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

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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 1 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.
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 1:28 PM
      Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Digital meteor scatter contacts are very difficult to do randomly


      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.
      Les Rayburn, N1LF
      Les Rayburn, Director
      High Noon Film
      130 1st Avenue West
      Alabaster, AL  35007-8536
      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,
      ----- 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 ...

      ----- 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

      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

      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

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


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