While Dave M0TAZ and John M0UKD were out portable with the 1.8 MHz Contest, I turned my hand at the CQWW WPX RTTY Contest, a yearly radio-teletype contest held on the second full weekend of February.
Sat in my comfortable shack, in the warm, I used my desktop computer running Fldigi 3.22.04 and my Icom IC-7100 at 100W into a doublet at about 15 metres, operating search-and-pounce. I read the rules to understand what was involved in the exchange – callsign and serial number.
Of course you can use any software for RTTY, my preference just happens to be Fldigi. I set up a few macros and put the software into contest mode. It’s worth spending the time to get the macros correct, since it saves you a lot of time (and panic) when you’re working. Based on the rules linked above,I had 4 buttons configured:
- CALL: “M1GEO M1GEO M1GEO”
- RPT: “XY0ABC 599 001 001 001 TU M1GEO”
- AGN: “AGN? AGN? AGN?”
- LOG – which didn’t send anything but increments the contest counter (001) and saves the QSO.
Off air, I played with those and tweaked them a little. If conditions are good, send less, if conditions are poor, send more. There is probably room for another button or so should you feel, but during the contest, for better or worse, they’re not interested in your power, when you were born, and what version of the software your running – just the your callsign and the incremental serial number (signal report is always 599).
The basic QSO is very fast, and goes something like this:
“CQ WPX TEST XY0ABC XY0ABC CQ” – this is called over and over again, automatically.
“M1GEO M1GEO M1GEO” – I answer with my first button.
“M1GEO 599 757 757 757 M1GEO” – they answer with report (599) and serial (757).
“XY0ABC 599 003 003 003 TU M1GEO” – I reply with their report (599) and serial (003).
“M1GEO TU QRZ? XY0ABC CQ” – They move on to the next person.
The whole contact takes less than a minute. Again, you may see them asking for you to repeat in which case you just send the report again – or you way want to ask them for a repeat (using your AGN macro). Clearly, once you’re happy, you log the QSO and increment the serial counter. Easy!
I started at the bottom end of 40 metres and quickly tuned through the band until I heard my first RTTY signal; RW0A. I always find the first few QSOs a bit scary – after psyching myself up, I checked the antenna was tuned, and hit the CALL button, sending my callsign. I got a response immediately, and I was away. It went flawlessly.