I’ve been hanging around the Sked Page enough lately to see some regulars from time to time, and I’ve even made a few e-mail pals in helping a few folks get their SC QSOs. I typically hang around the Logbook of the World section unless I’m checking into the NATA net.
When I first started using the Sked Page, I mainly tried to stick to digital mode QSOs, specifically, I would hang around the JT frequencies because that seemed to be the mode of choice: QSOs take place without much human interaction (macros), and lower levels of power and compromised antenna situations still yield decent results.
But lately, I’ve tried to avoid the JT modes in favor of CW. First of all, the contacts are a hell of a lot more direct and take less time. It’s far easier to say “meet me at 7.043 CW” then actually go and pound out a quick QSO at that exact frequency. “UR 5NN IN SC DE KK4DSD 73” and it’s done.
Occasionally, I even get in a nice “rubber-stamp” QSO, as I did a few nights ago when K9AAN assisted me in grabbing Kentucky on 40 meters.
I’ve found CW to be extremely reliable too. Only weird late-night efforts on the daylight bands (such as 12 meters), have been problematic. I rarely need to run at the full 100 watts
The JT modes are straightforward enough, but the direction is always something like “I’m at 14.078.5, calling odd, -500” … then by the time I tune over, lower my rig power, adjust my drive and receive audio, sync my clock, wait 1-2 minutes for an even/odd cycle, check the location of the specified offset, navigate/filter around the lids running too much power/ALC splatter, etc. then not even hear the guy I’m trying to communicate with for whatever reason, I can’t help but feel like a CW contact would have been “one and done.”
Of course, if your goal is to complete a digital mode QSO (And yes, I still need North Dakota…) then JT modes are still a nice way to accomplish it, particularly if the less-used and technically superior JT9 mode is used (less bandwidth, more sensitivity, same method as JT65, minus the “ice cream truck of the apocalypse” tones).
Be careful what you ask for…
I ventured over to the SKCC board on the Sked Page last night. I forgot so many guys hang out there, and all of them are CW ops. I joined SKCC last year and haven’t really done a lot with it, outside a few random contacts and a sprint.
To make a long story short, there were several states I needed, so I posted a public message to one of them, and stated the specific frequency I was monitoring on 40 meters.
I first grabbed N5OBC out of Oklahoma with considerable difficulty, as his signal was very light. I was about to shut down the rig when another station, W1UL, called me using considerable power. I made out his call and noticed he was hanging out on the SKCC board. I completed that QSO. Then another station called me! It took me a few tries, but I got N4OW’s call nailed down and in the log. After issuing my final SK, yet ANOTHER station called me; KB1UOH was running /QRP and I had to send bits of his call with some ??s before I could eventually make it out. His signal was clear enough, but my brain wasn’t cooperating. I got him in the log though, just before waves of QSB made conditions difficult.
About that time my pal Gary, N5PHT out of Texas, started pinging me with private messages on the Sked Page wanting to try a 30m QSO. That was a good enough excuse to get off 40 meters, as my mini “pile-up” had left me somewhat unhinged. I ended up completing the QSO with Gary and breathed a sigh of relief then headed to dinner.
All in all, an exciting evening, made nicer by the fact that all the guys were patient and gentlemanly — plus, I got some crucial practice and added a few new ones to the log, bringing me only 14 QSOs away from my WAS Triple Play goal.