Monday, 19 February 2018
ARRL DX CW 2018 GM5A (some notes)
I'm just back from doing the above contest. Using a K1EL winkey within the Microham DigikeyerII and Win-test contest logging software. I had the following problems: 1) When setting the Microham software to provide PTT with lead (20ms, to protect hot-switching amp) and constant tail (10ms, minimum allowable setting) I discovered that Win-Test drops the PTT on spaces when sending predetermined cw messages, even though it knows it hasn't sent the complete message. To counter this without lengthening the standard PTT tail, you need to replace spaces with several ^ characters (the halfspace character with 1/2 dot duration). 2) My laptop computer (Dell D630 single processor 2.4GHz processor speed) running cw skimmer, microham router software and Win-Test caused variable cw timing, pauses, burps and stalls when too many Win-Test windows were open (such as instant rate monitor, world map, statistics and other non-essential windows). This is puzzling as the K1EL is meant to be there to offload timing from the processor precisely to get rid of these timing problems. 3) CW sending speed would range every so often between the correct speed and about double that requested, normally at the "tu GM5A" end part of the exchange. 4) The winkey was set up to have independent speed control (alt-v for Win-Test messages and speed control on Microham for hand sent morse). In most cases the two speeds were the same, even when set differently!. A few taps of the escape key would return the hand sent speed to that suggested. 5) When joining a message with hand sent morse, there was always a stall, I think you have to tap the key then start sending with the key. All in all the net performance was far short of the required performance. Everyone hated whatever was causing all these faults, determining which part of the setup is responsible is difficult. The team recon that returning to a simple serial port transistor switched PTT and CW sending method would cure most problems. I am disappointed with the Microham and K1EL keyer for making such a bad job of a simple task!