Now that fall is just around the corner and summer vacations, lazy days in the sun and let's not forget the yard work comes to an end it makes more time for radio. Over the summer I have found the bands are a bit more on the quiet side, blog posts slow down and for the most part, we are preoccupied with summer.
For those of you who are into CW and the key has gathered some dust over the summer break a great way to slide back into the CW groove is to take part in some 1 hour "mini-contests"
The event runs twice a week Friday 2000-2100 UTC
Monday 0000-0100 UTC which is Sunday eve but Monday according to UTC time....always threw me off when I first got into contesting.....anyways...
This 1-hour mini contest max's out at 20 wpm and I have done many of these and sent at 16-18 WPM and had many contacts. If you are rusty and want to pick up the dit dah pace a bit this contest is a great place to be. If you are a veteran op it's a great place to slow the pace down and donate an hour.
The exchange is your call sign, name and your State or Province. The contest program N1MM+ supports this contest also if the call sign you are working on is in N1MM+ database the op's name and State/Provence is auto filled if you want. This way you can start by just having to copy the op's call sign.
Mondays 1300-1400 and 1900-2000
In this 1 hour mini contest the CW speed picks up the pace a bit to 20-25 WPM BUT on request will slow down. This contest is also supported by N1MM+ but under the UDC section (user-defined contest) I'm not going into the UDC format here but use the ICWC link above and they provide a link to the N1MM site to set this contest up. The exchange in this one is your call sign, name and QSO number (serial number as it's called)
This event runs 4 times a week. Wednesdays 1300-1400 UTC and 1900-2000 UTC
Thursdays 0300-0400 UTC and 0700-0800 UTC
In this 1-hour mini contest, one has to put their seat belt on and realize your hair (if you still have any) will be blowing in the wind with the CW speeds. This contest is looked at as a high-speed mini-contest. The speed starts at 25 wpm and goes up from there. When I say up.... speeds into the 40's wpm....mind-boggling. Anyway, N1MM+ does support this contest. In my humble opinion if you are in the 20ish wpm range give this contest a listen only. Search and pounce just listening to the calls and see what you can pick out. The average speed is mid 20's to mid 30's wpm. The exchange your call, name and CWops member number or if not a member your State or Province.
I do take part in this contest but I am not as yet a member of the CWops so my exchange is NB for New Brunswick. Membership details can be found at the site from the link above.
So there you have it if you are interested this fall and winter and have some time on your hands give the 1-hour mini tests a go. Here is the way I look at it....I busted my hump learning CW (it was not an option when I went for my ticket) and I just did not want to throw that away. I had done what most did to get my ticket I learned the code just to get past the exam and I planned to forget about it.
I did leave the code and radio alone as I had a young family like most of you did. I then started to have time on my hands and the love for radio was alive again. I listened to CW and to be honest I was a few code letters short of a full load if you know what I mean. Slowly started to pick it up again and have never looked back.
Above is me stepping down off my soapbox....I hope you found some useful information from the above.