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Author Topic: On contesting and CW speed...  (Read 1501 times)
K7PEH
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« on: July 12, 2009, 09:14:01 AM »

I was playing in the IARU contest yesterday in CW.  I am guessing the minimum speed of a CQ TEST was about 30 wpm and with the majority in the 30 to 40 wpm range.

I normally operate around 20 wpm.  In fact, my keyer is setup for about 20 wpm and I am practiced at sending 20 wpm.  The few times that I bump up the keyer speed I make mistakes (usually with those blasted H's and 5s or 6s and B's).

But, in a contest, once I sync my brain around the exchange being sent (and the IARU was particularly simple) I can easily copy 30 to 35 wpm.  However, my keyer being at 20 wpm seems agonizingly slow compared to the other guy.  So, when I respond to a CQ TEST with my call sign, it is like hitting slush -- the whole pace of the scene slows down.  But, if I speeded up I would certainly crap out with too many mistakes.

So, how to you speed demons feel about someone relatively slow (20 wpm) like myself responding to your 35 wpm CQ.  I know that most do not bother to slow down which I take as meaning that they know I can copy them.

Yes, I suppose I could speed up the keyer and practice.
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K7KBN
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2009, 09:54:45 AM »

Okay, your keyer is set for 20 WPM, you're happy at 20 WPM, you copy and send well at 20 WPM.  Fine.

Now turn it up to 25 WPM and get happy there, sending and receiving.  Then turn it up again.  I'm just as happy at 40 WPM as I am at 20.  Or at 10.

As I was told when I got my Conditional license:  "Don't just sit at 13 WPM.  Build your speed up.  It's very easy."

True words.

Consider:  it's generally accepted to be rude to answer a 5 WPM CQ at 20 WPM.  The guy at 5 WPM must be a beginner, so we should answer him at his own speed.  That works both ways, IMO.  It's rude to call a station sending 30 WPM at anything significantly less than 30 WPM.

73
Pat K7KBN
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K7PEH
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2009, 03:11:57 PM »

" It's rude to call a station sending 30 WPM at anything significantly less than 30 WPM. "


Interesting, I never knew that.  So, to be a polite operator I either should speed my code up or operate only with stations that are slower or equal to me in speed.

I do agree though that I should start practicing with my keyer at a higher speed.
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K0OD
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2009, 08:11:44 PM »

"I never knew that"

I never knew it either. Something I must have missed in 50 years of contesting. If anything, its rude to call at a high speed you can't handle reasonably well.

I don't see anything wrong to replying to a 35 wpm CQ test at 20 or 25 mph if that's your top speed.
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K3TN
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2009, 03:02:56 AM »

No problem answering contest CQs at 20wpm. Heck, the contest with the most complex exchange (Sweepstakes) has loads of people answering CQs at that speed or lower.

But next contest try setting your keyer at 22wpm. You probably won't notice the difference. Then, try 24 wpm the contest after that...

73 John K3TN
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John K3TN
KB9CRY
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2009, 05:38:42 AM »

Mine is set at 23 wpm and that's where I operate all the time, contest or not.  They always take my point.
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DJ1YFK
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2009, 08:14:54 AM »

> So, how to you speed demons feel about someone
> relatively slow (20 wpm) like myself responding to
> your 35 wpm CQ.

IMHO it's perfectly OK to call at whatever speed you want. The CW speed is almost never the limiting factor in real world contesting; it's either the lack of callers or inefficient operating.

A normal, proper contest QSO in CW would be:

TEST DJ1YFK DJ1YFK TEST
K7PEH
K7PEH 5nn28
5nn6
TU DJ1YFK

Your part, at 20wpm, would only be your call and the exchange, 6 seconds altogether. Compared to the changeover times etc, the difference to 30wpm (= 2 seconds faster) is really negligible.

A good way however to annoy someone in a contest is sending unnecessary stuff like:

"DJ1YFK QSL UR 5nn6 5nn6 de K7PEH K"

instead of just

"5nn6".

Bottom line: Your speed as a S&P operator hardly matters, 20wpm is perfectly acceptable and combined with an efficient operating style you'll not get on anyone's nerves.


73, Fabian DJ1YFK (@ DA0HQ on 20m CW last weekend)
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K8GU
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2009, 09:26:08 AM »

The CQer wants to make QSOs as fast as possible.  As DJ1YFK points out, it's almost always better answer a slow caller than no caller at all, even if it's a momentary annoyance for the CQer.

Setting the keyer speed to a moderately-fast 35 wpm is a psychological thing, too.  If you have a loud signal and a snappy exchange, you'll make a lot of QSOs.  People like to work an efficient operator.  I don't know if it's the DX mentality or something else...
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N3QE
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2009, 01:10:22 PM »

With few exceptions, the contest guys would rather have a reliable but slow exchange of contest info rather than an unreliable fast exchange. Getting a repeat is a huge time sink. He knows he's sitting on one frequency sending fast, but he also knows that you've got several opportunities to get his call etc.

Almost all the hot-shot contesters - and a lot of the not-so-hot-shot ones too - use computer-based keyers and don't really have a feel for how fast they are sending. So they may send parts of their exchanges at 50 WPM and then fall down to 25 WPM for other parts, they've tweaked these parameters at some attempt at upping rates that a mere contest participant like me (contrast that with "contester") could not achieve.

A few powerhouse contesters actually have defective keying - horribly out of balance dot/space lengths or cutting out the first dit of each transmission - and don't even know it. Maybe the amp isn't hooked up right. One year 6Y1LZ was sending his call as BY1LZ. Did he know it? Was he really so intent on shaving a millisecond off each exchange that he was purposefully sending his call wrong?

In the bigger contests - SS, CQWW, ARLL DX - a clear stratification develops with the faster CW stations on the bottom of the band and the slower stations 60 or 70 kHz up. In smaller contests like IARU this isn't so noticeable.

Tim.
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AD7WN
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2009, 07:05:10 PM »

It's rude to send at a speed you can't handle, regardless if you can copy at a higher speed or not.

If 20 wpm is the fastest speed you can send at without errors, then send at 20 wpm.  The faster op will appreciate not having to ask for repeats.

73 de John/AD7WN
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2009, 07:36:32 PM »

I run my keyer at 15 wpm.  If I thought it was rude to answer 30 wpm CQ's at 15 wpm, I would have made _no_ QSO's in the IARU contest.  

Instead, I made 130.

I figured that anyone who didn't want my 2 points just wouldn't reply to me.   Some people slowed down, some didn't.  "CW Get" is really handy when you're driving a golfcart on a superhighway.

I noticed something weird that I haven't heard before.  Many stations were sending "5nn" _faster_ than the rest of their exchange!  It really sounded strange.

            Charles
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W7ETA
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2009, 08:38:34 PM »

When working either a DX station in a pile-up or a contest station I always use my computer to send my call, report, and contest info.  I try and send at the same rate the other op is going.

I could play around with a straight key, bug, paddles and keyer, but I choose instead to send perfect CW to those ops.

I can play around sending less than perfect CW when I'm just hanging out chatting.

Plus, when I work DX in a pile-up or a contest station, I always send the same sig report, 5NN.  If the contest requires power level info, I send either KW or 1TT, even if I'm running 910 or 85 watts.

I do that as a courtesy to the other op.

73
Bob

PS: I won't chat with any stateside or VE op in the 75 meter DX window, even if its high noon here in July.
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WC1I
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2009, 07:35:37 AM »

On the topic of whether it's rude to reply to a high-speed op at a slower speed, I came across the following in "Morse Code, The Essential Language" (ARRL publication, author L. Peter Carron Jr., W3DKV):

"Be willing to slow down (QRS) to a speed that the other operator is comfortable receiving.  And, it is best to call someone who is sending a CQ at approximately a speed which you are able to copy without too much difficulty.  To expect an operator sending CQ at 40 WPM to slow down to 15 or 20 WPM for your benefit is asking quite a bit.  Most amateurs enjoy working CW at or around a particular work-per-minute rate."

To me, that's a plea for reasonability.  Pretty simple.
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W8VZM
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2009, 06:06:28 PM »

I read this thread because I am trying to bring my cw speed up. I love to contest in voice and really was unhappy at having to wait until I was near 30wpm to get into cw contesting. Thanks for the info! CU in the test!

Ron
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K4DPK
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2009, 12:39:04 PM »

I don't consider it at all rude for someone to call me at a speed slower than I was sending.  I'll slow down to his speed and QSO.  After all, I called CQ, didn't I?  So I must want to chat.  No problem.

Regarding contests, I think there should be separate point categories for folks who use recorded or computerized CW, vs. those using keys/paddles and are actually sending and copying the CW.

When the computer is doing the copying, you're not working anyone on CW...the machine is.  So you shouldn't get credit for it.

I know folks who absolutely can't copy 3 wpm, but brag about the DX they work on (artificial) CW.

To me, there's something a little less than honest about that.

Phil C. Sr.
k4dpk
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