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2 Radio Contesting

from Larry Tyree, N6TR
Website: on November 10, 2000
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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 portfor 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 Screen Shot
A typical TR LOG display during the Sweepstakes

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. For more articles and tips on two-radio contesting, visit the TR LOG web site.

Tell a friend and see you in the SS!

Tree Tyree N6TR
[email protected]

Member Comments: Add A Comment
2 Radio Contesting Reply
by N4ZR on November 10, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Now if I could only figure out a way to operate SO2B (2 brains!).
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