SO1R/CW Voice Keyer
SO1R/CW and Voice Keyer
So you got Win-Test installed on your computer - stand alone. Now it's time to think about connecting your computer to the radio. The point in doing that is that automated CW and voice messaging will give you valuable time to do other things, while the message is being sent - probably finishing to edit the last QSO, turning the antenna, taking a little break ("micro nap") or tuning a secondary radio.
A major factor of contesting is efficiency. If you manage to work stations more efficiently means a better final score. The first step in this direction is automating CW, a second one using pre-recorded voice messages for routine taks like calling CQ or breaking the pileups.
Automated CW Keying
Internal or external
Win-Test allows you to generate CW in two different ways.
- Win-Test generated CW
The easiest way is using the internal CW generator of Win-Test to key your radio through COM or LPT ports. Typically, you will need some kind of hardware inbetween, as described elsewhere in this manual (COM Port CW keying, LPT Port CW keying). Win-Test will then generate dots and dashes and key one of the signals lines like DTR, RTS or Pin 17 on the LPT interface.
There is a minor but important detail: Activating the PTT of your radio through that line will prevent you from hot switching and burnt relay contacts in the amplifier. You should definitely give it some consideration over VOX-based transmit control.
In some cases you will want to have a manual keyer at your station to handle specific situations or just to be on the safe side. If your manual keyer is normally connected to the built-in electronic keyer of your radio, you have a problem. The only way out is to use an external electronic keyer.
- WinKey by K1EL, USB micro Keyer or the W5XD Multi-Keyer key
The other way is using a programmable external keyer, which is connected to your computer by USB or COM. These devices are fully stand-alone but can be controlled by software. In this application Win-Test actually sends commands and characters down the line (not dots or dashes) and the telegraphy is created by that device, allowing you to adjust speed by a control on the device.
How to use?
So how do we use these capabilities? Calling CQ is a very common task. Pressing F1 will just do that for you. If you wish to change the contents of the CQ register, press Shift-F1 and you will be able to change it at your will.
Next, working a station that comes back to our CQ is another (hopefully) common task. Enter his call into the callsign entry field and press the [INS] key. Win-Test will now send the callsign and the exchange specific to the contest selected. Again, if you're not happy with the default contents of this register, change them by pressing Shift-INS.
Please note that you can push [INS] even when you have not yet finished typing the callsign. After having started the exchange message, complete the callsign and Win-Test will gather the rest of the callsign too. The reason is that you do have to come back to the called immediately (within 1 second) otherwise you risk that he will repeat his callsign (loss of time).
Typically, when you've received the report from the other station, you will want to send TU and sign your call. Additionally you will want to log the contact by pressing [Enter]. Pressing the [+] instead will do both for you.
Note that you may probably want to use the large [INS] and [+] keys on the numeric keypad because they are easy to reach (well, not on a notebook, but on a regular keyboard).
One of the most important keys here is the [ESC] key. Pushing Escape will stop CW generation immediately. This is very important if you have inadvertedly started the wrong message.
Now that we know the basics, there are a few more keys we can use. Actually, all of the function keys F1..F8 have their own message. Please see elsewhere for further details. Keep in mind that you may change the contents of these at your will.
Finally, note that pressing Alt-K will switch you into keyboard mode, which will allow you to type text that will be transmitted on CW. This is perfect for blind typists. Note that in keyboard mode, all the special keys like F4, F5 continue to work as expected.