[UK-CONTEST] PSK & RSGB 80M CC Events - ( was QRM on the PSK freq)

Lee Volante g0mtn1 at googlemail.com
Tue Apr 27 05:17:13 PDT 2010

Personally, I consider the world-wide view. PSK has become an established
mode of communication in amateur radio, and has become very popular, in
terms of "general chat" QSOs perhaps becoming more popular than RTTY when
tuning the HF bands. Its benefits for low signal operating are proven.

However, worldwide PSK contesting has not taken off to anywhere near the
same extent. The relatively slow rate of PSK31, the relatively long start /
stop transmission periods, the difficulty of resolving information in a
pile-up situation, the relatively poor variety for contest logging
solutions, and the requirement of *not* being as loud as possible for PSK
are sometimes quoted as reasons why PSK is not great as a contest mode.
Despite PSK being well established, worldwide PSK contests are still small
in number compared with RTTY, and in contests where both PSK and RTTY are
permitted modes, RTTY activity wins hands down. This may all change over
time, but I don't see much evidence of this happening in the short term.
"Market forces" rule!

Dave G0CER mentions some other worldwide PSK contests. I'd suggest only a
small number of the 80m CC entrants enjoying PSK are supporting other PSK
events. Part of the rationale of the 80m CC series is that they introduce
amateurs to contesting, and then inspire them to take part in other events.
Active promotion of PSK may seem unusual when it is not a mainstream contest
mode. Higher speed PSK has been suggested as a solution to the slow speed
complaint about PSK31, but this has a tradeoff in terms of higher bandwidth
requirement, and on the international stage, perhaps even lower interest

One of the reasons that persuade entrants to use PSK in the 80m CC Datamodes
sessions was down to bandwidth - there was insufficient space to fit
everyone in on RTTY. The allowed RTTY frequencies have been extended upwards
beyond 3600 for the 80m CC, but often there is SSB there and the two don't
mix well, so in practice this extra space gets little use.

So having said all that, I don't particularly enjoy PSK contest operating,
nor see many reasons for championing its use for domestic contests.
However, there are many UK contesters who are reporting enjoying trying
something new from their Soapbox comments, and the 80m CC scoring system to
promote more PSK activity has reduced complaints of overcrowding on the
band. The RTTY / PSK split also requires a little thought to be given to
strategy too, perhaps as a taster for making band / mode strategy decisions
in other contests.



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