Slow it down

I worked a station at lunch time today, and it was a frustrating experience. He was sending way too fast …… not for me, but for him.

He was 599 Plus and should have been easy copy, and he would have been if he had been able to send his own call correctly more than once in a row. But it took a while to figure his call out, as he sent it differently each time, tripping over himself the whole way.

You know, when you turn up the code speed to that point, you’re not doing anyone any favors – yourself or the stations you’re trying to work. What’s the point of sending so fast that repeats become necessary or you turn off potential contacts? No one really wants to listen to gobbledygook.

It makes more sense to slow it down. You might not break any land speed records, and your ego may be a bit deflated, but you will also not send people away going, “Huh?!?”.

As they say in the FISTS club, “Accuracy transcends speed.”

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

9 Responses to “Slow it down”

  • Carty KA2Y:

    I almost agree with you. I have recently become active again, this time with arp and cw. Elecraft K1 is as much fun as my first novice transmitter about 55 years ago. My first ten contacts were major embarrassments because of my rusty fist doing exactly what you describe. However, I found that slowing below about 13 wpm was actually worse. My brain apparently likes the sound and feel of my Bencher paddle in the 14 to 20 wpm range. I also had to readjust the paddle, something must have changed. I still send a whoops occasionally, but not having many once around qso’s anymore. Otherwise – vary valid point.

  • Peter KG5WY:

    I completely agree and have experienced the same thing.
    I have been taught to focus on accuracy first then speed will slowly increase.

  • Larry W2LJ:

    Perhaps I should have been more specific. The station is question yesterday was trying to send at around 30 WPM. Had he slowed it down to a more reasonable 25 WPM, for example, I think he would have had greater success.

    I thought perhaps that maybe the Ham in question was an OT, perhaps with arthritic hands or some other condition. I looked up the profile on QRZ and this was a relative youngster – late 20s or early 30s, maybe. This was definitely a case of just sending too fast. When you send your call three times and the same character subsequently gets sent an a 4, an H and a 5 – it’s a good idea to slow down a bit.

    Larry W2LJ

  • Larry W2LJ:

    By the way, it ended up being a “4”.


  • Bill - WA8MEA:

    This is one of the reasons I have all but stopped working CW. Oh, you might have caught me during the Kansas QSO Party working CW; trying to spell those words like KANSAS, SUNFLOWER and QSO-PARTY. But those guys were good and the contacts – clean and quick. And they did QRS for us slower fellas, which was really appreciated.

    But I just can’t call CQ in CW any longer. I get too many horribly fisted ops coming back.

  • Don N4KC:

    Whew! For a moment, I thought you were talking about ME, Larry! But I note we did not work each other this week. Point well taken…


    Don N4KC

  • fred ka4rur/qrp:

    It makes no sense to sent fast, unless you are in a tfc net or working at one of the old coastal station why send fast, slow it down. I believe that 16wpm is a comfortable speed.


    Fred ka4rur/qrp

  • kk4itn:

    Really cool and confortable,sit back and enjoy the contact,why rush?
    CW is something to be enjoyed, not rushed and having to tighten up with.
    Sometimes 30 or so wpm is way too fast for the sender as well as the intended contact.
    Cut cw was good in WWII, but this is amateur radio were suppose to be introducing ourself to another, not sending qth of aircraft! Thats why I leave the lower part of 20 alone for the machine gunners at 30+.

  • David W4EZZ:

    Additionally, it discourages many who maybe looking into becoming a CW participant. A basic contact at 8 wpm does not take long. It also helps others to get active on CW.

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