Posts Tagged ‘CW’

VE9KK the world of CW 2023-11-27 18:05:00


My setup and the VE3WDM is my lic plate from Ontario

This past weekend I was busy with the CQ World Wide CW contest...go figure! The solar weather was not looking good and for most of Saturday, the Kp index was around 6 and for a short time moved to 7. I was shocked the conditions were still decent. On Sunday the Kp index fell to 2-3 which also gave better conditions. I entered as low power (100 watts), all band and unassisted meaning I did not use QSO finding assistance. The bands I operated were limited to my antenna the Hustler 4BTV which meant that was 40,20,15 and 10m. 

Spot in the middle of the Ocean is code garble SN70 I put zero and not the letter O

Some of my highlights were getting a call from fellow blogger Bas PE4BAS, KH7L and V51YJ. I think because of the conditions solar weather wise it limited me from Southeast Asia. I did spend a lot of time in the operating chair and toward the end of the contest I started to get what I call "code garble". I heard a call but it just did not register, I heard a call but entered numbers or letters on the keyboard that had nothing to do with the call and so on. For example, numerous time I had a call starting 9A call me and every time I entered 0A. I kept having to correct it and that meant time and good old 9A wondered what I was up too.  I ended up pulling the plug about an hour before the contest ended. 

My best hourly contact rates were in the 130's and at the low-end 50's. I have been practising handling pileups using N1MM logger. You can set it up to give you pileup simulations. Not that I am a big gun but when you get spotted on the cluster things can get a bit hairy at times.

The final results

During the contest 99% of the time I was calling "CQ contest" or running as it is called. My speed was 32-34 wpm. I find if your calling at 32 wpm you get replies at 25-36 wpm. When calling at 34wpm sometimes the comebacks can be very fast and mistakes happen. In this contest, the exchange is 599 (signal report) and CQ zone and that is filled in by the contest program. This means when your calling CQ contest you can go a bit faster as most slower callers most likely found your call on the cluster. When a serial number is involved a lot of contest stations slow down the serial number part of the exchange.

Overall it was a great contest and I look forward to it again next year. The next contest I am looking at is the RAC Canadian Winter contest in December.

Chances like this only come now and then……….

The bands will come alive


This weekend is the running of the CQ World Wide DX CW contest that runs for the entire weekend. Now those of you who are not into contesting then it's off the SSB portion, digi portion or the WARC band. But you don't have to be a contesting nut like me to be excited about this contest. This is a chance to find and make contact with some very decent DX. It will give you a chance to line your DXCC pockets, work all states award, work all zones award, place your rig in QRP or QRPp power and see how many miles per watt you can do and the list goes on. Not too great at CW you say, well there are some very decent code reader software out there that also send code as well. Chances like this only come now and then.

As for me I am going to be for the weekend and hope to do well and have a lot of fun while I am at it. Cheers and have a good weekend for those in the U.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking the side road……

This weekend the LZ dx contest was up and running, I have never taken part in this contest and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity. It's a 24-hour contest that started at 8 am out my way and it gave me a nice workout for the upcoming weekend for the CQ World Wide DX CW contest. I took part for about a total of 4 hours and made 120 contacts for a score of 13,110. 

Midway into the contest I was taken down a side road for a pleasant surprise. At some point on Saturday afternoon calling CQ contest was slowing down on 20m. I decided to make a left turn and head down the 10m side road. There were very few LZ contesters there but I did notice a commotion on the waterfall. When I went to investigate it was H44WA DXpedition in the Soloman islands calling CQ North America (CQ NA) and he was all alone. I put the Icom 7610 in split and dual mode (hearing both VFOA and VFOB) and made the mental change from CW contesting to CW DXpedition. After a few short tries, I was in the log. I was glad I made a left turn and took a side road from the contest.

Sometimes you just have to come full circle.


As one of my regular readers of the blog, you would know I am a CW buff and the main part of CW is the CW key. For some time now I have been at odds to get the one that works for me. The first key I ever had was the Bencher BY-1 key. It is a very straightforward spring tension key that worked great for me, so what happened to it you ask? As with most of you, I got married, had kids, a job and all the activities that go along with that portfolio. Ham radio was put to the side and things got sold including the Bencher paddle. 

Fast forward to now when the kids are grown, work is no longer and retirement is here. I started to get back into radio again about 4 years before I retired as life did at that point start to slow done. It was time to start looking for a key again. I had read about Begali keys and looked online and decided on their Contour which was magnetic return and not sprin. Me and the key were not getting along very well. I thought it was a matter of adjustment, I had adjusted the contact spacing more than I can remember and I became over time more and more frustrated. I ended up selling the Contour key.

I then move to a solid-state touch key made by 9A5N. This is a very well-made key which is very solid and works as advertised. For me, I could not get the electronic touch adjustment done in a way that would work for me. Seemed it was either too sensitive to touch or not enough, now there was nothing wrong with the key it was just me. With this key, I tried adjusting and adjusting but never could get what I was looking for. I found myself sending extra dits or dahs.

It was time for me to come full circle and move back toward a spring key as that was the only one that worked for me. I ended up going back to Begali and purchasing their Simplex Basic Iambic key. It is their least expensive key but not at all poorly made. The key arrived about a month ago and I have been reacquainting myself with a spring key again. In a nutshell, it seems I have found my happy place again with keys. 

It's very odd as in the past I would have thought a key is a key is a key but not so there is a feel to each of the types of keys and I just had to find a type with the correct feel for me. 


Rainy weekend adventure.


This weekend was the running of the Worked All Germany contests or WAG. This contest supports both CW and SSB within the same contest. As for me, it was strictly CW....go figure eh!. As happens now and then just before the contest there was an atmospheric burp and the K index moved to 5! The good thing about this is everyone is affected so your still kinda on the same playing field more or less. 


This is a 24-hour contest that starts at noon Saturday my time. With the poor solar conditions, there was lots of fading in and out (QSB). This resulted in lots of repeats and contacts that started at S7 and ended somewhere in the dust. I take this as an opportunity to sharpen my CW skills and learn more about the Icom 7610 filtering. This time around I took advantage of the two independent receivers the 7610 has. I had a split screen of the band I was on and the next band that could in time show some excitement. This came in very handy today when I noticed 10 meters coming to life. I swapped out 15m for 10m as it seemed to just jump to life. I had 51 contacts in just 1.5 hours and that was during so-so band conditions. I entered the contest as single operator/all band / low power (100 watts). It was a very rainy weekend here so that made it very easy to stay in the radio chair and plug along.


VE9KK the world of CW 2023-10-13 19:38:00


A new addition.....well I did have it in the past and sold it....don't ask

As you know I enjoy my CW contesting and am always looking to make things more easy. When contesting I use N1MM+ logging software which works great. During non-contesting times I use Win4icom radio control software. As a side note this software by VA2FSQ Tom is great and very well supported. He also offers radio control software for Yaesu and Elecraft as well, I have used the Elecraft radio control software (Win4k3) and it was great as well.

When contesting there are times when radio adjustments are needed such as filter settings, APF settings and digi select. To get to these adjustments you have to dig down a few menu settings to get where you want to be. Then I came up with what seemed to be an easy solution......but as they say, nothing is easy.
Using Win4icom the multi-menu changes could be done with one mouse click! With Win4icom you can use multiple 3rd party programs and N1MM+ is one of them. After setting up Win4icom and N1MM+ to speak with each other via virtual com ports I was good to I thought. 
Win4Icom software

The communication between the two programs was all good except for the N1MM+ cw macros would not key the radio and send the CW message. That is a big issue when contesting, I contacted Tom from Win4icom and he informed me that Win4icom does not support the use of DTR over virtual ports. He then informed me to overcome this issue I needed the Winkeyer from K1EL. The funny thing is I used to have a Winkeyer but sold it! 

I then ordered the Winkeyer and waited for it to come in, when it did I followed very closely the installation instructions for the Winkey. When I started both Win4icom and N1MM+ low and behold all the macros worked like a charm! But as always there is always a hiccup when dealing with computers, software and hardware. 

I had my 9A5N touch keyer connected to the Winkeyer port and then I tried to send code from the key it did not work. I have an early edition of the 9A5N key and it does not like the Winkeyer. I solved the issue by connecting the touch key directly to the Icom 7610 radio.
So now I am off to the races and can have Win4icom, N1MM+ and Winkey all happy and working together.

How fast is to fast?

Good afternoon blog readers I hope you are still enjoying the summer heat and are putting it into perspective as it compares to winters freezing cold? 

I have a question, when it comes to CW contesting…how fast is to fast? I have asked myself this question during CW contests, when I decide to search and pounce most of the time the speed is in around 30-34 wpm. Now having said that there are some big guns that run at close to 40wpm. BUT they have been spotted and always will be thus for the most part then the caller already knows their call. It is just the exchange that has to be handled and if it is a contest that has a generic exchange (CQ zone, ITU zone so on) then the software fills in the exchange details.  

For a small gun like me it’s only now and then I get spotted on the cluster and I know when this happens as I get into a pileup situation. I am not some multi operator high power station with dream antennas I am just small potatoes. I feel that if I was to knock out code at 36 wpm I think my contact rate would drop? In my humble opinion ( please correct me if I am wrong) I should stay in the 30-34 wpm range to gather fish in my net? 

What say you fellow CW contesters… a dark place in my mind I am thinking that for me its a waste of time to practice for the 38-40 wpm goal because with my 100 watts along with a simple vertical antenna at that speed I will hear crickets when calling CQ contest? What say you…………

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