[CQ-Contest] Secrets of RTTY Sprinting

Ken Keeler kenkeeler at jazznut.com
Tue Mar 11 18:52:37 EDT 2014

Fellow RTTY contest enthusiasts, especially first-time participants:

First, thanks to all of you who participated in the NA RTTY Sprint 
this past weekend.
Sprint format is the most challenging and rewarding form of 
contesting on any mode,
but it takes some learning and practice.  We hope you join us in the 
next Sprint in October.

My following comments are from the perspective of a SERIOUS CONTESTER 
for 62 years, 44 years as a sprinter on CW and SSB.
I got into RTTY contesting three years ago, and  I am not an expert 
in the technical aspects of RTTY,
MMTTY, 2TONE, N1MM, WRITELOG, etc..  But, with coaching from experts, 
I have learned to use what I can handle, and PRACTICE all I can.
Sprinting is a different cat in contesting.  In the sprint, forget 
the other conventions you may use in either casual RTTY or other RTTY contests.

  In the interest of helping you be more efficient and successful in 
this contest, here are some observations and recommendations:


The predominant 'problem' I encountered in the sprint last Saturday, 
was stations sending their call at the wrong time:

  Situation 1:  You have called CQ and you complete a QSO.  Your 
message should end with only your
QTH (state, province, NA country).  If you send your call, that will 
trigger experienced contesters to call you,
when you are required to vacate the frequency  (QSY), per sprint 
rules.  If you send the call of the station you just
worked, you will trigger calls to that station.  Chaos happens in 
either event.  The only time you send your
call at the end of an exchange is when you inherit the frequency 
after responding to someone who CQ'd.
See sample sequences down the page.

Situation 2:  You have logged a station and have 'inherited' the 
frequency.  You placed your callsign at the end
of the exchange, and received a TU from the guy vacating the 
freq.  If no one calls you then, you are entitled to
CQ.  Hopefully someone will respond and you get what we call a 
'Couplet" of QSOs. (two for the price of one).
When you complete this second QSO, you must now QSY to another freq. 
to CQ, or tune for stations to call and get another couplet.

Contest exchanges are meant to be efficient, with no un-needed nor 
un-wanted information.
  DO NOT send: "Thank you xxxxx for the QSO",  599 - not required by 
the contest, PSE COPY....., PSE K, DE (your call).
Most contesters would think you are in Delaware - OMIT "DE"....
Save your courtesy or friendly chat for casual or non-contest QSOs.

If you do not get a full exchange from a station the first time you 
think you got him, do not hesitate to call him again later.
Experienced contesters know that logging a station a second time will 
most likely validate an earlier  QSO and prevent NOT-IN LOG penalty.
I called an active contester (with an AA7 prefix) about a dozen times 
because he was not in my log.  He evidently thought he
had logged me before (NOT).  If he submits his log with a QSO with 
me, he will loose the QSO, and incur a penalty.
You DO NOT KNOW WHY  the other station attempts or refuses to dupe.
Bottom line? LOG ALL DUPES!!!!! This applies to CW and SSB contesting also.

Sprint format suggests (not by rule, but efficient flow) that 
exchanges be sent in different sequence.  Most logging programs allow
you to set up macros for the two modes using the keyboard function 
keys:  CQ (running),  and S&P (Search and pounce).

Assuming you already are using a logging program which will send 
MACRO messages,  below is a suggested sequence of QSOs:
(If you are not using a logger in contests, please get one. I use 
N1MM, as it is closely integrated with MMTTY and other decoders, as 
are WRITELOG and maybe other loggers.)

N6RO sends: CQ N6RO N6RO NA
W0YK sends: W0YK
N6RO sends: W0YK N6RO 123 KEN CA
W0YK sends: N6RO 582 ED CA W0YK
N6RO sends: TU
(N6RO must now QSY)
W6OAT sends: W6OAT
W0YK sends: W6OAT W0YK 583 ED CA
W6OAT sends: W0YK 115 RUSTY CA W6OAT
W0YK sends: TU
(W0YK must now QSY)

Several logging programs automate the sequence of exchanges, and 
transfer exchange info received to the logging window, using mouse clicks.
If you are using N1MM, I would be glad to send you my F-key 
macros.  I'm sure W0YK would share his WRITELOG macros with you - just ask!
A top scorer in any contest is usually willing to share his SECRETS 
with you.   Why?  Because it may increase HIS SCORE and YOURS!

Other tips:
Put a space before and at the end of each macro message to separate 
it from the noise prints.
Use 'leading zeros' in your QSO number, so it is easier to click on 
with the mouse.  (NEVER use leading zeros on CW)

SO2R:  (single operator, two radios)
If you wondered why some stations are sending very large QSO numbers, 
they are probably
using SO2R.  While copying an exchange on one band, they are CQing or S&Ping
on another.  This increases scores by 10 to 40%, depending on the 
contest rules and activity in a given contest.
Details on SO2R would be the subject of another discussion.  First, 
let's work on the basics of Sprint.

Like any other activity you would like to become proficient in, 
sprinting requires PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
For this purpose, NCCC (Northern California Contest Club) sponsors a 
weekly practice session.
We invite you to practice the sprint format on Thursday evenings in 
North America, 0200-0225Z Friday,
on 15, 20, 40, 80m, the usual 80-90 khz up from bottom of band.
We use the Sprint message format, but the rules/scoring is 
different:  mults count on each band, 100 watts max.
Most loggers have formats for the NCCC Sprints, esp. N1MM.

I have just scratched the surface of this most challenging art-form 
in radio contesting.
Please give me your feedback, recommendations for helping others to 
learn how to SPRINT.

Thanks for reading my long-winded rant.  I suspect that I am 
"preaching to the choir",
as most of the guys who I'm trying to address, do not subscribe to 
any reflector discussing contesting.
Please pass the word to those who might listen.

We may make the substance of this thing available on the NCCC Sprint 
web-page for future reference for Newbies.
CU on Thursday nights...

kenkeeler at jazznut.com

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