QRP Contesting - Part 2 - Keynote # 2, 2002
As I said in last month's column, I'm going to talk about calling CQ in contests this time around, along with some other details of QRP contesting. Much of this material applies to QRO operations as well as QRP.
1. A contest CQ should always be something simple like CQ QRP K3WWP. The CQ indicates you are listening for any station to call. The QRP (or TEST, SS, etc.) indicates you are in the contest. Then of course your call, and that's it. If no one answers, after about 3 or 4 seconds, do it again, and keep repeating this sequence until someone answers or you finally give up and go S&Ping. Nothing turns me off more than waiting through something like CQ QRP TEST CQ QRP TEST CQ QRP TEST DE K3WWP K3WWP K3WWP QRP TEST K. Isn't CQ QRP K3WWP much better? You don't need the repeats, the DE, or the K at the end.
2. To answer a contest CQ, simply send your call once, nothing more. Either the CQer will get it, and proceed, or he will get part of it and ask for a repeat, or not hear it at all. Sending something like K3WWP K3WWP DE K3xxx K3xxx K again wastes time and doesn't help matters any. When you call, be sure you are exactly zero beat with the station you are calling. Some contesters, especially in the big contests, use very narrow filters, and may not catch your call if you are off frequency. Having said that, I now add that if the station has a huge pileup, you may be better off calling slightly (but not too far) off frequency. It's something you have to learn from experience, but the best rule is to call exactly on frequency.
3. The station calling CQ now simply sends the call of the station who answered him, followed by the exchange as in: K3xxx 599 PA 1880. You don't need to send TNX CALL UR RST 599 599 IN PA PA MY NR IS 1880 1880 HW? K. I do believe you should say thanks (TU) in contests, but don't draw it out, just the required info, period. If the other station gets it, fine. If not, it is then up to him to ask for a repeat. I find that on average overall, only about 1 in 10-20 stations will ask for a repeat of my info. This depends largely on conditions, and I will sometimes go through whole contests having to repeat for only a couple stations. At other times when conditions are poor, I may have to repeat to every other station. Generally if I sense the station is not copying me well, i.e. he had trouble copying my call, I'll send my info twice the first time around.
4. When asking for a repeat, again keep it simple. If you missed his section, send SEC?, nothing more. If you are asked for your section, send just that, nothing else. Just send PA. Don't send MY SEC IS PA PA HW? K. Again that just wastes time.
5. Summing up, here is what a good exchange should be like:
1)-indicates stuff sent by K3WWP
2)-stuff sent by K3xxx
1) CQ QRP K3WWP
(no answer after 4 seconds)
1) CQ QRP K3WWP
1) K3xxx 599 PA 1880
2) TU 599 MD 9999
1) TU CQ QRP K3WWP
and so on.
Nice crisp quick QSO's which allow for much more time to make contacts.
Get to know the good/great contesters, and realize that they will copy your info, no matter what. For example, I know many contesters from working them so many times. Even if their signals are weak, and mine will be weaker, I know they will copy my info right away, and I send it as fast as possible so we both can move on and get more QSO's.
Contesting is an art, and the more contests you enter, the better you will become. Like anything, practice makes perfect. So enter as many contests as possible, even the big ones like the SS and DX contests. As I said last issue, if you're a minimal QRPer as I am, there is no chance whatsoever that you will win the big prize overall with your QRP signal, no matter how skilled a contester you may be. However, you can still have fun by learning something from each contest. Also set a goal before each contest, and then do your best to make that goal. One goal I always set when I enter a contest seriously is to better my own high score in that particular contest.
I'm out of space this issue. You can check my web site at home.windstream.net/johnshan/ for even more about QRP contesting. Perhaps I'll also include some more contesting info in next month's column. Till then all the best. Enter some contests and have a ball. -30- 73.