RTTY Contesting Pileup Management

This information comes from Ed, W0YK & P49X, on how he manages RTTY contesting pileups from Aruba.

  1. I use very narrow filtering in my receiver so that I only see the smallest part of the pileup.  I use 250 Hz and sometimes even 200 Hz.  I use dual-tone filtering although I can’t prove that it helps a lot.
  2. I stay zero-beat with my TX frequency and only use the RIT to pick up off-frequency callers when no one is calling inside my narrow passband.
  3. I back off the RF gain so that I work the strongest stations first, then increase the RF Gain a bit as I work down into the weaker signals.
  4. I use two directional antennas, one on EU and one on NA and can instantly switch between either or phase both.  On the high bands, these are Yagis and on the low bands these are Beverages.  This way I can cut out part of the pile-up.
  5. I use multiple parallel decoders such as several MMTTY decoders, each with a different profile, as well as the Hal DXP38 hardware decoder.
  6. I exercise painful patience by waiting until I get a call sign.  That is, when the pileup finally stands by, if I don’t yet have a call, I DO NOT send “AGN” or “QRZ”.
  7. Even after I get a call sign, I wait a half second and try to get another one or two.  I stack the second, third, etc. calls in my call queue and work them all in succession without calling CQ.  Instead of TU CQ, I send CALL 1 TU, NOW C2 599 1234.
  8. I am prepared to grab a tail-ender who drops his call sign in at the end of the prior station’s exchange to me.  Then I stack the tail-ender call sign and work it immediately without a CQ, like 3. above.
  9. I keep my messages as short as possible to maximize rate.  The faster you work stations, the smaller you make the pileup.
  10. I insist on completing a QSO once I get a call or partial call, so as not to reward rude callers that don’t standby.
  11. If the pileup escalates faster than I can work it down for an extended period, I QSY and start a new run.  I’ve only done this once in 7 years when a EU pileup got excessively unruly.  I didn’t announce anything or admonish the rude callers, but simply went to a new frequency.

73, Ed P49X