[CQ-Contest] Packet Spots

Martin Luther luther at mail.mdt.net.au
Tue Dec 5 05:26:32 EST 2000

My original posting on packet spots has produced some interesting
discussion. I thought  it was worth providing a (biased) summary.

Nearly everyone believes packet is here to stay but a significant group
would like to see it turned off on contest weekends. It is the linking which
I believe is at the heart of the problem. A local node means that the DX
signal is heard in that area, with world wide linking the DX will be very
weak in some locations.

However, there is also a sizeable support for packet especially in the USA.

Given that packet is here, how can we best live with it. A number of people
including some very good operators provided advice which we would all
benefit from following.

1 - For the operator using packet spots

* Do not transmit without hearing the DX first . Should be the golden rule!
* Try to get a feel for the rhythm of the DX station.
* Transmit a little high or  a little low up to 500Hz away
* Use quick calls. Giving callsign once is enough.
* If you are finding you are calling and calling stop and find the DX
station again. He may have moved a little or gone.

W4EF quoted from Bob Locher's book "The Complete DXer". Which was of great
help to him when learning the ropes of contesting and DXing. Bob stresses to
listen - listen - listen so as to understand the listening pattern of the DX
station. If you can predict where his receiver is going to be on the next
over, your probability of getting thru is greatly enhanced over the lids who
call blindly on frequency without listening. You should only be transmitting
when and where you think the DX station is listening, and of course not when
he is specifically listening for someone else. This is especially true on
CW, where a little pistol can oftentimes get thru easily using shrewd
operating techniques while the big cannons are calling blindly.

2 - For the operator running from the DX end.

* You are in control and should always act with authority.  Do not work the
persistent caller who is out of line i.e. if you send K4U? do not go back to
* Do not send an undirected ? or QRZ. This opens the whole pile. I even
found just sending "call?" to reconfirm a station being worked opened up the
* A number of operators recommended using a small split - about 1KHz. This
has been used successfully.  However, others (including me) think this is
going to create chaos on the bands. It should be used very sparingly. And
revert to simplex as soon as possible.
* All operators recommend tuning the fringes of the pile. The better
operators will be there.
* One operator recommended using two frequencies on the same band. When one
pile gets too big go to the other one. Again not good for optimum use of the
band for the good of all. Will work but use sparingly.
* Finally of course each operator has their own minimum run rate before
moving. This is used for band changing etc. Even though there are a lot of
stations still on the frequency if your run rate drops below your trigger
move to another frequency or band. That is normal operating practice.


Much of the problem about packet is that it makes bad operating seem even
worse. Essentially, however, the problem comes back to poor operating.

Those of you dedicated to their packet spots. It is up to you. If the sudden
piles get any worse then the DX will move quite quickly thus undermining the
advantage of the packet spot.


Martin VK5GN

What is not included in the packet message is the DX stations reason for
operating. The possible categories  and effect of a bad loud pile are:-

Newbie just trying a CQ ...........QRT never to be seen again
Newbie determined..................QRT tries another band, or comes back
Part time contester includes big contesters just mucking around in this
one.....will persist for a while for the practice but if it all gets too
much QRT and watch the movie. OR gives up and just tries to work a new
country or two.OR hand out points to mates etc.
Contester trying to make a score.........Persists up to the point that the
rate is affected. Remember for DX this is all about rate. A new mult is not
likely to be found in a US packet pile. (Outside ARRL DX of course!).
Contester really trying....probably does a little better has a stronger
signal to control the mob, gets another frequency organised on the second
radio and either S&P's until the pile slows or CQ's on the other band too
where the openings are unlikely to lead to a bad packet pile.

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