[CQ-Contest] Speed and Contesting
K7bv at aol.com
K7bv at aol.com
Mon Jun 21 16:41:07 EDT 1999
Ah...a subject near and dear to my heart! My buddies are frequently jumping
down my throat for using too high code speeds in contests and to a lesser
extent, my DXpeditions (sometimes one in the same).
The truth is I do fire off my CW pretty fast because I think higher speeds of
CW sound neat! I always have enjoyed listening to a good op run their
pileups or call-frequency at the highest possible "effective" speed.
Effective is obviously the key word here.
I believe a lot of folks select 30 or 32 WPM and run the majority of a
contest at that speed which is fine and it works great. I prefer to opt for
a higher speed and then adjust downward as conditions and individual calling
operator needs dictate. Having been a CW challenged op when I first got my
license back in the early 60s, I am painfully aware of how hard it can be to
master the art of CW. But, I also am aware that with relentless practice,
one can experience at great deal of satisfaction watching ones code speed
People like me need a reason to do my homework. Getting into contesting and
having to learn to copy those callsigns being fired off by an efficient and
high speed operator was a key motivator in my increased copying speed
Today, some of my most enjoyable moments in life (Yes, life, although I do
intend on getting a real life sometime in the future) include a relatively
rare callsign, a 40 meter pileup 5 kHz wide and 3 deep, my CW controls set at
40+ WPM and knocking off the gang at 250+/hr.
Now, I know that a lot of guys in the pile cannot copy CW at these speeds for
a sustained period of time. But, post-contest / DXpedition QSL returns
indicate that very few of the gang are being lost in the controlled chaos. I
suspect that both ends of the pileup are better off from this short thrill
experience of learning to copy CW faster.
I do keep my eye on the Alt F9 key though, and when it seems prudent, drop
speed rapidly for someone I find in the pile calling me at a significantly
slower speed. If it turns out this person can copy CW at 50 WPM and was
simply using this tactic to get my attention in the pileup, my
congratulations are offered for his or her smarts!
Obviously, all the above is given much closer attention when I am in a
contest like WPX where actual intelligent (?) non-reoccuring information is
being exchanged. Also, I have adopted the operating tactic used by so many
of slowing the speed down measurable in the last several hours of the contest
to try and lure in some of the participants who are intimidated by the higher
As is always the case, my prime objective when on the air is to have as much
fun as possible while including those sharing the moment with me in a manner
that also puts warm puppy feeling inside them, too.
73 Dennis Motschenbacher K7BV
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