by Wayne Mills, N7NG
In contesting, it makes perfect sense to work stations as fast as possible. The time is limited we must maximize the number of QSOs in that time. In DXpeditioning, we want to maximize the number of different stations we work in a limited amount of time. I wonder if we haven’t stretched this ideal too far. How so?
There seems to be a new development on the pileup scene – contests too. Listening closely to both participants in a pileup situation reveals a tendency where one of them is apparently trying to speed the QSO by anticipating what the other should send, or what he is expected to send, rather than listening to what he actually sends. In some cases one seems to be trying to shorten the QSO by inadvertently not allowing one of the parties to complete his call, message or what have you. This procedure usually results in both stations transmitting at the same time!
Normally, the DX station says something like “TU UP,” and a caller responds by sending his callsign, and [perhaps] the DX station responds to him. On occasion though, the caller might decide to send his callsign more than once. Often when he does this, the DX op apparently expecting only one call, starts responding while the caller is still transmitting. Since the caller hadn’t completed his call, there is considerable time- wasting confusion.
The extent of this situation is a relatively new phenomenon. I can’t recall it being so prevalent even a year or so ago. Perhaps it’s nervous fingers on the send button. Perhaps it is expectations taking precedent over listening. (Oh! That word again.)
Perhaps the DX operator is simply becoming impatient. I have to admit to once-in- a-while pushing a caller when I felt that he was taking too much time – perhaps giving me his name and QTH, etc. – wishing that he might be using QSK and could hear me breaking in. But in recent cases, we’re talking about mere milliseconds.
A common problem leading to difficulty copying code is running characters and words together – insufficient spacing. The difficulty now is that if you allow sufficient space between words or callsigns for the purpose of intelligibility, it is very likely that the station you are calling will begin his reply prematurely, and if you aren’t using QSK or your foot[switch] isn’t quick enough, doubling transmissions will occur, wasting time in repetitions and confusion.
So, the hint for this week applies to both sides of a QSO. Slow down a bit – maybe another 30 milliseconds or so – to be sure that the station you’re engaging has completed his transmission. Much time will be saved in the end. A secondary hint might be to use one method or another to listen between calls. Next week, we’ll talk about more significant advantages of slowing down a bit.
(c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG