I've just finished Field Day, and my 4 hours of operating my club's station resulted in about 70 qsos/ hour, no more than 80. Some of the other operators topped 120. How can I improve my QSO rate to get to the level that these other operators have?

Specifically, I'm comparing voice/ voice operators, on the same band and about the same time of day, where one gets lots of qsos, and one not quite as many. We both ran a frequency.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you pouncing or are you calling CQ? Also arrl.org/operating-ethics get the PDF file, read contesting from page 16. Actually read the whole PDF if you have time. $\endgroup$ – sessyargc.jp Jun 30 '15 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ Running the frequency is calling cq. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jun 30 '15 at 1:44

QSO speed up...

  1. Be a part of a club with multiple operators.
  2. All QSOs CW.
  3. Use automatic computer logging of QSOs (e.g. N1MM Logger)
  4. Cheat and use automatic computer macros and copy rather than sending by hand and receiving by ear.
  5. Make sure CW speed is 35+ and stick to the lower portions of the bands where others operate at that speed.
  6. Most importantly, give up sleep, eating, and bathroom breaks during the entire weekend.
  7. Have a short 1x2 or 2x1 call sign. Send brief CQ, Just "CQ FD DE N1AX" and park on one frequency, do not move around. Just kidding about the short call sign but it may help.
  8. Keep replies to brief minimum exchange, nothing else. My reply to the above CQ once my call is picked up would be "TU 1B WWA" which translates "Thank you, one operator, class B Western Washington Section (ARRL)".

The secret to packing in the QSO's on SSB voice is all down to operator efficiency which can only be gained for experience. You need to go fast but not too fast, be consistent and concise with your information and tell your contact exactly what you need from them. Don't engage in chat and don't encourage your contact to.

I find having a small crib sheet works well with all the information that you need right in front of you. Call sign, locator, what you are doing (brief details if it is a special event) and somewhere your contact can go for more information (QRZ page or other website).

You can also cheat (like I do sometimes) and record your QSO's and play them back later to log but always remember, it's quality not quantity that counts! As long as you are having fun it doesn't matter how many contacts you make.


There are definitely a few techniques that can be used to improve the speed of a SSB QSO in a contest environment. Some of it comes down to experience. Some of the keys are:

  1. Find a clear frequency and call CQ, especially if you have a relatively powerful station.
  2. There is a rhythm to how often you should call CQ. Keep it short, and wait about 3-4 seconds before calling again.
  3. Picking out all of the calls that are calling you can be quite difficult. Try to pay careful attention, and you'll have some success. This is the biggest area which takes time to get the call right.
  4. Keep QSOs as short as possible. If you get a good call, it should it something like you calling CQ, hear a call, repeat the call you heard with your exchange, them returning with their exchange, and you concluding theirs while calling out for the next person. If there's a weak signal, some repeats might be required, but try to stick to that pattern.
  5. Remove unneeded phrases like "Please Copy", "Good luck in the contest", etc. You can sometimes use shorter phrases. If you keep the QSO short, then you'll encourage people to keep trying to talk with you, and not just give up on you.

To get a really high rate, the secret is to follow these tips, and practice picking out calls. The really skilled people can even call one, then remember the second call and get back to the second person after the first qso by returning their call.


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