PSK newcomers guide to operating guidelines and etiquette.

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by W1MRK, Jun 3, 2010.

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  1. W1MRK

    W1MRK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello all. New to PSK on 14.070 and was wondering if there was a online resource for both operators lingo, guidelines, and etiquette.

    To give a example the wording "PSE K No eQSL ok LOTW" is confusing a tad to a newcomer.

    Also want to make sure I am not stepping on anyone while I am on the waterfall.

    I would love to know if anyone has any useful links for a psk beginner?

    Using HRD 5 and Signalink with Yaesu 857 into Random Wire

    Thanks in advance.

    Mike W1MRK

  2. AG3Y

    AG3Y Guest

    I very seldom use the keyboard digital modes, and most of my operating is on the two SSTV modes, but I can offer my advice.

    When I do get on a keyboard mode, I rarely if ever use a macro. I like to engage in a ragchew, rather than just exchange macros, so my words are typed out, just as if I were writing a letter to someone. CW abbreviations are a language unto themselves, and I personally don't believe it is good practice to include them in a digital qso! JMHO

    Use the common rules of good amateur practice. QRL before sending CQ ( ask if the frequency is clear, even if you don't see a trace on the waterfall ) etc. If you are involved in a ragchew, keep the conversation civil and pleasant .

    I'm sure others will have more to say, but that is a start!

    73 Jim
  3. N4CR

    N4CR Ham Member QRZ Page

    There may be some guides, but to answer your questions...

    pse = Please
    k = end of transmission
    No eQSL = they do not upload their log to eQSL, so if you do, you won't get confirmation.
    ok LOTW = they do upload thier log to LOTW, so if you do, you will get confirmation.

    As far as setup goes, turn your power on the rig to max, microphone setting to mid and lower the output on your sound card to adjust your output power. There should be NO ALC reading. Typical output for a clean signal is in the 25 to 35 watt range and that is all it takes to talk around the world when conditions are right. When conditions are wrong, there is no amount of power that will help...

    Watch the waterfall for a little bit before you transmit and then it's polite to send a short "is the frequency in use de w1mrk k". If you suddenly find yourself next to or on top of what appears to be a conversation in progress and you are not in progress, move.

    Until you are sure that your configuration is clean, ask other operators to judge your signal. Ask if you are too wide or distorted. Propagation can do a lot of things to your signal, but it won't make it too wide, that is happening right inside your own rig if it is happening.

    Send cq, a short two by two is sufficient. Wait about 10 to 15 seconds to repeat. Two by two is this:

    cq cq de call call
    cq cq de call call

    Make sure all of your macro's have your call twice after the de. That is how the automatic detection works. If you only have your macro's set to

    de call

    instead of

    de call call

    you will not be picked up by the automatic detection monitors that are all over the world. You can see who is picking up your signal by sending cq or having a conversation and then going here:

    Enter your call and press go.

    My suggestion is to find an empty spot and start calling cq and have fun. Common watering holes for PSK-31 (all USB) are 7.035, 10.140 and 14.070 day and night. Other bands will get better when the sun wakes up, but the majority of all PSK is happening on those frequencies.

    Join the 070 group at Great people in that group and they hold contests that are fun and often. Being a casual contester is fine, you are giving points and getting contacts.
  4. AG6WT

    AG6WT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Welcome to PSK31!

    The abbreviations you see in PSK31 qso's are carry overs from CW. In your example PSE is shorthand for "please" and K is shorthand for "go ahead any station". Also eQSL and LoTW are electronic QSL databases. "No eQSL" means "no I won't confirm via eQSL" and "ok LOTW" means "I will confirm this QSO via Logbook of the World". Also if they say "direct only" that means they don't do either and only exchange paper qsl cards.

    To make sure you aren't stepping on anyone, you need to do a few things. If you are going to call CQ, pick a clear spot on the waterfall and watch for a little while to see if the spot is clear. If it is clear, transmit "qrl? qrl? de w1mrk w1mrk" and wait to see if anyone comes back. If not you should be ok to call CQ.

    If you are answering someone else's CQ, don't transmit until they end with a "PSE K" then reply back with something like "<thier callsign> de w1mrk w1mrk" then wait. If they hear you and want to talk, they'll come back by acknowledging your callsign. If you dont' get a reply and don't hear anything, don't transmit again as the other op might be listening to a DX station you can't see on the waterfall.

    Also you need to make sure you aren't splattering your signal across the waterfall. Transmit with low power, say no more than 30 watts output, no mic gain, and your ALC setting shouldn't read above 0. Once you've established your first QSO, ask for a signal report. In particular ask if your signal is clean and and narrow. If it isn't ask if the other op can stay with you and give reports as you adjust your tranceiver and sound card settings.

    Here are a couple of CW links that will help:

    You'll also want to know how to send a useful signal report. In the link below there are plenty examples of good and bad PSK31 signals to help you give credible reports:

  5. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are a number of "tutorials" for PSK, but they are basically for getting the software and equipment running -- not much on operating practices.

    Regarding the "lingo", many PSK operators use CW "Q signals" and CW operating signals (sometimes called CW abbreviations). You can do a google search for both and find lists to print out.

    The use of Q signals and CW abbreviations in non-CW modes is always a debate, but so many operators do it, it has become an accepted practice.

    The best way to get all the PSK operating practices down is to start working it. There really is no "wrong way", provided you follow common Ham practices (using call signs, polite, no profanity, ID within 10 minutes, etc.).

    You can use the same operating practices you use on your current modes on PSK, even if you only work 2 meter repeaters. Just type out what you would normally speak. However, the PSK ops are usually a little more "seasoned" and prefer to not use or hear some of the slang used on many 2 meter repeaters.

    All the guys that I know using PKS do the following: They get the waterfall on the screen and then either "hunt and pounce"; that is, click on traces they see on the waterfall and determine if that station is calling CQ or in a conversation. If calling CQ, they answer -- if in a conversation, they move on to the next trace.

    If they want to start calling CQ right away, they simply watch the water fall for a minute or so and select a spot without anyother traces nearby, click on that and start typing "CQ CQ CQ de XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX pse K". This translates into "calling anyone, calling anyone, calling anyone, this is XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX, please answer". Actually, the "CQ" is a CW opearting signal = "calling anyone". "de" is also a CW operating signal = "this is". K is a CW operating signal = "over".

    One thing to remember about "K"; it not only tells the person listening that you are done transmitting and waiting for a reply, but it also means anyone else is invited to join in. "KN" meand "I only want a reply from the person I am currently talking to".

    A few more CW operating signals you will see on PSK:

    "DX" or "DX only". The person only wants to communicate with operators outside the country. DX EU could mean, "I only want to talk with European stations." Etc.

    "599" or "5NN" (both mean the same thing) = Your signal is very strong, your printing 100%, your tone (and in this case, also you trace on the waterfall) is good.

    "QTH" = my location is

    "FB" = "fine business" which really means "very good" or "received with no problems" or other indications that all is well with your transmissions.

    "QSL" has two meanings. One is "I understood your last transmission". The other is a term for a postcard that verifies the contact; "QSL direct" means the person will mail a QSL card to you directly. "QSL Buro" means they want to exchange QSL cards through a QSL bureau.

    None of the above are abnormal. Radio Teletype Operators (RTTY) have been using CW Q signals and operating signals for ever. Many of them also run PSK and use the same practices. The upside to using the Q and Op signals are that they can cut transmission times down dramatically.

    Hope this helps and good luck.
  6. AJ4CM

    AJ4CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    One other suggestion. You'll see some folks typing in all caps on PSK. Don't do this. PSK uses varicode, and the lower case letters require fewer bits of data. You'll improve your efficiency and reduce xmit time by using lower case.
    KD2RHT likes this.
  7. W1MRK

    W1MRK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you everyone for your responses. This thread has really helped provide answers to what I was looking for. I ran my call on the psk reporter and was shocked with the results.

    See you guys on the waterfall.

  8. K7JBQ

    K7JBQ Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    One other thing:

    Don't give unsolicited IMD reports, even if your software displays this information.

    For one thing, the report will be wrong, unless the other station is very strong and transmitting without information.

    For another thing, there are guys who are going to get annoyed and give you an on-the-air lecture about how their signal is surgically clean, yadda yadda yadda.

    If you receive one of those reports, either ignore it or ask the other guy to email you a screen shot. One op was kind enough to do that for me when I first got on PSK, and sure enough, it showed sidebands. Turns out I was operating near the edge of the audio range, which can happen to the best of us.

    I ordered the IMD Meter by KK7UQ the next day. If you operate a lot of PSK, this is one accessory that should be in your shack.

    It also lets you tell the guy who tells you your IMD is -13 (when you're at best S5) that your IMD Meter is reading -34. Which ends that part of the discussion 100% of the time.

  9. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    IMHO, the best advice is just to type interesting things, and limit the number of "macros" that you run.

    In particular, unless someone asks, you don't need to regurgitate every single piece of equipment in the shack, the version of software you are using, or (my personal favorite) the brand of computer, or the fact that it is "homebrew".

    Use a conversational style. If you're not a good typist, then it doesn't hurt to use a few macros, but keep them to a minimum.

    Your first exchange should look something like this, IMHO.

    W1MRK de W0IS
    Thanks for the call.
    Your RST 599 599 599
    QTH is St. Paul, MN St. Paul, MN
    Grid EN34 EN34
    Name is Rick Rick
    So how copy?
    W1MRK de W0IS K

    On subsequent transmissions, you can talk about your equipment, the weather, etc., etc.

    That's my advice if you want to have actual ragchews with the other guy. If you just want to make a lot of fast QSO's, there's nothing wrong with that either, but you can maybe make your exchange a little more abbreviated.

    And if the other guy asks what brand of computer you're using, feel free to let him know. :D
  10. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    The IMD reading in the software is generally not understood by many operators. I use Airlink Express and in the notes they tell you IMD is not really a IMD reading but a signal to noise (S/N) ratio at your receiver.

    Bottom line is the IMD feature in your software will measure the IMD of your transmitter when your transmitting. When your receiving it is a S/N ratio, in dB, of the received signal. The stronger signals in your receiver will have a low number (such as -30 dB) so in the receiver mode its just a S-Meter!

    I'm not convinced that a PSK IMD accessory meter is necessary, of course this is easy for me to say since I use an oscilloscope.


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