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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

The Glories of QSK

Eric P. Nichols (KL7AJ) on March 16, 2009
View comments about this article!

The Forgotten Glories of QSK

By

Eric Nichols, KL7AJ

In all the discussion of the pros and cons of CW in recent years, I've heard very little of one of the major advantages of CW over any other mode, at least when implemented properly.

Full break-in (QSK) allows FULL DUPLEX operation on a frequency with multiple users. Except for, perhaps some commercial H.F. maritime circuits, full duplex operation is nearly non-existent on H.F. frequencies.

To hear a well-oiled CW net with EVERY OPERATOR running full QSK is an operation to behold, poetry in motion. Breaks and fills can be requested with a single “dit” by any net member. We have forgotten how routine this sort of operation used to be; it's lean, mean, fast and efficient. No other common amateur mode, digital or voice, offers this full-duplex feature.

There are some requirements though. Achieving smooth, seamless QSK, especially at HIGH POWER, takes some planning, but it's nowhere near as difficult as many make it out to be.

In days of yore, full break-in was achieved by using separate receivers, transmitters, and antennas. Actually, my first, very primitive Novice station was full break-in before I knew there was a name for it. In fact, I didn't know there was any other way of doing CW! I had a Johnson Adventurer on one dipole, and an ARC-5 on another. It overloaded my receiver like crazy, but since the ARC-5 didn't have any AGC, it recovered instantly. I ALWAYS heard the other stations in between my characters.

The next level of sophistication beyond this was the so-called T/R switch, which allowed you to share an antenna, by LOOSELY coupling your receiver to this magical box that intentionally overloaded and limited the signal to the receiver during transmit, but applied some gain and selectivity during receive. Alternatively, some daring hams actually coupled their receiver to a capacitive tap to the HOT side of a linear amplifier's tank circuit. Actually, this was very effective, and the Handbook and other publications abounded with techniques for doing this. It's still an effective means of achieving QRO QSK.

The PIN diode switch made high power QSK a lot easier to implement, but it's no substitute for good planning either. QSK is best implemented with either NO AGC, as in days of old, or with a VERY FAST AGC. A very fast R.F. pulse blanking circuit before the front end can also be quite useful. My Ten Tec Jupiter has absolutely fabulous QSK “right out of the box,” but when I run QSK, I use a separate receive antenna, which runs through an R.F. blanker, synchronized with my keyer. (This was from a modified LORAN blanking circuit, rather popular when LORAN A trashed 160 meters).

Remember that old-school method of running very high audio gain, but using the R.F. gain as the volume control? Well, guess what? It's still a great means of getting silky smooth QSK...and since most NETWORKED CW operations are not weak signal operations, you can usually afford to sacrifice a little R.F. gain!

It's very important when joining (or starting!) a QSK CW net that EVERYONE involved is running full break-in. This was an absolute requirement for most CW nets, years ago. One station running PTT (or worse) on a CW net can ruin the duplex operation for everyone.

Full PSK is a technology as well as an art form. (As well as a discipline). It truly presents you with a different way of doing radio...terse, concise, and fast.

I really recommend you try out full QSK if you haven't. If you're new to CW, it's an adventure waiting. If you're an old timer, it's time to resurrect the old break-in nets.

Eric Nichols, KL7AJ

Member Comments:
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The Glories of QSK  
by TANAKASAN on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
All agreed and this is a fine article. The only problem is that current technology is not well suited to high speed QSK operating because the electronics get in the way. Apply the standard formula of delay in mS = 1200/WPM to the length of a dot and you will find that the space between the characters is VERY small indeed once you get above 35 WPM, this gap has to deal with the following:

1) Fall time of the CW waveform
2) Switchover between Tx and Rx (including relay in your linear)
3) Settling time of the synth if you are running split

Then you have your receive gap followed by............

4) Switchover between Rx and Tx (including the relay in your linear)
5) Settling time of the synth if you are running split
6) Rise time of the CW waveform

Note that I haven't included in the list delays due to DSP software, time delays due to relay contact bounce and the 5mS it takes for the sound to travel from the speaker to your ears (which is why real CW operators use cans). I also haven't mentioned the problems with ringing filters.

Right now the best rigs for QSK are probably the TenTec models. As for homebrew, getting QSK to work properly above 30 WPM is a task not to be undertaken lightly, it took me six months before I was happy with the result.

Tanakasan
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by AA4PB on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Just a nit. QSK is not really full duplex. It's still half duplex but with short turn-around times.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by N2UGB on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
My TS-130V is old fashioned semi break-in and the FT-817 rig is pretty quick but not sure if it falls into the QSK category.

I was spoiled by my Ten-Tec Argonaut V...sigh!

Making do with what I have now so not complaining.

Good article.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by N3JBH on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
My Omni 6 Is another gem on QSK... Never thought running QSK was something exciting till i done it. Jeff
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by K1BXI on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Do you remember when everyone in the net was never on the exact same frequency and you could tell who was who just by the different notes you heard. Not to mention the different "swings" from their keying methods. Maybe a slight chirp or a hint of AC on their signal also helped to know who was who. Just like every voice is different, so was their CW sound.

Listen today and most everyone is on the exact same frequency and all the keying sounds the same. All thanks to triple digit readout and electronic and computer keying.

Maybe you can come up with an EQ for CW Eric. That would make a good April 1st article.

John
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by K0BG on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Another small nit:

Syllabic VOX when properly implemented is full break in, and just as effective as QSK. However, even if it were available on every transceiver, few would use it. The main reason is the same for both SVOX and QSK; it's disconcerting to the majority of users.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
The Glories of QSK  
by WB4AEJ on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
This goes back to what the newcomers are missing. Since they didn't learn code, they never experienced anything like this. You've got to be a technical or engineering mind.

Of course, the universities are saying that the U.S. is going to be in the minority in the number of engineers we produce. China and the U.K. are going to be way ahead of us in that area.

To me, that's like losing the U.S. status as the leader of the industrialized world. And I think the FCC didn't think about that when they revamped the amateur radio service this way.

73,


Fred, WB4AEJ
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W9OY on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Actually QSK is FULL DUPLEX. What passes for QSK in ham radio is merely advertising.

In the "old days" coastal stations had transmitter plants and receiver sites that were not on the same property. This was full duplex. The operator controlled both from his operating position With the advent of transceivers ham radio moved from the days of "full duplex" to half duplex since transceivers used the same circuits for transmit and receive but they couldn't use them for both simultaneously. You can't have a received signal coming in the filter while you have a transmitted signal going out. TT came up with the bright idea of fast turn around with fast relays, and advertised it as QSK, but it is still half duplex, that simulates QSK.

The Flex 5K returns to full duplex, Both receiving and transmitting processes run full time. In fact with the second receiver added to the mix you have full triplex, all three processes run full time. This is why the radio with the second RX can be used SO2R. You can tune 15M while running on 20M and click a switch and make a contact on 15 then return to the 20M run, all in one box.

The flex is set up to calibrate itself using automatic software routines by using the transmitter as a signal generator to calibrate the receiver, and by using the receiver as a spectrum analyzer to calibrate the transmitter AKA full duplex. You can't get much more "full duplex" than that.

Personally I find QSK annoying and I run about 50ms of delay in my rig. This gives me between word breakin which is good enough without all the racket of QSK. If I run faster the vac relays my amps starts sounding like a machine gun. I have pin diodes in one amp but unless you are very careful you are all the time replacing the fuses protecting those diodes

73

W9OY
 
The Glories of QSK  
by K4MC on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Life is too short for CW!

K4MC
 
The Glories of QSK  
by WX7G on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
QSK is nice for everyone. When calling DX in a pileup QSK allows me to immediately stop calling when I hear the DX station come back to someone.

My transceiver has excellent QSK while my amp has no QSK. However, there is enough receive signal leaking across the amp relay to provide effective QSK during all but weak signal conditions.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by N4KZ on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I've been operating CW since the late 1960s and have heard many sing the praises of full QSK. And I have no reason to doubt them. I've had several rigs along the way with good QSK but when I tried it, I pesonally found it distracting to my sending to have the receiver alive nearly all the time -- particularly on a summer evening on 80m CW and lots of static.

Perhaps if I could do a better job of mentally blocking out the noise I could better enjoy QSK. But after all these years, not sure my personal preference on that is going to change.

73, Dave, N4KZ
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by AA4PB on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Actually QSK is FULL DUPLEX
----------------------------
Full Duplex means that you can actually receive and transmit at the same time. That requires either separate frequencies or a separate receive and transmit locations.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W5DQ on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K4MC write "Life is too short for CW!"

However, with CW, life is alot nicer and less stress. You never hear on CW the crap like you hear on 75M or 20M phone. CW ops are much nicer and friendlier, almost everyone is willing to help a newbie increase their code speed and improve their operating. Not to say that there aren't good types on phone (many many are) but rather just more of the A-holes in the mix on phone.

Also you will notice that many of the rare DX stations, not the DXpeditions that take a cargo ship of gear, but the single guy in a grass hut in Africa or the missionary to some remote nowhere will usually be running CW on low power. I know my DX entity count is much higher thanks to CW.

Gene W5DQ
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by AI8P on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Hello,

I run a Yaesu Mk V Field, with an external Ameritron amp keyer, to a QRO Technologies amp with a full QSK vacuum relay. It works great for me, but I'm never above 30 wpm anyway!

I find it most useful for the DX that works CW split. With the DX in one ear and the pileup in the other, I can instantly tell when the DX comes back to someone. I don't know how I'd manage in that situation without it.

Your mileage may vary,

de Dennis, AI8P
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by WA1RNE on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!

With the amount of CW traffic nets in operation, you would have received kudos for this article - - over 30 years ago....


Nice memories though....


...WA1RNE
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by N8AUC on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W5DQ wrote:
"However, with CW, life is alot nicer and less stress. You never hear on CW the crap like you hear on 75M or 20M phone. CW ops are much nicer and friendlier, almost everyone is willing to help a newbie increase their code speed and improve their operating. Not to say that there aren't good types on phone (many many are) but rather just more of the A-holes in the mix on phone. "

I don't know if that's always 100% true, but I do know that when using CW you have to think about what you're doing. Perhaps that's the real difference, on CW you actually have to use your brain. Now, the vast majority of folks on phone are good operators. But any idiot can key a mike, and most do.

73 de N8AUC
Eric

 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by WB4TJH on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I enjoy CW, especially with my Elecraft K2. But I have always found CW nets too confusing and too fast for me, so I tend to avoid them. I do love to ragchew with other CW qrp stations, tho. But formal CW net operation has never interested me. There's so little REAL traffic handling today, I just don't see a lot of use for it. So for me, CW qrp ragchewing has always been the most fun and the mainstay of my 38 years on the air.
 
The Glories of QSK  
by N3QE on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I agree, QSK is wonderful not just for joy but for efficiency. I heard a small pileup on 40M the other day using a dual receiver and it really was impressive; every time the DX went key down all the stateside ops went silent - they had QSK. I contrast this with the massive cluster-f*** pileups where everyone is just droning on without even listening for the DX.

I often here folks come along and say "Ten Tec has some pretty good QSK", and they're right - in fact my main solid-state rig is a Ten-Tec and I love it - but they haven't heard truly glorious QSK until they hear some of the good old classic QSK setups like the HW-16 or some other separate electronic T/R switch setups. It really feels like you can hear the band even while you're key-down. Transceivers that share the IF between T&R can come close but don't really reach the full glory.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by KI4WGI on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WB4AEJ wrote... "This goes back to what the newcomers are missing. Since they didn't learn code, they never experienced anything like this. You've got to be a technical or engineering mind."

What does CW have to do with engineering? Just got my no-code license as soon as it was available. But I've been a engineer for 20 years, so I don't get your point.

And yes, I'm concerned with China graduating more engineers then the US graduates college students (in all fields!). But I doubt the FCC removing code is going to impact US engineering education in any way. In my view what is going to attract our younger ones is the convergance of PC's and radio (such as SDR). That is, if we Elmer them correctly....

One last point. Even though I waited for the FCC to drop code, I still bought a Heathkit HW-7 rig, which now obligates me to learn code to get it on the air.

So this present no-code HAM appreciates this article and soon hopes to be a know-code HAM.

Thanks,
Steve KI4WGI
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by G0OTT on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Like Dave I find QSK distracting/off-putting, my sending is bad enough these days hi!!
Each to their own, wot makes life interesting :P
Regards Darren
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by N6RK on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
> In the "old days" coastal stations had
> transmitter plants and receiver sites
> that were not on the same property.
> This was full duplex. The
> operator controlled both from his operating position
> With the advent of transceivers ham radio
> moved from the days of "full duplex" to half duplex

I have a remote HF base, and I also have an HF
station at the control point. They are 100 miles
apart. Just like the old coastal stations like KFS. I have true duplex, being able to listen
on my transmit frequency while transmitting. This
is much better than mere QSK, especially in trying
to break a pileup. I have much better awareness
of what is going on. I can even tell if stations
are QRM'ing me.

Rick N6RK
 
The Glories of QSK  
by K7CU on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I use a TS850SAT. Best rig I've ever owned. I run QSK on CW all the time. I "grew up" with QSK on CW traffic nets and can't imagine working CW any other way. It's particularly efficient during DX pileups. And it's really great when just rag chewing. There are ways to bypass the relays in an amp so you can enjoy QSK when running more than 100 watts.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by KL7AJ on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
RNE:

You'll be interested to know that Navy/Marine MARS is resurrecting the CW nets. The Chief of Navy/Marine MARS has personally made it a priority. Some pretty good ops there...even the guys who had to dust off the old keys. :)

eric
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by WB4M on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Also, with CW, you have to know how to SPELL, hi hi.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by K0BG on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WB4M. Actually, you don't even need to be able to spell. That is, if you know phillips code.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W9OY on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
AA4PB

Yep you are exactly right. That is what it means when the receiver is listening to the transmitter AND calibrating itself on the same frequency. It is also what it means when you can listen to the signal that is leaving your transmit antenna on a separate receive antenna connected to the RX2 jack on the radio. When the key is up, you hear what ever is on the band like someone trying to break you, but there is no relay clicking in the radio. It is also what it means when you are transmitting on 20M in a contest while listening at the same instant on 15M on a different antenna which connects to the second RX on its own RX2 antenna jack.

This radio is FULL DUPLEX or FULL TRIPLEX depending on how you have it configured and how many antennas you have, not half duplex. It also allows you to run dual spatial diversity with 2 antennas

The design of the Flex 5000 is not at all like any other transceiver out there. It is a paradigm shift.

I have my radio set up so I have my transmitter turned on by the MOX switch through my amplifier (which is drawing idle current because the transmitter is turned ON) connected to antenna one. If the transmitter is tuned to 3503, at the same instant in time I can receive a station on 3503 on RX2 in the full duplex mode. RX2 is connected through its own antenna connection to antenna two. NO RELAYS, 2 antennas full duplex. I press the key and get 1500W output on antenna one. Let up the key and immediately hear any station trying to break me on antenna two, just as you describe.

I have been writing about some of these kinds of things on my blog

w9oy-sdr.blogspot.com

73

W9OY
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by N7YA on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Life is too short for CW!"


Took me a couple of weeks to learn well enough for the 5 wpm test in 83...now THATS short! But anyone can do it, 26 letters, 10 numbers and a few punctuation marks and you are now on a new mode for the rest of your supposedly short life.
 
The Glories of QSK  
by AD7WN on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, Eric. I couldn't agree more.

My own background started before I was in ham radio. Starting in 1952, I was an army brasspounder where we always had separate receiving antennas and we keyed the oscillators. It was a little rough on the ears but we had full QSK at keying speeds up to 35 wpm using very crude equipment. Operation was efficient. Nobody ever had to ask for a fill. You just break the transmitting operator and have him resume with the missed word or coded group.

When my hitch in the army was over in 1955, I got my first ham ticket as W7BLH and had a great time working the ham traffic nets, OSN, WSN and RN7, where QSK was a given. Rigs like the Heath DX-100 were a natural for QSK because of the keyed VFO, although they did clutter the bands a little with their chirps and key clicks. For those who built their own rigs there were a couple of solutions for QSK in the handbooks, a heterodyne exciter where the mixer was keyed, and a "silenced VFO" where the always-on scillator was down in the broadcast band, was well shielded, and the doubler was keyed. At that time, most ops just keyed the VFO and didn't worry too much about the keyed signal quality.

A little later SSB rigs began to proliferate. Their keyed VOX systems were a poor approach to CW break-in because of the slow response times. Differential keying did become available, however, and it worked. The only downside was that, if one monitored through the receiver, the signal sounded terrible, even though the radiated signal was clean.

By the early 1970s, Ten-Tec was manufacturing fine QSK rigs. Ten-Tec is still the king of QSK, in my opinion. By 1980, QST published a fine CW transceiver designed by W7EL. With the time constants shown, it was a little slow in T/R switching to be considered full QSK, but the timing could be shortened up, by the adventurous, to permit break-in between the dits at keying speeds in excess of 30 wpm without compromising the keying waveform. Roy's design is still one of the best available, in my opinion, even though it was a direct conversion type.

Just my two cents worth :-)

73 de John/AD7WN
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W9OY on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N6RK

I know what you got and I envy it :P I use the falling derrick method you describe to drop my verticals.

It is my dream except I would want it to be closer than 100 miles, maybe like beach front with about 1500 ft of coast line and water on at least 2 sides...

73
 
The Glories of QSK  
by VK5SW on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Good article Eric.
I haven't used QSK much in the past but intend to give it a go soon.
73 - Rob.

 
The Glories of QSK  
by KG2V on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"some commercial H.F. maritime circuits"

Are there any left? I'm serious. Ships are NOT required to have CW operators anymore. The USCG doesn't monitor CW anymore. Maybe 20-30 years ago, but in say the last 5-10 years?
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by KL7IPV on March 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
My first QSK rigs in 1968 were the Heathkit DX-60B and a National NC-109 using a T/R switch powered from the DX-60B. That BIG A/C switch clanked when it operated so there was no doubt when it pulled up. Feeding that from the full size 80 Inv Vee made life great! Then going to a Ten-Tec Omni-D digital made working CW better, not that I did much. When I do any CW now it is always QSK. I am not really versed in CW like I would like to be but if I try hard I can copy it okay.
Frank
 
The Glories of QSK  
by K5MC on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W9OY: Actually QSK is FULL DUPLEX. What passes for QSK in ham radio is merely advertising.

K5MC: Actually, QSK has never meant full duplex! At least, the meaning of QSK I've seen when looking at a list of Q signals over the years is something along the following:

QSK? - Can you hear me BETWEEN your signals? QSK - I can hear you BETWEEN my signals. (13th edition of "Radio Operating Questions and Answers" by Hornung and McKenzie, published by McGraw-Hill, 1968)

QSK? - Can you hear me BETWEEN your signals and if so can I break in on your transmission? QSK - I can hear you BETWEEN my signals; break in on my transmission. (Third edition of "The Radio Amateur's Operating Manual" published by the ARRL, 1972)

I've been active off and on since 1970 on NTS CW traffic nets. QSK is "standard equipment" for traffic handlers; I wouldn't want to operate without it whether I'm handling traffic, chasing DX, playing in a contest, or simply ragchewing.

73, K5MC
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by KI4FIA on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
QSK - Full Duplex or Not?

Personally I've been a ham a little less than 5 years and love CW 95% of my ops are CW (ragchew, DXing, Contesting, and Satellite - yes CW is still operated on the sats). -- Life is too short of Phone! CW was easy for me to learn, after 4 yrs my speed is 20WPM and can copy DX callsigns at 30 but my confortable ragchew speed is 20.

I've been operating QSK since day 1. I run an Icom Pro 3 driving an ACOM 1000 amp and love QSK with this combination!

However I thought Full Duplex means that you can hear the other station at the EXACT same time you are sending. QSK I can hear between each dit but not during the dit (or dash). Personally I would say the only true ham radio full duplex that I've used is on the satellites. There on phone or CW I can hear the other stations WHILE my xmitter is keyed. I work alot of CW and some SSB on AO-7 and can even hear my own sig coming from the bird as I xmit while using an ICOM 910H.

Just my thoughts
George - KI4FIA
 
The Glories of QSK  
by K3YD on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I've been a long time fan of QSK. Initially I used a Johnson T-R switch with a Johnson Ranger and a succession of receivers. Nice.

After a break of inactivity I ended up with a Ten-Tec Argosy which was well implemented with its silent Pin-diode switched QSK. I still own that radio even though it lacks many modern features. It was the best QSK I've used . . . so far.

I have strayed to other brands which profess to offer QSK, i.e., ICOM IC-756Pro. It just isn't the same with a relay in the switching process. There is relay noise and some delay, both of which are evident to me. Unfortunately, some of the newer Ten-Tec's also use relays to achieve QSK. :-(

I understand that the Elecraft K3 has well implemented pin-diode QSK and I'm now looking in that direction.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by QRZDXR2 on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W5DQ wrote:
"However, with CW, life is alot nicer and less stress. You never hear on CW the crap like you hear on 75M or 20M phone. CW ops are much nicer and friendlier, almost everyone is willing to help a newbie increase their code speed and improve their operating. Not to say that there aren't good types on phone (many many are) but rather just more of the A-holes in the mix on phone. "


Wow a man after my own thoughts. I was on 75 the other night and checked into a net. I was promptly over run by others calling in right on top of me. Tuning up on the same freq. All sorts of interfearance with the me-first egos. That doesn't happen much on CW these days.

whew glad I enjoy the cw nets.

As to QSK being full or not... I think the amps really don't like having the relays slammed back and forth. Some short duration of delay is acceptable even on the cw nets now. the amount of time differance is not that great. that being said, having the reciever open up between word groups or sentences so one can hear a (dit.. didn't think anyone else did that anymore except us on cw nets) if a recieving station is wanting reconigition. In this way yes you still have QSK of sorts and no one misses out due to lengthy sending. Is QSK abused. Like anything yes I have had hams break because they missed one letter in a w_rd. But, that was what it was for... and so most of the time half duplex is the mode of cw. full Duplex would have the reciever on all the time when your transmitting. todays rigs are good at change times and approch the full duplexing. They stil however are not full duplex because they have to blank the reciever when the key is depressed. If a amp is used along with the transciever then most of the time it is the big old amp relay that is the slow responder. thus it is your slowes link that sets the fastest semi duplex time you can achieve.

My take on the subject.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W8MW on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you Eric for bringing QSK into the spotlight. It has been a long time since the topic has received much public discussion.

Whether QSK is or is not full duplex is a matter of how it is implemented. I am among those who shy away from duplex and prefer simplus switcheroonie. This is mostly because of my wife who interrupts everything I say. With her I finally learned to just keep talking. With amateur radio I enjoy those refreshing times when I can engage the transmit switch, hear the receiver go dead, and make the world listen for as long as I like.

I am not interested in monitoring the frequency while transmitting. If there is possible QRM I am not about to quickly ask my contact QRM? where he might reply with either a C or a N. Nor would I execute tactical maneuvers to mitigate QRM rather than be a victim of it. I'm not about to coordinate a slight change in frequency with a simple "UP 1". While those tactics could fully resolve an interference situation and allow the QSO to continue, I would rather keep transmitting to the bitter end.

What I just said about QRM also applies to QSB. I might be the record holder for CW contacts lost on 40 meters due to propagation changes discovered 10 minutes after the fact. You would think I would have learned something from sending signals on a dead circuit to a station who already moved on. I did. It's more important to transmit than to communicate.

So Eric, I just wanted to mention why QSK isn't right for everybody. I know it gets us into lightning fast information exchange instead of the repetitive and sluggish and boring CW contact heard most often. They say the extreme interactivity introduces a human element that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. I won't be having any of that, thank you.

Most of us don't use QSK because we're in this ham game to transmit and the lengthier, the better. Monologues, speeches, verbosity. I love them all. Just as long as I'm the one talking and you're not.

73, Mike
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by KL7AJ on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
MW:

Thanks for the good words. Well, just to keep things balanced, I am guilty of writing the Nov. 1993 QST article, "Solder to Talk", which describes the antithesis of QSK...HI! (Alas, I learned that Sam Kyriss, the "star" of the story is a Silent Key).

Eric
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W8MW on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I'll try and get hold of your story about poor ol Sam. Always enjoy your writings.

73 Mike
 
The Glories of QSK  
by WX0B on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Right now the best rigs for QSK are probably the TenTec models. As for homebrew, getting QSK to work properly above 30 WPM is a task not to be undertaken lightly, it took me six months before I was happy with the result.

Tanakasan

____________

Tanakasan, that may have been the case up until now but we have many customers using the Array Solutions QSK Master at QRQ at 80 WPM at 1.5kW. And it works on any amp to add QRQ, QSK, or just an amp interface to quiet down the older open fram relays.

Loved the article, keep em coming.
Jay, WX0B
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W9OY on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
well if QSK? means "can you hear me between your signals?" then everything is QSK. It just depends on how you define between your signals.

Thank you for so obtusely missing the point.

73 W9OY
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W4VR on March 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I've used QSK in the past...it's the only way to go. Another great feature of CW is that if you can't copy someone on SSB, it is likely you would copy him 100% on CW. The other night I was on a quiet 80 meter band when someone broke into our qso; my contact could not hear the breaker at all so I asked the breaker switch to CW, which he did, and voila my contact heard every word he sent. Some day I'll have to get my key out and try out that antiquated mode myself.
 
The Glories of QSK  
by DL3ZM on March 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"K4MC: Life is to short for CW" -> There are always people that try to start a blame session with a spiteful note. What a pity.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by WD6GLA on March 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I love CW and about 99% time you'll find me in that part of the band . I just cant get used to full QSK though , it distracts me listening to all the racket between letters while sending . Its like trying to work CW when there's people yakking in the shack while I'm trying to operate . I set it to my speed so it kills the receive between letters .

I suppose its just practice and using it until you are comfortable with it , but unfortunately it just doesnt work for me.

Long live CW .

Bob
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by VE3GNU on March 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WD6GLA---my thoughts exactly! I have an Argonaut V which has terrific keying, but I too have opted out of QSK because of the 'offending' noise between characters, and instead use the VOX 'hang-time' of 2 or 3. More to my liking, and possibly what classic QSK is more like---is the QSK keying of the Ten Tec's QRP kit-rigs like my 1340---what a difference!!
Ernie
VE3GNU
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by N2UGB on March 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
My first QSK rig was a TenTec 540, first semi-break-in was a TS-520. Either way, QSK or not, no problem or discomfort. The essential was the CW.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by 5R8GQ on March 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K4MC write "Life is too short for CW!"

Please don't feed the trolls.
 
The Glories of QSK  
by VE3CUI on March 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I guess in light of all of the kudos & high fives being extended herein to QSK, I must come across as a bit of a Neanderthol...!

The truth is, I do NOT like QSK: I tried it, I REALLY & truly DID try to force myself like it, but I ended-up casting it aside, in favour of semi-break-in (at best), to simple T/R switching after each transmission.

Why...? Because I found it to be too distracting, and detrimental to the sending of good code. Period.

Yes, the naysayers have been all over me in the past about this, but I'd rather be surrounded with QUALITY, rather than QUANTITY, when it comes to code transmissions --- and I've heard MORE than my share of sloppy, ill-timed, poorly defined CW over the years to make me appreciate the fact that the BEST thing that helps in sending good code is no distraction(s) at all...and QSK is probably the WORST distraction that I can think of when it comes to this.

Just my $0.02 worth --- but I KNOW there are others out there who feel just as I do, but are reluctant to come out of the proverbial "closet" & say so, for fear of cyberspace flame throwers!

~73~ Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by WQ3T on March 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
With the Winkeyer USB, you can operate QSK and turn down your sidetone all the way. This allows you to hear only other peoples' signals.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by W9WHE-II on March 23, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
CW is still legal?

Hummm....I thought arrl outlawed CW when it dumbed down the standards!

W9WHE
Proud to have CANCELLED my arrl membership!
 
The Glories of QSK  
by W6FG on March 24, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W5DQ wrote:
"However, with CW, life is alot nicer and less stress. You never hear on CW the crap like you hear on 75M or 20M phone. CW ops are much nicer and friendlier, almost everyone is willing to help a newbie increase their code speed and improve their operating. Not to say that there aren't good types on phone (many many are) but rather just more of the A-holes in the mix on phone. "
Boy, you got that right Gene!

Well, I wouldn't want to operate without QSK. I've been running Ten-Tec gear for years now and I'm very happy with their smooth keying. I've always been a 99% CW op and now it's 100% CW/QSK.
A while back ago I got hold of an AL-80B amp and thought I could just use a QSK-5 box to make it all work together nicely. No such luck. I went out and bought a Centurion and now am happy again.

On a related topic, I really like the 'dual rx' feature when working pile-ups! Not all rigs have that capability, I guess Signal-One was one of the first popular ones. Not just for the ease of use, but for the reduction of QRM on the bands. That combined with a decent QSK rig can really help your DXCC totals; even with a pea-shooter-size station.

Thanks for the article and 73

W6FG
 
The Glories of QSK  
by W4DBV on April 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
What?! Dump a nice full buffer just because someone sends a dit?!
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by TIMEWILLTELL on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I was just waiting for Len to comment so he could prove even more what a butt head he is. Now and again he gets his dictionary out and attempts to feel superior by correcting spelling of a poster. So pathetic..........did I spell that correctly Len.
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by K1TM on April 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To add my two cents to the ramble, thanks for promoting QSK. Everyone who runs CW needs to be exposed to it. The more we can get the community to adopt it, the more pleasurable will operating be for everyone.

I notice in particular that more 160m DX ops are running QSK than on the other bands and many are QRO. 160m pile ups are much more orderly as a result. Considerate operators should make the investment in time and equipment to get comfortable and run it. Your DX hit rate will go up and others around you will have more fun as well.

If you want to run power and that is your excuse for not going QSK in pile ups, the Array Solutions QSK Master is a really good option for easy hook up and operation. I don't have any affiliation with them, but I've had a blast on 160m this winter/spring using one with I built into an an old amp (that gets dragged out when the sunspots are low). Not being able to run your amp should not be an excuse for QRM'ing your peers :-)
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by VE3CUI on April 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Gosh OM (K1TM), I do hate to differ with you re. your synopsis of the state of pile-up operation on 160-meters these days...but differ I must!

It strikes me, in this period of diminished DX openings on the likes of 14-MHz and above, that most every imbecile with a VISA card & chunk of wire is making his presence felt on 1.8-MHz. I blame the near universality of automatic self-tuning transceivers that are so prevalent on the market to-day --- getting on topband has probably never been easier...

...And ease of operation has lured scores of lids & doofi down to the nether regions of 160. Have you listened to some of the shenanigans on the Melish Reef frequency...? Close your eyes and listen before they leave the place, and you'd swear you were tuned to 14-MHz....! There are the usual tuner-uppers atop the VK9, the dopes who put a brick against the dot side of the keyer (and leave it there), the guys who repeatedly call on the VK9's frequency (even AFTER they've sent "up"), and --- last, but not least! --- the ever popular kilocycle kops whose main purpose in life is to keep everyone in the pile-up on the proverbial "...straight and narrow"...even if it means QRM'ing the entire operation while doing so.

NO amount of QSK will EVER cure what is simply ignorant operating techniques, and just plain bad manners. I've repeatedly seen the so-called "Gentleman's Band" quickly slip into "...Gentlemen's Washroom" status, with or without break-in.

Would that it were all so simple...!

~73~ Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ
 
RE: The Glories of QSK  
by K1TM on April 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Yeah, I admit I had my rose colored glasses on a bit :-)
Events like the recent VK9 expeditions tend to draw out the worst elements. More folks are drawn to 160m during this quiet period and it is not as "Polite" as it normally is. However, over the past several weeks, I can honestly say that the only band I have heard a pile up on, that all stations where using QSK and waiting politely to work the DX, was 160m. When the herd is not present, it is so pleasant to have everyone go silent as the DX station picks someone up, that I can only hope others will see the light after they experience it.

Always an optimist, Todd.
 
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