Practicing CW QSO’s without RF

The bands are starting to make my cw practice pretty heavy going. I got one contact over the Christmas period with my ft-817 and end fed antenna and to be frank I made bit of a hash of it. Lots of errors mainly caused by a lack of practice time on the key.

I’m sure that I won’t be alone in saying that practice software goes a long way to getting rid of those errors and helps you move up from glacial sending and receiving speeds but nothing matches on air work . But what can you do when there’s no chance of a decent QSO / Sked. Well there may be an answer in iCW. It is a Mumble based system that does away with all that pesky RF and simply allows you to connect you key (via a keyer or in my case from the audio out of my transceiver) to a computer and then hey presto you can practice with your friends to your hearts content.

There seem to be a couple of websites that cover the detail. The main one and a one that shows you a bit more detail. Its a bit confusing but having said that the setup is pretty straightforward and some really helpful video’s help get the finer points sorted.

So it dire times of s9 noise and no propagation. There’s plenty of opportunity to get some practice in.

Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “Practicing CW QSO’s without RF”

  • Harry k7zov:

    Interesting article and idea. My sending is not the greatest and I know it has made me ‘key’ shy. I had to un-learn the code. Back in 1963 I learned it the wrong way, thus using it was not great from the start. The last year (or so) I have been re-learning and NOT using paper and pen, but in my head. On a good day 15018 wpm with short words. On a bad day 8-10 wpm with short words. The brain seems to go into overflow easily.

    In any case 2017 will be the year I get more CW time in one and that will take practice, practice, practice…on the air time, on the air time, on the air time…

    I will be checking this out in more detail over the next few days. Thank you again for the post…

    73 and Happy New Year to you and yours…

    Harry K7ZOV

  • Alex, g7kse:

    Sounds like you and I are about the same ability Harry. Some days I’d barely get a dit right but I’m sure with time on the key we’ll both get better. The best bit is that QRS is not a crime so I’m not fussed how slow I am. I’m keen to get it sent and received right

    Hope we can be slow together on air one day 😉


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