Tag Archives: CW

Learning CW is a matter of Practice, Practice, Practice …

In preparation for Nashua Area Radio Club’s our upcoming Morse Code classes, I found some interesting items in my archives. I found my original ARRL Code Proficiency Certificate.

The year was 1958. I was 13 years old and had been a Shortwave Listener (SWL). My dad Bob, who later became K0TFP, told me if I studied hard and got my FCC license, he would set up a ham station for us. Needless to say, the incentive was there. I started listening to and copying W1AW code transmissions and had an easy time learning Morse. (The daunting part was to become learning the Theory.)

Learning CW - Proficiency AE1N

As you can see I passed 15 WPM on September 18, 1958. Then we drove up to the FCC office in Denver to take the exam. Back then one needed 5 WPM to get the Novice exam and 13 WPM to get the General Class exam. I breezed through the code test but failed the written exam. Undaunted, I retook the exam in November 1958 and passed my General Class. (Later, I certified at 20 WPM in April 1959 and 25 WPM in July 1959.)

Later, as I fell in love with CW, I became an ARRL Official Bulletin Station for the Rocky Mountain Division. I would tape the ARRL bulletins and using a transistor detector-keyer would send these bulletins every evening when propagation peaked into the East Coast. I would replay the Bulletins on 14.050 kHz using our KW amplifier and 6 element tri-bander.

Learning CW - Official Bulletin Station

Learning Morse Code is primarily practice, practice, practice…

73 CUL,

Layne AE1N (ex-K0SLD)

6M Propagation to Europe on JT65.

Wow, six meters was wide open this morning to Europe. I started playing on CW, but the signals were so steady that I decided to go to JT65 so I could see where I was being heard. I have included a pskreporter.info map filtered for my station for the previous 6 hours. The snapshot was taken at 2016-06-13 at 18:05 UTC. Beam was between 45 and 60 degrees. The USA stations were all off the back of a 3 element Yagi. Running 70 watts. The rig was my Flex-5000.

The ARRL VHF contest this weekend also had great openings, primarily state side, although I did work an EA8.

This is the time of year to get on 6 meters.


CW Ops Using Winkeyer and a Decoder

Ira (KC1EMJ) and I helped set up the IC-7300 80, 15, and 10m CW station. We were short a CW operator.  Having my license for only 8 months with over 1000 SSB QSOs and zero CW contacts in the log I wasn’t a CW op but the station was available and the field day clock was running. My ability to copy is improving but very limited. On the run up to Field Day I had some experience with N1MM, Fred (AB1OC) added a WinKeyer and loaded his macros, and I had CW Skimmer already installed on the laptop. What more could I need?

It only took a few minutes to get the ICOM IC-7300 and CW Skimmer setup for reliable decoding. It was exciting when the decoder finally started displaying “CQ CQ FD DE CALL-SIGN” for each station I tuned in. I have included a simulated display showing a decoded message.image001 I was in business! Or so I thought.

With Search and Pounce selected, the WinKeyer was setup so the laptop keyboard’s F1 key was QRL?, F2 the exchange (class and section), F3 TU for “thank you” and so on through F9.  I assumed one would start with F1, and progress to F2, and then F3, what is QRL anyway? After decoding a “CQ FD call-sign” and entering the call into N1MM I hit F1, and then decoded a “don’t say you do not hear me”.

I moved up the band and tried it again with the same result. It was great I was making contacts, but not so great they was throwing bricks. A quick check with Mike (K1WVO) I found QRL is “Are you busy?”. As a Phone op I had never used QRL, we just ask “is the frequency is in use”. Soon I was responding with N1FD instead of QRL? The Caller returned his class and section.

With his call entered into N1MM it was easy to send his call sign with a tap of the F5 key, F2 for 7A and NH, and after his TU I would send a TU and QSY to the next station and repeat the process. It had transitioned from real exciting (meaning a bit stressful)  to real fun fairly quickly.  The lesson I learned is to take the time to understand the message stored behind each “F” key even when time is short and the contest or Field Day has started.

The experienced CW operators were using the same process that I was using with WinKeyer, N1MM, and the keyboard. The one difference  is they were decoding CW with their ears, and not a decoder.

It wasn’t long before I ran out of new stations to work. I switched from searching for stations in “Search and Pounce” mode  to “Run” meaning I stayed on one frequency and called CQ. The F1 key became CQ. It wasn’t long before I had a short run of 5-6 QSOs one right after another, but it quickly came to an end. There are few targets on 80m in the early evening and I worked them all. I was headed home just as the band was heating up at midnight… Next year I’ll take the midnight to daylight shift and plan to copy code with my ears…and not a decoder.

With a little practice, this form of operating is effective for contests and Field Day where the exchange is simple. The high rate you can add new stations to the log definitely makes it fun.

Hamilton (K1HMS)

2016 Summer Activities!

The Nashua Area Radio Club has a lot going on this summer!

Examples of CW Keys at Our First CW Training Class
Examples of CW Keys at Our First CW Training Class

First, our CW Training Classes have begun. We held our first class last Saturday at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Nashua, NH.

CW Training Class Details
CW Training Class Details

These classes are being held on Saturday mornings and are open to all Club Members and it’s not too late to join. You can find more about the classes in our CW and QRP Forum and on our calendar here on our website.

Saint-Gaudens NHS
Saint-Gaudens NHS

We also completed the first of our planned NPOTA activations at Saint-Gaudens NHS recently. We had a lot of fun and made a bunch of contacts. You can read all about our activation here. We are planning a second activation at Saint-Gaudens NHS on August 7th. You can find more about it in Aron’s article on our Blog and on our Calendar.

2016 ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY Information
2016 ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY Information

Don’t forget the ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY which is coming up on August 21st. Fred, AB1OC and I will again be hosting a multi-op entry in this contest. It’s open to all of our members who have earned their first Amateur Radio License in the last three years. We will be scheduling a training and practice session before the contest. We will announce the details in the Member’s Forum here on our website. You can read about our ARRL Rookie Roundup SSB entry here on our blog.

Nashua Area Radio Club Summer Picnic
Nashua Area Radio Club Summer Picnic

Finally, don’t forget our upcoming club picnic on Saturday, August 27th (the rain date is Sunday, August 28). This will a potluck picnic and social gathering for our club. Bring your whole family and meet the families and friends of our club members. Our picnic will be held at Greeley Park in Nashua, NH. You find directions and information about the park on our club calendar.

Please contact me at [email protected] for more information on any of our summer activities. We hope to see you at these events throughout the summer!


Anita, AB1QB