PA0JMV answers questions from
his European MS Experiences

Date: 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.


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 
    ( 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. 

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 

    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. 

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. 

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 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, 
    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.
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.

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 

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? 


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 
    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 !

Thanks & 73, Shelby, W8WN

    You are welcome & 73, Joe, PA0JMV


Comments: Rein, W6/PA0ZN

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