Two Radio Contesting Tutorial
This is an explanation of the intended way to use
TR LOG with two radios in
the ARRL November Sweepestakes, CW. The concepts and techniques presented
here can work for you in other contests, as most of the ideas are the same.
It is assumed that you have interfaced your computer to two radios. This is
done with a separate port for each radio. You can use any combination of
parallel or serial ports to do this. You can use the same serial port
for radio control via RS-232 as you use for keying that radio.
You also need to be able to listen to both rigs at the same time. This
may take some practice to get used to. You might start with one speaker
on the left of you and the other on the rig. You can do the same thing
with headphones (I use a mixer so I can put either rig most anywhere.)
Set your radios up so that you don't hear your own CW sidetone, but if you can
turn it on quickly when necessary (i.e. for sending manually with the paddles,)
that would be good.
It is also assumed that you have read the section of the
TR LOG Manual on using two radios.
Now, let us talk about the CW Sweepstakes contest.
The CW Sweepstakes is interesting to the two radio operator, because there is
a lot of free time available to be searching with a second rig. Typically
on the second day, your code speed will be under 30 WPM, and even a CQ
allows enough time to find one or two stations and see if you have worked
them. The exchange is long enough to find two or maybe even three stations!!
TR LOG has some simple steps
to follow to easily integrate S&P (Search and Pounce) QSOs made on the
second rig into your normal operation of running with the first rig.
Step 1: Alt-D. Alt-D opens up a window to let you enter a call and find
out if it is a dupe or not. You type Alt-D, enter the call and press
RETURN. You can do this while you are CQing or sending an exchange.
If the call is a dupe, the computer will tell you so, and everything
returns to the state it was at before you executed the Alt-D command.
If the call isn't a dupe, it will appear in a small window up in the
right hand corner of the screen. It will also tell you to press the
space bar to work this station.
Now, you are waiting for a good opportunity to call this station. The
perfect time is when you both have just finished a CQ and nobody is
calling you. Pressing the space bar with an empty call window will
call the guy on the second radio, and then start a CQ back up on the
run radio. If you need to call the guy again, press F1. His callsign
will be in the call window and the cursor will be in the exchange
window. If he comes back to someone else, simply press ESCAPE and
you are ready to answer someone coming back to your CQ.
So, now the guy has answered you. Any CW you will generate will interrupt
the CQ on your run radio (if it hasn't finished already.) You have
two choices on sending your exchange: F2 or RETURN. F2 will send
your exchange and nothing else. RETURN will send the exchange, log the
contact, and start a CQ on your run radio when the exchange is complete.
Using F2 gives you the chance to send fills if the guy missed something.
This is harder to do if you press RETURN. I mostly press RETURN when
I feel there is a good chance the other operator won't ask for any fills (i.e.
one of the big guns.) If you use F2, a CQ won't be sent on the run
radio until you log the contact with RETURN. If for some reason you
need to abort the QSO, use the ESCAPE button.
The integration of the band map into this process promises to be a
powerful combination. The band map will help you identify stations
very quickly. When you tune within 200 hz of a band mapped station,
his call will blink and the exchange (precedence, check, and section) will
be shown. If the check and section match, you don't need to listen
for the callsign. When using two radios, the band map should stay
on the band you did your last band map entry on (i.e. the second radio.)
There are other two radio features you may find helpful. There is
the alternating CQ function that will take the CQ in Alt-F1 and
bounce back and forth between the two rigs calling the CQ. When you
answer a station, the proper radio should be used and the proper band
will show up in the log. This is a great way to occupy two frequencies
at once (not that I would ever do that in a contest.) It is also
a great way to check out a potential new frequency on a new band to
see if you are in a good spot. This can eliminate "dead time" when
making band changes. If you are S&Ping with the second radio, find
a clear spot, you can try some CQs, and if it feels right, make that your
run frequency and you have now changed bands without any overhead.
It is also possible to CQ on a second band while receiving an exchange
on your run band. This might be useful on the east coast to maintain
a presence on 40 meters during the daytime. The Control-A CW character
can be used to send a CW message on the inactive radio. Any CW sent
with this command will be terminated if something needs to be sent on
the active radio (i.e. a QSL message or whatever.) This command can also
be used for checking out a potential new CQ frequency on a different band.
Well, there you have it. I hope you will find this procedure useful.
It is my goal to make TR LOG the
leader in two radio operation on CW. If you have any suggestions on
enhancements or other questions, please do not hesitate to post them on the
TR LOG reflector.
Tell a friend and see you in the SS!
Tree Tyree N6TR