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Author Topic: Should contesters on CW send at speeds way above 20WPM  (Read 12933 times)
K2ACB
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Posts: 64




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« on: November 30, 2011, 11:54:42 PM »

I am a casual CW operator. I got my Extra Class License when you still had to copy 20wpm to pass the test.

I like to send and receive cw between 15 and 20WPM. Just recently there was the CQ WW CW contest. I did not enter the contest but I did listen for awhile. I noticed that a lot of stations especially in the Extra Class portions of the cw band were sending at very high speeds ,way above 20WPM.

I understand the need in a contest to work as many stations as possible in the least amount of time. However some of these contest stations were sending so quickly that their sending to me seemed like a blur.I could not even make out the call signs. It also seemed like computers were doing all the work of sending and maybe even receiving.

If at one time the FCC required an Extra Class operator to receive at 20 WPM should that not be a reasonable speed for contesters. It seemed to me that some of these conteters were sending in excess of 40wpm. As far as I am concerned that is excess speed and the average radio amateur, even if he is proficient in cw, cannot copy at 40 wpm or more. Many proficient cw operators cannot even copy proficiently  above 30 wpm.

I bring this up because in a contest people who cannot copy at excessive speeds on cw are at a disadvantage. In some contests they have different scoring  rules for people running low power or for single operators vs multiple operators and for different power levels.  .

Should there not be different rules for people who cannot receive as fast as others and have different categories for those who receive slower than others or for those using computers to both generate and receive the cw vs those that do it manually. . At the very least have different band segments where you can only send up to a certain speed in that segment of the band. An example of this would be the first ten kc's of the band one could go at 40 wpm or faster. the next 15 KC's at 30 WPM etc. This would allow those that cannot receive at very high speeds way above 20wpm an opportunity to feel comfortable at the speed they are able to copy. 

At present those that can send and receive faster have a much better chance of accumulating more points than a person who receives slower.

There are those out there who say the more you practice and the more you listen the greater will be your cw speed and accuracy. This is probably true up to a certain speed. However I don't think it is true after a certain speed limit. I think there are only a small minority of hams on cw today who can copy accurately above 40wpm and even fewer above that limit.It seems to me that a lot of cw contesters are sending at speeds in excess of 40wpm. A large percentage of them probably  use computer generated  cw programs to send and receive their reports.
 
That is fine especially under non contest conditions  and I know of no contest where using computer generated cw programs to send and receive is against the rules. However as far as I am concerned this is an unfair practice giving those that use computers an unfair advantage than those who copy manually. I don't think most humans can copy as fast or send  on cw as computers programmed to do this ,  At the very least there should be two categories in the contest,those that copy and send  manually and those that let computer cw programs do their copying and sending

73
Alan-K2ACB
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NI0C
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Posts: 2394




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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2011, 04:24:56 AM »

Quote
At present those that can send and receive faster have a much better chance of accumulating more points than a person who receives slower.

Maybe that's part of the reason it's called a CW "contest."

Quote
There are those out there who say the more you practice and the more you listen the greater will be your cw speed and accuracy. This is probably true up to a certain speed. However I don't think it is true after a certain speed limit. I think there are only a small minority of hams on cw today who can copy accurately above 40wpm and even fewer above that limit.It seems to me that a lot of cw contesters are sending at speeds in excess of 40wpm. A large percentage of them probably  use computer generated  cw programs to send and receive their reports.

I think very few Dx'ers or contesters rely on computers to receive. (Sending is an entirely different matter!) Copying by ear in the presence of QSB, QRN, and QRM is just so much more reliable.  Forty wpm is not at all an unusual proficiency level for experienced CW operators.  Here's a quote from N0HFF's paper, The Art & Skill of Radio-Telegraphy: "In 1959 Katashi Nose KH6IJ wrote 'Any DXer worth his salt is good for at least 60 wpm.  He gears his speed to what comes back.' "  (See: http://www.qsl.net/n9bor/images/The%20Art%20&%20Skill%20of%20Radio-Telegraphy%203rd%20edition%204-02.pdf )

When someone is CQ'ing at a certain speed, that is an indication that they can copy at that speed and they expect that anyone calling them has already copied their call sign.  It doesn't mean they expect everyone to respond at their speed, although in a pileup you may find they give priority to those who match their speed..  

There's no reason why casual CW operators should not participate in CW contests; however they should not expect to be competitive with those who have more proficiency.  Perhaps you can view the experience as a way to hone your skills.

73,
Chuck  NI0C



« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 04:27:44 AM by NI0C » Logged
NI0C
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 04:35:53 AM »

I'm not sure that the quote from KH6IJ is found in the version of N0HFF's work in the link I provided, so here is another link where I found it: http://n1su.com/c11.htm

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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K3STX
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Posts: 973




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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 06:07:40 AM »

This is obviously a joke.

But in case it was not:

1. I think D4B was the only guy who routinely sent in the 40+ wpm range. He did pretty well for himself! Grin
I didn't hear ANYBODY sending in the 40s, most guys, like me CQ at around 30-34 wpm. For serious CW contest ops 35 wpm is nothing, and yes almost all of us use the keyboard to send the CW; sending callsigns at 40+ wpm for 20 hours would surely lead to sending errors and we don't want to make mistakes. NOBODY uses a computer to decode.

2. The person who makes the most points wins the contest. You get points by making contacts. No serious contester would call CQ at 50 wpm over and over with NO CONTACTS, that would be dumb. He/she would slow down to try to make contacts. But if you have a good run going at 40wpm with lots of callers why would you slow down?

3. What does the 20 wpm Extra test have to do with anything? How about new Extras who took NO code test, should they also stick to your speed limit of 20wpm based on the OLD rules?

But here's the two parts that get me:

There are those out there who say the more you practice and the more you listen the greater will be your cw speed and accuracy. This is probably true up to a certain speed. However I don't think it is true after a certain speed limit.

NOT TRUE: the more you practice anything the better you will become. This is a CW forum, we should encourage people to practice.

I think there are only a small minority of hams on cw today who can copy accurately above 40wpm and even fewer above that limit.

I suspect that most people who regularly contribute to this CW forum accurately copy 40wpm and above. When I was a novice in 1978 I went from 5wpm to 30+wpm in about 3 months. I am sure I was not alone, I am certainly not special. Once again, it was due to practice.  They don't say "Practice makes perfect" for nothing.

paul
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 08:30:34 AM »

You can't make separate classes for speed, paper or computer logging, license class, power, ÇWget of head copy, etc etc.

Skimmer was a hot item I remember.

When the guys are calling cq at 50+ wpm, the pond is fast empty, and they have to slow down in order to contact YOU.

Furthermore it has no sense to implement rules that are not enforcable, or subject to a check for truth.

So, best thing to do according to my opinion is :Stay away from contests, the conversation is NULL, the reports are of no value because when you give a honest report != 5nn you are a nut or a LID. The certificates you can "earn" are of the same class as a drivers license, an advanced ham license, or a children traffic- or swimming license. Be proud of it. Put is after glass on the wall and you demonstrate your proud and your personality to your visitors.

Remember the purpose of licensing wat experimenting and personal development. A contest has nothing to do with that. The experimenting is degraded to being a good operator, without knowing and wanting to know anything about radiotechnique.
Whats that good for when the Japanese engineers make the things, with guarantee, don't break the seal because then its void. When you buy ur equipment and are not interested in the technique, why is an examination by FCC required?

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K8AXW
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 09:08:52 AM »

I can copy around 25WPM.  As I listen to the CW contests I hear quite a few sending much faster than 25WPM.

While I have no problem with this....as one points out, this is a CONTEST....and the one with the most contacts wins. 

However, I sometimes wonder how many more points could these speed demons accumulate by alternating between their very high speeds and a speed quite a bit lower?  Especially the guy who places SECOND!

Just a thought.... or question.....
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W8GP
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 09:23:02 AM »

I enjoy passing out points during a contest and can copy a contest exchange up to about 30 WPM. If I listen to a call sign 3 times without being able to pick it up, I just move on....
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N2EY
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Posts: 3877




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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 10:06:33 AM »

I got my Extra Class License when you still had to copy 20wpm to pass the test.

I got my Extra when you had to receive and send 20 wpm code. Copy with pencil and paper, send with a straight key.

Ancient history 41 years later. There are probably hams who have never passed a code test who are better CW ops than I will ever be.

None of which has anything to do with how fast contesters or anybody else operates CW.

I noticed that a lot of stations especially in the Extra Class portions of the cw band were sending at very high speeds ,way above 20WPM.

I understand the need in a contest to work as many stations as possible in the least amount of time. However some of these contest stations were sending so quickly that their sending to me seemed like a blur.I could not even make out the call signs. It also seemed like computers were doing all the work of sending and maybe even receiving.

Not at my station. Sending, sometimes. Not receiving.

If at one time the FCC required an Extra Class operator to receive at 20 WPM should that not be a reasonable speed for contesters.

Why?

I have been a runner for over 30 years. The fastest I could ever do 5 miles was about a 6-1/2 minute pace. Best marathon I ever did was at 9 minute pace. Should the faster folks not be allowed to run as fast as they can?

 
It seemed to me that some of these conteters were sending in excess of 40wpm. As far as I am concerned that is excess speed and the average radio amateur, even if he is proficient in cw, cannot copy at 40 wpm or more. Many proficient cw operators cannot even copy proficiently  above 30 wpm.

If you couldn't copy them, how do you know how fast they were going?

I bring this up because in a contest people who cannot copy at excessive speeds on cw are at a disadvantage. In some contests they have different scoring  rules for people running low power or for single operators vs multiple operators and for different power levels.  .

Should there not be different rules for people who cannot receive as fast as others and have different categories for those who receive slower than others or for those using computers to both generate and receive the cw vs those that do it manually. . At the very least have different band segments where you can only send up to a certain speed in that segment of the band. An example of this would be the first ten kc's of the band one could go at 40 wpm or faster. the next 15 KC's at 30 WPM etc. This would allow those that cannot receive at very high speeds way above 20wpm an opportunity to feel comfortable at the speed they are able to copy. 

No.

One of the main reasons to have contests is to help ops develop their skills.

And I can assure you that computer reception of code in contests isn't used much because it doesn't work all that well.

At present those that can send and receive faster have a much better chance of accumulating more points than a person who receives slower.

That's kind of the point.

As I mentioned above  the faster runners have a much better chance of winning the race.


There are those out there who say the more you practice and the more you listen the greater will be your cw speed and accuracy. This is probably true up to a certain speed. However I don't think it is true after a certain speed limit. I think there are only a small minority of hams on cw today who can copy accurately above 40wpm and even fewer above that limit.It seems to me that a lot of cw contesters are sending at speeds in excess of 40wpm. A large percentage of them probably  use computer generated  cw programs to send and receive their reports.
 
That is fine especially under non contest conditions  and I know of no contest where using computer generated cw programs to send and receive is against the rules. However as far as I am concerned this is an unfair practice giving those that use computers an unfair advantage than those who copy manually. I don't think most humans can copy as fast or send  on cw as computers programmed to do this ,  At the very least there should be two categories in the contest,those that copy and send  manually and those that let computer cw programs do their copying and sending

The question then becomes - where do you stop drawing those lines?

Should there be a separate category for those using gear that requires tuning up vs. those that have automatic tuning?

Computer vs. paper logs?

Transceivers vs. separates?

The possibilities are endless.

btw, my main HF rig is a hollow-state CW transceiver. 100 watts on 80, 40 and 20, made from almost all reused parts. See profile for a picture.

I have a computer in the shack, made for $0 from parts of discarded machines. Runs Windows 98 and has a keying interface (homebrew, naturally) and N3FJP logging software for SS ($6).

So even I have computer logging and CW sending if I want it.

The days when a computer in the shack was a big investment are long gone.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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AE4RV
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Posts: 948


WWW

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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2011, 10:32:24 AM »

If you want a slower CW contest experience then check out the QRP sprints (NAQCC is my favorite).

The big contests aren't regulated like auto racing - no one is going to limit the size of the engine in between your ears and that's a good thing.

If you want to get your "burst" speed up so that getting callsigns and contest exchanges is a breeze at 30+ WPM, practice with RuffzXP. I still like to converse at about 18 WPM but my record for copying a callsign is 44 WPM, thanks to practicing with software. I can't really communicate well at high speeds but if I'm ready for it, I usually can get a callsign at 35 - 40 WPM first try. It even seems easy to me now.

http://naqcc.info/contests.html

http://www.skccgroup.com/sprint/sks/

http://www.rufzxp.net/

73 Geoff
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2011, 10:37:34 AM »

Come on Jim,

Don't humiliate your fellow hams, due to the fact they gave their opinion but are not very precise in formulating that.

When an amateur can copy 20 wpm he can estimate the speed of 40 wpm roughly, just as you can estmate your hart beat after running a marathon to be double that of the beat you normally have when chatting on this web site right now.

Guys sending 50 wpm miss a lot of points when they fish only in the pond of the guys that can copy 50 wpm. When people have to listen 3 times, and should have copied it at once at half speed, they better transmit at half speed. Look at rufzxp.net to the very fast degrading number of guys and gals able to copy a callsign above 50 wpm, and remember those are topspeeds they once in a year meet or increase due to the fact that at high speeds W0OO and that sort of calls are random generated.

The purpose of your license is fundamental  not to be a good operator and increase that proficiency, but to experiment.

5nn 15 TU has nothing to do with experimenting. Transmitting at 50 wpm is more or less what small (?) guys sometimes do, showing that of mine is larger then yours.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 10:48:17 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
PA0BLAH
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2011, 11:02:25 AM »

This is obviously a joke.

is nothing, and yes almost all of us use the keyboard to send the CW; sending callsigns at 40+ wpm for 20 hours would surely lead to sending errors and we don't want to make mistakes. NOBODY uses a computer to decode.
This is certainly not true, I read on forums from their hand, that guys not able to copy a single character in morse at any low speed (they admit) made a number of QSO' (200+ was mentioned) with a CWget or similar program in the CQWW CW.


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K7KBN
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2011, 12:01:51 PM »

From now on, all participants in NASCAR events must keep their driving speed below 20 MPH so others can enter.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
AK7V
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Posts: 251




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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2011, 02:52:48 PM »

Seems to me the solution is to do what I do when trying to copy a weak signal in a contest. I just dabble in contests and do search and pounce, so I'll just listen to a few exchanges if it's hard to copy until I get the call and then jump in. I don't have a problem with fast (contest speed) CW, but I'd think listening a few times, someone comfortable at 20-25 wpm could get a call at 40.
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N3QE
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2011, 03:26:28 PM »

20 WPM is very much on the slow end for a big test like CQ WW. Most stations running a frequency in CQ WW will be booking along at like 28/30/32 WPM.

In contests like SS and NAQP, there is a "slower segment" of the contesters hanging out at the upper end of the band with speeds as slow as 10WPM.

If the DX calling CQ is ID'ing, you will get multiple chances to copy his call.

An excellent way to get burst call-copying speed up, is RufZXP. I can't recommend it enough. Copying a call at a given WPM has a lot in common with, but is not exactly the same skillset, as casual ragchewing at the same speed.

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N2EY
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Posts: 3877




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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 03:33:45 PM »

Come on Jim,

Don't humiliate your fellow hams, due to the fact they gave their opinion but are not very precise in formulating that.

If everyone has a right to express an opinion, others have the right to question that opinion. Particularly if the opinion is not clearly expressed.

When an amateur can copy 20 wpm he can estimate the speed of 40 wpm roughly, just as you can estmate your hart beat after running a marathon to be double that of the beat you normally have when chatting on this web site right now.

Most people can't estimate heart rate to any accuracy. I sure can't. Even experienced medical folks have to use timing devices.

Guys sending 50 wpm miss a lot of points when they fish only in the pond of the guys that can copy 50 wpm. When people have to listen 3 times, and should have copied it at once at half speed, they better transmit at half speed.

Which means that the process is self-limiting.

As I have said before, what matters in a contest is points-per-unit-time. Sending 40 per but requiring repeats means the effective speed is 20 or less. Not the way to win! The truly skilled op adjusts the speed to the conditions - including the other ops.

The purpose of your license is fundamental  not to be a good operator and increase that proficiency, but to experiment.

Nope. Wrong.

The purpose of my license and every other amateur license is to insure order in the amateur radio service. Nothing more. The license identifies the licensee and indicates that s/he is qualified to operate an amateur radio station.

A license is not required to experiment. A license is only required to operate. Of course some experimenting requires operating.

In contests, I and many others are experimenting to see how well we can do. It is radiosport, just like any other sport. That's why the running analogy. Should those who can run fast be required to run slowly so that others can have a better chance at winning?

There's a great short story by Kurt Vonnegut called "Harrison Bergeron" which I think fits here. It's on the web someplace.

(There is one thing unique about radio contests as sport: In the process of earning points, you help other contestants earn points too.)

There is no single purpose to Amateur Radio; there are several, including such things as experimenting, developing skills, education, public service, and more.

A big part of Amateur Radio is just plain having fun. Contests are fun for a lot of us. What's wrong with that?

Most of all, however, is that Amateur Radio is about radio for its own sake. An end in itself.

Also, consider this:

http://www.eham.net/articles/23491

73 de Jim, N2EY

« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 03:40:25 PM by N2EY » Logged
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