[SECC] Run or S&P Mode for new or casual contesters?

Bill Wilson kj4ex at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 27 10:28:09 PDT 2010

Ralph, Group,
Great explanations, and info !!   I use both methods, hunting multipliers, then sitting and running to rack up QSO points later in the contest.  I have operated both routinely, mostly S&P and prefer that myself as a casual contester (I like the term "select"), but when I was in the Far East, it was easy  to "run" because everybody wanted ME.
Towards the ends of contests, everybody is looking for anybody, so the run method works well.  Find out what works best for you.  
Just my M.O., the main thing is I have fun, and have a bit of wallpaper for the efforts : ).
73's es gd dx tu
Casual Contester (for the fun of it)
Bill Wilson - KJ4EX

--- On Wed, 10/27/10, Ralph K1ZZI <k1zzi at comcast.net> wrote:

From: Ralph K1ZZI <k1zzi at comcast.net>
Subject: [SECC] Run or S&P Mode for new or casual contesters?
To: secc at contesting.com
Date: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 8:29 AM

This is for our new SECC members joining us since this was last published in August.  Experienced contesters please feel free to jump in and add your comments!
Ralph K1ZZI
k1zzi at comcast.net

Part I - Run or S&P Mode for New or Casual Contesters?
S&P - That's called Search and Pounce and the most common mode for new contesters and returning contesters as well.  You get to pick and choose and move at your own pace.  You are still trying to figure this whole contesting thing out.  It can be intimidating when you come across an OP running fast (QRQ).  It's hard to copy the exchange info.  You can just move on down the band or you might what to hang out a while and figure this guy out.  It might take two, three or even four exchanges but you will get it because you are challenged and determined!     
Sometimes you hear numbers or an exchange that just don't make sense no matter how many times you hear it.  The OP is probably using "cut numbers".  To make matters worse these OP's usually come at you FAST and it can leave you scratching your head!  These are the ones you are afraid to ask for a repeat at the risk of sounding stupid.  So you hang out and listen for another 5 minutes and you still can't get it.  Everyone else seems to copy okay but you are stumped?  Be familiar with cut numbers and remember these:  
1 = A
5 = E
9 = N
0 = T  
The only cut number I recommend using right away is N for 9 but only for RST (5NN).  In a contest 599 takes forever to get two 9's out.  We already know the number so use 5NN and shorten it up.  ENN (599) sounds cool in a fast exchange but I don't recommend using it starting out.  Zero is the longest and most troublesome number.  Hey be sure to copy that 5th dash! ...or was that an 8 or 9?  The easiest number to copy is #1.    If you only copy A, W or J then you know it's a 1.  
Be careful using T for zero.  The only time I consider using T is in between other numbers and still I rarely use it.  Like 501 or 1003 (5T1 1TT3).  There is a much higher chance for errors and repeats using T on the end of numbers.
Speaking of repeats.  A little off topic but something to consider when you are asked to "repeat".  If your CW speed is close to the Run station, repeat your exchange at the same speed again.  The reason he asked for a repeat was because he didn't hear what you said.  It was not because he can't copy at your speed!  DON'T slow down and repeat @ 10 WPM.  Chances are you just made the problem 10X worse and got another AGN request.  Here's why...  and it  happens a lot on the low bands in noise and static crash conditions.  Slowing down dramatically increases the possibility of the next static crash hitting right in the middle resulting in another AGN request.  Often times speeding up is exactly the best solution for getting thru just before the next crash!              
Once you feel comfortable doing S&P and built up some confidence, it's time to think about trying the dreaded and most feared mode of all. "Run Mode".  After all you are a contester and you like the competition?  Time to get your score up.  You can do it!  
Part II - Run Mode for New or Casual Contesters!  
We talked about S&P Mode so now it's time to face the dreaded and most feared mode of all.  You knew this day was coming so lets get started.  It's no worse than your first solo drive after getting your drivers license.  I know your palms are a little sweaty but NAQP is the easiest place to start.
So tell me again why I want to do this?  I was already having fun in S&P mode.  I'm comfortable and in control going at my own pace.

#1 Reason - SCORE 
#2 Reason - SCORE 
Run Mode will increase your score right now today 
Score dramatically increases with more practice. 
You ARE in control 
Fun meter jumps 15dB
You are in charge.  You control the wheel and speed.   Not too fast your first time out.  You are unsure what to expect when stations start calling you.  All you need is name and state.  NAQP is easy.  No high speed cut numbers to worry about here.
Find a clear spot to call CQ.  The higher up the band the less crowded and a good place to start.  Set your speed where you feel comfotable.  Call CQ and keep it short.  There are many ways to do this.  Here are a few example: 1) CQ NA K1ZZI K1ZZI  2) NA K1ZZI K1ZZI NA 3) NA K1ZZI K1ZZI.  You can use many variations.  Start with a short call.  Notice "de" K1ZZI is not used.  It's extra stuff in a contest... drop the "de".  Save the longer CQ calls for when activity slows down.  
Here we go: NA K1ZZI K1ZZI - Pause listen 3 or 4 seconds max.  Open up your filter around 500Hz or so.  In S&P you can keep your filter much tighter but in Run you want your filter wider because people will call off frequency.  You will miss callers if it's too narrow.  Turn on your RX RIT.  Swing your RIT quickly listening.  You heard a call off frequency and you're not sure he was calling you?  Send ? or AGN and listen.  Do not send QRZ? de K1ZZI K.  Keep it short!  He's not exactly on your QRG (frequency) but he gave his call again.  Take it and start the exchange.
Don't know why W4BQF would call me off frequency?  Must be his new K3 but our exchange goes like this: K1ZZI: W4BQF RALPH GA - W4BQF:  TU TOM GA (TOM now pauses to hear my ack) K1ZZI: TU K1ZZI - Now I'm listening for the next caller.  Oops 2 people called me at the same time and I missed everything... K1ZZI: ?  Now I only pulled out a VE3 prefix so I'm sticking with him - K1ZZI: VE3?  I pickup the call and do the exchange.  Hopefully the 2nd station waited around and calls again.
The next station calls in at 35+ WPM when you are running 18 WPM.  That is really not nice but it happens.  Most OP's are considerate.  If you can't copy reply QRS (slow down)  That should do it.      
NAQP is the easiest contest to get started.  Practice practice.  One thing I still do is pick out a good run operator and park on his QRG and listen.  You will be surprised what you can learn.  How they handle different situations etc.  You can pick up some good ideas and techniques.  Listen to the OP's that win!
Remember we talked about balance?  Now you have to balance Run vs S&P too.  You need both to maximize your score.  It just takes practice!  There is much more to talk about.  Maybe now you have enough courage to take the jump and try it?  I encourage questions on the reflector.  The SECC has many talented people with much more experience than I do.  So don't be afraid to ask questions.  
I know many of you are SSB Op's so unfortunately this may not be much help for you.  I have very little SSB experience so I can't offer much advice on this subject.  For me, I still like listening to the OP's that win.  You can learn a lot!  Again, don't be afraid to ask questions.  We have members here with world class skills and experience.           
Morse Runner is a great tool I like a lot!  It will help you get comfortable running pileups.  It's a very clever program that feels and acts like the real thing.  It's addictive.  Download it here:   http://www.dxatlas.com/MorseRunner/Files/MorseRunner1.67.zip
Now watch your score improve.  Have fun and good luck!
73, Ralph K1ZZI
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