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

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  • 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 1 of 10 , May 12, 2010
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      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 2 of 10 , May 12, 2010
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        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 3 of 10 , May 12, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          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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