Saturday, 26 November 2011

QSLs, eQSL and all that

Firstly I must state that I prefer paper QSLs via the bureau, however recent experiences suggest that this is not supportable in this modern age. Reason I say this is that after 10 months on the air I received my first batch of QSL cards from my QSL manager, 25 in all, none of which were for any QSOs I have made.QSO dates were between 2000 and 2010, a period I was QRT, and for CW a mode I do not use. All were for my callsign so no blame to the QSL bureau for this.
In my first spell on the air, 1976 to 1992 I received the occasional card for Bill, G4EHT I think, a CW operator, and as some of these these cards include his name then I assume they are his. As he is not on I cannot send them on, although technically they are not valid QSO's anyway, well not in my book.
Bottom line is 10 months on air with 600 contacts but no paper QSLs via bureau.

As for eQSL. I send out eQSL log updates automatically from DM780 on the assumption that if you have an eQSL account then they will be accepted, and if not then they will still be recorded on the system in case a ham joins up later and therefore a card will await them or else they merely exist in electronic limbo.
A recent QSO was rejected however by a guy who has an active eQSL account whose valid date range covers that QSO but rejects eQSLs received. This to me is illogical as if you don't want eQSLs then don't have an eQSL account, or at least adjust the dates acceptable range to refuse them if you do. With the volume of auto eQSLs sent then rejecting them manually seems like unnecessary work.

The message I got back was "not a eSQL user)"(sic) from an eQSL account holder?

I use eQSL as a means of collecting cards to show people on the computer. It's virtually instantaneous and convenient. Paper cards on the wall of the shack are better but take too long to arrive if at all.

I appreciate that different people have different views, however incorporating these into the bigger picture could be better thought out.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Contest operating

Not having added to the blog for some time - nothing really to report - I have decided to air my views on contest operating having just been on the CQWW SSB contest this last weekend.
As a keen contester (?) in my early days of radio, and being the contest manager of a local club for some years I feel I have some relevant input in this field.
Comments :
  1. with data competitions there is a visible clue when a station has ended the CQ call. With phone there is no such indicator, so "CQ TEST CQ TEST" gives no clue to the receiving station that a reply is needed at that point. this leads to point #2
  2. If you are leaving the receiving station time to assess if you have finished transmitting then leave more than 2 seconds to LISTEN for stations coming back. Heard several instances after a CQ call as above when after a second or so's delay many stations called to respond, but the calling station was already calling CQ again, possibly wondering why nobody was calling back. This went on for some few minutes when stations were obviously calling back.
  3. I heard a couple of pile-ups on a station who was simply giving the callers callsign then the report followed by QRZ. some 10 minutes passed when responders requested the caller's callsign, and this did not materialise for some time after that.
  4. The 'flow' of some languages or even regional accents are such that spaces between words are compressed, and coupled with national accents can mean call letters can run into each other if spoken quickly. having to repeat 2 or 3 times takes up more time than speaking more distinctly in the first place.
  5.  calling stations listen more. There is nothing more ridiculous than a station calling in, giving a 59 report then asking "what is your callsign?". 
  6. If the station being worked asks a particular station such as "station with DK in the call please try again" then don't try to piggyback the contact if your call does not match the pattern..

The protocol I tried to encourage was:
  1. Transmit on a clear frequency. Also remember it may be clear at your end, but in the middle of other stations which you cannot hear in the areas you are trying to reach. If nothing comes back after a while then QSY to another clear frequency - easier said than done I appreciate.
  2. Finish off a CQ call with the station callsign and 'listening' indicator e.g. "CQ TEST CQ TEST ... de G4EST and bye".
  3. Listen for more than 2 seconds - perhaps 5 or even more.
  4. If the station you are calling is attempting to contact or in QSO with another station then DONT call in.
  5. Give your callsign clearly and frequently.
  6. If after several attempts on responding to a CQ then log the frequency, QSY and go back later when conditions may be more favourable.
I hope these musing strike the right chords for some people.
REMEMBER: contests are not life or death, have fun and remember your manners at all times.