SKCC StraightKey Splendor

I was reminded this week of all the fun that the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) guys are having when receiving a nice e-mail from Bill, W0EJ:

I have a question for you. The Straight Key Century Club has started to issue the 1,000 MPW Award and we are finalizing a certificate for the recipient to print off as we do for most of our awards. The majority of our certificates have a watermark that is usually some form of bug, straight key, or sideswiper.
For this QRP award certificate, would you object if we took your photo of your 6L6 tri-tet-ten transmitter and used it for a water mark? As a watermark, it would be faded and somewhat visible under the text on the certificate. We took the liberty of “drafting” a certificate to show you how it would look with the watermark of your 6L6.
We have another option, but your transmitter would be such a natural that I couldn't pass up asking to see if it would be OK with you to use an image.
In anticipation of your reply I thank you for your consideration.
Bill - W0EJ

Since 2006, this 12,000 strong group of CW diehards have been doing their best to promote the magnificence of the mechanical key in everyday operation. With monthly operating events, awards, Elmering and an online sked page, there are plenty of fun activities for both newcomers and old hands to enjoy what was once the only way to send CW.

I can well recall tuning the CW bands as a newly-licenced teen in the mid 60's. Electronic keyers were just beginning to show up but the vast majority of amateurs still "pounded brass" with a straight key or with some type of bug. I held out for about two years before I parked my straight key and spent my Saturday job money on a brand new Vibroplex original, which I still use from time to time.

Even as late as the early 60's,  it was still easy to recognize many stations simply by the rhythm of their fist. Like fingerprints, no two were ever the same except for the truly gifted, who were able to send almost perfect CW by hand ...such an amazing thing to hear and sadly, not heard often anymore....but, not if the SKCC can help it!

Getting back to Bill's mail....I was more than happy to grant permission to use the photograph of my little 6L6 Tri-Tet-Ten that I have had so much fun with over the past few winters on 10m CW during the peak of Cycle 24. I think their new 1000 Miles-Per -Watt award looks just great.....

 ....and here is what you need to do to earn one for your wall:

SKCC Introduces 1000 MPW Award

The SKCC is rolling out a 1,000 Miles per Watt Award, established to recognize the achievement of contacting another SKCC member using QRP power limits over longer distances.

A QSO must meet the qualifications of (Distance of QSO) / (Power Output in Watts) = 1,000 miles or more. Only the station applying for the award must operate at QRP levels. QSOs made on or after Sept. 1, 2014, are eligible.

For full details, see the award's main page.

Please check out the SKCC's homepage and consider signing-up...or drop by the  K3UK SKCC Sked Page and get in on the fun....but, be sure to leave your keyer unplugged and enjoy some straight-key splendor!
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “SKCC StraightKey Splendor”

  • I joined SKCC about two months ago. I knew of the group for awhile but didn’t understand the attraction to it until I joined and participated in a Weekend Sprintathon. Sending with a straight key takes you back to your roots as an amateur radio operator and for me it reinvigorated my interest in CW. It’s an even playing field. Everyone makes mistakes and the code speeds are reasonable. The skill is in sending clean code, not being a speed demon. The Sprintathon, while being a contest, is very beginner friendly. I can’t recommend SKCC enough.


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