PA0JMV answers questions from
his European MS ExperiencesDate: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 09:39:34 -0400 From: Joop Mutter PA0JMV Subject: HS CW To: "Shelby Ennis, W8WN"
Hi Shelby, Nice to be in touch with you again ! I don't know what comment from me you have read, I guess some of your USA-HSMS friends has spread out some of my emails, hi; no problem of course, I am glad if I can help you guys getting started with this technique. As you may know, we've been operating European HSMS since the early '80s, I don't recall exactly when we started experimenting, but I was one of the first hams that cooperated in the tests. Personally I have made well over 1000 CW MS QSO's since 1967, most of them in HS mode. In Europe the operating "rules" and procedures have been adapted many many times, but they have been stabilised for the last 8..10 years I guess. We are only increasing the transmission speeds now, and the TX-RX sequences tend to get shorter for better performance. (faster faster and faster, like everything in our life...) I must admit that it really thrills you to work 3 or 4 different stations per hour on HSMS , but it is exhausting as well, that optimum concentration. Almost any Dxpedition on MS is done by a team of operators these days, in order to maintain that QSO rate around the clock. Especially "grid hunting" is VERY popular, and HSMS gave me a few hundreds of new grids (now at #651....) over the years. Now I will try to answer your questions step by step. ===================================0==================================== MS procedures (for slower CW & SSB) are slightly different over here than they are in Europe. And HSCW seems to have developed its own set of procedures over there. All but about 3 of us have been operating HSCW for only the past 4 weeks, so we really have not decided what would be the best methods to use. I'm sure it will be somewhat similar to what is used over there, but no doubt we will need to make changes to better meet our needs here. Why should the USA needs be different from the European ?? To possibly save time in debate and unnecessary tests, I'd like to ask a few questions about your HS CW MS operation over there. It appears that some operators key their rigs (at slower speeds) through the regular key jack, while others key an audio tone that is fed into the mike jack. So here's the first question - If I make a sked with someone, say, on 144.100 and he is keying by using the key jack, he would probably set his transmitter on 144.100. But if I then make a sked with another station on 144.100 who is keying an audio tone at 2000 Hz, would he likely set his rig on 144.100, would he offset it about 2 kHz, or what? This may be an obvious thing for you fellows, but it has caused confusion here. Hihi, same problem shows up with MANY Europeans of course; To me it seems obvious and easy to understand that you arrange any sked frequency with some possible QSO partner. That freq. is clearly defined in MHz, KHz, and for CW it's supposed to be the TX carrier freq. (no discussion on that) Then it really doesn't matter how your TX generates that freq., either by a "keyed" dedicated CW-Xtal oscillator, or by any kind of synthesizer, or, like you mention: by insering a keyed audio tone of , say 2000Hz, into the USB TX via the mike connector. If you use that audio keying via USB, you should most likely have to offset your USB VFO by -2KHz then, because most transceivers have their freq readout calibrated as (suppressed) carrier freq. of the USB signal. This is depending on your particular TRX of course ! Easiest way to find out your exact offset is by using an external frequency counter , and check what freq comes out of the TX in CW mode! Likewise, each operator would receive a CW signal at his preferred personal audio pitch; this can be achieved by programming your RX pitch, or offsetting your "BFO", or just tuning higher or lower. Then you must calibrate your RX freq readout to match your preferred audio pitch..... Knowing your own transceiver is an ABSOLUTE MUST ! (Recently I operated the LX1EC/P EME expedition, and the most difficult thing for me was "getting used" to someone else's TRX !!! ) Keep in mind that many modern (synthesized) transceivers can NOT handle CW speeds of >1000 lpm without any modifications in the CW keying circuit !! Often the only solution is (external) audio keying then. ( I still use my good old modified FT102 only for HSMS TX !!) It is also important to keep control over the shaping of the CW signal (rise and decay time) in order to prevent unnecessary key clicks. Still many European MS operators fail their skeds, because they create an almost unreadable HSMS signal .......CHECK your own HS-CW signal before you start HSMS work. =================================0====================================== The European system is able to send a couple of letters and request a repeat of something that has been missed. Is this used much? How well does it work? It DOES work for sure, but too few people use it....why ??? (lazy, unexperienced ??) This procedure helped me several times to complete a difficult sked !! We send a full TX period ONLY these special letters, do NOT mix them with any call sign or report. The letters are: " M " for missing any character in My call. " Y " for missing any character in Your call. " B " when you have received e.g. a report with R (roger), and still need parts of Both call signs. " S " if you have received both calls and a R report, but still need the other station's full report. If a station receives a row of these special characters, then he has to transmit the next periods ONLY the requested info, nothing else, until the requesting party confirms by sending final RRRRR. Of course it would be bloody nonsense to send BBBBSSSSS, because that would mean that you heard NIL; then you have to continue with the normal standard calling procedure. =================================0==================================== Watching the list of stations worked during non-shower periods is quite amazing to us. What are the most common schedule times, etc? 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or what? What periods are most usually used - 1 minute, 2.5 minutes, or something else? Most skeds go for an hour, starting on top of the hour, and running 2.5 minute sequences for the ease of operating. When some station wants to handle more stations per hour (like special event stations, or DXpeditions) , one or more "tailenders" may be nominated; that means that the tailender is normally located into the same antenna heading, and he may start calling as soon as the DXpedition has sent final RRR's. Likewise, many DXpeditions dedicate 2 or 3 subsequent hours into a favorite direction (depending on a shower's radiant) for stations in a closed geographical area. Example: a "grid-expedition" to southern Italy dedicates 2100-2400 UTC (NW<>SE) to all Netherlands PA stations, and the "calling order" has been defined beforehand....we in PA hear each other's sigs in tropo, and can avoid QRM to the Italian ! However, since we are upgrading to higher speeds these days, the efficiency has increased remarkably, and that's why some expeditions have tested 1 minute sequencing and 30 min. skeds; I have joined them, and we have had EXCELLENT results on that ! But then you MUST have a DTR for ease of decoding within 1 minute !! It is sometimes quite hectic to decode the RX signal immediately, and at the same time reprogram your keyer with new info, but it is FUN !!!! to complete QSO's within 8...10 minutes. =================================0===================================== What about CQ frequencies? How many "standard" CQ frequencies are there? Or do different stations put out information that they will call CQ on a particular frequency, or what? Is much operation done on 5 kHz spacing, or is it spread over various frequencies? Long time standards have been 144.100 +/- few kHz for random CW calling, 144.200 +/- few KHz as primary SSB random calling qrg, and 144.395 as secondary SSB clg qrg (major showers only). Many stations are calling CQ with the addition of the "letter-system". This additional character indicates on what freqency the clg station will receive after his CQ. Example: CQF CQF CQF PA0JMV means that I will listen on 144.106, because F is number 6 in the alphabet ...CQZ means rx on 144.026 (Z is #26..got it?) If I hear someone calling me on 144.106 I QSY there with TX as well, and we make a QSO. The spacing is all in 1KHz steps for this CQx procedure. Of course many DXpeditions claim their MS QRG beforehand, or publish it directly after arriving on the site. (MS reflector, DXCluster, DigitalVHFnet) That can be just ANY frequency between 144.035 and 144.450. Most skeduling stations will avoid the 144.100-144.026 area, because it is more or less reserved for the CQletter system. =================================0==================================== Are there stations on calling HS CW CQs most mornings? Evenings? Certainly in summertime and around (minor) showers, many people are calling CQ HSCW, preferrably between 05-07 AM local time, since that is an optimum time for sporadic meteors as well. =================================0==================================== It appears that 1000 lpm to 2500 lpm are the most common. Are higher speeds used much for skeds? Not yet, maybe because you need to modify your TX for higher speeds; I personally prefer around 2000 lpm, but could go to 3500 lpm =================================0==================================== We have stayed with the old "S" (burst length) system over here, while you are using a 2-number length and strength system. Some over here think we should exchange grid squares instead, since some contests already require them. Has there been any discussion over there on this? Of course many discussions, hi; there are some minimal data that should be exchanged in order to make a QSO "valid", and the grid square is not one of these... What we do many times in random QSO's is, include the grid into the final string of RRRR, like RRRRRJO21RRRRRRRRRJO21RRRR I assume that you have info about "our" reporting system? =================================0==================================== We're sure that different people have very different opinions on many of these things. There is probably no absolutely "best" way; but some methods are probably better than others. Any suggestions or comments you and others could make for us would be appreciated. ==================================0==================================== Well, I think you can study my comments above, and then maybe return with new questions. I will try to answer all as good as I can... Suggestion: organise some meeting where all interested North Americans will attend, and invite some experienced European HSMS operators to have a vivid discussion/brainstorming ! If you want to spread my comments to your HSMS mates, go ahead ! ===================================0==================================== Thanks & 73, Shelby, W8WN You are welcome & 73, Joe, PA0JMV
Comments: Rein, W6/PA0ZN