encourage slow responses.

It's all part of the toolkit.
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