The Joy of Elmering (with Congratulations to KK4FKM for His First QSO!)

I got some good news and some bad news Tuesday. The bad news came when Dean, NYØI, let me know he couldn’t get into my EchoLink station. A little investigation proved that my radio is deaf; the problem is either the feedline or the antenna itself. What a disappointment.

But the good news I got that day was so good that it more than made up for the bad news. I got a taker on my offer to be a CW Elmer! Michael, KK4FKM, found me listed over at the SKCC Elmer Page and sent me an email. Great timing — I easily pushed my antenna woes to the back of my mind and set up a SKED with him for yesterday afternoon on 20m.

Kent SP-1 Key

The Key I Used to Work KK4FKM: The Kent SP-1

At the appointed hour I called KK4FKM KK4FKM KK4FKM DE NØIP NØIP NØIP KN. I wasn’t sure I’d hear him since the band was unusually noisy and KK4FKM was running QRP. But sure enough, there he was!

He was buried pretty deep in the QRN; I quickly flipped on my CW filter to isolate his signal. I managed nearly solid copy on the first go-around, but I couldn’t make out his subsequent transmissions. I was booming in there, though, so he had the opportunity to copy plenty of code.

Afterward we chatted by phone. I was moved when Michael told me this was his first QSO! What an honor to be his first contact. Impressive, too, that Michael’s first QSO was by CW, especially considering that he has his General — he could have gone straight to HF SSB if he wanted to, but instead he went the extra mile and tapped out his first QSO on a straight key, QRP no less. Well done!

It turns out that Michael and I have even more in common than our appreciation for CW. He is a police officer in a department about the same size as the one in which I served, and he is a Baptist, too. After a delightful conversation, we set up another SKED before bidding one another farewell.

This is one QSL that I would send if it cost me a hundred stamps! It’s in the mailbox. Congratulations, KK4FKM!

If you ever have a chance to Elmer, go for it. And if you could use an Elmer, don’t hesitate to seek one out. You’ll be doing him a favor. Of all the things we can do in this hobby, Elmering might just be the most delightful one of all.

Todd Mitchell, NØIP, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Minnesota, USA. He can be contacted at [email protected].

4 Responses to “The Joy of Elmering (with Congratulations to KK4FKM for His First QSO!)”

  • Chris Meisenzahl (@speedmaster) / K9ROC:

    Well-done, congrats! I just got my first HF QSO a few nights ago.

  • Todd Mitchell, NØIP:

    Thanks, Chris. Ditto!

  • Garth KF7ATL:

    Nicely done, Todd! A good Elmer is worth his weight in gold. I clearly remember my first CW QSO, and I will always be grateful to the fellow I worked for his patience. I only copied about half, but he slowed down when asked, and sent repeats as needed to get me through it. It was a fun experience!

  • Todd Mitchell, NØIP:

    Thanks, Garth. Fond memories!

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