Ping Jockey Etiquette
Men have a hard time remembering which fork to use, the long one or the short one. Which side of the plate does the napkin go? How many times it is appropriate to stir the tea after the sugar is added. The steak can be eaten with the short fork and the tea beat into submission, but it is not always considered proper etiquette.
We all know there is behavior on the Ping Jockey that is acceptable during a contact attempt and behavior that is just not as acceptable. This page will discuss Ping Jockey Etiquette and to my knowledge most of these things are not documented like the proper table etiquette thus our thoughts are conceived from what seems proper and valid.
Ping Jockey Schedules
Amateurs who operate High Speed Meteor Scatter are completing qsos daily, or are they? Typically qsos are either scheduled or random. Schedules are easily arranged via the Ping Jockey Page. Schedules that are made have an advantage over random qsos because the two stations share important information via the internet prior to the start. This often times includes:
The call of the other station
A specified frequency
Who will transmit first
Will Single Tones or Multi-tones be used
Which Azimuth direction will be used
Often times QSY to another frequency because of perceived interference
A start time or announcement of I am running or both
Sometimes a ending time is set in case the communications fail
Equipment conditions / parameters
Noise descriptions or lack of noise
(And often times much more!)
With all the discussions and exchange of
information before the actual attempt to communicate, one might
wonder; how could they fail? Of course we all know that meteor
scatter contacts are not automatic. There are times when attempts
just fail, for whatever the reason, even with all the prior
knowledge shared before the attempt.
The known elements shared before attempts are good and the smart operator will use them to his advantage. However to reduce the clutter on an often times busy page the information exchanged prior to the QSO start should be short and precise.
What Frequency will we use?
Who will go first? (Savvy operators know based on the Standard Operating Procedures
When will we start / stop?
Do you want to use ST or all MT?
(This is off topic BUT schedules should
not be made on Meteor Scatter Calling Frequencies)
What Constitutes A Contact
This has been decided years back. Both stations must copy "Both Radio Calls", and "both must also copy their respected report and at least one Roger" (you usually need at least two Rogers to be sure!), and then the QSO is officially complete. This is the minimum. In times past after schedules were made both operators left the web to return at a preset time. This is still a good practice.
Either stations, or at least "the station receiving the Rogers" often times sends 73 back. This is a good practice so that the station sending RRR knows to stop and it terminates the qso via amateur radio rather than the internet! However if time does not permit or the meteors slow down or appear to stop then it is permissible to let the other station know his RRR was received via the Ping Jockey but the preferred method is for all contact information including the termination of the contact to be via the meteor pings and not the telephone modem..
The validity and integrity of the following list of accomplishments by stations can be brought into question when contact requirements are communicated, hinted or suggested by the use of the Ping Jockey either by those attempting to make a contact or someone monitoring and posting what they are copying.
How far can we go
before the Contact becomes invalid?
First let us consider this fact. WSJT works sufficiently well so that no other means of sending or sharing information is necessary to complete a contact via meteor scatter. Thus it is not necessary for meteor scatter operators to give out informtion about the contact during the contact. For schedules, everything is worked out ahead of time and after the contact starts it is not good etiquette to discuss, hint or share information pertaining to the contact attempt that is in progress! There will be some who think other wise, but the divisions are, make the schedule first and execute the schedule second.
The operators of WSJT, from the beginning of Ping Jockey asked that the following message to be posted for all new and experienced operators. That message is Exchanging any contact details on here before you're complete, invalidates the contact
The following are examples of statements that would certainly call into question a contact by either attempting station. Blatant communicating contact details during a contact attempt are wrong!
Have you gotten both calls yet?
Sorry I skipped a message, going back to Calls and Reports
Sending RRR now.
I just got your Report.
What message are you sending?
Have R 26, I am sendng RRR now.
From the beginning of HSCW, Operators have always considered contact details to be information about the details of what is or has been sent.
The following examples are statements that dont exactly tell where you are in the contact but like setting the table wrong or eating the steak with the short fork, are better just not said.
Are you sending single tones now?
I can hear you now
I have up to 10db burst no decodes
Just got a big one!
Your DF is 102
Leave your antenna there!
Not hearing anything, moving to Hot A
I am getting some single tone, is that you?
Wow! You hit me hard, 13db!
Keep going we are almost finished.
There is 500 watts out have anything yet?
Sometimes the contact is
compromised by someone who is just monitoring.
I hear your single tones good here Joe!
They are almost finished Joe is sending reports now.
Look what I copied 155630 27.4 240 1 26 -64 2626 WA5UFH 26 K4FJW (be careful what you post)
There are many ways that a contact can
be compromised. What should one do when this happens? The best
answer is to start over! That is the right thing to do and easily
done. If the qso was compromised by a contact station, the
offending station should be reminded to read the Blue
line at the top of the Ping Jockey Page. Meteor Scatter is a
valid mode and all operators should honor the requirements for
completing contacts strictly via Meteor Scatter refractions on
our vhf bands.
Is there ever a time for compromising a contact by sharing contact information?
The answer is no!
Meteor Scatter Contacts never involve the sharing of QSO details after the contact is started. Not even a hint or suggestive statement is good etiquette. If contact information is shared, even though all elements might have been received by both stations, the contact was tainted and does not meet the requirements of using Meteor Scatter Only for the exchange. The trail of suggestive or shared information relating to the supposed contact is on the Ping Jockey screen for all to view. As stated earlier, WSJT is capable of transmitting all the required data via your radios and meteor scatter.
Is it acceptable to QSY to another Frequency because of QRM or QRN?
If QRM has creped into your passband and might cause you to miss some received messages then the smart thing to do is QSY to another frequency. This can be accomplished by posting the need to QSY on the Ping Jockey without sharing any contact details.
What if I have a catastrophic failure?
Anytime a contact attempt is terminated and is latter restarted, both stations are to start over at the beginning. If you must stop, the courteous thing to do is notify the other station you have stopped. A temporary problem can be posted like, keep going I am having a temporary problem and not compromise the contact. Often times a problem can be corrected easily without terminating the contact attempt.
What if its not a Contact?
Now if its not a contact, lets say someone asks you to listen for their signal and see if they are on frequency or maybe they are testing their transmit for the fist time. Talk all you wish, this is not a contact. The majority of what occurs on the Ping Jockey constitutes a contact where two amateurs agree to have a prearranged sked for the purpose of completing a contact. If you have worked the same station 100 other times, the rules for a contact do not change just because you have his card on the wall.
Ping Jockey Etiquette; Because I respect the Posted Guidelines on the page
Ping Jockey is a useful system for Meteor Scatter operators, Weak Signal Operators and EME scheduling. The Ping Jockey pages are self explanatory however many seem to be happy carrying on all their business on the Ping Jockey Central. Ping Jockey Central, the main page, is not designed to be a Chat Room. At the top of the page we all see the message, If it's not HIGH-SPEED METEOR SCATTER, it doesn't belong here! Even with this message, we find discussions about antennas, radios, club meetings and many other discussions not relating to HSMS!
There is another page called Relief Page that is similar to the Main Page but because of less activity it will support discussions and the appropriate thing for operators to do is move off topic discussions there just like it is appropriate to move stations willing to run JT44 off the Ping Jockey Central page to the JT44 Link page.
The other pages, CQ Announcements and Skeds in Progress are self explanatory and during times of higher volume traffic, like contests, these pages should be used to reduce the potential of qrm.
We are fortunate to have such a system as Ping Jockey. We should all thank Chris often and we should honor his posted instructions.
So What Can I Do During a Contact Attempt via Meteor Scatter
Computers are multitasking. One can play cards, surf the web, clean the shack, read email, work on the projects bench etc. but please, dont bring any element of doubt on your contacts or your friends contacts by posting information about the contact prior to it being completed.
Why This Article?
I am not without guilt. I suppose we all have been guilty of some questionable act relating to meteor scatter. We should all strive for a higher operating plane and the experienced should lead by proper example. Before things get too far out of hand, let us all focus on Meteor Scatter Only Contacts.
Make the sked on Ping Jockey and then execute the sked on the
Thanks to all those who helped critique this sheet. ( WB5APD,N0UK,K1SIX and others...)