As an active SSB contest operator I would like to make a few comments about voice keyers / DVR etc.
They can be useful. But generally if you want to post a big score in a contest you need to be very careful not to over use them. I hear people all the time using them in what I think are the wrong way and limiting their contact rate and there score as a result.
As was said before. Please have the same sounding voice calling CQ and is doing the answering.
nothing throws me more some time that to hear big differences. Same goes for making new recordings as the contest goes on and your voice changes.
Personally I use them only to call CQ. And then usually only so I can listen on the second radio while I am calling CQ.
A number of years ago, before the very widespread use of these devices N6TR made a post to the CQ-Contest email list. This post was made in the early 1990's just when one of the very first high quality DVP computer cards was coming to market. It was a device made by K1EA. You can find one version of that post here:
-> Sent: Mon Mar 23 18:20.
-> Re: Beware the DVP!
The K1EA DVP keyer sounds like a neat piece of hardware. I
think we have all dreamed of operating a phone contest without
a micro- phone. I doubt many of use will actually do this in
a serious contest, but having it available to handle the
routine QSOs will certainly decrease the fatigue factor.
However, there are appear to be some expectations that I feel
are unrealistic with this device.
First off, while the comparison of a live voice to the
recorded voice proves the hardware is working, this does not
mean your live voice and the recorded voiced are going to
sound the same during the course of a contest. There are two
major reasons this is true. First, your voice and what you
say will change depend- ing of your rate and target audience.
The other is that your voice is going to change during the
contest as you use it up.
You could create a number of different messages that are
appro- priate for different times of the contest with
different rate situations, but you may have a hard time
predicting the situation and how your voice will be sounding
ahead of time.
Is this important? Does it matter if people know you are
using such a device? This is a point that will probably be
debated, but I feel that if non contesters can tell you are
using some sort of prerecorded message, they are less likely
to give you a contact. Most phone contests require you to
appeal to a larger audience than just the contesters. The
people at the top of the boxes all know they are giving a
performance during the contest and it is necessary to lure in
the non contesters so they will help you out.
Many of these people are listening to you while doing
something else in the shack. They turned on their radio and
tuned in a loud station and are "reading the mail".
Eventually, you need to get the person to go over to the
radio, press down their PTT switch and say their callsign.
The most effective way to do this is to make your performance
interesting and fun so they want to be a part of it.
If they are comfortable listening to you and start feeling
like they know you, and you say something like: "Only 2 hours
to go and I need 200 contacts to break the record", they will
probably make an effort to work you.
I have operated the California QSO Party a number of times
from California. In 1982, I set a new record mostly because
of the rates I had in the last couple of hours. I used the
technique of saying how many minutes were left in the contest
and how many QSOs I needed. The response was amazing. Even
some of the members of the household came and watched me
As the contest wears on you, and your voice changes. This can
be part of the act. If you sound like you can barely talk,
you can use that to your advantage. I have had many
"sympathy" contacts on Sunday.
To me, the use of a DVP keyer would eliminate my ability to
draw in non contesters. I would sterilize my operation to the
point that it is no longer a human performance. I don't work
many phone contests seriously these days (maybe one or two a
year), but I do search around for a few hours on Sunday and
help guys out. I think I would be less likely to work someone
using such a device. For some reason I feel insulted if
someone is using it to try to work me. If he can't take the
time to really talk to me, why should I go to the effort to
work him? I really do not enjoy working people who are using
a CQ tape and then answer me with a totally different voice
than the one I heard in the CQ.
Another issue with this type of operation is the image
contesters portray to the rest of the amateur community.
Phone contests are much more visible than CW contests. If you
have ever listened around 20 phone minutes before the sprint
starts and compare it to what is happening 5 minutes into the
contest, you may feel ashamed to call yourself a contester. I
am not sure what effect universal use of the DVP device would
have on this image, but I am afraid it would not be good. If
people catch on to the fact that we are calling CQ over and
over again by just pressing a button, I would have a hard time
feeling that their use of the frequency might not be more
I know it is the same thing as punching the button on your
memory keyer, but the CW bands are not as crowded as the phone
bands and there are not anywhere the number of people
listening to us. Also, it is possible to use a memory keyer
without anyone being able to tell the difference between a
live performance and a prerecorded on. Again, I feel strongly
that this is impossible on the second day of the contest
unless you keep rerecording your messages over as your voice
changes, or just never use your live voice.
The recorded receiver audio feature is another matter. This
can be used without any impact to your performance. This
feature alone may be worth the money. I plan to support the
DVP card with my logging program mainly because of this.
My point in writing this is to make sure people think about
how this device will affect their score in ways they may not
of before reading this. If I have made you think seriously
about some of the potential downfalls about using this device,
then I have achieved my goal.
Has anyone thought about how to efficiently handle the
multitude of stations who call you with just the last two
letters of their call? Boy I hate phone contests anymore!!
Maybe the DVP can record "Please whole callsigns only" in 100
different languages. You could use separate transmitters
pointing into different directions and have it in the
appropriate language for each different beam heading. Japanese
for 300 degrees, Spanish for 150 degrees and a random language
for 30 degrees.
Tree N6TR firstname.lastname@example.org