[CQ-Contest] CW Contest Operating

Scott Ellington sellington at ssec.wisc.edu
Wed Feb 20 14:18:18 EST 2002

I offer below some operating procedures I feel would improve the 
contest experience for a lot of us, based largely on the fresh 
memories of the ARRL contest last weekend.   These are my personal 
opinions, with which I don't expect all to agree, so take them for 
whatever they're worth.  I'm not going to argue about them.  I will 
note, however, that I place a high value on accuracy, regardless of 
what the log checkers do.


Scott  K9MA


1.  Learn to zero-beat accurately.  The station you are calling may 
have a clear window only a couple hundred Hz wide, and won't be able 
to hear you if you are even 100 Hz off.  Sometimes it is useful to 
deliberately call a little off zero-beat, but you still have to know 
exactly where your transmitter is.

2.  Don't send your exchange until the other station acknowledges 
your call correctly.  However, don't repeat your call unnecessarily.




DX:  K0MA 599 KW (DX busted my call)


DX:  K9MA  (Acknowledgement of corrected call, without exchange)

ME: 599 WI

Note that DX can be sure he got my call right, because I won't send 
the exchange unless I actually hear him repeat my call.  If I send my 
exchange the first time, his acknowledgement could be wiped out by 
QRM, my attempt to correct it again could be lost in the pile-up, or 
DX may just fail to acknowledge the correction.  All it took to avoid 
all this was for DX to send my call back to me one time.

3.  Always acknowledge a corrected call.  Even if you got it right 
the first time, the calling station may not be sure you did.  Just 
send the corrected call, don't repeat the exchange if you already 
sent it.

4.  Don't let your computer send faster than you can copy!

5.  Try really, really hard not to call any dupes.  Even harder if you are QRP.

6.  When a dupe calls you anyway, don't argue, just work him.  You 
may actually not be in his log.

7.  For cut numbers, use only T and N.  Don't use A or the letter O. 
If you are QRP, send "T5", as the leading T is distinctive.  If 
individuality in your exchange is really important to you, go ahead 
and use A and O, but keep in mind you may be making copy more 
difficult for others.

8.  When asked for a repeat, just send the requested information, not 
the whole exchange.  Repeat the RST only if you sent something other 
than 599.  (When signals are really week, the 5NN may be useful as a 
"synch" pattern, though.)

9.  Sign your call after every QSO, unless you got at least a piece 
of the call of another station and can specifically call that one.


Scott Ellington
Space Science and Engineering Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison

sellington at ssec.wisc.edu

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