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Author Topic: Any advice for old "newbie" re CW speeds in contests?  (Read 2903 times)
N4UP
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Posts: 23




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« on: May 26, 2012, 07:41:50 AM »

A long time ago I used to happily work various CW contests at 20-25 wpm.  After a long absence I am returning to the air but for now I can only copy around 15 wpm.  Naively thought I would get my feet wet with this weekend's WPX contest, but the truth is that everyone I can hear is simply too fast for me ( for now ).  Makes me feel like a klutz.  What to do?  Wait for what used to be called the Novice Roundup?  Or are there sub-bands for those of us who are "slower" than the serious contesters?  I've tried calling CQ TEST at 15 wpm but so far no responses, and if someone responds at 40 wpm I would be lost.  Surely there is a way for those of us who are "somewhat slower" to get involved?
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73, peter N4UP
N4UP
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2012, 08:29:59 AM »

Okay.  I may have just answered my own question.  Found a few WPX folks at 15-20 wpm on 20 meters.
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73, peter N4UP
K5END
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2012, 12:58:52 PM »

If you have not tried this already, maybe you could try being the "runner" instead of the "search and pouncer." Maybe you can set your own comfortable speed that way if other ops want to work you(?)

Besides, it's kind of a rush being under a pile up.

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N4UP
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2012, 01:22:14 PM »

If you have not tried this already, maybe you could try being the "runner" instead of the "search and pouncer." Maybe you can set your own comfortable speed that way if other ops want to work you(?)

Besides, it's kind of a rush being under a pile up.



Thank you.  Your response has prompted me to re-aquaint myself with the terminology and find some webpages that offer tips for contesting, many things I had forgotten ( I am still getting used to there being webpages associated with ham radio ).  So yes, I have now tried both being a runner and doing the search and pounce.  And my "speed" comprehension is increasing with every contact ( it is almost funny giving a Serial No. of 8 when the other guy is already in the many hundreds ).  Just need more experience.  It's only been 30 years since my last CW QSO ( until last night ).  The other reason I am a bit apprehensive is that I am running a random wire in the attic ( lots of noise ) and so I do have trouble hearing all but the stronger stations.  I am guessing I am transmitting more effectively than I am receiving.

73, peter
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73, peter N4UP
K8GU
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 04:50:14 AM »

Glad you jumped in...and welcome back!

Here's another hint for future reference:  If you hear me CQing along at whatever speed it is that's uncomfortable for you, call me at a speed that is comfortable for you and I will match your speed to work you.  I think 99% of other ops will do the same, especially if they're not particularly busy.
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N4UP
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 05:18:07 AM »

Glad you jumped in...and welcome back!

Here's another hint for future reference:  If you hear me CQing along at whatever speed it is that's uncomfortable for you, call me at a speed that is comfortable for you and I will match your speed to work you.  I think 99% of other ops will do the same, especially if they're not particularly busy.

Thank you.  I appreciate the advice and encouragement.  The first day of the CQ CW WPX I managed 10 contacts in 3 hours.  The second day I managed 94 contacts in 9 hours.  I spent most of the time listening and I didn't try calling any station unless I was sure I had the station's call-sign correct ( meaning I skipped anyone really fast ), and most responded.  And my comprehension gradually increased to about 18-20 wpm.  So, just getting my feet wet.
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73, peter N4UP
K3TN
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 03:02:17 AM »

Almost every Thursday night there is a "Slow Sprint" 30 minute contest sponsored by the NCCC, followed by a 30 minute high speed Sprint - you can find the rules here.

They are great ways to build up your contest cw speed, and a lot of fun.

73 John K3TN
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John K3TN
N4UP
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2012, 04:03:17 AM »

Almost every Thursday night there is a "Slow Sprint" 30 minute contest sponsored by the NCCC, followed by a 30 minute high speed Sprint - you can find the rules here.

They are great ways to build up your contest cw speed, and a lot of fun.

73 John K3TN

Thank you.  A great suggestion and I will give it a try ...
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73, peter N4UP
KC9QQ
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Posts: 45




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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2012, 11:01:32 AM »

It is good to hear that I am not the only old-timer trying to break-in to modern day CW contesting.  I remember a couple a years ago when I tried to work my first CW contest, I only lasted about an hour before I gave up.  Since then, I have been practicing copying call letters using RufzXP.  I am still not a speed wizard, but I find my ability to copy contest exchanges has improved dramatically.  I can usually copy a call in a search or pounce contacts on the first attempt unless the person is one of the 1 or 2 percent that push above 35 wpm.

I'm not sure I'll ever develop the skill of some of these high speed contesters, but least my speed has improved enough to that I can now enjoy throwing my call sign into the pileups.

Best of luck.

Hope to work you in a future contest.

73,

Fred, KC9QQ
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N4UP
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2012, 12:29:22 PM »

Fred, nice to hear.  Sounds like you're doing well. 

I used to copy 25 wpm effortlessly ( 1965-1970 ).  But now, for ordinary QSOs I find I can copy 15 wpm without missing anything, and can copy contest exchanges at 18-20 wpm, but I still have trouble copying call-signs.  Part of the reason is that there are so many new and different call sign prefixes since I was last on the air, so my "instincts" need a reset ( e.g., I hear S53 and think SH3 ).  But maybe part of the reason is that my brain doesn't process what I am hearing quite as fast as it used to.

Even so, I am enjoying the contests.  Tried my hand at two today ( Portugal Day Contest and GACW WWSA CW DX, though only two contacts on one and 25 or so in the other, so far.  Seems like confidence grows with experience.

I do very much appreciate the contesters who are considerate and slow down a bit in response to my call.

I look forward to working you in a future contest.

73, peter --- N4UP
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73, peter N4UP
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