[CQ-Contest] Efficiently Calling CQ in CW Contests

Richard J. Norton ae327 at lafn.org
Thu Feb 26 15:07:16 EST 2004

Although I do not officially speak for it, I do check the logs for a very large
DX Contest. This year I noticed a number of CW copying errors that involved
appending the letter "T" to the end of a few callsigns.

The mystery of why this was happening was solved this last weekend in the ARRL
DX Contest. I worked one of the stations, an EA, who was signing with "TEST" at
the end of his transmissions. His character spacing and his keying could
certainly be misinterpreted, particularly if the "E" in TEST got covered up.
Fortunately, for me, I was very familiar with his callsign in addition to
understanding his country's callsign structure, so I had no problem logging him

Unless it is your objective to make your callsign easier to miscopy, in a large
contest like the ARRL DX, where over 99% of the activity on the band is contest
related, there is no reason to waste time and energy sending "TEST."

There are still some people who may be attempting to determine your callsign by
actually copying it off the air rather than clicking on their packet screens.
If you are calling CQ (as opposed to managing an existing run), you might
consider putting your time and energy into sending your callsign. You may
appreciate others doing this when you are trying to copy the callsign of a very
weak station.

Regarding the suggestion to call "TEST callsign TEST." Two thirds of the
time and energy is wasted on non-information.

When CQing, where I am not sure there is anyone still on the frequency still
waiting to work me, I always sign my callsign twice. My call is very similar to
both N6AR and N6AW, who are often also active. I find hearing a call twice to
be reassuring that it is copied correctly.

In summary, I use:


without any "TEST" or "K."

Capital punishment is recommended for anyone sending "K" after their callsigns
in a contest.  Life imprisonment might be adequate if he had a 3-letter
suffix. Even the least capable of contesters are able to figure out, that when
you have stopped transmitting at an appropriate place, it is a signal that they
should start transmitting.

One big exception - Those unfortunate to have 3-letter suffixes ending in "K"
are permitted to send an additional "K" at the end to coax you into including
the "K" when you log their callsigns.

In a contest with little activity, you might use "TEST, " but I would put it
before the callsign to minimize potential callsign confusion.


If you send "CQ" or "TEST" more than once in your CQ, you are wasting time and
energy. If you need to use up more time, send your callsign another time.


Dick Norton, N6AA

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