I joined SKCC last year as a way to improve my CW skills via their e-mail reflector and the monthly sprints they host. I’ve only made a few SKCC contacts since then, but they have all been memorable.
A few months back I was hanging around the SKCC board on the Sked Page trying to pin down a few states I needed for the Triple Play, and I worked a few of the gentlemen using my straight key. A few days later I received an e-mail from Ed, KG4W, who encouraged me to participate in some of the SKCC sprints, because South Carolina isn’t a state often heard during SKCC activity.
He was kind enough to suggest a “rubber stamp” format to make the exchange easier to deal with, but he also clued me in on a very nice logging program developed for SKCC, called SKCCLogger, that queries the SKCC database to extract the name, location and SKCC number automatically as the QSO is being logged. This is not unlike the QRZ function on something like Ham Radio Deluxe, but the added benefit here is that it pulls the SKCC number, which is likely the trickiest portion of the exchange.
So I installed AC2C’s SKCCLogger (SKCCLogger direct download), allowed it to download data files from SKCC, and took a look around. My first thought was “Wow, this is a nice logging program,” not just for SKCC, but for any general logging. I set up the ports for my radio in the configuration and it pulled the frequency from my radio without any issues.
Since I can’t remember my own SKCC number most of the time, I was happy to see my number in the top of the logging window as a constant reminder. Typing in a callsign, the remote station’s name, location and SKCC number appeared instantly in the logging fields, and the logger checks for dupes. One tap of the enter key and the QSO is logged, and ready for the next QSO, quickly, as in N1MM style.
This program should make search and pounce sprinting a piece of cake!
So what about the exchange and format of the SKCC sprint QSO itself? Well, Ed gave me some good advice (which consequently, is good advice for any CW contest or even a rubber stamp QSO:
- Wait for the remote station to call CQ, an example for SKCC would be “CQ WES DE KG4W” – WES is short for “Weekend Sprintathon”
- Toss out your callsign, “KK4DSD KK4DSD”
- Provided I get heard, the remote station should come back with my call, or at least a partial. I know from experience, people often send “DSD?” because my call is rather long, that’s the last part they catch. When a station comes back with my partial, I simply send my whole call again, once or twice.
- Listen for the exchange: So assuming I’m working Ed, KG4W, he’d send something like “KK4DSD UR 5NN VA ED NR 2416S DE KG4W BK” — BUT, the SKCCLogger program has already given me all that info, so I COULD be daydreaming about sipping a cold beverage on the island of Ibiza while I work QRP DX from the shore, and I’d still have Ed’s info correct.
- Then it becomes my duty to send my exchange, which would be something along these lines: “RR UR 5NN SC ANDY NR 10768 DE KK4DSD BK”
- I’d confirm his final “TU dit-dit,” log the QSO, and spin the dial in search of another.
One power tip: Be sure to update your information on SKCC’s site to ensure your name/state is correct. When I signed up on SKCC, I used “Andrew” as my first name. On the air, I always use the name “Andy” as it’s shorter to send in code. So I went to the SKCC site and had them update my name to the shorter version. A few hours later, I re-downloaded the SKCC data in the logger and my handle was properly updated in the database.