[CQ-Contest] callsign advantages

Pete Smith n4zr at contesting.com
Wed Mar 12 07:47:18 EST 2003

At 07:48 PM 3/11/03 -0600, Mark Beckwith wrote:
>f it was K4BAM (also common), you'd hear the rest of the "M".  If you
>didn't hear that, you'd know it was John.

That example makes an interesting point, too.  On CW in QRN or QRM , the 
structure of code characters often provides a lot of clues.  Once you have 
a number, you know that all the other characters will fit within a certain 
framework.  If you hear an initial dot, for example, followed by a static 
crash and then the beginning of another character, your mind processes the 
gap between the dot and the beginning of the next character.  If it is a 
5-dot gap, then you know the letter that was garbled by that static crash 
has to be "I" (dot (heard) plus one-dot pause plus dot (unheard) plus 3-dot 
pause, then begin next character).  If it's an "A" then the gap has to be 7 
dots long; if it's a "W", then 11.  These are pretty big differences, 
percentage-wise, particularly when dashes are involved.

I believe that experienced CW operators go through this process 
unconsciously, processing partly-heard characters and narrowing the 
possibilities, then applying a list of likely calls (either mental or 
computer-based).  Of course, this assumes that the other station's fist is 
good and even in speed; it's the big reason why I do not believe it's ever 
helpful, on the average, to change speed within a callsign (or for that 
matter, inside a contest exchange, where there's any need actually to copy 
the information transmitted).

73, Pete N4ZR
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