Posts Tagged ‘CW’

CWops club

CW ops in action

Greetings to all my blog readers I think it's safe to say that a majority of you 6 months ago never thought we would be where we are today! Life is so fragile along with our environment my hope and prayer is that all of you stay safe. I am so thankful that up to this point Julie and I are doing just fine without any COVID 19 issues. I'm retired so I can stay at home and Julie is an essential service and has to go to work but she may be able to work from home soon. I am so so so thankful that I have a pension income and that Julie is still working my heart and prayers go out to those who I can't even for a second imagine what you are going through. To all the essential workers such as medical, grocery store, pharmacy, truckers, call centres, the essential trades, border patrol, military, firefighters, EMS, police, public transit and please forgive me if I missed your type of work that helps the wheels turn during this time. Thank you thank you very very much!
Ham radio is a very good way to pass the day and I was thinking today how ham radio can play a key roll in this time we are in. My radio time was very simple yesterday basically turn on the radio and see what is going on out there. My wife works these crazy shifts and Friday is never Friday and for the next 6 weeks, our Friday is Tuesday. So we both just say thank god Friday is coming and when it's it's actually Tuesday so when it's Wednesday it's our Saturday. Having said that yesterday when I flipped the radio on and 20m was dead and I thought why is it dead on a Saturday........WRONG it's really Wednesday.
All of a sudden the band became very busy with CW traffic and I was not sure what was going on so I ventured over to WA7BNM contest page which is a fantastic site for contest goings-on. It turns out from 1300 -1400 it was the CWops mini CWT contest and WOW was it ever busy.
The CWops or CW operators club has only been around since January 2010 and according to there website now have over 1000 members and I would think that to date it's more than that. Even more exciting is that in 2012 the CW academy was founded within CWops. The CW academy is for those who are interested in learning code to those who want to improve their speed and then at the top end those who want to head copy the code! CWops also have a morse code trainer page this is a very detailed page and I can only imagine the hours that were put into its creation. With the spare time that has been unexpectedly placed upon our lives and if your interested in morse code or want to improve your code the CWops page is the place to go. I have enrolled in their intermediate coarse and opted to start in the fall as I am not sure I can put the time aside that is needed during the summer. 

Hunting For NDBs In CLE254




Once again it's a CLE weekend.

During these stressful times, the CLE might hopefully provide some peaceful relief for you.






'CLE's are 'Co-ordinated Listening Events, and NDB DXers around the world focus their listening time on one small slice of the NDB spectrum.

This time the hunting ground is the 20 slice from 400.0 - 419.9 kHz. kHz

A good target for this one is MOG (404kHz) in Montague, California, up near the border with Oregon. It gets out very well and has been logged from Finland to Hawaii. Its been on-and-off of late so maybe you can catch it while it's on again!

Listen for MOG's upper sideband on 405.027kHz with your receiver in the CW mode.

From CLE coordinator Brian Keyte (G3SIA), comes the following CLE info:

Hello all,

Our 254th Coordinated Listening Event starts on Friday.
This frequency range is not packed with signals for any of us, but if conditions are OK there should be some nice surprises.

Do join in, whether you have days to spare, or only an hour or so over the weekend.  Staying at home seems to be essential advice for most of us at present - this could be a great way of spending time there!

    Days:    Friday 27 March - Monday 30 March 2020
    Times:   Start and end at midday your LOCAL time
             (Many of us will be changing our home clocks this weekend -
               however UTC time continues unaffected)
    Range:   400 - 419.9 kHz

Please log all the NDBs that you can identify with nominal (listed) frequencies in the range - it includes 400 kHz, but not 420 kHz - plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

Send your final log to the List (no attachments please and ideally in a plain text email) with ‘FINAL CLE254’ in its title.

Show on each line:
    #   The Date (e.g.  '2020-03-27', etc.,  or just '27' )
    #   The Time in UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).
    #   kHz  - the nominal published frequency, if known.
    #   The Call Ident.

Please show those main items FIRST.  Other optional details such as Location and Distance go LATER in the same line.
As always, of course, tell us your own location and brief details of the equipment that you were using during the Event.

We will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 19:00 UTC on Tuesday so that you can check that your log has been found OK.
Do make sure that your log has arrived on the List by 08:00 UTC on Wednesday 1 April at the very latest.
We hope to complete making the combined results within a day or two.

You can find full details about current and past CLEs from the CLE page http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm   It includes access to CLE254 seeklists for your part of the World, prepared from the previous loggings in Rxx.  (Thanks, Martin and Alan, for your help with that)

Good listening
 - enjoy the CLE and do take care of yourself and your family.
      Brian and Joachim
-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Brian Keyte G3SIA      ndbcle'at'gmail.com
Location:  Surrey,  SE England     (CLE coordinator)
-----------------------------------------------------------------

  (If you would like to listen remotely  you could use any one remote
  receiver for your loggings, stating its location and owner and with their
  permission if required.  A remote listener may NOT also use another
  receiver, local or remote, to make further loggings for the same CLE)

These listening events serve several purposes. They:
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the online database can be kept up-to-date
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are out-of-service or have gone silent since the last CLE covering this range
  • will indicate the state of propagation conditions at the various participant locations
  • will give you an indication of how well your LF/MF receiving system is working
  • give participants a fun yet challenging activity to keep their listening skills honed
Final details can be found at the NDB List website, and worldwide results, for every participant, will be posted there a few days after the event.


The NDB List Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other listeners in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome. As well, you can follow the results of other CLE participants from night to night as propagation is always an active topic of discussion.

You need not be an NDB List member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers. 

Remember - 'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!

Reports may be sent to the NDB List Group or e-mailed to CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above. If you are a member of the group, all final results will also be e-mailed and posted there.

Please ... give the CLE a try ... then let us know what NDB's can be heard from your location! Your report can then be added to the worldwide database to help keep it up-to-date.

Have fun and good hunting!


Here Comes The Novice Rig Roundup (NRR) 2020!


One of the most enjoyable operating events of the year is fast approaching -- the Novice Rig Roundup or 'NRR'. Technically, it is a contest, but I have the feeling that most participants think of it as just a lot of fun and a nice opportunity to hear and work some of the great old 'classics' of the past -- rigs that were used when they were teenage Novices or rigs that they could only drool about owning, back in those formative years when they each discovered the magic of radio.

Once again the bands will be alive with the sounds of Heath AT-1s, DX-20s, DX-35s, DX-40s and DX-60s, Johnson Adventurers, Eico 720s, Drake 2NTs, Knight T-50s and T-60s, Ameco AC-1s and of course, an endless variety of lovingly-constructed homebrew delights and ... a full week plus two weekends to celebrate the 'good old radio days' of their teen years, as many of us remember them.

The dates to remember are 0000 UTC March 7 to 2359 UTC March 16 and this multi-day opportunity is, for me, what makes the NRR so enjoyable. With a nice diversion from the usual 'contest frenzy' associated with standard weekend operating events, the NRR can be enjoyed throughout the week, whenever you choose to participate. If last year's operating patterns continue, you should find activity at any time of the day ... and even more as sunset arrives.

With the fast-approaching solar minimum, we will be hard-pressed to relive the glory days of worldwide 15m propagation, but many transcon contacts were made during last year's event thanks to some well-timed solar activity! With a little luck and, hopefully, a well-timed solar flare, we may get lucky! If you operate during the daylight hours, please get on 15m and give it a shot ... and be sure to announce your activity on the NRR's sked and chat page here, so that others will know where to find you, especially if you are rock bound in true Novice fashion. With our present spotty conditions, we need all the help we can get and the sked page proved a very valuable asset during last year's affair.

Although technically not required, if you plan to participate it's best to obtain your own NRR number, which is an easy 30-second process.

Additionally, there is an online logger where participants can post their daily log. The nifty logger also keeps track and figures out your score as it goes and no 'after contest' log needs to be submitted. If you plan on submitting a log, the logger is a requirement. The logger will also require you to set up a 'log-in' and once again, a simple 30-second process will take care of that from here. If you used the logger last year, you will have to set it up again for this year as the old system has been changed.



Stations may run either crystal-control or VFO or can switch between either method ... the online logger will keep track and score things appropriately.


All of the rules and information can be found on the NRR's excellent website. As well, the soapbox comments and station pictures from last year's NRR may provide the inspiration that you need to spark-up your own activity in this year's event ... from what I can tell, this year will be bigger and busier than ever!


There is also a dedicated NRR Group, often the source of much valuable discussion but there is a now HUGE group of great NRR chat and activity now on Facebook's NRR Group here. I avoided Facebook for many years and have now discovered that it is an excellent forum for real time chat and information exchange ... one can still choose to maintain a very low profile and avoid unwanted interaction if set up correctly.

In 2017 I ran my homebrew Longfeller in the (now eliminated) QRP category, and had a ton of fun. You can read about it here. Last year, I refurbished a nice Drake 2NT that had been gathering dust in the basement for over 25 years and ran it during the 2018 NRR. You can read about my activity and some of the rigs encountered during last year's fun here.

If you have access to the web while operating, be sure to bookmark and check into the NRR's realtime chat page. Many ops that are crystal controlled will announce their operating frequencies, making it easier for you to find them ... sometimes way up or down from the normal NRR watering holes of ~  3550 - 3650 kHz7100 -7125 kHz, 21.100 - 21.150 MHz and 28.114, 28.120 MHz ... and don't forget to check the colorburst crystal frequency of 3579!

'CQ'ers should always remember to tune up and down the watering hole for replies from other NRR stations that may be crystal controlled and not able to answer you on your own frequency!! This is extremely important and a real reminder of what was common practice back in the Novice days.


courtesy: Harry - VE7AIJ
Harry's homebrew 6AQ5 crystal oscillator (Feb '55 Popular Electronics) and Hallicrafters S-53, pictured above, allowed him to work the world back in the amazing radio days of Cycle 19. Let's relive some of that excitement in the closing days of Cycle 24 ... in the NRR!


You still have time to get that old clunker on the air but if that's not possible, you can join the fun with your modern rig as well ... all are welcome to jump in and have a great week of radio-fun. I think you will be surprised, just as I was last year, how good some of these old classics can sound ... and you'll hear some great bug-fists as well.


Need more inspiration? ... here's a summary of my own experience of the 2018 NRR:

                           ***********************
The NRR once again provided many notable highlights over the nine day event.

Almost topping the list was just experiencing the variety of old classics and hearing how well almost all of them sounded. Numerous Knight T-60s, Drake 2NTs, Heath DX-40s, Johnson Adventurers and Eico 720s, along with a nice variety of homebrew MOPAs and one-tube power oscillators graced the nightly airwaves. These oft-forgotten shelf-queens always seem to develop super-powers, far beyond their expectations, when the NRR rolls around!

I was really surprised to work so many T-60s, a small and inexpensive 60 watt transmitter kit from 1962 using a popular 6DQ6 television  sweep tube ... one never expected to achieve such RF greatness! I was very impressed with every one that I heard.


What radio-struck pre-Novice teen, dreaming about getting on the air, could resist a clever ad like this.


Scott, KA9P's 80m T-60 signal sounded as sweet as it looks in his 2018 setup, paired with his Heathkit HR-10B inhaler.

KA9P 2018 NRR station with RAF Vulcan bomber Type 51 hand pump

Right up there with the plethora of T-60s was the Drake 2NT, another great sounding radio and also my choice for this year's event. My summer refurbishing project, described here, proved a worthy companion, although my much-treasured VF-1 VFO's short term drift probably had my 2NT getting red in the face whenever I took her off of crystal control to scurry around the band, seeking out the CQ'ers. I've had a love-hate relationship with the VF-1 ever since buying my first one back in '63!


VE7SL 2018 NRR with 2NT, VF-1 and my Original '63 Vibroplex

Yet another 2NT packed a powerful punch from West Virginia, keyed by Dave, W3NP, when we exchanged 579 reports on 40m, 45 minutes before sunset.

W3NP - 2018 NRR setup
This year's band conditions were excellent as both 40 and 80m sounded much as I remember them sounding back in the 60's ... loaded with strong North American CW signals almost every night. Unfortunately, Solar Cycle 24 has taken its toll on 15m and although the band appeared to often have daily though somewhat dicey propagation, there appeared to be few NRR stations using the band.

I made three contacts on 15m this year: W5IQS in Texas, K2YWE in Maryland and WN4NRR in Florida, whose S9 reply to my 'CQ NRR' just about took my head off ... what a nice surprise to hear the booming signal from Bry's 2NT powerhouse. Dan, K2YWE, was no slouch either, as his Globe Scout was music to my ears when his signal quickly rose out of the noise just long enough to make the coast-to-coast journey. If the predictions for future solar cycles become reality, there may be many more NRRs before we experience the magic of 15m once again.

K2YWE's Globe Scout and Adventurer were worked on all three bands!

My NRR exchanges with George, N3GJ (KA3JWJ) in Pennsylvania, truly demonstrated just how well the low bands were performing. More than an hour before my local sunset, I responded to his 569 40m 'CQ NRR' only to learn that his signal, now reaching a solid 579, was coming from an original Ameco AC-1! This one-tube crystal-controlled power oscillator has, over the years, reached Holy Grail status among many amateurs. Originals are guarded like precious jewels and handed down from father to son ... or in George's case, from uncle to nephew!

N3GJ and his all powerful original AC-1
I was astounded at the strength of his signal and before exchanging '73's added 'CUL on 80', not really thinking how low the chances of that might really be. Two hours later, his even stronger 'CQ NRR' was heard on 80m, as his 579 signal flirted with reaching S8 ... all emanating from just a low hanging inverted-V.  It's nights like this that remind me how I was bitten by the radio bug so many years ago and to have them coincide with the NRR was an added bonus. I've rated my contacts with George's AC-1 the highlight of this year's NRR for me!

Heathkits were plentiful too, with the DX-60 seeming to be the rig of choice, often paired with the matching HG-10 VFO. Both Mark, VA7MM and Gary, W8PU, packed a wallop with these fine examples.

VA7MM - 2018 NRR set-up

W8PU - 2018 NRR set-up

But it wasn't just DX-60s representing Benton Harbor engineering in the NRR. All of these neat old Heaths made it out to the west coast, sometimes on both 40 and 80. KN8RHM's (Rick) HW-16 made it here on 40m with a solid signal almost every night, while KE4OH (Steve) sported a modernized DX-20 in the form of Heath's HX-11. Steve even received the highly-treasured 'OO' report for his NRR chirp ... good job!

KN8RHM - HW-16 NRR set-up
 
KE4OH - HX-11 NRR station
Not to be forgotten was the ubiquitous DX-40, used by several, including this proud old warhorse, lovingly keyed by Doug, N3PDT.

N3PDT - DX-40 NRR transmitter

Rich, WN7NRR / AG5M operating in nearby Washington state put some of his 44 crystals to work with his HW-16 ... that's some collection!

WN7NRR - HW-16 NTT set-up
It seems that many NRRers are as adept with a soldering iron as they are with a hand key, as several homebrew transmitters were worked from here as well.

Howie, WB2AWQ in Reno, was using his homebrew pair of 807s, driven with a Millen 90700 swing-arm VFO from 1945. Most shacks worldwide, including the Novices, found plenty of use for the 807 as they were dirt-cheap in the post war surplus market. The filament has a beautiful illumination and if a bit gassy as most are by now, emit a wonderous blue glow with each press of the key.

WB2AWQ - 807s
Millen VFO from 1945 at WB2AWQ
KD7JG (Joe) in Oregon, sported a 12 volt version of the 807, a 1625, in his home brew rock-crusher. With 25 watts into his ladderline-fed 160m inverted-V, his 599 signal up here was hard to miss on both 40 and 80m.

KD7JG's 1625 NRR mainstay
K4IBZ down in Florida also utilized the magical 6DQ6 sweep tube in his homebrew rig for 80 and 40m. Bill was worked on both bands from here with his 10 watts receiving a 569 on both contacts.

K4IBZ's 10 watter
AA8V, Greg in Maryland, used an LM-13 war surplus frequency meter to drive a popular Novice pairing of the 6AG7 / 6146 at 90W input ... good enough for a 579 report on 40m, 30 minutes before my sunset.

AA8V's homebrew NRR stack
The runner-up highlight was my 80m QSO with Lou, VE3BDV / VE3AWA who worked me on 3568 kHz using his Bare-Essentials 50C5 crystal controlled power oscillator at 7 watts. I understand that this rig enjoyed some popularity among many Novices as a 'first transmitter'. Being connected directly across the A.C. mains, fully exposed, would require some delicate handling!

VE3BDV / VE3AWA - 50C5 Bare - Essentials power oscillator

I finished up the NRR with 123 contacts, a lot better than last year's event when I was running the Longfeller at 5 watts.

As indicated on the NRR website, this is "more of an EVENT than just a typical contest ... once again taking our OLD ham radios off the shelf and putting them to use again! "

See you in the 2020 NRR!

Barn Door Wide! Hunting For NDBs In CLE253





This weekend's upcoming CLE event will be the "Barn Door" listening event.




Participants are required to use receivers without the usual narrow filters. Some of the older tube radios can do this easily as can most homebrew receivers ... especially the regens!

If you've never listened to the NDB band with a wide bandwidth, it is a fascinating experience! If conditions are normal, you can typically hear a half dozen or more signals, all at various pitches, vying for your attention. It's almost as if you have plunked yourself down in the middle of the NDB forest of signals, and they are coming at you from all directions.

Many choose to use one of their homebrew receivers for this event, often as simple as a '1AD' or a '1 Active Device' circuit.

From organizer Brian Keyte:


Hello all

Here comes our sixth 'Barn Door' Coordinated Listening Event.
Between us there will be a great variety of ‘Back to Basics’ receiver
types in use.  Maybe this is an opportunity for you to bring back to life
that old receiver that has been collecting dust for so long!

    Days:      Friday 21 to Monday 24 February 2020

    Times:    Start at Midday on Friday 21st, your LOCAL time
                   End at  Midday on Monday 24th, your LOCAL time


    Frequencies:   Centred on 360 kHz (see below)


    NDBs:     NOT MORE than 100 'normal' NDBs including any UNIDs
                    (That is not intended to be a target to reach)


 
We are all asked to listen with NON-SELECTIVE receivers - i.e. with a WIDE
filter or NO filter.  Your 'barn door' should be open wide so you could hear,
at the same time, any NDBs 2 kHz away on both sides of your receiver
setting -  E.g. NDBs on 348, 349, 350, 351 and 352 kHz with the receiver
set to 350 kHz.
You could listen with:



Whichever you choose, use the same receiver throughout the CLE.
If your choice of receiver includes a waterfall please use only the
audio output for your listening.   You could even cover part of the
screen if there is no other way of stopping or hiding the waterfall.

Unfortunately the use of Pskov – and probably of recordings – is
not appropriate for this CLE.

You choose how wide a RANGE of frequencies you will listen in, CENTRED
ON 360 kHz. You could choose 350-370 kHz , 330-390 kHz, 260-460 kHz, etc.
   (That allows each of us to choose a +/- range with enough NDBs to
    match our equipment's capability.   It will also allow us to compare our
    loggings in the Combined Results, at least around 360 kHz).

Logs should show not more than 100 NDBs please (if more than 100
the harvester program will 'drop' the loggings furthest from 360 kHz).

We’ll summarise everyone's equipment on the first page of the combined
results, so please describe:

The RECEIVER/AERIAL you used and the FILTER(s) selected and,
if homebrew, the number of active devices used, transistor types, etc.

All the usual procedures for making logs apply:

Send your CLE log to NDB List, not in an attachment.

Please show on EVERY LINE of your log:

    # The full date (or Day No.) and UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).
    # kHz - the beacon's nominal published frequency, if known.
    # The Call Ident.

Show those main items FIRST on each line, before other optional details
such as Location, Distance, etc.  Please send your complete log with
CLE253 and FINAL in the Subject line.

Whether you are a first time CLE-er or a regular, always make your log
interesting to everyone by giving your own location and do feel free
to share any comments you have on this unusual event.

Joachim or I will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 2000 UTC
on Tuesday 25th so that you can check that your log has been found OK.
Make sure your log has arrived on the List at the very latest by 09:00 UTC
on Wednesday 26th February.   

We’ll try to complete making the combined results a day or so later.
However you choose to take part, we hope you will find your 'back to basics'
listening enjoyable and worthwhile.
  Brian
------------------------------------------------------------------
From:   Brian Keyte  G3SIA          ndbcle'at'gmail.com
Location: Surrey, SE England         (CLE coordinator)
-------------------------------------------------------------------
P.S.  NOT FOR YOU?

Listening without narrow filters is not going to revolutionise our hobby!
But there ARE some unexpected benefits and advantages:

1. Hearing several beacons on a few adjacent frequencies at the same time
becomes easier as you get practice at recognising them by listening to their
very different audio tones. At first, when listening to a random frequency
setting, you may hear just one or two beacons.  But after listening for a
little while you realise that there are three - - four, maybe more, all of
them audible without altering any of the receiver controls.
It is a skill that gives satisfaction as you improve.

2. Hearing multiple beacons like that can be useful because, with no extra
tools, you can hear NDBs over a wide frequency range much more quickly than usual, perhaps spotting the arrival of new UNIDs or the return of occasional beacons.  (To protect your hearing, keep your receiver gain controls fairly low, except around very quiet frequencies).

3. With normal listening it is easy to miss any NDBs that have abnormal
carrier frequencies or non-standard offsets.  With 'Barn Door' listening
they won't escape because everything is let through.

4. When using a wide filter, you may be surprised by hearing some
Broadcast Station signals (e.g. harmonics) among the NDBs and you will
be able to identify them.

With a narrow filter, often you may not recognise an AM signal as audio
- it just sounds like nondescript 'hash' affecting a wide range of frequencies
around the central carrier.

Maybe listeners will report some other good things about their barn door
listening during the CLE - and probably some bad things too!

Do join in if you can.

**************************
  
These listening events serve several purposes. They:
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the online database can be kept up-to-date
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are out-of-service or have gone silent since the last CLE covering this range
  • will indicate the state of propagation conditions at the various participant locations
  • will give you an indication of how well your LF/MF receiving system is working
  • give participants a fun yet challenging activity to keep their listening skills honed
Final details can be found at the NDB List website, and worldwide results, for every participant, will be posted there a few days after the event.


The NDB List Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other listeners in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome. As well, you can follow the results of other CLE participants from night to night as propagation is always an active topic of discussion.

You need not be an NDB List member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers. 

Remember - 'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!

Reports may be sent to the NDB List Group or e-mailed to CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above. If you are a member of the group, all final results will also be e-mailed and posted there.

Please ... give the CLE a try ... then let us know what NDB's can be heard from your location! Your report can then be added to the worldwide database to help keep it up-to-date.

Have fun and good hunting!

Contest Morse Code, Computers, and an Icom Rig

This past weekend (third full weekend in February, February 15-16, 2020) is the ARRL International CW Contest (ARRL DX CW link: http://www.arrl.org/arrl-dx ). This is interesting to my study of radio signal propagation as a columnist and as an amateur radio operator​ because of the contest objective: “To encourage W/VE stations to expand knowledge of DX propagation on the HF and MF bands…” This contest is a good way to get a feel for current propagation–though there are caveats.

Speaking of Morse code and the CW mode on our amateur bands: those of you using CW during contests, do you send by hand or by computer?  Do you copy the code by head, or do you use a computer for decoding?

Do you use a computer for Morse code operation?

Just curious about those of you who use CW. Do you send by hand or computer? Receive by head or computer?

In most contests like the ARRL DX CW contest, I copy by ear, and send mostly by rig keyer. If needed, I use a single paddle key with the Icom rig’s internal keyer to answer unique questions and so on.

Below is a quick demo of using the internal Morse code keyer in my Icom IC-7610 transceiver.

V47T, in the Saint Kitts and Nevis Island in the Caribbean, is calling CQ TEST in the ARRL DX CW contest.

Using the programmable virtual buttons, in which I programmed my callsign, NW7US, and other info, I answer and make a complete contest QSO.

In activity like the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC – https://SKCCGroup.com) K3Y special event, it is all manual. I send my Morse code using a WWII Navy Flameproof Signal Key, and decode with my ears.  It is contextual for me.

How do you do contesting Morse code?  Bonus question: How do you do logging while doing contest operation?

73 es best dx = de NW7US dit dit

 

The G3LEK key that turned up in Chile?

There was always a key player who I have always credited for getting me interested in this radio hobby and electronics. Len (G3LEK), who lived at the time in the 1970's five doors away from me in Fortescue Lane, Rugeley, during my youth. The first time I came across his radio gear is when his son Martin who I used to play with in the road, invited me in the old concrete garage one cold Winters morning. The back of the damp musty garage always had these strange bits of equipment with wires springing out and meters and stuff just hanging there in thin air, I never really took much notice about the stuff at the time. Until this one morning, there was Len, his Dad, pumping away at an old primer stove with a brick on top trying to keep warm "Brrrr it's cold Stevie" he said. While he was busy working away he had setup this ex miltary piece of radio equipment jacked up at an angle on a couple of blocks of wood in the centre of the garage. It must of been a very interesting experience, because I was only around 7 or 8 at the time and he alllowed me to twiddle the VFO and tune in these wonderful Short Wave stations from round the world, it was quite amazing! Especially when I could see these glass things giving off a strange orange glow at the rear of the front panel, the Radio stations I tuned you would never hear of today, the transmissions and their stations silenced and long gone! It would of been about 4 years later, I started building crystal sets, and on in my late teens went to work in the Test department for Thorn Automation, where Len also worked as a system designer after he had cut his craft being a radio operator in the Merchant Navy in the 1940's.

Of course being a ships ex Radio Operator, Len was also a very proficient CW operator, and this never left him throughout his Amateur radio years.

A few days ago Martin contacted me. who now is now 2E0LEK and following in his late Dad's footsteps with the hobby.

WOW !! I am amazed .... A British engineer has contacted me through the RSGB regarding my late Fathers CW Morse Key, and it is in Santiago Chile. I have been wondering where it had gone, and now I know.





Martin said the chap who has got the old key is Simon, and he said it can be a bit iffy ....  His XYL is Angie who bought it from an antiques dealer in Santiago. The dealer found it in a secondhand market in the city, called Persa Bio-Bio……Apparantly a fascinating place to visit if you ever get the chance (but don’t carry any valuables and be very careful).

Ref:https://www.fleamapket.com/listing/persa-bio-bio/


So Martin is now on the chase to find out how the key arrived in Chile? I know when Len left the old bungalow where he once lived, he cleared the garage out and filled up his VW camper van and took most of the ex MOD equipment to a place called Thackers at Cheslyn Hay (long time gone), Thackers were scrap dealers and breakers in ex ministry gear.

Leave comment below if you have come across the G3LEK CW key on it's travels. Martin would like to hear from anyone, who might know something. 
   .

Taking steps forward.

My last post of December had to do with some goals I wanted to get working on in 2020. It's now 2020 and as has happened to me in the past I soon will be looking back on 2020 seeing my goals worked or did not work out. One of my goals was to improve my CW and get involved with the CWops CW academy program. At this point in time, my code is not to my satisfaction. On the internet, the other day I came across a very interesting document entitled " Improving Morse code proficiency Tricks of the Trade Overcoming common problems". The author of the document is W0UCE.
He highlights 12 common problems and how to overcome them so please if you want to improve your code read over the document and see any issues come to light.
Of the 12 common problems, I was able to identify with 6 and they were:

1. Anticipating what is being sent. This is done when you copy with a pencil and paper and copy one letter at a time and not by the rhythm of a word. For example when you hear someone calling CQ most of us don't write down the letter C and Q. We know the rhythm of CQ and know the word. I have to learn the rhythm of CW and not writing letters. Learn the code as a language.

2. The inability to copy behind. This was a new one for me I never really had heard of it. You hear one or two letters and let them float in your head once you hear the 3rd letter you write down the first and second letters. In the past, if this happened to me I would panic as I figured I was getting behind in the copying.

3. Unable to increase my speed. I hit a plateau and become frustrated. The suggestion is to increase the code you are receiving by about 2 wpm above your plateau speed.

4. Lack of confidence. This for sure has been an issue with me I have found once a contact gets rolling I can get lost because of some of the issues mentioned above. Once this happens I just want to pass along 73 and TU and end the QSO.

5. Not able to hear complete words. This is just done with the practice of copying complete words and not each letter.

6. Writing each letter as it is heard. This for sure is an issue with me. I find as the speed increases I just get lost as I can't write things down fast enough. I have tried using a keyboard as I can type very fast but I have found that at a certain speed the letters are coming at you so fast you get lost between hearing the letter and then transposing it to the keyboard key.

The bottom line from what I have been reading is I have to learn how to put the pencil and paper away and copy in my heard with just writing down selective information. I really believe it's retraining your brain on how CW is understood. I relate it too when I first was learning to type and when I was to type "the" I would type "t" "h" "e" but now I don't even think about it.......well it's more like I think it and it appears on paper. I am not even thinking of were my fingers are going on the keyboard. I have to train my brain this way regarding morse code.

 The CWops is a very popular program and spaces fill up fast and at this point in time, the class enrollment is for April/May or Sept/Oct. I am trying to see if the April/May works out for me. Until I am accepted into either time slot for the class I wanted to work on my code. So I am going to work on the above issues I have mentioned.

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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor




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