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Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

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  • Randy Tipton
    Marshall asked: Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra rare grids? There was little response
    Message 1 of 10 , May 12, 2010
      Marshall asked: "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers. 
       
      I agree with your statement, and this should not be. We are missing a huge opportunity and I believe it is because there is not an agreement ie procedure for hsms during the annual arrl contests. It always helps to have a plan! How do we establish one?
       
      My thoughts ...
       
      First it is possible to have a ready-to-go listing of schedules. This takes time to create and confirm. Some schedules run overtime into other planned attempts, some don't show up, other are completed easily in first 5 minutes with long wait time before next scheduled attempt. Some stations are worked on ssb prior to schedule, that is good but now there is a hole in the schedule listing. The biggest problem with schedules are "no shows" and they tie a station down to a hard set plan. If you made 30 min attempts, that is only two contacts per hour! (Provided you made both...)
       
       
      A better plan ...
      __________________________________________________
       
      When the band is dead at your location:
      Attempt  HSMS Contacts Using the following procedures ...
       
      1. Even UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on six meters or monitor the call frequency 50.260MHz.
      2. Odd UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on two meters or monitor the call frequency 144.140Mhz
      Note: Single band stations use both hours. Attempt to qsy easy contacts to another band including 220 MHz.
      Listen for stations who might "tailend" your contacts and always use your grid as reports. If a frequency is occupied
      use appended messages. (Do not include your Grid in your CQ since it might be confused as a "rpt".  If an attempt
      runs past the focus window time, continue your attempt. When someone has called you, don't give up too early. A good
      rule of thumb is; if you decoded his call the contact will be completed, just hang in there. From 45 minutes after the hour
      till the top of the hour, take a break or check the ssb call frequency for new initials.
       
      ________________________________________________
       
      This is my suggestion, will it work? The benefit of having all  NA HSMS operators on the same band
      at the same time should be a huge advantage. Maybe this procedure should be only during late night / early mornings?
      For any plan to work it needs buy-in. If someone asks you for a contest schedule, wouldn't it be nice to reply, I am going to
      operate using the NA HSMS Plan for ARRL contests. (What ever that plan is...)
       
      I believe a HSMS operators could win the Jan or Sept contest using wsjt only if the hsms community followed a known plan. I see more
      benefit for the Jan and Sept contests than June.
      If only  those "who have operated Saturday or Sunday RH sessions in the past" played in the above proposal, the call frequency would
      be a very busy place!
       
      Just my two cents ...
       
      tip
       
       
       

       
       
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:32 PM
      Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

      Hello All......I think Tip is basically right....very few people will get on WSJT MS for some reason.  I asked a month or so ago, "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers.  The K5N group is going to the rare grid of DL88....and we will use WSJT MS on 6M whenever the band is dead to Es(especially at night and early AM).  Hopefully, there will be plenty of guys wanting to work us....but maybe not.

      There are some who believe that a Random contact is somehow more valuable than a contact made via a schedule.  I just don't understand this point of view at all.  It makes NO sense to me.  Either you make a contact or you do not.  Master Yoda said, "Either do or don't do--there is no try."  If you do make a contact, you get to put it in the log, exchange QSL cards, count the contact for contest points, whatever.  If you do not make a contact, then you do not get to do any of these things.  Insisting on making random contacts does not make you more noble, more pure, more valuable.....it just means that you make a lot less contacts!! 

      Gene is a pretty good friend of mine.  We have "cussed and discussed" these issues at length.  He leans toward the methods of operation favored by the HF contest operators(he denies it), but over time he has at least come to understand that there is another view.  We have agreed to disagree on some of these things.  Even though Gene and I disagree on some things, Gene is still definitely one of the good guys.

      We need to get more people interested in using WSJT for MS contacts, especially during the contests when there is a lot more activity than occurs otherwise.  The contests act sort of as a large activity week-end.  How can we improve our showing there???  I will be on in the contest in June, using WSJT on both 6M and 2M.  The K5QE contest station will be running WSJT hard at night and during the early AM hours, whenever the moon is not up.  We will be looking for all the WSJT contacts that we can make.....give us a call....

      73 Marshall K5QE

      Randy Tipton wrote:
       

      In this months WA50Mz column, Gene has written the following statement.
      (June QST page 92)

      Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly because
      signals are audible for such short periods; while there are protocols one
      can use, they have not been very successful so far.

      SO FAR !!!

      I believe the statement is plainly just false.

      First, his reason "signals are audible for such short periods". IMHO it is
      because of this that contacts are possible! The older HSCW and now WSJT
      modes have made exchanging of contact information easy during these
      conditions.

      I agree that there is a reason that contacts are difficult, but it has
      nothing to do with audible pings of short periods.

      The next statement that yes there are protocols ""but"" they have not been
      very successful so far is just not true!

      If a person has difficulty making random contacts, I fail to see where
      "protocol" is the barrier. IMHO the protocol is what makes meteor scatter
      "Easy" not "Difficult". Try working HSMS with no set rules!

      If on a Saturday Morning Random Hour session I only work 5 random contacts,
      I fail to see where "Audible short periods" or "The Protocol" are true
      reason I didn't work more contacts.

      Just as a reminder, during the 2009 HSMS Contest, 9 stations worked Random
      Only Category and made a total of 194 Random Contacts.

      Now I will agree with Gene that Random Contacts are more difficult but not
      for the reasons he stated.

      The number one barrier for making random contacts is really simple. Few
      play. Only a few stations attempt to work random contacts with any
      consistency. Random contacts are often very fast but even during activity
      periods it can be difficult to find stations to work. The solution is more
      activity is needed on the call frequency attempting to make random contacts.

      Is it possible for an individual station to misuse the Standard Operating
      Procedures and adversely affect his completion rate. Absolutely! There is no
      excuse for this, the SOP is too well defined and published in too many
      places.

      Now I start medaling...

      The failure to comply with the established use of the call frequency can
      make random contacts more difficult. (Unless stations just ignore common
      sense and send untagged short hand messages which are not coded for any
      specific station, this is bad practice) Outside of activity periods like
      random hour, stations should use the off-set method of calling cq. (This is
      also the accepted method for ssb on 144.200 or 50.125 MHz) The use of
      single tones on shared frequency becomes a barrier to other stations and
      cast doubt to otherwise legitimate contacts. Yes, stations can use the
      appended messages however the best solution is to just call cq Up:Dn and
      complete contacts with the 3dB advantage of single tone sh hand messages.

      Consider this example: a stations calls CQ on the call frequency without
      offset. Station "X" answers 1400 miles away! More than likely this contact
      should be completed, even with appended messages however in almost every
      case, the contact time will be shortened very significantly on another
      frequency using single tones. This contact might take 60 minutes to
      complete.. on the call frequency ... is this good? No, being off the call
      frequency has many advantages.

      Another thing that can make "random contacts" more difficult is ... well
      calling cq on an oddball frequency. Imagine a station calling CQ on 50.240
      for long periods of time and then complaining that nobody answered him.
      (Even announced on PJ this practice limits success) Use the call frequency.

      I was only going to make a few comments... again, I believe the number one
      reason for Random Contacts being difficult is simple, few play.

      Note while typing this; just finished working K5DOG on 2M, copied his CQ at
      1403 utc, took 8 minutes to complete. It does pay to monitor the calling
      frequency. Earlier this morning worked KS7S in DN71od, he answered my cq on
      144.140 D7. In reality, random contacts are made daily by hsms operators.
      More on six meters than two but it happens & regardless of short duration
      signals and protocols.

      I have some data relating to random contacts to share.

      On six meters I have worked 881 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
      meteor scatter since March 2005. Of that 881 contacts, 116 unique calls.

      On two meters I have worked 349 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
      meteor scatter since January 2002. Of that 71 unique calls worked.

      My personal feeling is the main reason Random Contacts are difficult is ...
      Not enough players. Only the hsms community can fix this.

      I am not bashing Gene's comments, but I did feel like he was wrong. It is
      possible to be wrong, right? As one who loves making random hsms contacts,
      the only barrier for me working more unique calls is the limited players and
      I hate to see a myth that it is difficult. So, how many schedules that you
      have made could have started off with calling CQ or answering a call? I know
      there are good reasons to make schedules and I make plenty of them. This is
      not about random vs. schedule for me as both are usually easy via random
      meteors. I just don't like the perception that random contacts are more
      difficult. If you think they are, try this experiment.. . after your next
      schedule completion, ask the other station to listen for you on the hsms
      calling frequency and call you when he copies you. I will bet you work
      again!

      just my thought... probably not all right <grin>

      tip

    • wb3bel
      I read Gene s article in QST and think it is not exactly correct. Making random MS contacts using WSJT is not hard... But the context of his comments were, I
      Message 2 of 10 , May 12, 2010
        I read Gene's article in QST and think it is not exactly correct.

        Making random MS contacts using WSJT is not hard...

        But the context of his comments were, I believe, related to VHF contesting and postings on the contesting.com VHF reflector. From that perspective I think that his comment is true even if not precisely accurate. Making WSJT MS contacts has not so far significantly added to VHF contest scores. The contacts can be time consuming.

        Gene has a ton of experience with VHF contesting. He was a key member of the massively successful K8GP contest team from Spruce Knob WV and more recently from VA. I am not sure of all the details, but K8GP in its heyday did run WSJT at night on 6m and perhaps also on 2m. I think that some of his comments may be based on observations of the productivity of this mode at K8GP (My speculation). I think that the great location and station setup of K8GP meant that they could almost continuously find new stations to work via Tropo, Es, Au, Ionoscatter etc. A KW to stacked beams on an east coast mountaintop with operators on all bands 6 to 24 GHz means that their strategy to win was work everyone and try to work them on every band they had. Find them on 2 or 6 and move them to the microwaves where the points add up fast. They had tropo range exceeding 600 miles in a lot of cases.

        I don't think that anyone will win an ARRL Jan or Sep with WSJT ALONE. It might be a deciding factor to add grids but I am not really 100% convinced. I would not be surprised to see a station that uses MS win a close race, but it could easily be that a station working CW or SSB or JT65 could be more productive. I think a big EME station can work stations faster via the moon than via MS.


        When calling CQ on WSJT I think you have to keep the antenna pointed at a beam heading for a long time. Perhaps 10 mins or so within the antenna beamwidth. When calling CQ on CW or SSB you can almost continuously move the beam and this seems more productive. If more stations were on WSJT that would be less of a factor. This is more important on 2m than 6m obviously.

        Another factor to huge VHF superstations is that the calling frequency becomes congested. Their Tropo or Ionoscatter range is so huge that they can hear lots of stations direct. This can be avoided to a degree by operating U/D but this is very confusing to many MS operators who don't understand it. Even if you do understand it, its easy to make mistakes in the middle of the night. Turning off split, calculating the right frequency etc...It also makes the CQ message sequence longer which is somewhat counterproductive to short pings. It's not bad, it just seems like there might be a better way.

        I think a better technical solution to this problem is a wideband receiver like MAP65 but for MS. Stations can be decoded in perhaps 50 or 100 KHz spectrum bandwidth. If the decoder would switch modes between FSK441, JT65 etc automatically it might also be nice. You could call CQ and work both weak terrestrial as well as MS. Many ops can hear and switch back and forth between 441a and JT6m. But you might not hear the weak JT65 guys. It's usually way faster to work someone weak Tropo, or airplane scatter than via MS.

        I think that a superstation could build a multichannel RX that monitored for digital signals while in RX mode even if operating conventional modes and get some extra points. This is similar to operating SO2r although the rules regarding digital skimmer-like devices seem to divide the contesting community.

        I have run WSJT during CQWW VHF as a rover where the two band format may mean that WSJT MS could make a difference in the winner. All those contacts were random. I personally feel that it is not a productive contest strategy for rovers. At night I should get to another grid rather than spending hours to make a handful of QSOs. But I enjoy MS! So it's fun and I still do it even if its a bad strategy. It's a lot more fun to me than tearing down antennas and hitting the highway at 1 or 2 am. It would be a lot more fun if there were more stations active. Also the prime MS early morning hours are also the best Tropo conditions so you have to make a tradeoff.

        One good thing about MS operations during a contest is if you are just participating to have fun, you can activate a grid and be sure to work someone via SSB or CW even if the rocks are stinko. I have done this a few times as well. If you drive a few hundred miles to a grid you would like to work someone. This is really fun especially during the June contest. Work the Es until it quits and then play on MS. Maybe not a winning strategy. But its a fun maximizer...

        I agree that the calling frequency can support a lot of people calling CQ simultaneously. I think that it could support more than a hundred small stations geographically distributed. I'd like to see more people try. When I am in the shack I often have the RX on the call freq and WSJT running. Anyone can work randoms on 6m. On 2m and above, you need a better station and location to makes lots of random contacts.

        A random contact is in no way better than a scheduled one. But the element of surprise in decoding a mystery station does increase the fun factor for some operators. Also, not all the activity is on the PJ or cluster pages. If you don't look for randoms you will miss QSOs. For example I worked K2DRH random on 6m from the Somerset Rest Area on the PA turnpike on the FN00 FM09 boundary during a travel break. You never know who will turn up...
        73, Harry WB3BEL
      • Al
        Hi Tip, Marshall and Les: Here are my feelings about the hard HSMS schedule. Bruce (N5SIX) and I had one during our K5N operations from EL58. Tip hit the
        Message 3 of 10 , May 12, 2010
          Hi Tip, Marshall and Les:
          Here are my feelings about the 'hard' HSMS schedule. Bruce (N5SIX) and I had one during our K5N operations from EL58.
          Tip hit the nail on the head in his "my thoughts" paragraph.
          The no shows were a problem. Some had already worked us via SSB so didn't show up. Others maybe showed up, but had no rocks. For whatever reason, we would have 30+ minutes of nothing. Since we were on a published QRG, (being a gridpedition) my thoughts now would be to just call CQ on that frequency. Come one, come all!
          You will note that the HSMS operation from DL88 and 89 are on 50.150, not the calling frequency.
          There is one advantage: You know which way to point your antenna.
           
          Of course his "a better plan" applies to individual stations, not a gridpedition. I don't have anything to contribute on that subject. That paragraph does bring up another thought: WHY would anyone include their grid in their CQ message (on HSMS)? If one uses standard messages, you will note that it is not there. Tip and others have tried to instill this SOP ever since I got into this HSMS aspect of ham radio.
           
          Best 73,
          AL
          WA4EWV
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:51 AM
          Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

           

          Marshall asked: "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers. 
           
          I agree with your statement, and this should not be. We are missing a huge opportunity and I believe it is because there is not an agreement ie procedure for hsms during the annual arrl contests. It always helps to have a plan! How do we establish one?
           
          My thoughts ...
           
          First it is possible to have a ready-to-go listing of schedules. This takes time to create and confirm. Some schedules run overtime into other planned attempts, some don't show up, other are completed easily in first 5 minutes with long wait time before next scheduled attempt. Some stations are worked on ssb prior to schedule, that is good but now there is a hole in the schedule listing. The biggest problem with schedules are "no shows" and they tie a station down to a hard set plan. If you made 30 min attempts, that is only two contacts per hour! (Provided you made both...)
           
           
          A better plan ...
          ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ __
           
          When the band is dead at your location:
          Attempt  HSMS Contacts Using the following procedures ...
           
          1. Even UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on six meters or monitor the call frequency 50.260MHz.
          2. Odd UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on two meters or monitor the call frequency 144.140Mhz
          Note: Single band stations use both hours. Attempt to qsy easy contacts to another band including 220 MHz.
          Listen for stations who might "tailend" your contacts and always use your grid as reports. If a frequency is occupied
          use appended messages. (Do not include your Grid in your CQ since it might be confused as a "rpt".  If an attempt
          runs past the focus window time, continue your attempt. When someone has called you, don't give up too early. A good
          rule of thumb is; if you decoded his call the contact will be completed, just hang in there. From 45 minutes after the hour
          till the top of the hour, take a break or check the ssb call frequency for new initials.
           
          ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________
           
          This is my suggestion, will it work? The benefit of having all  NA HSMS operators on the same band
          at the same time should be a huge advantage. Maybe this procedure should be only during late night / early mornings?
          For any plan to work it needs buy-in. If someone asks you for a contest schedule, wouldn't it be nice to reply, I am going to
          operate using the NA HSMS Plan for ARRL contests. (What ever that plan is...)
           
          I believe a HSMS operators could win the Jan or Sept contest using wsjt only if the hsms community followed a known plan. I see more
          benefit for the Jan and Sept contests than June.
          If only  those "who have operated Saturday or Sunday RH sessions in the past" played in the above proposal, the call frequency would
          be a very busy place!
           
          Just my two cents ...
           
          tip
           
           
           

           
           
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:32 PM
          Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

          Hello All......I think Tip is basically right....very few people will get on WSJT MS for some reason.  I asked a month or so ago, "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers.  The K5N group is going to the rare grid of DL88....and we will use WSJT MS on 6M whenever the band is dead to Es(especially at night and early AM).  Hopefully, there will be plenty of guys wanting to work us....but maybe not.

          There are some who believe that a Random contact is somehow more valuable than a contact made via a schedule.  I just don't understand this point of view at all.  It makes NO sense to me.  Either you make a contact or you do not.  Master Yoda said, "Either do or don't do--there is no try."  If you do make a contact, you get to put it in the log, exchange QSL cards, count the contact for contest points, whatever.  If you do not make a contact, then you do not get to do any of these things.  Insisting on making random contacts does not make you more noble, more pure, more valuable.... .it just means that you make a lot less contacts!! 

          Gene is a pretty good friend of mine.  We have "cussed and discussed" these issues at length.  He leans toward the methods of operation favored by the HF contest operators(he denies it), but over time he has at least come to understand that there is another view.  We have agreed to disagree on some of these things.  Even though Gene and I disagree on some things, Gene is still definitely one of the good guys.

          We need to get more people interested in using WSJT for MS contacts, especially during the contests when there is a lot more activity than occurs otherwise.  The contests act sort of as a large activity week-end.  How can we improve our showing there???  I will be on in the contest in June, using WSJT on both 6M and 2M.  The K5QE contest station will be running WSJT hard at night and during the early AM hours, whenever the moon is not up.  We will be looking for all the WSJT contacts that we can make.....give us a call....

          73 Marshall K5QE

          Randy Tipton wrote:
           

          In this months WA50Mz column, Gene has written the following statement.
          (June QST page 92)

          Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly because
          signals are audible for such short periods; while there are protocols one
          can use, they have not been very successful so far.

          SO FAR !!!

          I believe the statement is plainly just false.

          First, his reason "signals are audible for such short periods". IMHO it is
          because of this that contacts are possible! The older HSCW and now WSJT
          modes have made exchanging of contact information easy during these
          conditions.

          I agree that there is a reason that contacts are difficult, but it has
          nothing to do with audible pings of short periods.

          The next statement that yes there are protocols ""but"" they have not been
          very successful so far is just not true!

          If a person has difficulty making random contacts, I fail to see where
          "protocol" is the barrier. IMHO the protocol is what makes meteor scatter
          "Easy" not "Difficult". Try working HSMS with no set rules!

          If on a Saturday Morning Random Hour session I only work 5 random contacts,
          I fail to see where "Audible short periods" or "The Protocol" are true
          reason I didn't work more contacts.

          Just as a reminder, during the 2009 HSMS Contest, 9 stations worked Random
          Only Category and made a total of 194 Random Contacts.

          Now I will agree with Gene that Random Contacts are more difficult but not
          for the reasons he stated.

          The number one barrier for making random contacts is really simple. Few
          play. Only a few stations attempt to work random contacts with any
          consistency. Random contacts are often very fast but even during activity
          periods it can be difficult to find stations to work. The solution is more
          activity is needed on the call frequency attempting to make random contacts.

          Is it possible for an individual station to misuse the Standard Operating
          Procedures and adversely affect his completion rate. Absolutely! There is no
          excuse for this, the SOP is too well defined and published in too many
          places.

          Now I start medaling...

          The failure to comply with the established use of the call frequency can
          make random contacts more difficult. (Unless stations just ignore common
          sense and send untagged short hand messages which are not coded for any
          specific station, this is bad practice) Outside of activity periods like
          random hour, stations should use the off-set method of calling cq. (This is
          also the accepted method for ssb on 144.200 or 50.125 MHz) The use of
          single tones on shared frequency becomes a barrier to other stations and
          cast doubt to otherwise legitimate contacts. Yes, stations can use the
          appended messages however the best solution is to just call cq Up:Dn and
          complete contacts with the 3dB advantage of single tone sh hand messages.

          Consider this example: a stations calls CQ on the call frequency without
          offset. Station "X" answers 1400 miles away! More than likely this contact
          should be completed, even with appended messages however in almost every
          case, the contact time will be shortened very significantly on another
          frequency using single tones. This contact might take 60 minutes to
          complete.. on the call frequency ... is this good? No, being off the call
          frequency has many advantages.

          Another thing that can make "random contacts" more difficult is ... well
          calling cq on an oddball frequency. Imagine a station calling CQ on 50.240
          for long periods of time and then complaining that nobody answered him.
          (Even announced on PJ this practice limits success) Use the call frequency.

          I was only going to make a few comments... again, I believe the number one
          reason for Random Contacts being difficult is simple, few play.

          Note while typing this; just finished working K5DOG on 2M, copied his CQ at
          1403 utc, took 8 minutes to complete. It does pay to monitor the calling
          frequency. Earlier this morning worked KS7S in DN71od, he answered my cq on
          144.140 D7. In reality, random contacts are made daily by hsms operators.
          More on six meters than two but it happens & regardless of short duration
          signals and protocols.

          I have some data relating to random contacts to share.

          On six meters I have worked 881 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
          meteor scatter since March 2005. Of that 881 contacts, 116 unique calls.

          On two meters I have worked 349 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
          meteor scatter since January 2002. Of that 71 unique calls worked.

          My personal feeling is the main reason Random Contacts are difficult is ...
          Not enough players. Only the hsms community can fix this.

          I am not bashing Gene's comments, but I did feel like he was wrong. It is
          possible to be wrong, right? As one who loves making random hsms contacts,
          the only barrier for me working more unique calls is the limited players and
          I hate to see a myth that it is difficult. So, how many schedules that you
          have made could have started off with calling CQ or answering a call? I know
          there are good reasons to make schedules and I make plenty of them. This is
          not about random vs. schedule for me as both are usually easy via random
          meteors. I just don't like the perception that random contacts are more
          difficult. If you think they are, try this experiment.. . after your next
          schedule completion, ask the other station to listen for you on the hsms
          calling frequency and call you when he copies you. I will bet you work
          again!

          just my thought... probably not all right <grin>

          tip

        • aflowers@frontiernet.net
          Harry, group; I did the math several years ago for W2FU M/M during the September and January looking at the FSK441 score improvement. As I recall, we did
          Message 4 of 10 , May 12, 2010
            Harry, group;

            I did the math several years ago for W2FU M/M during the September and January looking at the FSK441 score improvement. As I recall, we did entirely random operation on 6m, lots of 2m getting people to QSY and maybe five or six 2m schedules, and one 222 Q from a QSY (we could work K0AWU on 222 any time so we just QSYed up from 6m--just the right geometry) and probably came out with 25-30 Q's, most of them multipliers. This was all between midnight and 6am. I think it ended up being something like 15% of the score if you take out the Q's, but I'd have to go back an look it up. The opportunity cost (what we could have worked if not using WSJT) for these was minimal for several reasons, which I'm happy to elaborate if anyone is interested. Certainly the opportunity cost is dependent upon local operator activity, etc. The only thing out at these hours were rovers that we could easily take time out to work. I would speculate that the score increase from WSJT has the potential to be higher for limited multis, and probably inversely proportional to the amount of VHF+ activity you have near you.

            I think maximizing contest points using WSJT is an information/software problem, not so much one that we need to throw more hardware at. In other words, I think many stations already have the technology to do this, but we haven't put it together in the right way yet. I like the idea of a wideband receiver for WSJT for contesting, kinda like a correlarry to the MAP65 software for JT65. Since you can open up many conventional radios to 10 or 12 KHz passband we should be able to build a software decoder that runs a wide passband (say, one decoder every KHz) without the need for a completely new radio. Heck, even a $20 softrock RX could do this part. If you have conventional radio with two VFOs, like on an FT-1000MP, thats 24 KHz of band that you can see at once (12 KHz each channel), and you don't have to buy anything new. Any modern off-the-shelf PC (the cheapest one you can buy new) should be able to crunch this much information in near real time (see CW skimmer).

            Another thing to consider: I don't see why FSK441 QSOs have to happen sequentially if there was a good way to address messages to particular stations in parallel. Since the timing of the meteor pings is different for stations separated by only tens of miles, it seems reasonable that you could work people in parallel if there were a good protocol for doing so. Whether this would require a fundamental change to the FSK441 code or just a bit of operating practice and user interface layered on top of the existing code would have to be worked out. There is a time savings available here of at least a couple orders of magnitude, I think. No waiting around.

            Anyway, I think these are some good problem to solve for those of you who play engineer, whether that's a day job or not.

            Cheers,
            Andy K0SM/2


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "wb3bel" <wb3bel@...>
            To: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:39:48 PM
            Subject: [wsjtgroup] Re: Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

             




            I read Gene's article in QST and think it is not exactly correct.

            Making random MS contacts using WSJT is not hard...

            But the context of his comments were, I believe, related to VHF contesting and postings on the contesting.com VHF reflector. From that perspective I think that his comment is true even if not precisely accurate. Making WSJT MS contacts has not so far significantly added to VHF contest scores. The contacts can be time consuming.

            Gene has a ton of experience with VHF contesting. He was a key member of the massively successful K8GP contest team from Spruce Knob WV and more recently from VA. I am not sure of all the details, but K8GP in its heyday did run WSJT at night on 6m and perhaps also on 2m. I think that some of his comments may be based on observations of the productivity of this mode at K8GP (My speculation). I think that the great location and station setup of K8GP meant that they could almost continuously find new stations to work via Tropo, Es, Au, Ionoscatter etc. A KW to stacked beams on an east coast mountaintop with operators on all bands 6 to 24 GHz means that their strategy to win was work everyone and try to work them on every band they had. Find them on 2 or 6 and move them to the microwaves where the points add up fast. They had tropo range exceeding 600 miles in a lot of cases.

            I don't think that anyone will win an ARRL Jan or Sep with WSJT ALONE. It might be a deciding factor to add grids but I am not really 100% convinced. I would not be surprised to see a station that uses MS win a close race, but it could easily be that a station working CW or SSB or JT65 could be more productive. I think a big EME station can work stations faster via the moon than via MS.

            When calling CQ on WSJT I think you have to keep the antenna pointed at a beam heading for a long time. Perhaps 10 mins or so within the antenna beamwidth. When calling CQ on CW or SSB you can almost continuously move the beam and this seems more productive. If more stations were on WSJT that would be less of a factor. This is more important on 2m than 6m obviously.

            Another factor to huge VHF superstations is that the calling frequency becomes congested. Their Tropo or Ionoscatter range is so huge that they can hear lots of stations direct. This can be avoided to a degree by operating U/D but this is very confusing to many MS operators who don't understand it. Even if you do understand it, its easy to make mistakes in the middle of the night. Turning off split, calculating the right frequency etc...It also makes the CQ message sequence longer which is somewhat counterproductive to short pings. It's not bad, it just seems like there might be a better way.

            I think a better technical solution to this problem is a wideband receiver like MAP65 but for MS. Stations can be decoded in perhaps 50 or 100 KHz spectrum bandwidth. If the decoder would switch modes between FSK441, JT65 etc automatically it might also be nice. You could call CQ and work both weak terrestrial as well as MS. Many ops can hear and switch back and forth between 441a and JT6m. But you might not hear the weak JT65 guys. It's usually way faster to work someone weak Tropo, or airplane scatter than via MS.

            I think that a superstation could build a multichannel RX that monitored for digital signals while in RX mode even if operating conventional modes and get some extra points. This is similar to operating SO2r although the rules regarding digital skimmer-like devices seem to divide the contesting community.

            I have run WSJT during CQWW VHF as a rover where the two band format may mean that WSJT MS could make a difference in the winner. All those contacts were random. I personally feel that it is not a productive contest strategy for rovers. At night I should get to another grid rather than spending hours to make a handful of QSOs. But I enjoy MS! So it's fun and I still do it even if its a bad strategy. It's a lot more fun to me than tearing down antennas and hitting the highway at 1 or 2 am. It would be a lot more fun if there were more stations active. Also the prime MS early morning hours are also the best Tropo conditions so you have to make a tradeoff.

            One good thing about MS operations during a contest is if you are just participating to have fun, you can activate a grid and be sure to work someone via SSB or CW even if the rocks are stinko. I have done this a few times as well. If you drive a few hundred miles to a grid you would like to work someone. This is really fun especially during the June contest. Work the Es until it quits and then play on MS. Maybe not a winning strategy. But its a fun maximizer...

            I agree that the calling frequency can support a lot of people calling CQ simultaneously. I think that it could support more than a hundred small stations geographically distributed. I'd like to see more people try. When I am in the shack I often have the RX on the call freq and WSJT running. Anyone can work randoms on 6m. On 2m and above, you need a better station and location to makes lots of random contacts.

            A random contact is in no way better than a scheduled one. But the element of surprise in decoding a mystery station does increase the fun factor for some operators. Also, not all the activity is on the PJ or cluster pages. If you don't look for randoms you will miss QSOs. For example I worked K2DRH random on 6m from the Somerset Rest Area on the PA turnpike on the FN00 FM09 boundary during a travel break. You never know who will turn up...
            73, Harry WB3BEL
          • Danny Pease
            Random contacts can be hard if you do not know what you are doing. ;-) NG9R From: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com [mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
            Message 5 of 10 , May 12, 2010

              Random contacts can be hard if you do not know what you are doing.   ;-)

               

              NG9R

               

               

              From: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com [mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of wb3bel
              Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 11:40 AM
              To: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [wsjtgroup] Re: Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

               

               

              I read Gene's article in QST and think it is not exactly correct.

              Making random MS contacts using WSJT is not hard...

              But the context of his comments were, I believe, related to VHF contesting and postings on the contesting.com VHF reflector. From that perspective I think that his comment is true even if not precisely accurate. Making WSJT MS contacts has not so far significantly added to VHF contest scores. The contacts can be time consuming.

              Gene has a ton of experience with VHF contesting. He was a key member of the massively successful K8GP contest team from Spruce Knob WV and more recently from VA. I am not sure of all the details, but K8GP in its heyday did run WSJT at night on 6m and perhaps also on 2m. I think that some of his comments may be based on observations of the productivity of this mode at K8GP (My speculation). I think that the great location and station setup of K8GP meant that they could almost continuously find new stations to work via Tropo, Es, Au, Ionoscatter etc. A KW to stacked beams on an east coast mountaintop with operators on all bands 6 to 24 GHz means that their strategy to win was work everyone and try to work them on every band they had. Find them on 2 or 6 and move them to the microwaves where the points add up fast. They had tropo range exceeding 600 miles in a lot of cases.

              I don't think that anyone will win an ARRL Jan or Sep with WSJT ALONE. It might be a deciding factor to add grids but I am not really 100% convinced. I would not be surprised to see a station that uses MS win a close race, but it could easily be that a station working CW or SSB or JT65 could be more productive. I think a big EME station can work stations faster via the moon than via MS.

              When calling CQ on WSJT I think you have to keep the antenna pointed at a beam heading for a long time. Perhaps 10 mins or so within the antenna beamwidth. When calling CQ on CW or SSB you can almost continuously move the beam and this seems more productive. If more stations were on WSJT that would be less of a factor. This is more important on 2m than 6m obviously.

              Another factor to huge VHF superstations is that the calling frequency becomes congested. Their Tropo or Ionoscatter range is so huge that they can hear lots of stations direct. This can be avoided to a degree by operating U/D but this is very confusing to many MS operators who don't understand it. Even if you do understand it, its easy to make mistakes in the middle of the night. Turning off split, calculating the right frequency etc...It also makes the CQ message sequence longer which is somewhat counterproductive to short pings. It's not bad, it just seems like there might be a better way.

              I think a better technical solution to this problem is a wideband receiver like MAP65 but for MS. Stations can be decoded in perhaps 50 or 100 KHz spectrum bandwidth. If the decoder would switch modes between FSK441, JT65 etc automatically it might also be nice. You could call CQ and work both weak terrestrial as well as MS. Many ops can hear and switch back and forth between 441a and JT6m. But you might not hear the weak JT65 guys. It's usually way faster to work someone weak Tropo, or airplane scatter than via MS.

              I think that a superstation could build a multichannel RX that monitored for digital signals while in RX mode even if operating conventional modes and get some extra points. This is similar to operating SO2r although the rules regarding digital skimmer-like devices seem to divide the contesting community.

              I have run WSJT during CQWW VHF as a rover where the two band format may mean that WSJT MS could make a difference in the winner. All those contacts were random. I personally feel that it is not a productive contest strategy for rovers. At night I should get to another grid rather than spending hours to make a handful of QSOs. But I enjoy MS! So it's fun and I still do it even if its a bad strategy. It's a lot more fun to me than tearing down antennas and hitting the highway at 1 or 2 am. It would be a lot more fun if there were more stations active. Also the prime MS early morning hours are also the best Tropo conditions so you have to make a tradeoff.

              One good thing about MS operations during a contest is if you are just participating to have fun, you can activate a grid and be sure to work someone via SSB or CW even if the rocks are stinko. I have done this a few times as well. If you drive a few hundred miles to a grid you would like to work someone. This is really fun especially during the June contest. Work the Es until it quits and then play on MS. Maybe not a winning strategy. But its a fun maximizer...

              I agree that the calling frequency can support a lot of people calling CQ simultaneously. I think that it could support more than a hundred small stations geographically distributed. I'd like to see more people try. When I am in the shack I often have the RX on the call freq and WSJT running. Anyone can work randoms on 6m. On 2m and above, you need a better station and location to makes lots of random contacts.

              A random contact is in no way better than a scheduled one. But the element of surprise in decoding a mystery station does increase the fun factor for some operators. Also, not all the activity is on the PJ or cluster pages. If you don't look for randoms you will miss QSOs. For example I worked K2DRH random on 6m from the Somerset Rest Area on the PA turnpike on the FN00 FM09 boundary during a travel break. You never know who will turn up...
              73, Harry WB3BEL

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            • Les Rayburn
              Al, Thanks for sharing the experience during K5N. I wondered if that was no announcement had been made about setting up HSMS skeds during the DL88 and 89
              Message 6 of 10 , May 12, 2010
                Al,
                 
                Thanks for sharing the experience during K5N. I wondered if that was no announcement had been made about setting up HSMS skeds during the DL88 and 89 effort.
                 
                I can see where "no shows" are a huge problem for grid-expeditions, especially if Internet access is not available. On the other hand, I can see where tools like Ping-Jockey are a major benefit if Internet is an option. You avoid the "no-shows" and don't waste time looking for stations who are not present.
                 
                I benefited from my schedule with K5N, and worked the station via JT65A mode. This contact literally would not have been possible otherwise, due to my indoor antennas. I never once heard a trace from K5N despite listening to hours and hours on the SSB frequency. I did hear the pile-up many times, and listened to some other locals work the expedition, but I never once could copy a signal from the operation.
                 
                Arecibo was a different story--I heard them on SSB, CW, and WSJT many times using a 13 element Yagi in my driveway. But with only 100 watts, there was no chance of them working me without WSJT. Granted, they were able to work a lot more stations by using SSB/CW, and I understand why they made choice.
                 
                I also understand why the K5N group group will rely on SSB/CW for the bulk of their effort. But I'm glad to see your team not only using WSJT, but making it a featured part of the operation. Let's face it, even in June, you could see the entire event pass without any E-Skip. I doubt that will be the case, but if it does, you can still work 100's of stations on WSJT, if operators are fluent in the mode.
                 
                I'd just love to see Gene become a bit more informed about the mode, before making more pronouncements from on high. VHF isn't the same in the rest of the country as it is in New England---and I wish some in Newington would get that point.
                 
                Some of the best op's I've ever known are very active on HSMS, and I'd love to see someone take a few months to get to know them before writing about us. I can't help but wonder how many ops have W3ZZ in their logs on one of the WSJT modes? I can't imagine it's a high number.
                 
                73,
                 
                Les Rayburn, N1LF
                 
                 
                 
                Les Rayburn, Director
                High Noon Film
                130 1st Avenue West
                Alabaster, AL  35007-8536
                205.621.7500
                205.621.7505 FAX
                205.253.4867 CELL
                http://www.highnoonfilm.com

                From: Al
                Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:16 PM
                Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

                Hi Tip, Marshall and Les:
                Here are my feelings about the 'hard' HSMS schedule. Bruce (N5SIX) and I had one during our K5N operations from EL58.
                Tip hit the nail on the head in his "my thoughts" paragraph.
                The no shows were a problem. Some had already worked us via SSB so didn't show up. Others maybe showed up, but had no rocks. For whatever reason, we would have 30+ minutes of nothing. Since we were on a published QRG, (being a gridpedition) my thoughts now would be to just call CQ on that frequency. Come one, come all!
                You will note that the HSMS operation from DL88 and 89 are on 50.150, not the calling frequency.
                There is one advantage: You know which way to point your antenna.
                 
                Of course his "a better plan" applies to individual stations, not a gridpedition. I don't have anything to contribute on that subject. That paragraph does bring up another thought: WHY would anyone include their grid in their CQ message (on HSMS)? If one uses standard messages, you will note that it is not there. Tip and others have tried to instill this SOP ever since I got into this HSMS aspect of ham radio.
                 
                Best 73,
                AL
                WA4EWV
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:51 AM
                Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

                 

                Marshall asked: "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers. 
                 
                I agree with your statement, and this should not be. We are missing a huge opportunity and I believe it is because there is not an agreement ie procedure for hsms during the annual arrl contests. It always helps to have a plan! How do we establish one?
                 
                My thoughts ...
                 
                First it is possible to have a ready-to-go listing of schedules. This takes time to create and confirm. Some schedules run overtime into other planned attempts, some don't show up, other are completed easily in first 5 minutes with long wait time before next scheduled attempt. Some stations are worked on ssb prior to schedule, that is good but now there is a hole in the schedule listing. The biggest problem with schedules are "no shows" and they tie a station down to a hard set plan. If you made 30 min attempts, that is only two contacts per hour! (Provided you made both...)
                 
                 
                A better plan ...
                ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ __
                 
                When the band is dead at your location:
                Attempt  HSMS Contacts Using the following procedures ...
                 
                1. Even UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on six meters or monitor the call frequency 50.260MHz.
                2. Odd UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on two meters or monitor the call frequency 144.140Mhz
                Note: Single band stations use both hours. Attempt to qsy easy contacts to another band including 220 MHz.
                Listen for stations who might "tailend" your contacts and always use your grid as reports. If a frequency is occupied
                use appended messages. (Do not include your Grid in your CQ since it might be confused as a "rpt".  If an attempt
                runs past the focus window time, continue your attempt. When someone has called you, don't give up too early. A good
                rule of thumb is; if you decoded his call the contact will be completed, just hang in there. From 45 minutes after the hour
                till the top of the hour, take a break or check the ssb call frequency for new initials.
                 
                ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________
                 
                This is my suggestion, will it work? The benefit of having all  NA HSMS operators on the same band
                at the same time should be a huge advantage. Maybe this procedure should be only during late night / early mornings?
                For any plan to work it needs buy-in. If someone asks you for a contest schedule, wouldn't it be nice to reply, I am going to
                operate using the NA HSMS Plan for ARRL contests. (What ever that plan is...)
                 
                I believe a HSMS operators could win the Jan or Sept contest using wsjt only if the hsms community followed a known plan. I see more
                benefit for the Jan and Sept contests than June.
                If only  those "who have operated Saturday or Sunday RH sessions in the past" played in the above proposal, the call frequency would
                be a very busy place!
                 
                Just my two cents ...
                 
                tip
                 
                 
                 

                 
                 
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:32 PM
                Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

                Hello All......I think Tip is basically right....very few people will get on WSJT MS for some reason.  I asked a month or so ago, "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers.  The K5N group is going to the rare grid of DL88....and we will use WSJT MS on 6M whenever the band is dead to Es(especially at night and early AM).  Hopefully, there will be plenty of guys wanting to work us....but maybe not.

                There are some who believe that a Random contact is somehow more valuable than a contact made via a schedule.  I just don't understand this point of view at all.  It makes NO sense to me.  Either you make a contact or you do not.  Master Yoda said, "Either do or don't do--there is no try."  If you do make a contact, you get to put it in the log, exchange QSL cards, count the contact for contest points, whatever.  If you do not make a contact, then you do not get to do any of these things.  Insisting on making random contacts does not make you more noble, more pure, more valuable.... .it just means that you make a lot less contacts!! 

                Gene is a pretty good friend of mine.  We have "cussed and discussed" these issues at length.  He leans toward the methods of operation favored by the HF contest operators(he denies it), but over time he has at least come to understand that there is another view.  We have agreed to disagree on some of these things.  Even though Gene and I disagree on some things, Gene is still definitely one of the good guys.

                We need to get more people interested in using WSJT for MS contacts, especially during the contests when there is a lot more activity than occurs otherwise.  The contests act sort of as a large activity week-end.  How can we improve our showing there???  I will be on in the contest in June, using WSJT on both 6M and 2M.  The K5QE contest station will be running WSJT hard at night and during the early AM hours, whenever the moon is not up.  We will be looking for all the WSJT contacts that we can make.....give us a call....

                73 Marshall K5QE

                Randy Tipton wrote:
                 

                In this months WA50Mz column, Gene has written the following statement.
                (June QST page 92)

                Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly because
                signals are audible for such short periods; while there are protocols one
                can use, they have not been very successful so far.

                SO FAR !!!

                I believe the statement is plainly just false.

                First, his reason "signals are audible for such short periods". IMHO it is
                because of this that contacts are possible! The older HSCW and now WSJT
                modes have made exchanging of contact information easy during these
                conditions.

                I agree that there is a reason that contacts are difficult, but it has
                nothing to do with audible pings of short periods.

                The next statement that yes there are protocols ""but"" they have not been
                very successful so far is just not true!

                If a person has difficulty making random contacts, I fail to see where
                "protocol" is the barrier. IMHO the protocol is what makes meteor scatter
                "Easy" not "Difficult". Try working HSMS with no set rules!

                If on a Saturday Morning Random Hour session I only work 5 random contacts,
                I fail to see where "Audible short periods" or "The Protocol" are true
                reason I didn't work more contacts.

                Just as a reminder, during the 2009 HSMS Contest, 9 stations worked Random
                Only Category and made a total of 194 Random Contacts.

                Now I will agree with Gene that Random Contacts are more difficult but not
                for the reasons he stated.

                The number one barrier for making random contacts is really simple. Few
                play. Only a few stations attempt to work random contacts with any
                consistency. Random contacts are often very fast but even during activity
                periods it can be difficult to find stations to work. The solution is more
                activity is needed on the call frequency attempting to make random contacts.

                Is it possible for an individual station to misuse the Standard Operating
                Procedures and adversely affect his completion rate. Absolutely! There is no
                excuse for this, the SOP is too well defined and published in too many
                places.

                Now I start medaling...

                The failure to comply with the established use of the call frequency can
                make random contacts more difficult. (Unless stations just ignore common
                sense and send untagged short hand messages which are not coded for any
                specific station, this is bad practice) Outside of activity periods like
                random hour, stations should use the off-set method of calling cq. (This is
                also the accepted method for ssb on 144.200 or 50.125 MHz) The use of
                single tones on shared frequency becomes a barrier to other stations and
                cast doubt to otherwise legitimate contacts. Yes, stations can use the
                appended messages however the best solution is to just call cq Up:Dn and
                complete contacts with the 3dB advantage of single tone sh hand messages.

                Consider this example: a stations calls CQ on the call frequency without
                offset. Station "X" answers 1400 miles away! More than likely this contact
                should be completed, even with appended messages however in almost every
                case, the contact time will be shortened very significantly on another
                frequency using single tones. This contact might take 60 minutes to
                complete.. on the call frequency ... is this good? No, being off the call
                frequency has many advantages.

                Another thing that can make "random contacts" more difficult is ... well
                calling cq on an oddball frequency. Imagine a station calling CQ on 50.240
                for long periods of time and then complaining that nobody answered him.
                (Even announced on PJ this practice limits success) Use the call frequency.

                I was only going to make a few comments... again, I believe the number one
                reason for Random Contacts being difficult is simple, few play.

                Note while typing this; just finished working K5DOG on 2M, copied his CQ at
                1403 utc, took 8 minutes to complete. It does pay to monitor the calling
                frequency. Earlier this morning worked KS7S in DN71od, he answered my cq on
                144.140 D7. In reality, random contacts are made daily by hsms operators.
                More on six meters than two but it happens & regardless of short duration
                signals and protocols.

                I have some data relating to random contacts to share.

                On six meters I have worked 881 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
                meteor scatter since March 2005. Of that 881 contacts, 116 unique calls.

                On two meters I have worked 349 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
                meteor scatter since January 2002. Of that 71 unique calls worked.

                My personal feeling is the main reason Random Contacts are difficult is ...
                Not enough players. Only the hsms community can fix this.

                I am not bashing Gene's comments, but I did feel like he was wrong. It is
                possible to be wrong, right? As one who loves making random hsms contacts,
                the only barrier for me working more unique calls is the limited players and
                I hate to see a myth that it is difficult. So, how many schedules that you
                have made could have started off with calling CQ or answering a call? I know
                there are good reasons to make schedules and I make plenty of them. This is
                not about random vs. schedule for me as both are usually easy via random
                meteors. I just don't like the perception that random contacts are more
                difficult. If you think they are, try this experiment.. . after your next
                schedule completion, ask the other station to listen for you on the hsms
                calling frequency and call you when he copies you. I will bet you work
                again!

                just my thought... probably not all right <grin>

                tip



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              • Al
                Hello again Les, Marshall and Tip... this time including Norm, N6JV Let there be no confusion. I was part of the K5N group at EL58. I am not a part of the
                Message 7 of 10 , May 12, 2010
                  Hello again Les, Marshall and Tip... this time including Norm, N6JV
                  Let there be no confusion. I was part of the K5N group at EL58. I am not a part of the group going to DL88 and 89.
                  I do not know if the lack of an announcement soliciting schedules for HSMS was because of the desire not to have a hard schedule or for some other reason. I do know that they are going to have to be careful with power management. I don't know how long they are going to have to let their car engines idle to charge the battery bank. All night? I do know that when I was doing a lot of HF work from my 26 foot boat in the Bahamas, I installed a 100 amp alternator to replace the dinky little one that came with the engine!
                   
                  Good luck to the group going, and good luck to all in catching these two rare ones.
                  AL
                  WA4EWV
                   
                   
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 1:28 PM
                  Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

                   

                  Al,
                   
                  Thanks for sharing the experience during K5N. I wondered if that was no announcement had been made about setting up HSMS skeds during the DL88 and 89 effort.
                   
                  I can see where "no shows" are a huge problem for grid-expeditions, especially if Internet access is not available. On the other hand, I can see where tools like Ping-Jockey are a major benefit if Internet is an option. You avoid the "no-shows" and don't waste time looking for stations who are not present.
                   
                  I benefited from my schedule with K5N, and worked the station via JT65A mode. This contact literally would not have been possible otherwise, due to my indoor antennas. I never once heard a trace from K5N despite listening to hours and hours on the SSB frequency. I did hear the pile-up many times, and listened to some other locals work the expedition, but I never once could copy a signal from the operation.
                   
                  Arecibo was a different story--I heard them on SSB, CW, and WSJT many times using a 13 element Yagi in my driveway. But with only 100 watts, there was no chance of them working me without WSJT. Granted, they were able to work a lot more stations by using SSB/CW, and I understand why they made choice.
                   
                  I also understand why the K5N group group will rely on SSB/CW for the bulk of their effort. But I'm glad to see your team not only using WSJT, but making it a featured part of the operation. Let's face it, even in June, you could see the entire event pass without any E-Skip. I doubt that will be the case, but if it does, you can still work 100's of stations on WSJT, if operators are fluent in the mode.
                   
                  I'd just love to see Gene become a bit more informed about the mode, before making more pronouncements from on high. VHF isn't the same in the rest of the country as it is in New England---and I wish some in Newington would get that point.
                   
                  Some of the best op's I've ever known are very active on HSMS, and I'd love to see someone take a few months to get to know them before writing about us. I can't help but wonder how many ops have W3ZZ in their logs on one of the WSJT modes? I can't imagine it's a high number.
                   
                  73,
                   
                  Les Rayburn, N1LF
                   
                   
                   
                  Les Rayburn, Director
                  High Noon Film
                  130 1st Avenue West
                  Alabaster, AL  35007-8536
                  205.621.7500
                  205.621.7505 FAX
                  205.253.4867 CELL
                  http://www.highnoon film.com

                  From: Al
                  Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:16 PM
                  Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

                  Hi Tip, Marshall and Les:
                  Here are my feelings about the 'hard' HSMS schedule. Bruce (N5SIX) and I had one during our K5N operations from EL58.
                  Tip hit the nail on the head in his "my thoughts" paragraph.
                  The no shows were a problem. Some had already worked us via SSB so didn't show up. Others maybe showed up, but had no rocks. For whatever reason, we would have 30+ minutes of nothing. Since we were on a published QRG, (being a gridpedition) my thoughts now would be to just call CQ on that frequency. Come one, come all!
                  You will note that the HSMS operation from DL88 and 89 are on 50.150, not the calling frequency.
                  There is one advantage: You know which way to point your antenna.
                   
                  Of course his "a better plan" applies to individual stations, not a gridpedition. I don't have anything to contribute on that subject. That paragraph does bring up another thought: WHY would anyone include their grid in their CQ message (on HSMS)? If one uses standard messages, you will note that it is not there. Tip and others have tried to instill this SOP ever since I got into this HSMS aspect of ham radio.
                   
                  Best 73,
                  AL
                  WA4EWV
                   
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:51 AM
                  Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

                   

                  Marshall asked: "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers. 
                   
                  I agree with your statement, and this should not be. We are missing a huge opportunity and I believe it is because there is not an agreement ie procedure for hsms during the annual arrl contests. It always helps to have a plan! How do we establish one?
                   
                  My thoughts ...
                   
                  First it is possible to have a ready-to-go listing of schedules. This takes time to create and confirm. Some schedules run overtime into other planned attempts, some don't show up, other are completed easily in first 5 minutes with long wait time before next scheduled attempt. Some stations are worked on ssb prior to schedule, that is good but now there is a hole in the schedule listing. The biggest problem with schedules are "no shows" and they tie a station down to a hard set plan. If you made 30 min attempts, that is only two contacts per hour! (Provided you made both...)
                   
                   
                  A better plan ...
                  ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ __
                   
                  When the band is dead at your location:
                  Attempt  HSMS Contacts Using the following procedures ...
                   
                  1. Even UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on six meters or monitor the call frequency 50.260MHz.
                  2. Odd UTC hours - first 45 minutes call CQ using offset method on two meters or monitor the call frequency 144.140Mhz
                  Note: Single band stations use both hours. Attempt to qsy easy contacts to another band including 220 MHz.
                  Listen for stations who might "tailend" your contacts and always use your grid as reports. If a frequency is occupied
                  use appended messages. (Do not include your Grid in your CQ since it might be confused as a "rpt".  If an attempt
                  runs past the focus window time, continue your attempt. When someone has called you, don't give up too early. A good
                  rule of thumb is; if you decoded his call the contact will be completed, just hang in there. From 45 minutes after the hour
                  till the top of the hour, take a break or check the ssb call frequency for new initials.
                   
                  ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________
                   
                  This is my suggestion, will it work? The benefit of having all  NA HSMS operators on the same band
                  at the same time should be a huge advantage. Maybe this procedure should be only during late night / early mornings?
                  For any plan to work it needs buy-in. If someone asks you for a contest schedule, wouldn't it be nice to reply, I am going to
                  operate using the NA HSMS Plan for ARRL contests. (What ever that plan is...)
                   
                  I believe a HSMS operators could win the Jan or Sept contest using wsjt only if the hsms community followed a known plan. I see more
                  benefit for the Jan and Sept contests than June.
                  If only  those "who have operated Saturday or Sunday RH sessions in the past" played in the above proposal, the call frequency would
                  be a very busy place!
                   
                  Just my two cents ...
                   
                  tip
                   
                   
                   

                   
                   
                   
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:32 PM
                  Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly

                  Hello All......I think Tip is basically right....very few people will get on WSJT MS for some reason.  I asked a month or so ago, "Why is there not more activity during the contest periods when WSJT would result in a lot of extra 'rare' grids?"  There was little response to this question and NO answers.  The K5N group is going to the rare grid of DL88....and we will use WSJT MS on 6M whenever the band is dead to Es(especially at night and early AM).  Hopefully, there will be plenty of guys wanting to work us....but maybe not.

                  There are some who believe that a Random contact is somehow more valuable than a contact made via a schedule.  I just don't understand this point of view at all.  It makes NO sense to me.  Either you make a contact or you do not.  Master Yoda said, "Either do or don't do--there is no try."  If you do make a contact, you get to put it in the log, exchange QSL cards, count the contact for contest points, whatever.  If you do not make a contact, then you do not get to do any of these things.  Insisting on making random contacts does not make you more noble, more pure, more valuable.... .it just means that you make a lot less contacts!! 

                  Gene is a pretty good friend of mine.  We have "cussed and discussed" these issues at length.  He leans toward the methods of operation favored by the HF contest operators(he denies it), but over time he has at least come to understand that there is another view.  We have agreed to disagree on some of these things.  Even though Gene and I disagree on some things, Gene is still definitely one of the good guys.

                  We need to get more people interested in using WSJT for MS contacts, especially during the contests when there is a lot more activity than occurs otherwise.  The contests act sort of as a large activity week-end.  How can we improve our showing there???  I will be on in the contest in June, using WSJT on both 6M and 2M.  The K5QE contest station will be running WSJT hard at night and during the early AM hours, whenever the moon is not up.  We will be looking for all the WSJT contacts that we can make.....give us a call....

                  73 Marshall K5QE

                  Randy Tipton wrote:
                   

                  In this months WA50Mz column, Gene has written the following statement.
                  (June QST page 92)

                  Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly because
                  signals are audible for such short periods; while there are protocols one
                  can use, they have not been very successful so far.

                  SO FAR !!!

                  I believe the statement is plainly just false.

                  First, his reason "signals are audible for such short periods". IMHO it is
                  because of this that contacts are possible! The older HSCW and now WSJT
                  modes have made exchanging of contact information easy during these
                  conditions.

                  I agree that there is a reason that contacts are difficult, but it has
                  nothing to do with audible pings of short periods.

                  The next statement that yes there are protocols ""but"" they have not been
                  very successful so far is just not true!

                  If a person has difficulty making random contacts, I fail to see where
                  "protocol" is the barrier. IMHO the protocol is what makes meteor scatter
                  "Easy" not "Difficult". Try working HSMS with no set rules!

                  If on a Saturday Morning Random Hour session I only work 5 random contacts,
                  I fail to see where "Audible short periods" or "The Protocol" are true
                  reason I didn't work more contacts.

                  Just as a reminder, during the 2009 HSMS Contest, 9 stations worked Random
                  Only Category and made a total of 194 Random Contacts.

                  Now I will agree with Gene that Random Contacts are more difficult but not
                  for the reasons he stated.

                  The number one barrier for making random contacts is really simple. Few
                  play. Only a few stations attempt to work random contacts with any
                  consistency. Random contacts are often very fast but even during activity
                  periods it can be difficult to find stations to work. The solution is more
                  activity is needed on the call frequency attempting to make random contacts.

                  Is it possible for an individual station to misuse the Standard Operating
                  Procedures and adversely affect his completion rate. Absolutely! There is no
                  excuse for this, the SOP is too well defined and published in too many
                  places.

                  Now I start medaling...

                  The failure to comply with the established use of the call frequency can
                  make random contacts more difficult. (Unless stations just ignore common
                  sense and send untagged short hand messages which are not coded for any
                  specific station, this is bad practice) Outside of activity periods like
                  random hour, stations should use the off-set method of calling cq. (This is
                  also the accepted method for ssb on 144.200 or 50.125 MHz) The use of
                  single tones on shared frequency becomes a barrier to other stations and
                  cast doubt to otherwise legitimate contacts. Yes, stations can use the
                  appended messages however the best solution is to just call cq Up:Dn and
                  complete contacts with the 3dB advantage of single tone sh hand messages.

                  Consider this example: a stations calls CQ on the call frequency without
                  offset. Station "X" answers 1400 miles away! More than likely this contact
                  should be completed, even with appended messages however in almost every
                  case, the contact time will be shortened very significantly on another
                  frequency using single tones. This contact might take 60 minutes to
                  complete.. on the call frequency ... is this good? No, being off the call
                  frequency has many advantages.

                  Another thing that can make "random contacts" more difficult is ... well
                  calling cq on an oddball frequency. Imagine a station calling CQ on 50.240
                  for long periods of time and then complaining that nobody answered him.
                  (Even announced on PJ this practice limits success) Use the call frequency.

                  I was only going to make a few comments... again, I believe the number one
                  reason for Random Contacts being difficult is simple, few play.

                  Note while typing this; just finished working K5DOG on 2M, copied his CQ at
                  1403 utc, took 8 minutes to complete. It does pay to monitor the calling
                  frequency. Earlier this morning worked KS7S in DN71od, he answered my cq on
                  144.140 D7. In reality, random contacts are made daily by hsms operators.
                  More on six meters than two but it happens & regardless of short duration
                  signals and protocols.

                  I have some data relating to random contacts to share.

                  On six meters I have worked 881 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
                  meteor scatter since March 2005. Of that 881 contacts, 116 unique calls.

                  On two meters I have worked 349 Random Contacts using WSJT propagation mode
                  meteor scatter since January 2002. Of that 71 unique calls worked.

                  My personal feeling is the main reason Random Contacts are difficult is ...
                  Not enough players. Only the hsms community can fix this.

                  I am not bashing Gene's comments, but I did feel like he was wrong. It is
                  possible to be wrong, right? As one who loves making random hsms contacts,
                  the only barrier for me working more unique calls is the limited players and
                  I hate to see a myth that it is difficult. So, how many schedules that you
                  have made could have started off with calling CQ or answering a call? I know
                  there are good reasons to make schedules and I make plenty of them. This is
                  not about random vs. schedule for me as both are usually easy via random
                  meteors. I just don't like the perception that random contacts are more
                  difficult. If you think they are, try this experiment.. . after your next
                  schedule completion, ask the other station to listen for you on the hsms
                  calling frequency and call you when he copies you. I will bet you work
                  again!

                  just my thought... probably not all right <grin>

                  tip



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