I still receive emails from Dick, KB1H, about the goings-on in his contest group, despite not having operated at his station for many years. One of the things they have had difficulties with is other stations miscopying their call sign (such as “K6JH”). In trying to make it easier to copy, it was suggested that they vary the speed and spacing at which individual characters in their call are sent. This may be obvious to some of you but I thought I would mention it. I know other stations do this, as I have heard them during contests.
By breaking up a call into more easily discernible parts, you should increase intelligibility and therefore decrease fills and NILs (Not-In-Log) . For example I know on CW, Matt, WE1H gets his call miscopied as “VE1H” quite a bit. Unlike many character errors (as in confusing a “B” and a “6” and a “1” and a “J” as in KB1H’s case), Matt’s problem obviously doesn’t arise from any similarity between the “W” and the “V” but due to the uniqueness of his prefix’s similarity to the “VE” prefix. In other words, operators may be copying his “W” correctly but then mentally altering the prefix once they hear the “E” to make it fit with a much more prevalent (and therefore probable) “VE” prefix. He might benefit from separating the “W” from the rest of his call by either sending it at a slightly slower speed (~2-4 WPM) than the rest, and/or by slightly increasing the spacing between the “W” and the “E” to make it stand out more. He may already be doing this, but I thought it would make a good example. Maybe he has some input he can give.
I even have to do this on SSB. Many people get confused by the “NG” and the “1G”, and try to make sense out of it by concocting call signs like “November One Golf Something…” or “November Golf Golf”. This happens even in good or excellent conditions, so I know it’s a recognition issue. So what I do is say my call sign like this: “November Golf <slight pause> ONE Golf”, making sure I emphasize the “ONE” after the pause. I have found that it really helps others understand my call better. It not only separates my call into two distinct phrases but by emphasizing the “ONE” and placing it with the suffix I think it makes the second “Golf” easier to understand. Of course on CW you can’t emphasize a character in the same way, but by altering speed or spacing you can make a character or groups of characters stand out more, producing the same effect and making it easier to copy correctly.
During the CW Sweepstakes I used this method to help with my exchange. I don’t think Writelog provides a way to use variable sending speed within a stored message, so what I did was simply add spaces between parts of the exchange to make them stand out. I could control the overall sending speed, which I did according to receiving operator or conditions, but I think the variable spacing also helped, even at higher speeds. I didn’t get asked for a lot of fills, but I also have no frame of reference since this was my first CW SS. Perhaps my LCR (Log Checking Report) will shed light on my success or lack of it.
It”s one thing to hear someone copy your call incorrectly during the QSO, but it’s another to see how they actually logged it. Even if you correct them and they repeat it back correctly you still don’t know what their brain (or hands) did to your call. The UBN (Unique, Bad, NIL) report and LCR are invaluable tools in post-contest assessment for determining if this is happening to you, and the effects of making your call and exchange as easy as possible to copy should be reflected in those reports. Has anyone else adopted this method?