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

Kt4zb at aol.com Kt4zb at aol.com
Wed Oct 27 11:51:54 PDT 2010

Hi all - My comments are directed to this weeks contest, CQWW SSB,  Low 
Power.  Hopefully, this year things will spread out some with  15m and 10m in 
better shape.
Search and Pounce is the main mode for Low Power as it is  very difficult 
to establish and keep a run going because of the QRM from  stations on every 
available freq.  Last year 15m was the place for low  power stations to go.  
This year 10m may work for us on the East  Coast.  Europe has been open on 
15m at 8:30 am and 10m at 9:30 am.   Some stations 20db over.
One thing that is important is know when to look for Africa, Pacific  and 
Japan openings on each of the bands. Good openings there are much  less 
frequent than the Europe openings but provide much needed mults.  You  only need 
to work one JA to get the country and zone, so while it's fun to try  and 
work more, your score may be better if you grab the loudest one and work  some 
more Europe.  Last night I worked AH6V on 10m about 6:30 pm.  The  key to 
success for working SA and the islands is when Europe is closing for  them.  
You can call for 20 minutes to a loud SA station; but, if they're  pointed 
to Eu and running they may never hear a low power dipole signal.   Later as 
they turn to NA, you can call once and be done.
Running during CQWW:  Last year I had runs on Sunday  on 20m, 15m and 10m 
with 15m being the best by far. Almost all were  short as I got shoved aside 
by bigger stations. If 20m is still open late  after folks are moving to the 
lower bands as Europe closed, I've had some  success running VE's just to 
add QSO's.  They are only 2 points, but for a  low power station that's ok.  
Every point can be a struggle.  I don't  have the antennas for a big fight 
on the low bands, so I try S&P for mults  and build Q's on the higher bands.  
DX contests require a different  strategy than domestic contests such as 
NAQP.  Sunday is the day  for low power runs.
Logging:  I recommend N1MM for single station  logging, works great, 
connects to the cluster and is free.  Just don't wait  until the contest starts to 
try it out.
All the above is pretty basic, but thinking about it before the contest  
will help drive your score.  Good hunting to all and hope to hear you on  the 
Jere, KT4ZB
In a message dated 10/27/2010 11:53:08 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
k1zzi at comcast.net writes:

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 
Ralph K1ZZI
_k1zzi at comcast.net_ (mailto: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 
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:   
Now watch your score improve.  Have fun  and good luck!
73, Ralph  K1ZZI


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