What CW recipe do you want to learn….part one?


 Yes, you read it correctly......within the world of CW there are recipes that one finds they are following but before you follow a recipe you have to learn the ingredients for that recipe. The CW recipes that I am aware of are POTA including the other variations, conversational CW, DXpedition hunting and contesting. Most who want to learn CW do so with a particular interest in mind. Every recipe involves ingredients and each of the above CW recipes involves certain recipe ingredients that one needs to learn and get better and better at. So in part 1 let's begin with the one I am most familiar with....contesting. This was the main reason I wanted to learn CW. 

If you are interested in contesting then what are the ingredients for CW contesting.... Letters, numbers, speed and accuracy. How serious you want to get will determine such areas as speed but letters, numbers and accuracy will always be a mainstay in the recipe. Once you have the letters and numbers down you are then good to go for call sign and number string practice. There are many call sign and number practice programs on the internet. There is LWCO, Morse Code World, Morse Code Ninja and then there are programs as well such as Morse Runner, G4FON contest and RUFZxp contest programs to name a few. Best of all there is the real deal and that is getting on the air and operating contests. Start out doing search and pouncing call signs in a contest. Avoid call sign spotting programs as these do not exercise recall, retention and eventually instant recognition. As you continue to practice you will find with some letters and numbers that instant recognition is happening.

 There is a rhythm to CW contesting and you will find like all of us you will get used to the rhythm.....how do I know this you ask? Well in a contest when a station goes off script you can get lost. For example, you get asked to QSY to 14.023 or PSE UR CALL AGN not to worry as I have read even the seasoned contesters get thrown off now and then. In contesting you will only have to instantly recognize a few phrases. Such as NR?, TU, and AGN? (sometimes with or without "?") and that is about it. 

There are some things if you choose you don't have to worry about in contesting. Because contesting programs such as N1MM+ do everything for you. Sending manual code is optional as macros within N1MM+ look after everything. You won't have to worry about recognizing common QSO words and phrases. 

So what will contesting do for you......your code accuracy will improve, your speed will improve and instant recognition will happen. Also when you dip your toes in the big boy pool and call "CQ TEST" you will have the joy of multiple stations coming back to you. The brain is an amazing thing and I can attest to the fact that when you practice (using the above-named contest programs) multiple stations come back to you in time your brain will pull out one station. You may or may not get the complete call but you will have something to go back to them with. 

In closing the recipe of CW contesting can include as many ingredients as you like. As you master one you can add another and so on. Not all like contesting and that is why in CW there are other recipes one can follow. Next time we are going to look at the CW conversational recipe. As a side note to have access to the G4FON program you need to join the Long Island CW club or LICW. I am a member and its an amazing group. Check out the link and see what they are all about.

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “What CW recipe do you want to learn….part one?”

  • Johnny G3LIV:

    How about this recipe

    A Flight Sargent by your side
    tapping his leg with a swagger stick
    Suggesting you pay more attention.
    Worked for me


  • Johnny G3LIV:

    Joking aside

    What about a Contest
    10wpm maximum
    Over 10wpm qso does not count,
    Maybe there is one I have lost touch on that now.
    Let them get the feet wet first.
    Be fun as well


  • Mike KB5UKT:

    I try to stay around the old Novice sections and call CQ at 10WPM but I rarely get any takers/answers to my CQ’s. But I do have about 23 CW Q’s now so it is coming along. I’m slow, so what is the recipe for the Novice contact?
    Then the msg.: Hi (their call) de (my call) Name hr is Mike How cpy?
    Next over: Radio hr is Icom 7410 ant is 80m dipole (his call) de (my call)(how do I send over?)
    Next over: Wx hr 65F day/nite (his call) de (my call)
    Next over: Thxs fer qso (his call) de (my call) 73 sk ..
    So is this even close to what someone is expecting? Mike KB5UKT

  • Ko4 FHA:

    Are there any structured ce courses

    Thank you for your help

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Johnny and very nice to hear from you, very good question regarding a 10wpm contest. There is the K1USN slow speed contest which happens Fridays 20:00-21:00 UTC and Mondays 00:00-01:00. The max speed it 20wmp BUT I have taken part in the mini contest many times and the average speed is much slower. Go to the K1USN SST site for more info.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Mike thanks for leaving a comment and nice to hear from you again. Your QSO structure is a very common one and yes it is one that would be expected. If you would like to get some more practice (not QSO) try the K1USN slow speed contests each Friday 20:00-21:00 UTC and Monday 00:00-01:00 UTC evenings. The max speed it 20wmp BUT many are much slower and you can call “CQ SST KB5UKT” you will get takers at the speed you are sending. It’s not a QSO but it is good practice. Go to their website K1USN SST and check it out.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Marcel and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Now I am not sure if you mean structured courses for contesting or getting your CW speed up? As for contest courses I am not sure there are any other than write ups on the internet. You can look up “Contest University.com” and it has many write ups about contesting and I am sure you will find something helpful there. As for courses on CW yes there is. The CWops has a very popular set of courses that many have taken and improved their speed. Look up CWops and on their site they have a section on their site called CW academy. Another great option is to look up the Long Island CW club as they have more information there than I can list here.
    Hope that helps?

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