SO1R/CW Voice Keyer

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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 the Keys chapter for further details. Keep in mind that you may change the contents of these function keys at your will (Please refer to the DVK CW RTTY Messaging chapter for more details).

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.

Voice Keyer

In a similar fashion, it is also possible to automate transmission on voice modes. Again, there are two options; you can either use the internal sound device of your computer to record and play messages or you may control an external device like the MFJ-432, DVK-100 or the built in speech memory of some radios like the Kenwood TS-850, TS-950 series.

Sound Card

To use your computer's sound device, you will need hardware to connect the audio output to the AF input of your radio. Additionally, you will have to connect the microphone to the audio input of your sound card and/or alternatively to the AF input of your radio. Some prefer to use a switch to route the audio to the sound card or to the radio. Also you will need a PTT signal so that your transmitter gets keyed when the message starts.

It is essential to accept that you will not be able to live with pre-recorded messages. You will definitely want to change voice messages on the fly, during the contest. Just think of the typical split operation on 40 meters phone where you continue to change the RX frequency when it gets too crowded up there near 7.239.

For hardware details, please see the interfaces section of this document.

To record a message to the F1 memory, simply press Shift-F1. The same is true for F2...F7.

For more details on how to configure your DVK or record your messages, please refer to the Configuring DVK messages chapter in this manual.

External Voice Keyers

As an alternative, Win-Test also allows you to control external voice keyers from the computer. This is a way to avoid the typical problems with hum, different audio levels etc. that you might face with sound cards. On the other hand, most of the time it is another box on the table. So it's up to you to decide which solution is the best for you.

These devices can be controlled via the LPT port of your computer. Typically, there are separate pins for message#1...message#4 and another one to stop the message. For details, please look in the interfaces section of this document.

How to use

Similar to CW, F1 is the most used function key in SSB contests. This key is used to send the CQ message. While you cannot really automate the QSO, you may with to put a long CQ into the F2 memory and a "Thank you, QRZ" message into F3. This saves you from a lot of routine talk in SSB contests.

There is not much more you can do here. Win-Test does not support storing single characters so that you could fully run the QSOs from the computer like with CT using the specially designed DVP card.

RTTY Keying

Operating a RTTY contest is very similar to operating CW when using generated CW messages. All of the keys have the same functionality on RTTY, including the keyboard mode, the [ESC] key etc. The difference is that decoding RTTY is done by the machine and not by your brain (well, not normally). Using the mouse, you will be able to select callsigns and reports received from the RTTY window but the keys you use to conduct the QSO are essentially the same like on CW.

The Autorepeat Function

There is a function that is helpful on CW, SSB and RTTY: Autorepeat. This feature comes in handy during slow times, when you get few replies to your CQs. When activated, the F1 message will repeat as long as you do not enter characters into the callsign field. If you do, it stops immediately, lets you complete the QSO and when done, pressing F1 again re-activates the auto CQ. The timing of the CQ message has to be set up appropriately. Please see the Tools menu for more details.