[CQ-Contest] Can a call be too short?

Jack Haverty. k3fiv at arrl.net
Wed Feb 15 18:32:41 PST 2012

In 1963 I became K3FIV when I passed my General.  After a few moves I got
it back, even though I'm now in 6-land.  I like the cadence on CW and even
though it's 1x3 it's got a lot of dots so it doesn't take too long to send.

What I've found is that my brain was apparently hardwired back in the 60s
to believe that most callsigns were 1x3, there were a very few 1x2,. no
2x1s or 1x1s, and a growing number of 2x3s, all beginning with W/K for US,
G for UK, JA for Japan, etc.

So, today, I find myself prone to misinterpreting calls so that they fit
into those patterns.  E.G., KE5A might become something like K5EA.
Essentially, even if I hear all the dots and dashes correctly, the spaces
are harder to distinguish as being inter- or intra-character, especially as
speeds get up toward 30WPM.  So I get it wrong.

Calls I've heard before in other contests aren't as likely to be misread
because they're familiar.  But any new (to me) call is one which my brain
really tries to fit into the traditional patterns.

So, I would expect that a significant source of errors would involve not so
much missing a dot, but rather confusing the spacing involved in a long
string of dots or dashes, so that you get the wrong sequence of
letters/numbers.  To me at least, it's more difficult to correctly
distinguish the two different types of spaces than to distinguish (or miss)

At least until all us older hams are gone...


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