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                            WHY WAS MY SCORE REDUCED?
                           50 WAYS TO MISCOPY A CALL!
        Remember the 'leopard in the dark' I mentioned last month?  Let's 
        discuss  big cats for a moment. Of all the big cats, the  leopard 
        is  the most dangerous of all. Joy Adamson, of 'Born Free'  fame, 
        reports  in her writings that lions and cheetahs can be  all  but 
        implicitly trusted under the proper circumstances. A leopard,  on 
        the  other hand, can never be trusted. You must be constantly  on 
        your  guard when working with leopards, as they can turn  on  you 
        without  warning and for no apparent reason. Even more  dangerous 
        is  a leopard in the dark. Leopards have been known to go into  a 
        darkened  room,  kill a person, drag them out of  the  room, drag them out of  the  room,  and 
        never be noticed by other occupants of the room. Miscopied  calls 
        are like leopards in the dark--you never know where they might be 
        or when they will 'get you'. You have to watch for them vigilant-
        With the new 'work RVHFG members for Rochester Cup credit'  rule, 
        I  had more of a chance to examine people's logs than  any  other 
        contest chairman before me. And I was appalled by what I found!
        After  you  operate  VHF contests for a while, you  find  that  a 
        certain  group of people can be expected to be on the air in  any 
        given contest. After a few contests, you begin to remember  these 
        calls.  Furthermore,  if you use the W2HPF logging  program,  you 
        will  see these calls come up time and time again if you use  the 
        database  feature.  Many of these calls belong to  hams  we  have 
        contact  with on a regular basis. And, yet, corruptions of  these 
        very  calls  appear in our contest logs. (I say 'our'  because  I 
        have been 'taken' by miscopied calls, too!)
        Contests can be long and boring and tiring. Or, they can be  very 
        fast and exciting when an opening happens our way. Each of  these 
        conditions  produces different types of logging errors. A lot  of 
        these  won't be caught until you filter through your  log  ler through your  log  later, 
        but  you can take steps to see to it they don't happen  to  begin 
        with. Here are a few of these:
            1.) Use phonetics with your call. When you are tired, or in a 
        hurry, or trying to pick a weak call out of the noise, it is easy 
        to  confuse one letter with another. There are a few local  calls 
        that are especially prone to this problem, as they are made up of 
        letters that sound like other letters. A good example of this  is 
        the  call of Pete Fournia, WA2BPQ. I saw a number of versions  of 
        this  call in people's logs, such as WA2VBQ. This is a real  easy 
        error  to make, and is preventable by using phonetics. And,  when 
        using phonetics, make sure you are using standard phonetics.  The 
        use  of  other  phonetics may be easier to  pronounce,  or  sound 
        'cute',  but doesn't facilitate communications.  Nearly  everyone 
        will recognize the standard phonetics, but may be confused by the 
        nonstandard  phonetics. Using my own call as an example,  I  have 
        heard  many  operators  give it as November Sugar  Nine  Echo  in 
        multiop  efforts. This rolls off the tongue nicely, but the  cor-
        rect and recognized phonetics would be November Sierra Nine Echo.
            2.)  If you use paper logs, take extra care to make your  log 
        legible.  It is really easy .  It is really easy to write some letters in such  a  way 
        that they are easily confused with other letters. For me  person-
        ally,  I have problems with D's and O's, and U's and V's. I  have 
        adopted  a way of drawing D's and V's that leaves no doubt as  to 
        which is which. For you, it may be other letters. such as N's and 
        W's. Computer logging fixes this problem!
            3.) Use scratch paper. As you hear a station, write the  call 
        (and  grid) down on a sheet of paper. Use a different  sheet  for 
        each  band if you can. Do this even if you computer log.  I  have 
        saved  many  a  broken Q by finding missing  information  on  the 
        scratch  paper.  I  have also resolved many  illegible  calls  by 
        comparing the scratch paper with the log!
        4.)  Use a dupe sheet. This can be in addition to or in place  of 
        scratch  paper. You may discover copying errors even  before  you 
        end the QSO this way.
        Now,  the contest is finally over. A few days have gone  by,  and 
        you are finally sitting down to submit your log. A lot of  people 
        just  make  a quick count of their Q's and grids,  fill  out  the 
        summary sheet out, and submit their entry. This is not the way to 
        Take  some time to go over your log CAREFULLY! It is also a  good 
        idea to transcribe a paper log transcribe a paper log onto new forms, or process it with 
        a post-contest computer log processor. DON'T send in your  chick-
        en-scratch  originals. DON'T just make photocopies of your  logs. 
        This can make an barely readable log even more unreadable. In any 
        case,  KEEP  YOUR  ORIGINAL LOG! Computer users  are  advised  to 
        backup  their original log files before they do any  post-contest 
        Let's look at some of the things you can look for when  examining 
        your log:
            1.)  Double-check the counts. It is really easy to be off  by 
        one or two Q's when counting Q's on several pages of sloppy logs. 
        Make  sure  you have thoroughly duped your log  before  counting. 
        Double-check the grid squares worked for proper count and  avoid-
        ance of duplicate claimed grids. This can be challenging with the 
        proliferation of rovers these days.
            2.)  Dupe-check  your log. The importance of this  cannot  be 
        emphasized  enough.  It only takes a 2% score adjustment  to  get 
        your  log disqualified. Unmarked dupes will get you there  faster 
        than anything else, as they can be detected without reference  to 
        other  logs.  This  is another good reason to  go  with  computer 
            3.)  Recognize and fix the most common mental errors made  in 
        copying.  Here is a list of the more frequently  encountered  er-
            A.)  WRONG CALL. Most easily recognized by  being  associated 
        with  a grid that doesn't make sense. This error is  often  found 
        with  a second wrong call just after the first (You  filp-flopped 
        two  calls), or a call you know you worked but can't find in  the 
        log. Both of these errors occur most often when you work  several 
        stations  in  quick  succession and then  write  them  down.  The 
        scratch paper can help out a lot here.
            B.)  WRONG  GRID. This has the same causes  as  'wrong  call' 
        above, but are often harder to resolve. This is where  comparison 
        with other bands helps, or using a database or last years' log to 
        discern what grid is really the correct one.
            C.) WRONG PREFIX. This is really easy to do. Again, an  error 
        likely to 'catch' you when you are busy. You write down the  cor-
        rect call suffix, but you get the wrong prefix. A good example of 
        this  might be KA2ZNC vs WA2ZNC. This is where memory  of  common 
        calls,  a  database, last years' log or even a copy of  the  RARA 
        directory  can  come  in handy. If a  call  'just  doesn't  sound 
        right', take a moment and check it out. Another thing I sometimes 
        noticed was the wrong-prefix call followed a few Q's later by the 
        correct  call,  and  credit taken for both!  Just  for  grins,  I 
        cross-checked a couple of these, and found the other station just 
        had  the first station logged once. So, this was a double  error: 
        The first operator miscopied the call and called it a new Q,  and 
        the second operator didn't catch the dupe!
            D.)  WRONG  CALL AREA. This is similar to the  'wrong  prefix 
        error'  above, but the call area is incorrectly copied. This  can 
        be impossible to catch, unless you recognize the rest of the call 
        and the grid, or you worked the same station on another band. The 
        'search  partial'  feature or Jeff's software can help  you  find 
        these.  Just  as with the wrong prefix error, I often  found  the 
        wrong  and  right version of the same call, within a few  Q's  of 
        each other, worked for credit on the same band!
            E.) DYSLEXIC TRANSPOSITION. This is a real easy mental  error 
        to make, and often you cannot catch yourself making this kind  of 
        error because it is the result of a 'bad circuit' in your  brain! 
        This is the kind of error I make most frequently! A good  example 
        of  this kind of error would be N2KSX vs N2KXS. The S and  the  X 
        got  reversed, and you didn't even realize it! (To make  it  even 
        more  confusing, there was a N2KSX on along with N2KXS,  but  the 
        former  station  was  in Buffalo (FN03) and worked  by  just  two 
        stations. The other station was in FN12 and worked by most every-
        one!)  You find this error by carefully checking each  call.  The 
        'search partial' feature in the W2HPF software helps here, too.
            F.) TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR. I saw a few botched calls in comput-
        er log listings that at first didn't make a lot of sense until  I 
        looked  at my computer keyboard while analyzing these  logs.  The 
        wrong  letter was invariably located on the keyboard next to  the 
        correct  one. The best one of these, seen in more than  one  log, 
        was  N2IXW,  instead of N2IZW. In almost every case of  this  ob-
        served, it was a case of not quite reaching the correct key,  and 
        the key actually struck was closer to the center of the keyboard. 
        With computer logging, the best way to avoid this is develop  the 
        discipline of reading the call before pressing 'enter'!
            G.)  MISCOPIED CALL. This is the one class of error  that  is 
        not  easily  detected, nor is it generally  fixable.  You  simply 
        miscopied the call, and correctly entered the wrong call in  your 
        log. The excitement of working a rare grid, or digging one out of 
        the  noise, can cause this one. This is where we need to  develop 
        discipline as operators. Make the effort to get the call and  the 
        report  right. Just don't THINK that was FN23, KNOW that  it  was 
        FN23 the other operator was sending. The only way to get good  at 
        this is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Pass some traffic. Be  a 
        net  control  operator for a local net. Work some  low-band  con-
        tests. (I have noticed that some of the newer control ops on  the 
        Monroe  County FM net will miscopy call after call. As time  goes 
        by, they will improve at this.) One particularly amusing incident 
        of this type that I saw was a log with N2WK/R, FN13 listed. Wayne 
        assures me he did not operate mobile at any time in the  contest! 
        I  discussed this with the operator who listed it, and we  deter-
        mined that the call listed should have been N2WVK/R!
        The  last  thing I want to mention is that as we get  older,  our 
        mental facilities tend to weaken. (This is an objective  observa-
        tion,  and is not aimed at any particular individual(s)!)  I  no-
        ticed  that the number of errors tended to increase with the  age 
        of  the operator. Weak signal operating apparently puts  quite  a 
        demand on the 'grey matter DSP' in our heads, and could prove  to 
        be a good way of measuring mental function! (Yet another way hams 
        can carryprove  to 
        be a good way of measuring mental function! (Yet another way hams 
        can carry out basic research!) In any case, as you get older,  be 
        more  on  the alert for these sorts of things. If  you  know  the 
        'leopard'  is coming, prepare to meet him. If you are  older  and 
        catch  a number of these errors, spend a little more  time  while 
        operating to make sure you got it right the first time. The aging 
        of our minds as we get older can be compensated for by our  expe-
        rience as operators, IF we know what to watch for. Therefore, our 
        older  operators  can be our BEST operators, and it  behooves  us 
        'young pups' to listen carefully when they offer advice!
        I  am sure you can think of other ways log errors can creep  into 
        your log. This is by no means complete! But, I would like to  see 
        each and every VHFer who reads this publication take the time  to 
        make  sure  his or her log is really 'ready to submit'  when  the 
        finally  submit it! No one likes having their score  reduced,  or 
        worse yet, being disqualified. Score reductions and disqualifica-
        tions can become a thing of the past if we will all take the time 
        Next month, the topic will be 'the mindset of the contester'.  We 
        will look at the psychological and strategic aspects of preparing 
        to  contest. But, in the meantime, remember that THE MOST  Imber that THE MOST  IMPOR-

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