Tag Archives: CW

The Joy of the QSO by Mike AD5A

In the September issue of Amateur Radio.com, Mike, AD5A, shares his thoughts about his QSO Joys … Layne AE1N

The Joy of the QSO by Mike AD5A

18 September 2017

Since my retirement, I suppose I’ve had a little more time to think, philosophize if you will, about the important things in life. As my work career fades into the past, I’ve quickly come to realize that events and issues from my work-life, at the end of the day, weren’t that important at all. The things that I stressed and fretted over where simply mirages of importance that faded away as time passed.

So, I’ve asked myself, what is it about Ham Radio that’s so important? Many of us spend a lot of time in the hobby, so where is the meaning, where is the value added to our lives? Many of us chase awards, join clubs, go on expeditions and have many significant achievements in our ham careers that bring a certain level of satisfaction. However, what we soon learn is that it’s the chase, not the finish that’s exciting. I’ve enjoyed very much chasing DXCC Honor Roll, WAE-TOP, IOTA, SOTA and competing in a variety of contests. However, once the objective is achieved, the excitement of working toward the goal is gone and the sense of accomplishment is not quite as satisfying as the thrill of the chase.

So in my thinking about what’s lasting and important about ham radio, at least to me, starts from a simple QSO. QSO’s bring joy in many ways, i.e., marking a needed entity of the list, working a new club member, getting that rare country that you never thought possible, whether QRP or QRO or perhaps a special contact on Top Band or the Magic Band. It’s QSO’s that bring joy. However, many of these QSO’s are the 599, TU type of QSO and are more focused on accomplishment or earning some award than the relationship side of ham radio.

As I’ve progressed or maybe matured or perhaps just gotten more sentimental, I get a lot of lasting joy from a simple rag-chew. Does a rag-chew bring my recognition, no? Will it qualify me for any awards, maybe, but probably not But what it does do is allow me to meet real people with similar interests as me. Since I retired I find that I have more and more rag-chews with the most interesting people. And I am starting to come across guys multiple times and we pick up where we left off from the previous QSO. It’s wonderful. I don’t have to worry if I’ve already worked them on the band I’m on, they are glad, at least I think they are, to take my call and have a chat, I don’t have to worry about getting a “worked B4” response.

I’ve found there’s lots of unexpected pleasure in the simple things. A simple QSO gives me lots of satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong, you may well hear my call in a DX pileup or calling CQ in a contest, but I’ve learned to stop and smell the roses and the roses of ham radio, to me, are the relationships you can build and develop through conversational ham radio.

My mode of choice is CW, but I don’t suppose it really matters what mode you use. Just get on the air and have a real chat, you might find it brings a little more meaning to the hobby.

Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].


Why the Navy Sees Morse Code as the Future of Communications

Sometimes the Best Solution is the tried and true solution with today’s technological innovations. In this case secure communications without the need for internet or radio transmissions. Maybe ARRL will give extra Field Day point for this mode of communications?              Layne AE1N

Why the Navy Sees Morse Code as the Future of Communication

by Kyle Maxey


posted on July 18, 2017 |

A signal lamp aboard the USS Stout beam message in Morse to the USS Monterey. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)

A signal lamp aboard the USS Stout beam message in Morse to the USS Monterey. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)

For centuries, mariners around the globe have used lamps and shutters to beam messages via Morse code from ship to ship. But today, Morse code isn’t being learned by every sailor, even though lamp light communication is still being used.

So, how we reconcile these two facts? Well, if you’re the U.S. Navy you update your lamp light communication systems to encode the modern form of Morse code: texting.

In a test recent carried out aboard the USS Stout, the U.S. Navy used a new mechanism it calls the Flashing Light to Text Converter (FLTC) system. During the test, sailors aboard the Stout fired off text messages and the FLTC converted them to their Morse code lamp light signals which were interpreted by the USS Monterey, moored at a dock in Norfolk, Virginia.

“The best part of this flashing light converter is how easy it is for sailors to use,” said Scott Lowery, a Naval Surface Warfare Center engineer. “It’s very intuitive because it mirrors the messaging systems used on iPhones. You just type your message and send it with the push of a button.”

In fact, the system seems so intuitive to use that the sailors decided to play one the most literalist jokes in the book when asked to send Lowery a message. “I asked them to text me something random, so they signaled the word ‘random,” said Lowery. Taking the rather lame attempt at humor in stride, Lowery added. “Simple, but it shows the system is working.”


Though the FLTC is still in its prototype phase, the Office of Naval Research seems to be developing a foolproof system for delivering messages even if radio communications are down. Essentially, the FLTC uses nothing more than a lamps that are either LED-based (they can flicker on and off digitally) or have shutters that are controlled by fast acting stepper motors which open and close mechanically, and a GoPro camera for receiving incoming messages.

The neat bit of technology that ties these elements together is an algorithm that can interpret text message sent from a computer, of handheld device, convert them to Morse code, clap out the message via light, and vice versa.

With this successful test, the U.S. Navy asserts that it’s developed a system that it can quickly deploy to its fleet. With a few more tests under its belt, the U.S. aquatic fleet could have FLTC system out to its ships sometime in 2018.

Sights From Field Day 2017

Field Day 2017 is but a memory for us now. Dave, K1DLM, our Field Day Chairman, and the entire Field Day team did a great job with putting together our Field Day operation this year.

We are still adding up our score and collecting pictures and video from everyone. I wanted to get something out quickly so that we could begin to enjoy some of the memories. So here is my quick Sights from Field Day 2017….

Field Day 2017 Telegraph Article
Our Field Day Telegraph Article

We did a fantastic job on publicity this year…

Field Day 2017 - Parking Lot Was Full
The Parking Lot Was Full

and the parking lot was full of visitors and members on Saturday and Sunday.

Field Day 2017 Public Info Tent Was A Hit
Our Public Info Tent Is A Hit

Our updated Public Information Tent was a hot spot for our many visitors (over 45 visitors signed our guest register)!

Field day 2017 Visitors - ARRL Section Leaders - Peter, K1PJS And John, K1UAF
ARRL Section Leaders – Peter, K1PJS And John, K1UAF

The ARRL “brass” came out early to congratulate Dave, K1DLM our Field Day Chairman, and to tour our site.

Field day 2017 Food Was Awesome!
The Food Was Awesome!

The food was unbelievably good – thanks, Valerie!!! And the N1FD cafe’ was a hot-spot as usual.

Field Day 2017 Site Setup On The Upper Field
Site Setup On The Upper Field

Site setup at Hollis-Brookline High School began with the 40M V-Beam.

Field Day 2017 Site Setup On The Upper Field - The 60 Ft Tower Coming Together
Site Setup On The Upper Field – The 60 Ft Tower Coming Together

The tower team began on the lower field by setting up the new 60 ft. tower.

Field Day 2017 - The V-Beam Was Back
The V-Beam Was Back

The 40M V-beam was awesome as ever and went up in record time…

Field Day 2017 - A New 60 Ft Tower
New 60 Ft Tower

and our new 60 ft. tower was a sight to behold!

Field Day 2017 - 40M SSB Station
40M SSB Station

We built lots of stations – 3 SSB, 3 CW, a GOTA station, a 6M Station with a new yagi, and a computer controller Satellite Station. We also setup a 2M/70cm Go Kit for talk-in and APRS demos. All totaled, we had 10 transmitters on the air! Our exchange was 7A NH.

Field Day 2017 Solar Power Setup
Solar Power Setup

We got our Solar-Battery bonus late on Saturday.

Field Day 2017 - Brian, AB1ZO Operating SSB
Brian, AB1ZO Operating SSB

Everyone operated very hard and we made more contacts than last year!

Field Day 2017 CW Ops - Dennis, K1LGQ
CW Ops – Dennis, K1LGQ

Our CW operators were amazing again this year. Here’s Dennis banging out CW QSOs. Dave, KM3T even operated SO2R for a period – calling “CQ” and working contacts on both 20M and 40M CW at the same time! Gene, W3UA brought his CW skimmer and we set up an OCF dipole to provide on-site CW spots.

Field Day 2017 - And The Generators Played On...
And The Generators Played On…

And the new generators worked flawlessly and were much easier to service.

Field Day 2017 - Curtis, N1CMD Making Satellite Fun!
Curtis, N1CMD Making Satellite Fun!

Curtis, N1CMD ran our Satellite Station 2.0 and wowed everyone while making satellite contacts….

Field Day 2017 Satellite Station 20 In Action
Satellite Station 20 In Action

and our visitors got a kick out of seeing the computer controlled satellite antennas.

Team Finchum In Action
Team Finchum In Action

Team Finchum was in high gear as always – here’s Abby, AB1BY operating with her brother Connor, KC1GGX. It seemed like Abby was on every SSB station that I looked at all weekend long…

New Digital Station For Field Day 2017
New Digital Station For 2017

Our new SDR powered Digital Station worked well and we had lots of digital contacts using the antennas on the new 60 ft. tower.

Field Day 2017 SDR GOTA Was Cool!
The SDR GOTA Was Cool!

The SDR-based GOTA station worked out super well. Ira, KC1EMJ was our GOTA coach and was busy on Saturday and Sunday introducing our guests and newly licensed members to “high-tech” Amateur Radio. We had many young people try Amateur Radio for the very first time on our GOTA station.

Field Day 2017 Remote SDR System
Remote SDR System

We operated the two SDRs for the Digital and GOTA station remotely over a coax cable data link between the upper and lower fields. Pierce, K1FOP and Dave, K1DLM put together this high-tech setup and the underpinning data networking system.

Field Day 2017 - John, W1SMN and Desmond, WK1V Operating SSB
John, W1SMN, and Desmond, WK1V Operating SSB

Did I mention that we operated hard making lots of QSOs?…

Field Day 2017 Drone Sighting
Drone Sighting

There were Drone sighting all weekend long…

and Desmond, WK1V got some amazing video from the air.

It was a lot of fun operating as N1FD, 7A NH!

Anita, AB1QB, our scoring chairman is still working on tallying up our score but it will be higher than last year.

Please take a minute and send me any photos or video that you have from Field Day 2017. We’ll be producing a video of all of the fun for the Field Day 2017 Recap at our club meeting on July 11th. Don’t miss it!

Fred, AB1OC

Hashtags: #ARRLFD #N1FD


I was just ‘Puttering around’ in the Ham Shack this afternoon The transceiver was sitting on 30 meters on 10.113 mHz and I had the earphones off my head on the desk. The I heard a CQ on frequency from VK3CWB.  No! Can’t Be! Must be some pirate. After all Australia is half way around the Globe from New England and such DX does not come in at 5 PM in the Afternoon!  I decided to answer the CQ. And he came right back to me! Still disbelieving, he have me 5-5-9 and handle of ‘Moz’. He was reading 5-6-9!  It was real! My 100 watts and phased verticals are working! Who says the bands are dead? For a double-check, I went to his QRZ page:  https://www.qrz.com/db/VK3CWB

Besides explaining his Handle, Moz has a very interesting take on Morse Code QSOs which I reproduce here:

The changing nature of CW by ‘Moz’, VK3CWB

It seems that these days, nobody converses anymore. Why is that? Have all CW ops become machine operators who can only send 599? Is the quick contact – signal exchange the only form of the modern QSO? Or is it, that the new generation simply cannot use CW effectively, and do not have the capacity or the skills to go beyond a callsign exchange?

There is a time and place when a signal report is the only exchange. There are also other times, where a conversation can actually take place. Unfortunately, very few elect to actually converse in CW these days. I always endeavor to exchange the basics, RST, name, QTH, rig, ant etc. The only time I will give a signal report only, is when there are many calling, and I want to give as many as I can, the opportunity for a quick contact while the band is open.

Many operators pride themselves as being High Speed senders. It used to be common etiquette to try and match the sending speed of the person sending CQ. This also seems to be a thing of the past! Under marginal atmospheric conditions, fast CW can be quite difficult to copy! Hence bands like 160m, 80m and 40m demand that ops, listen, think, and then send at an appropriate speed.

We VK ops become very frustrated with some operators, during our summers [North American Winters] when static -QRN is extremely high. EU ops become critical and complain of our inability to hear their signals amongst S-9 summer QRN! So be patient and understanding as we try our best to accommodate those who want to make a contact. Please remember that it is not the quiet conditions of winter on the opposite side of the world!

There is a new generation of “ruthless”‘ CW ops who will do anything to be worked. They don’t listen, and who do not care who they interfere with, and they constantly call over the top of the station your are listening to. These operators have me wondering as to what has happened to the operating practices of amateur radio? The days of good etiquette, good manners, and friendliness seem to have become a thing of the past! There are many times, where bad “ON air” manners have made me decide to go QRT.. If the hobby is no longer enjoyable at times, why do it?

The Pirate – QRM dilemma : 2016 QRM on all bands received in VK

In recent years the amateur bands have become the band of AM , FM and SSB pirates. Most of these stations eliminate from Asia, and are found all over the bands on 28.000 – 29.000 MHz, 24.9 MHz, 10.1 MHZ and 7MHZ. These same stations are now also heard on SSB down on 40mx, particularly in the CW section. So please be understanding of our situation, if we VK’s ask for a repeat because of the QRM !

P.S. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Moz has a full size Moxon on 30 meters up 75 feet! — Layne AE1N