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Author Topic: Does anybody zero beat a QSO anymore?  (Read 35850 times)
AC2EU
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« on: March 24, 2013, 01:08:26 PM »

As a fledgling CW Op, I spend a lot of time attempting to copy live QSOs as practice.
My receiver BW is about 500Hz in CW. Even so, some operators are so far off that I have to re-tune to hear the responding station who may be on the top or bottom edge ( or beyond) the BW!
What's up with that? BTW, I'm not talking about splits here, just a normal QSO.

Is it considered impolite to ask the responding station to zero beat your frequency? The ops I've heard just seem to ignore it.
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K0OD
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2013, 01:50:19 PM »

The panadaptor on my Flex-5000 clearly shows the positions of CW stations in QSO. Most are almost precisely on top of each other... within 50 to 100 Hz. 

I also work some QRP with my OHR-100 transceiver, a $150 kit which uses varactor tuning. Getting within 500 Hz is a chore. Its native receive bandwidth is about 1 KHz and the varactor tuning can jump around. I've learned to use an outboard audio filter to get closer to stations I call. Note that some QRP transmitters still use crystal control.

Quote
I've heard just seem to ignore it.

Right. When I got in the hobby novices were lucky if they owned 3 crystals. You called CQ and tuned up and down maybe 20 kHz for replies! Even now not everyone is using a state of the art radio. I'm certainly not going to criticize some Cuban who made his equipment from a 1956 Chevy. Or a guy who's drifted due to problems at his power company. On 160 you may be hearing boat anchors.
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AC4RD
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2013, 01:52:16 PM »

Jim, I always try to get as close to zero-beat as I can with my poor old ears--if the DX is working that way.  Some times you hear DX working simplex but coming back to stations that are a couple of hundred off.  I think sometimes that's their way of narrowing the pileup without going to split operation--pick a guy 300Hz up, and then one 200Hz down.  I think with a narrow filter that might help.

But yeah, aside from that, I generally try to get as close to the station I'm calling as I can.  Like you, I see folks who aren't as successful at it. Smiley
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NO2A
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2013, 04:18:59 PM »

Yaesu has a feature that works good. When you have tuned the cw signal in properly,the mutifunction led on my FT-857 will glow blue. It works with weak signals too. Not sure if their other rigs do this.
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W7ASA
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2013, 07:22:28 PM »

I have noticed that zero beating is hit-&-miss.  It may simply be that ops do not understand that simply tuning the receiver until the tone 'sounds good' to their ear is not the same as having stations on the same frequency.  Another factor is the RIT being ON while the ops is tuning in the other station.  Zero beat/match the other station first - THEN - use the RIT to your heart's content. I do that often in longer contacts to give my ear a new pitch to listen to, but not change my transmit frequency.  Infact, one zero beat is achieved, I usually hit the dial lock - to prevent an 'ooops!' and use the RIT for subtle pitch changes, without changing the actual operating frequency. A few Hz - even 50 Hz is fine, but I've heard a spread that - like the posting station pointed-out - are outside a moderate bassband of 500Hz filter.

Personally. I'd rather go back to seperate receiver/transmitter for CW, but transceivers are very handy.


Spark Forever!
   ;^)


de Ray
W7asa ..._ ._
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GILGSN
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2013, 08:08:40 PM »

On my KX3 I can just hit the spot button, or look at the display and see where the other station is. My K1 needs to warm up a few minutes before being stable, so if I start a QSO right away, it tends to drift. My Rock-Mites, well, I can hear someone in the next band over, so.. ;-) RIT is a bit weird to me. I do understand how it works, but haven't found it useful yet. Actually, I have never used it.. I think I can get close enough by ear with my K1. Often, both stations probably expect the other guy to zero-beat..

Gil.
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VK5DO
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2013, 03:46:00 AM »

I always zero beat.  My TS590 does it automatically with the touch of a button.  The ones that annoy me are when you get someone answer you off frequency, so while they're answering I zero beat to them and then after the next over they've tuned off again to maintain whatever they reckon zero beat is.  Luckily the TS590 zero beats the RIT as well.

Yours,

Dene
VK5DO
Vk4TN

 
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AC2EU
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2013, 07:15:28 AM »

I always zero beat.  My TS590 does it automatically with the touch of a button.  The ones that annoy me are when you get someone answer you off frequency, so while they're answering I zero beat to them and then after the next over they've tuned off again to maintain whatever they reckon zero beat is.  Luckily the TS590 zero beats the RIT as well.

Yours,

Dene
VK5DO
Vk4TN

 

Now that's what I call frustrating!  Shocked  That's like a HF cat and mouse game!

Not that I'm some world class op, but this thread has inspired me to do a club presentation about this stuff.
Apparently there are many HAMS that don't know how the whole tone vs zero beat concept works.
I liked the RIT tip for when 700hz gets monotonous. Works like a champ.  Grin
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K0OD
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2013, 08:48:07 AM »

Jim, where are you hearing all this off-frequency CW?

You say you're new to CW and not fast. I don't hear a problem while chasing DX or contesting at 30+ wpm usually at the bottom of bands. Most off-frequency CW ops know what they're doing.

QRP or boat anchor operation, usually done higher in bands, is a special case, with worse VFOs or crystal controlled transmitters loosely grouped around standard frequencies.

Also, does anybody remember decades ago when League handbooks said it was bad form to call a DX station on his frequency?

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AC2EU
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2013, 09:13:19 AM »

Jim, where are you hearing all this off-frequency CW?

You say you're new to CW and not fast. I don't hear a problem while chasing DX or contesting at 30+ wpm usually at the bottom of bands. Most off-frequency CW ops know what they're doing.

QRP or boat anchor operation, usually done higher in bands, is a special case, with worse VFOs or crystal controlled transmitters loosely grouped around standard frequencies.

Also, does anybody remember decades ago when League handbooks said it was bad form to call a DX station on his frequency?



30+ wpm is out of my league. I tune by those guys.
I listen on 20, 30, 40, 80, and sometimes 160, depending where the activity is. I look for 10 to 20 wpm.
The problem is pervasive on all of those bands on maybe 30% of the QSOs.
The QSOs are NOT DX nor are they QRP.
Now I believe it is OK to ZB a DX station unless  a) he specifies "up" or B) it's obvious that the pileup is established "up".
At least that seems to be the practice... tell me if I'm wrong. I'm not doing cw dx at this stage.
The other phenomena is that cw ops are all over the place, up , down and in-between during "the chase". I don't know how one would figure out how to find the station in that mess without a "dx cluster" spotter!

There are lots of QRP rigs available ( I have a FT817). QRP itself is no excuse for bad drifting or "un-tuneable" equipment!
QRP itself is challenging enough without adding to the difficulties, right?  Grin
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W9TM
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2013, 01:40:33 AM »

As a fledgling CW Op, I spend a lot of time attempting to copy live QSOs as practice.
My receiver BW is about 500Hz in CW. Even so, some operators are so far off that I have to re-tune to hear the responding station who may be on the top or bottom edge ( or beyond) the BW!
What's up with that? BTW, I'm not talking about splits here, just a normal QSO.

Is it considered impolite to ask the responding station to zero beat your frequency? The ops I've heard just seem to ignore it.

In the evolution from separate tx and rx setups to transceivers, the issue of two stations transmitting cw on the same frequency has been an issue.  Some early transceivers such as the KWM-2 or SB101 had neither RIT or an adjustable cw offset freq.  If you tuned in a sig to a reasonable pitch to listen to, you were off freq (to the other station) when you transmitted.  He'd retune a bit to hear you and then would be off freq (to you) when he transmitted.  So the two would go leap frogging down the band.  Various schemes have been incorporated over the years, but many popular transceivers still on the air are SSB orientated with CW as a second thought and are not convenient or easy to ensure you're on freq when you call.




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N4OI
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2013, 04:50:27 AM »

As a fledgling CW Op, I spend a lot of time attempting to copy live QSOs as practice.
My receiver BW is about 500Hz in CW. Even so, some operators are so far off that I have to re-tune to hear the responding station who may be on the top or bottom edge ( or beyond) the BW!
What's up with that? BTW, I'm not talking about splits here, just a normal QSO.

Is it considered impolite to ask the responding station to zero beat your frequency? The ops I've heard just seem to ignore it.

Yes, 500Hz is a bit much, but generally it is my job to accommodate the op who is returning my CQ.  I will leave my bandwidth wide while listening and then use my RIT and filters to make copy as easy as I need.  I would never even consider asking someone who just paid me the compliment of replying to my CQ to change his transmit frequency so I will not need to do any work!

And although zero beating is the topic here, the same concept could be applied to my caller's buggy fist, use of QRP, or abbreviations.  It would be rude for me to ask the caller to switch to a keyer, increase power, or spell out their words!  In a fishing analogy, would I get upset when a five-pound bass hits my crankbait on the other side of a stump?  No -- the fun is in the challenge!

73 ES GOD BLESS U ES URS DE KEN N4OI   Grin

 

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N3QE
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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 06:26:10 AM »

For a conversational QSO, insisting on zero-beat is IMHO unreasonable. Your filter choice (500 Hz) is surprisingly narrow for non-crowded conditions, and you do have a RIT knob you know. Historically, conversational CW QSO's with simple novice-type equipment allowed for offsets of many kHz as "normal", and of course splits of several kHz are perfectly natural with much CW DX work.

I know there are guys out there who insist on zero-beating because they use super narrow filters (e.g. one guy who posts here frequently seems to regard 50 Hz filter as "Wide"!!!) but this is simply not reasonable to insist on, in non-crowded conditions.

Zero-beating the caller will often to be to your disadvantage with DX ("who is this guy UP who keeps calling?") or contests (where you want to differentiate yourself from the cluster-clickers.)
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KE7WAV
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2013, 09:47:19 PM »

Trying to zero beat with some of my QRP rigs and my bad ears can be very difficult but I try to get as close as I can.  With a newer rig its a lot easier, but many of my old rigs and QRP rigs it can sure get tough to get within 100-200 hz of zero beat.  My hearing is bad enough sometimes I get my tablet out and use a chromatic tuner app to help me line up a little better.
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W7ASA
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 12:02:12 PM »

The refferences to the Novice requirement for crystal control are nostalgic for me - yes, but, have little to do with the equipment one 99% of contacts today being significantly off frequency.  I love boatanchors - really.  IT's also true that the  QSOs in the Novice bands in 1970's and before were usually on split tx/rx frequencies.  That was entirely because of crystal controlled transmitters being required for the Novice operator, just like the 75 Watt INput and 25Kc band slices were a requirement. The idea was to prevent Novices from being out of band during a day and age when equipment - especially home brewed equipment was not at ALL like the extremely accurate digital frequency controls that we have now.  In short - the long extinct Novice license rules have nothing to do with poor operating practice today. A little more learning and practice to improve skills is always a good thing.

There's some slack in zero beating - sure, old style rigs might be a little off & have more warm-up & drift & etc. and nobody is justified in being cranky over a few dozen Hz here or there, but when I receive an answer half a Kc away, by an op using a 'new' rig that cost more than three of my house payments, it's not likely a hardware problem - it's basically a 'training issue' as we used to say. So let's address that 'training'. As hams we're always learning something new, whether it's a new mode, antenna modifications or how to turn perfectly good  electrons into SMOKE!   Shocked  when there's a home brew or repair Ooops.

The passing the ham test is exciting and something to be applauded.  It is also the entry to ham radio. Learning to operate well especially in CW, requires more time more study of operational techniques and hopefully tutelage from a skilled operator. There's no reason to not try to improve.  Infact, it's actually enjoyable to become better with our radio skills. 

YMMV -


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
ex - WN6WBP

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