[CQ-Contest] Phonetics

Jim Smith jimsmith at shaw.ca
Thu Nov 3 15:58:24 EST 2005

The ATC environment is very different from the ham environment.  Being 
channelized, they don't suffer much from QRM and SNR is usually pretty 
good so it's just a matter of distinguishing between sound-alike 
letters.  Alpha and Delta in this environment sound quite different. 

Now move to the contest environment where a couple of little pistols are 
trying to make a Q where the SNR is only a couple of dB.  Alpha and 
Delta both sound like "mumble-uh" and you simply cannot distinguish 
between them, now matter how clear the enunciation.  So, you can lose 
the Q or, if the sending op understands the problem and says "America 
Denmark" you can make the Q which may be a double mult.  I've done this 
hundreds of times, as has most everyone else.  I don't understand why a 
contester would willingly throw away makeable Qs in deference to a 
standard which was designed for a different environment.

Here's another one.  When I first got back into contesting in 2000 I 
could never figure out the prefix for the Papa Shanky 4 guys so I missed 
out on a bunch of Qs.  When they started saying Papa Yellow 4 it became 
clear that they had problems saying Yankee.  Similarly, a number of JAs 
have problems with the English pronunciation of some of the phonetics.  
Even with a 20 dB SNR it can be pretty tough to make out who they are.

So, yes, in the ATC and similar environments, standardized phonetics are 
a good thing.  In the Ham environment one standard phonetic alphabet 
will lower your contest scores.  Why would you want to do that?

73, Jim   VE7FO

Frank Hunt wrote:

>I'm with Bob, one standard is enough. I wonder what sort of chaos 
>would result on the Air Traffic freqs if pilots used their own 
>personal favourite phonetic instead of the standard ones.

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