On Air Etiquette

During the Ontario QSO Party this weekend I was working a friend, Mike, VA3MW, on 40 meter phone. (That’s Mike likely on one of the towers of the VA3SK contest station just outside of North Bay, Ontario.)

I was running my FlexRadio 1500 into the Explorer beam with the 40-meter extensions at 5 watts. Mike was running a 100 watts with his FlexRadio 3000 from a community north of Toronto which is about 15 miles north of me. We’d been talking for a minute or so when a third station broke in to say we were 6 kHz wide.

When we asked the guy where he was and what he was running, I think he thought we were challenging his report and he got a little huffy. It was at that moment we asked him to identify so we could continue the QSO in a legal manner and figure out what was happening. That was when he disappeared.

That’s a real shame on two counts. One is breaking into a QSO without identifying is both illegal and just not gentleman-like. Two, I’d really like to know if I talking with a guy who’s running a IC-706 with the noise blanker and preamp on (which can create all kind of crud in the receiver) or was he running something current and maybe the issue was with my station or maybe I was okay and it was Mike who had problems.

My guess is our friend was a couple of hundred miles south of me, so with me running under five watts I’d loved to have the opportunity to figure out what was happening at his end of the QSO.

Mike and I had a look at our signals on the Flex scopes and panadaptors and we both looked good and sounded good to each other. We dialled around each other and we sounded clean. But, that doesn’t mean we were “perfect” which was the shot our friend made before he wandered off. Mike is a bit of technical wizard (and like me a professional photographer) and is helping me setup the FlexRadio 1500 (which is running perfectly on SSB and CW) on the digital modes. Our friend? Who knows.

On Friday when I was getting the station ready for the QSO party I heard another guy complaining about a station 10 kHz down (I think we were on 40 meters again.). I didn’t hear a problem but I thought I’d followed him down as he wanted to deliver a message. Once the guy’s QSO finished, our friend called the station with the BIG signal and asked what he was running. Seems he was running a solid-state amplifier at about 800 watts with a lot of compression.

His auto was fearsome. I’d call it contest-quality if I was being charitable 🙂 but he looked clean on my scope and panadaptor.

My bet was anyone who was having a normal QSO with him would have had a headache within five minutes. The guy who had complained had the good sense not to repeat his complaint as, I’m guessing, he figured out that the guy with the amp was clean. Loud but clean!

It takes a little courage to break-in and identify yourself when you’re delivering a message but that’s how it has to be done to be both legal plus helpful. And, if you find the other guy is actually running clean, then it’s a nice gesture to say something complementary and dial in a couple of db of attenuation into your rig. (Used to have to run the IC-756 with 6 to 12 db in every contest to help the front end when I wandered into kilowatt alley.)

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