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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Some Advice for New Code Ops

Steve Katz (WB2WIK) on January 4, 2013
View comments about this article!

I’m gratified to see a lot of CW activity on the bands. I can’t really say if it’s more or less than ever before, but it’s healthy to the point of making for fairly crowded bands, even when there’s no contest going on to stimulate activity.

I guess the doom and gloom predictions about CW dying when the code requirement was dropped from the licensing process were wrong. Many of us are happy about that, and I was one of the wrong ones. I still use CW almost every day, and find it fun and relaxing – not to mention a bit “easier” to use than any phone modes, if one wishes to make contacts with lower power and lesser antennas. If I operate portable from a park, a beach, a campground or something I usually work CW only, as with minimalist antennas (and equipment) it just works better. Evidently, many agree.

My own career in code began when I was a young teen and new Novice licensee. On HF we were only allowed CW: 75W DC input power was our legal limit (typically 30-50W output), and crystal control only. But there were a lot of us, so it kept us busily making lots of contacts. Every day I’d come home from school and make CW contacts – 5, 10, 15, 20 a day – for about eight months. By the time I took the 13 wpm General class code exam, I didn’t know how fast I was really going, but the 13 wpm test seemed very slow, so I guess I was casually operating at 20 wpm or so. I know I was at the limit for how fast I could send with a hand (straight) key, so I graduated to a Vibroplex “bug,” which makes sending faster, easier. When I discovered the W9TO “electronic keyer” circuit and built that, I switched to a keyer and paddle and never went back to the “bug.” Keyers are way easier!

Fast forward 47 years to “now,” and CW is still my preferred mode. The one thing I notice that has changed over the years, besides the equipment all being better and cheaper than it ever was (and all the modern commercial rigs having built-in electronic keyers!), is that a lot of code ops are using procedures that don’t make much sense. That’s what this is about.

WHY SEND WORDS WHEN ABBREVIATIONS WORK?

Anyone who frequents internet chat rooms “tweets,” or sends text messages with their portable devices knows the value of abbreviations. They take less time and are easily understood. Fewer keystrokes, more free time.

Amateur CW operators have used abbreviations forever, going back to the “spark” days. So why are many newer ops using full words and punctuation marks when they add no value to the communications? I frequently hear:

“UR SIGNAL IS RST 599 599. MY NAME IS JOE JOE. MY QTH IS KANSAS CITY, KS KANSAS CITY, KS. SO BK TO U.”

If you have lots of time to kill, this certainly gets the message across. But here’s a better way that’s less effort and gets the same message across perfectly:

“UR RST 599 599 HR IN KC KS KC KS OP JOE JOE HW?”

This is not only easier and less painful to send, but allows for more flowing conversation, and likely more contacts in any given operating period – which is often the goal for many.

No need to send words like “my” or “is,” or frankly, even “name.” OP works fine in place of “name here is.” QTH works fine in place of “my QTH is.” In fact, “my QTH is” doesn’t even make much sense, since “QTH” actually means “my location is.” And “QTH?” means, “what is your location?” That’s why “Q” signals came to be: To abbreviate communications and make them more efficient.

I think there’s no reason to send “UR” or “your” before “RST,” since if you send RST, you’re obviously referring to your contact’s RST and no one else’s.

MORE ON THE SAME THEME

If new code ops learn and use the Q signals, they’ll not only save time and make more contacts, but sound more experienced on the air. I hear some send things like:

“WELL THAT’S ABOUT ALL I HAVE HERE. SO ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOURS AND SEE YOU DOWN THE LOG. 73 AND…”

…and just go on forever simply telling the other op “I’m done.” A nicer way, I think, is:

“QRU TNX QSO 73 SK”

In fact, even “TNX” takes more time than necessary when “TU” (“thank you”) does the job and is less effort.

I often add “CU ON CW” as part of my sign-off, just because I think it’s cute and reminds the other op that I’ll look for him again on CW. Not necessary at all, just a bit of personalization.

WRITING STUFF DOWN IS SO 1950

Advice I’d give to anyone starting out with the code is to write down as little as possible. If you listen to the code like it’s a language and not some secret cipher, it becomes easier and easier. The only thing I ever write down is “log” data; in a contest, I type it into a computer instead of writing it. For casual operating, I usually just jot down the other station’s call, name and a few brief notes. No reason to write everything he sends, or really anything he sends, other than that important stuff.

For those who learned code by writing everything down, any time is a great time to quit doing that. Unless you’re Superman, you likely can’t write more than 25 words a minute or so (I can barely write that, and it makes my hand tired), so “hard copy” obviously limits anyone’s code speed. If you just listen and comprehend what’s being sent – even though at first, this means missing 90% of it – that leads to a lifetime of code enjoyment, because it’s really easy to do once you get the hang of it.

I operate CW/mobile (as do a lot of hams), and obviously don’t write anything at all down while doing that. I just have to retain the other op’s call and name, and let the conversation flow. The less you write and the more you listen, the more flowing the conversation becomes. Which leads to…

QSK IS REALLY GREAT!

Once you can copy pretty well in your head and put down the silly pencil or pen (or even keyboard), QSK operation is the next logical step. “Full” QSK, which some rigs can do and some cannot, is really nice as it allows you to hear other stations between characters while you’re sending (transmitting). This makes CW really conversational, almost like a telephone, as the other station can break in and ask a question or make a comment in the middle of your transmission, or just any time.

I might send QTH LOS ANGELES and before I get to the next thought, the other station might send USED TO LV THR, which then lets me know he knows more about this place, so maybe we’ll chat about that. Or, the other op might send RETIRED 6 YRS NW and I’ll break in and send FRM WAT? which steers the conversation that way. Lots of reasons QSK is cool. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’re in the zone it makes CW even more conversational than using SSB with VOX.

Even “semi-QSK,” which almost all rigs can perform, isn’t bad. You may not hear someone between dits and dahs, but you’ll hear them between words, which is often good enough.

SPEED STUFF

People vary in their ability to copy code and everyone has some upper limit or ceiling. But what I try to do is send at a faster character speed than the other station (unless he’s going very fast) and adjust the actual text speed “down,” using the Farnsworth method. Many learned code using Farnsworth; some didn’t. But it works and allows me to keep my keyer set at about 30 wpm even if I’m working a newbie at 8 wpm. I just send each character at 30 wpm and place longer spaces between characters, words and thoughts.

This may freak out some operators, and if they seem to be having problems, I’ll adjust the keyer speed down and quit the Farnsworth treatment. But it’s not a bad method, and gets users familiar with ultimately copying faster speeds, often before they realize it.

SOLID COPY IS USUALLY UNIMPORTANT

Unless you’re handling important traffic, which is very rare for hams using CW nowadays, I think “solid copy” shouldn’t even be a goal. It’s a very arbitrary goal and rather meaningless.

I can copy 50 wpm solidly if there’s no interference, big bursts of noise, signal fading or something else that makes it simply impossible. But in real life, there are those things. I might be happily copying some higher speed op and the band takes a big fade, so his 599 signal becomes 329 or something. That means, I’ll miss stuff. But we can certainly carry on the contact, missing stuff.

I’m sure everyone has read examples of paragraphs written with random letters missing – or even random words. When you’re finished reading, you have all the information originally contained as your brain just puts it together. You can’t copy a telephone number missing digits, but you can copy most normal conversation that way just fine. I think anyone who strives for “solid copy” is missing out on a lot of contacts.

Also: Working very weak signals, which is pretty easy to do on CW, means you’ll definitely be missing stuff. Many of us have worked new countries, continents, zones or whatever while missing tons of stuff. Doesn’t matter, all you need is the other station’s callsign and confirmation he sent yours properly, and if you miss everything else, it’s still a “new one.”

One last tip: You’d think that with very fading signals at the noise level, going “faster” would be best, as it allows more data to get through in less time. That’s logical, but I’ve found it doesn’t work well. Going slower usually works better with very weak signals, and of course repeating stuff helps a lot. For a very weak (in the noise) contact, I’ll dial it down to 13-15 wpm and send everything 2-3 times:

DX1DX DE WB2WIK WB2WIK WB2WIK TU TU RST 339 339 339 QTH QTH LOS ANGELES LOS ANGELES LOS ANGELES OP OP STEVE STEVE STEVE HW? HW? BK

Or something like that. And I hope he does the same. Seems to work.

CONCLUSION

There you have it, at least from my perspective. Not everyone will agree, but this is what I’ve found in 47 years of happy CW hamming.

CU on CW

Dit dit

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W8QZ on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Further comments - don't bother sending "RST" - the numbers make it obvious what it is.
While not explicitly stated, I'm sure the original poster would agree - you REALLY DON'T need to send both callsigns at the start and finish of every transmission.
FWIW - There's still a lot of message traffic handled on CW - check out any of the area nets at night on 80M a.k.a. "Cycle 4" - lots of stuff there that needs to be copied letter for letter (although some may question the importance thereof).
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K0EX on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
when working DX, i typically give only my state. then, his report shortens to "579 CO 579 CO". i expect many HAMs have a callsign database going while they're on the air. if the DX station wants your city, it's at his fingertips (literally).
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by 2E0OZI on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article Steve and a bit of a game-changer for me! I have been bashing myself up about not getting perfect copy in my qsos (granted they are a lot slower than 50wpm!) yet I have still been making them over the last 9 months. Some of them really great. And I never took to writing down every single thing - just the important bits. So its good to hear an experienced op say that is OK. I am trying to exchange information, and I dont do contests, so a rag chew is a wondeful thing for me, though tiring. The abbreviations I have picked up straight away - just seems sensible.

CU on CW

73 Scotty
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N4KZ on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Another excellent piece by Steve, WB2WIK. Great advice across the board. Like Steve, I am very pleased that CW activity continues on the ham bands and shows no sign of going away anytime soon.

I have a couple of additional thoughts on operating CW. One has to do with accuracy of sending. It's really important because an extra dah here and a couple of extra dits there can change what you're sending. I've heard folks who put extra dits on the end of their Bs and they ended up with 6s instead. And then there was the fellow who was calling NNQ instead of CQ one night on 40 meters. He was a longtime ham, he told me, but new to HF and CW. After our QSO, I sent him an email and explained the right way to send C instead of NN. I kept the tone of the message light and didn't criticize him -- instead just pointing out that the rhythm and spacing of CW characters can make all the difference. He responded with a positive email and said he appreciated the guidance.

Steve makes a good point about using break-in on CW. Many ops love it and use it effectively. But despite my 40-plus years on CW, I have never warmed up to break-in operation. I've tried it many times but I just find it too distracting to my sending. Instead, I prefer semi break-in. To each his own.

Proper zero beating of a signal is really important. Many times I have called CQ, heard no response and then began tuning up or down the band only to find someone 1 or 2 khz away calling me. I do tend to use narrow filters to keep the QRM at bay so being off my frequency might mean I don't hear you. Accurate tuning is important. And, yes, I know some might be QRP and using crystal-controlled rigs.

And lastly, I thoroughly echo Steve's point about learning to copy in your head. It takes some practice but isn't as hard as might think. And it removes much of the "work" of operating CW and that in itself makes operating the mode more enjoyable. And the more fun CW is, the more likely you are to use it and the better you get and that only makes it more enjoyable. If you like to chase DX, want to work more DX and/or have modest antennas, CW is the way to go.

73, N4KZ
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W3TTT on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
fellow who was calling NNQ instead of CQ
-- the code-reading machines or computer programs are a good source of practice. If the machine reads it correctly, then you are sending it correctly.

But too many abbreviations kills the fun of cw. I don't copy 100% so if someone is already abbreviating like heck, then I miss a lot. If he spells out the words, then even if i miss a letter or two, i still get the gist. I would keep sending "UR RST IS ... MY QTH HERE IS..." and so on. Why not? Life is not a race. Stop and smell the roses. If I wanted to communicate quickly, then I would send an email. Copying whole words is a pleasure and part of the fun of CW. I am not in a hurry.

73 (BEST WISHES!)
JOE W3TTT
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WA0ZZG on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Steve;

Everything you have said is the way I was trained to copy code from a retired RCA shipboard operator. The people that made a living with this had their own language. Everything got shortened or abbreviated. Normal conversation never got written down. Most used a bug.
I would add that your CW should flow like music. Not choppy or erratic. This does not mean it needs to be machine perfect. A bug does allow for some personal expression in your code. An example would be sending the number 9 by sending a long dah followed by a normal dit. The number zero might just be a long dah. You can personilize your 'fist' this way. But make sure it flows.
de dave wa0zzg
ar
cu cw
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KB2DHG on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
YEP! CW is alive and well and I was one of thoes who thought that the elimination of code requirement was the damnation of the mode BUT I am happy to say I was wrong. But even though, I still think Code should be part of the Extra up grade at 10 WPM.

Honestly I think if I were not forced to learn the code for my Novice exam, way back when, I might have never given it the effort and never know the joy of a CW QSO!

Like my favorate saying goes...

IF YOU DON'T KNOW CW...

YOU DON'T KNOW DIT!
 
Excellent advice!  
by N7SMI on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
As a fairly new amateur radio operator and one just learning code (only a few, very slow QSOs under my belt), I want to thank you for this advice. I'm quickly learning that there is much more to CW than knowing the code. Like English has colloquialisms and accents, CW has its own culture and sub-language of shorthand, abbreviations, and messaging that take time to learn.

While I have a lot of improvement to make in my CW skills, this article has given me a lot to learn and look forward to. Thanks!
 
RE: Excellent advice!  
by WB2WIK on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I think us "old guys" (I'm 61 and been a ham since 8th grade :-P) picked up the nuances of CW operation pretty easily because we had some great examples to follow: The older guys at the time, many whom used only CW for their entire ham careers and didn't own a microphone. RTTY was the only "coded" mode besides CW, the digi modes hadn't been invented.

And, a lot of those older guys were active or retired military operators, like Navy shipboard radiomen or equivalent from the Coast Guard, etc. -- even the Merchant Marine. At one time in the hazy past, they all used CW. (No longer.)

Now, our kids and grandkids pick up Tweeting and texting and all things done by computer and don't even think about it. They just pick it up.

Kind of like "we" did in the old days, with code. :-)
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N2ADV on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great write up, Steve!

 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WA1KWA on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Steve,

Great article, as usual. I, like you, started as a Novice, but I was QRO: 75 watts! And crystals for 3715 & 3725. Whoo Hoo! Seriously, I would only add to the beginning CW operator, please do not be afraid to send QRS to me or anyone else. I really like to work new CW operators & will slow down as much as is needed. After all, that's really the only way to get proficent at CW:have QSOs. All of us, like Steve & myself, were in your shoes once. I'll gladly work a sked with any new CW ops. My email is on QRZ.com.

73,

Colin
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by VE3FMC on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Although I rarely operate CW I enjoyed your article Steve. Once again your years of experience show through!
Rick VE3FMC
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by AE7UT on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the article. Or should I say TU?
I'm a newbie (2 yrs) and been doing CW for about 8 months.
I really appreciate the advice and info. I also appreciate all the
help you guys have been on the air for the last year.

73 ES CUL
Stan AE7UT
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KA0AAM on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article Steve. . .I really enjoyed reading it.

I had a 20 year hiatus, and did no ham radio at all. I kept my license up though.

Before my Hiatus, I was 45 WPM solid.

Today, after 6 months, I am 35 WPM solid. I lost a lot, mainly because of my deafness.

CW is a absolutely wonderful way to communicate, and I still use my original EICO 720 Crystal controlled 90 watts into the final Novice Radio for CW.

The one thing I will disagree with you on, is "abbreviation" of words. For me only, I hate abbreviations. I enjoy just copying in my head, sounding out the letters in my head, and I like to enjoy the sound of CW.

Abbreviations remind me of one thing. . .contests. Nothing I hate more, is contesting. Granted, I am glad we have contesting for those who enjoy doing it, but I sure can tell when I talk to most contesters. . .They abbreviate, keep the message as short as possible, and can't seem to sit back and do a 1 hour chat with anyone.

Thanks for such a wonderful article. . .I really enjoyed it, and I am glad CW is still going strong.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WA4KCN on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Very good thoughts on CW. I do think the long term effect(an additional 10 yrs) of eliminating the morse code testing requirement will mean many fewer morse code ops. I do not predict cw's complete demise. My opinion is there are a relatively small number of recent licenees that are learning cw. I spend a good amount of time in the old cw novice sub band on 40 meters and thankfully there are those operating that are recently licensed but not many. IF anyone is really interested in the numbers, try going through your log or create a log of 50 cw contacts randomly made throughout the cw subband. Note the years licensed in the log. Of course one would expect most of the contacts to be experienced amateurs. Yet the number of newly licensed cw ops heard on the air is very small when I conducted such a test. Has there been an increase in cw activity. My opinion is no such increase in activity has occured. What has occured is a decrease in close spaced activity on fone. To a large extent the radio amateurs who have been active on cw for many many years are to a great extent still active on cw even today thus giving the impression after listening to the quietness of fone that there is more cw activity. I doubt I would be an active ham today if it were not for cw.
 
PUT YOUR PENCIL DOWN  
by WB9QEL on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article Steve.

P.S. When is Bob Heil going to release the banana Mic I saw you with on Ham Nation?

73..
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N3JJT on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hello Steve! Nice read! I agree with the majority. I will say, regardless if an op abbreviates, or spells out their words is fine with me. Everyone knows the work and practice that goes in to getting on the air for that first qso! I applaud everyone that has made that giant step. We have all been there, and there are others in the wings waiting to take that step. I abbreviate the common, but do not mind when someone spells out their words. I think they are comfortable with that, and will continue until they can abbreviate without pondering. Also there are some ops who I think make up abbreviations to shorten text. Not common ones, and these will throw you for a bit. But, like you said, Steve, 100% is not required. Those that I have elmered, I stressed to them, learn the code, then drop the pencil! Again, like you stated, head copy makes the CW a much more enjoyable mode. I have even said, even if you have to slow down a few words or so a minute, do it! It will be worth the time to get those words a minute back! Travel with CW at the speed in which you can enjoy! If it becomes work, then the fun goes away! Enjoy... we are not getting paid for what we do, other than the enjoyment we get from having a satifying round on the rig, and sometimes helping the op on the other end gain more confidence!

73..de N3JJT..Scott
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KF4HR on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
While I was sad to see the FCC drop the CW testing, I think it's great the CW sub-bands continue. Many times as the bands start to die DX shifts to CW, or perhaps DX stations just prefer operating CW. Plus users of the HF bands pick up more overall operating spectrum when they use the CW sub-bands. All good incentive to learn and use CW.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W4HIJ on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article. I must admit that aside from just a few contacts here and there over the past couple of years just to prove "I still could" my CW has gotten really rusty. It's a shame too because my late Father, who originally held this call and who was a crack CW op if their ever was one used to just amaze me how well he copied. He didn't use paper and pen and told me that eventually you learn to copy whole words and then whole sentences. He could also listen to two guys sending right on top of each other and switch back and forth between the two telling you what each was saying. It would totally discombobulate me if I was in QSO and then someone else started in right on top of us. I'd loose track of everything. I still have a vivid memory of my first contact as a nervous 15 year old Novice with my Dad standing in the background copying along and ready to provide a "fill" of anything I missed. I keep saying I'm going to get back at it. I'd like to have a triple play WAS award, I've already got digital and a lot of the voice but no CW. BTW does anyone else remember the abbreviation ES for and? As in... NM HR MIKE ES UR RST 599
Michael, W4HIJ
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KW6LA on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice to see we can still talk about CW without getting Flamed. Thanks Steve and I see we share many passions. I wanted my 20 wpm back, so I passed the commercial T2.
That requires a 20 wpm exam or if you still have a 20 wpm Extra Ham license you are grandfathered. Hope this puts some pride in you 20 wpm Extra’s . Not that the FCC
gives a rat when it comes to commercial ops anymore. Also ship distress calls are 16 wpm max so what you said about slower for clean copy is right on. My only wish for
2013 is that the digital guys on 40 stop operating over the CW sub band. While most will tune their antennas in the middle of the band , why would you operate lower ?
I vote to swap up to the digital sub band and they can enjoy tuning down at the bottom.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K9MOV on January 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Good article and great comments.One comment I would like to make-- send at the speed you are comfortable receiving.I have no way to tell your receiving speed, except on how fast you send. Same for me, if I'm calling cq at 21wpm and you come back at 15wpm, I will slow down to your speed( Farnsworth is excellant).
One other comment--40 meters is the most popular band for qrp,homebrew and BA xtal controled rigs--- but we have been driven off of the 7040 freq. used for that. May I suggest we use 7060 as our new qrp/BA and homebrew tx's.I know it will require some hams to buy a new xtal for that freq. but 7040 is not useable any more because of the WSPR mode.
Thanks to all and enjoy CW.
Lane--K9MOV
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K4IQT on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, Steve. Every ham with any interest in CW should read it. Be careful when abbreviating the QTH ... Kansas City is pretty well understood as KC MO or KC KS, but some of us are stuck with clunky small town names that just don't lend themselves to that (think "Chagrin Falls, OH", for example). I also learned to copy 50-60 wpm code in my head from a retired maritime op many years back, which made Morse a second language to me. Sadly, I'm only good for 30-35 wpm today ...

73,
Terry
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K2WO on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article Steve. Great common sense advice. Hope to find you on the bands when your mobile, operating CW.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by NV7SY on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
R R TU ES CUL DE K4KAI SK
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KB1GMX on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Steve,

Great stuff. Yes CW is alive thank goodness.

Myself I'm of the I sorta know dit, err CW but my
way in is of the as a new tech in 2001 on 6M. Seems
I figured SSB would absolve me of needing know CW.
Well my first contest I heard CW and realized I'm
missing points. So I tired to learn and can do a
semi decent contest Q but a conversation is too
painful. But I haven't given up.

Now the abbreviation thing. I've been used to that
as a pilot (weather sequence reports) use a fixed
format and seriously abbreviated. it helps compact
the amount of data. There is also the matter of
commonly used vs shrink everything. One is contest
mode where speed is everything. the other is more
relaxed. As in:

UR 5NN 5NN Allison Allison FN42HH FN42HH KB1GMX KB1GMX K

I would use the memory of the keyer for that.
As an opener and if the copy is good on both ends
we go on. If it's contest I might get his response.

I might even spell out Framingham but my memory
usually mean I'll blank on what F in CW is. So
not sending it means I can continue or fill later.
Its a memory thing, I blank, especially for languages,
that happens to me. Annoying but also transient.

Writing fast is also an issue. Never could, keyboard,
that's a whole other world. I've seen guys copy on
a mill [typewriter].

Likely the biggest thing is to listen to the form
the other guy uses as that his natural language and
likely to better reply in kind. Seem s the really
good ops seem to do that and I'm not sure they are aware they do.

QSK, Well the main VHF radio here is a Tentec 6n2 and
the QSK on that is perfect. I'm so used to that
when its not there like some radios I really notice
it. The HF radios (HW101 and Tempo one) dont do that
and I was pleased to get a Tentec Triton (M540) for
HF. Funny the things the mind gets used to.


Allison
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Re "QTH" abbreviations (like KC KS or KC MO) and small town names that nobody would recognize:

I've lived in small towns and except for when I was a Novice a long time ago, never used them as my QTH. I'd just pick the nearest city people have likely heard of, and use that.

As a kid, I used to send "Springfield, NJ" which is where I lived, until I started working DX on 15m CW and found nobody cared about all that. So I'd just send "NR NYC NR NYC" (my town was about 20 miles from NYC, so close enough) and everybody understood that just fine; plus, it took less time to send it!
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KB2HSH on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'll add my 2 cents here as well. Having a suffix of HSH has kept me from changing my call, since 4 dits/3 dits/4 dits sounds so great in CW, and I can hear it even when condx are light.

Also, while some enjoy the sound of a bug and the so-called "Lake Erie Swing", it sounds like crap in my opinion. Just this morning there was a QRP ARCI CW contest, and one entrant had a bug that was so improperly adjusted...everyone he attempted to work was asking for fills. Sure, to each their own, but the sound of dits that are 2/3 as long as they should be, and dahs that are 5/4 or LONGER than they should be sound ridiculous. For heavens sake! Use a keyer!

I don't think the use or non-use of abbreviations is really a big deal. Some may not be aware or follow what you may be trying to send...I for one use standard QSO abbreviations, but will send most everything spelled-out during a QSO. I aim for ragchews...I'm not in too much of a hurry...and MOST guys I've worked on 40 CW recently do the same.

Overall, though...it's great to see CW thriving in 2013.

John KB2HSH
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N4MJG on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
trying to get back into cw ,when i pass code back 07 just one day they drop the code ! i never got a change to get one air yet !

Now i'm re learning the code again ! should'nt take too long for me get code back all memorize again !

73
Jackie
-. ....- -- .--- --.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W8AAZ on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Seems to me that CW is being squeezed at the bottom end of 40M as compared to years ago. Lot of crowding in of hi speed ops down there, and slow ops need something to hear that won't scare them off. Actually I have been hearing slow ops between 7.1-7.120 or so alot from time to time. Guess they are trying to revive the old novice band, when the fones don't crowd them out. Apparently the need for spectrum for digital/nonvoice/expanded extras and Canadians has cut into alot of useful space for those without the room for a good 80M antenna.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N6AJR on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I am loussy at CW and have been since I started in 1978. I have had lots of practice in meing terrible on CW.

But I still do CW contests and DX. I use a code reader to help with the code reading, like calls and serial numbers and such. If I see a call scrolling across the screen I can verify that what I see is what I am hearing. I can usually copy at 20 22 WPM doing this, and in contests and DX there is usually a format sent so after a whileyou learn the CQ song and the 599 song and the up song and the TU song. so after a while you coppy most by their song and only really need to type in the call and serial number or such. I use the DM780 part of HRD to do this. so yes, you can get on CW and do ok. try a code reader and a contest to try it. And you always can hear your "call" song.

Now for sending you can use a straight key or a K1EL Winkey keyer or even use the logging program like n1mm for sending off the keyboard, easy.

This does mean you need to have a computer controlled radio, but lots of those are around.

So get on with a progran and try easy CW.


 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Once you know the code, the only way to be terrible at CW is to not operate properly. :-p

One day when she was home sick from school with the flu, I taught my daughter Robyn (who was 9 at the time) Morse code, all 26 letters and 10 numbers, in a few hours and she nailed it.

This had very little to do with "listening" to it (which unfortunately, it seems, the way many people try to learn) and everything to do with "using" it, sending back and forth with me.

I've always found the easiest way to learn the code isn't by listening to it.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KA2DDX on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with W3TTT - slow down and take your time. There's a lot of cw activity using only abbreviations. Well, if you're working a contest or talking to someone on cw who doesn't speak English well, then abbreviations are great. But, the whole qso becomes robot-like, impersonal. It's ok to do that, but more rewarding when we have the opportunity to "spell" things out and really talk to each other.

dit dit
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KW6LA on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Once people understand CW is an acquired skill you are ahead of the subliminal, online and other gambits. When you leaned to ride a bicycle not many went to the computer or books to learn.
You earned your bruises and enjoyed mastering 2 wheels on a hot summer day. These were the words of my neighbor and WW II Navy radio man. This helped me get over looking for the easier
way out. My Elmer, friend and neighbor I miss so much, he was a FCC test /examiner old hams remember. I do think everyone’s brain process things differently ( look at the last election ! ! ) so
what works for one maybe modified for the next. I have mild dyslexia which makes it a new game for me. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it can make permeate so be careful how you get there.
While enjoying the SSB with the new radios that sound so nice, I still get therapy late at night using my 1959 Blue racer bug on 40m. Dit Dit
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KW6LA on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
One more with W3TTT :

When in overdrive for contesting the short abv r fn. But I not thrilled with the macros digital or cw full of abbreviations. I still get a bigger hoot holding a long factual exchange with a friendly Ham.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KB3MDT on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hi,

What does the HW mean in this example?

“UR RST 599 599 HR IN KC KS KC KS OP JOE JOE HW?”

Does it stand for "Whats your Hardware?" I see folks putting the HW at the end of PSK Contacts also.

Raised on the Keyboard, not the Key :-)

73
KB3MDT
Ken
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KB2HSH on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
HW= How copy?
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by NU1O on January 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Before I get labeled as a heretic let me state for the record I enjoy CW and I find it very relaxing. I copy in my head except for the QSO start time and the call since I want my logbook to be as accurate as possible. I operate about one third of the time using CW and I use Phone for the the rest.

I think the abbreviations can be taken too far and when I'm on CW, and not in a contest, I could care less if the QSO takes a little longer because the other person typed out full words.

I never thought CW would go away a few years after the CW requirement was dropped since there already was a large number of existing CW users at the time the rule was changed. What has always concerned me is the future
since I think both CW and amateur radio are worth passing on to future generations.

Some serious operators will learn CW because they discover they enjoy it, and the more serious DXers will realize it means more countries at a faster clip.

I currently have a friend who is an avid DXer and he is now learning CW because his inability to use it has cost him some very rare DX contacts which he very much wanted to make.

The question is whether enough of the existing hams who currently do not know CW will voluntarily learn it to replace the existing users in about a generation or so when the current CW population has passed on.

WB2WIK said our kids and grandkids are texting and Tweeting. He did not say they were on the ham bands or tapping out CW and that is the ultimate threat to CW and amateur radio.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I think amateur radio as a hobby or service isn't much threatened, although our privileges on the microwave bands, especially above 5.7 GHz, might be. We have a lot of space up there that isn't used very much and new wireless services are trying to grab what they can.

As for the code, I'm fairly active on CW and hear two kinds of "new" CW ops: One is old-timers who dropped out of the hobby and are getting back into it in retirement -- and for many that involves re-learning the code and CW techniques; the other is newer hams who never had to pass a code test but are simply interested and now learning and using it.

As long as we have a mix like that, I think CW will be around a long time.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W8MLD on January 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great post!! I'm a no code myself, but slowly learning CW. It's been a difficult road to code for me though. I recently found that I have a learning disability due to my injuries sustained while deployed in the US Army. Guess there is a reason we always called the kevlar helmets "brain buckets". The only reason I discovered my learning issues was because of the issues I was having learning CW. I have a handle on it now, but I still don't feel 100% ready to start sending over the air, and I don't want to cheat using software to do it either. Little more time at practicing and I should be ready. The tips you gave will be a big help. I had a habit of sending full words myself. Thank you for the well done post.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N8NSN on January 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
LONG LIVE THE CODE.

It IS music. Purely rhythm.

I love using and copying others using bug keys, for personality sake. Head copy is the only way to go. I don't mind complete words as long as the speed is above 25 WPM. At 5AM, most mornings, my spelling is terrible, so abreviations are good at those times - just as long as the acronyms and abreviations aren't on EVERY word or statement.

I'm more of a rag chewer than a contest-format, contact snatcher. So, the whole "let's hurry up and get this in the log" philosophy distracts from the enjoyment - for my own goals. Should some good DX gray line in at 5-7 AM like a VK or ZL... Great. Still - no rush.

QRP & QRPP is one passion where testing home brew gear and antennas provides the alcolade. Again - no rush.

I get a HUGE thrill working homebrew and vintage novice gear restores. I get every bit as much of a kick out of working a station just a couple/few dozen or hundred miles away using a chirpy minimalist build, on a home brew, non-conventional antenna as I do working a state of the art station with antennas in the clouds - 10,000+ miles away. Last time... No Rush.

It's ALL fun.

That is the beauty of this endeavor... There's something in it for everyone - at ANY skill level.

You'll find me lingering in the old 40 meter novice seg running 10-15 WPM on occasion, you'll hear me lingering around 7028 kC 25-35 WPM chewing a coffee soaked rag, or every now and then on any of the bands in that lovely, DX production mill below .025

By far 40 meters has always been my favorite band. Even recently been enjoying 3.5 to 4 kC wide AM ! Yes, AM... Not trying to hy-jack the OP, but wanted to toss that in there just to tick off the new-B narrow-band purist bunch.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K9MOV on January 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
N8NSM--- GOOD POST
Thanks
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KL7AJ on January 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Steve:
Great stuff....and especially interesting since you have such a fabulous radio voice!
I was taught to copy entire words by KL7AG, an old merchant marine and coast guard op. That's really the only way to avoid the inevitable plateaus in code speed.
For quite a while I was in the Transcon net of Navy Mars, handling lots of traffic...it's great practice. I'd really like to see some of the CW traffic nets resurrected....you really build up your accuracy that way. Another great and FUN activity is CW roundtables...you really appreciate full break-on on these!

Eric
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by AC4RD on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
R R FB STEVE TU 73 DIT-DIT
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N1DVJ on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Ok... While I think this is a neat article, I also think it's destructive BS.

Yeah, that's where the 'prime' operators will end up. Being able to send and receive, and treat exchanges like that with the proper 'shorthand'. Super fast. Super efficient. Contest operators even without the contest.

But it's also destructive BS.

Putting that kind of operational environment on a newbie is going to flood him and intimidate him. It's the same as the macho crap you see at the range where the boyfriend is teaching his girl how to shoot and hands her a Dirty Harry 44 Magnum for her first experience with a handgun.

Let the people who are newbies have fun. Let them have their contacts and conversations WITHOUT the compressed urgency that really only belongs in a CW contest.

Quit trying to say 'this is the way it should be or you aren't a real CW op!'
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KF7ATL on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, Steve!

I'm one of those newer ops who didn't have to pass a code test, but who learned it anyway. That is partly because I find it fun and challenging (there is nothing better than a nice CW rag chew), and partly because I have a modest rig and antenna but still want to work some DX. I have been operating CW for a couple of years now, and use it about 90% of the time. I have nothing against digital modes, but speaking for myself, I just find CW more fun and satisfying. My speed is only up to about 13-15 wpm, but gradually improving. I'm still working on head copy, but find that it isn't as difficult as I thought. The old computer between the ears is a marvelous, but sometimes underused, instrument!

Contrary to popular opinion, I think there are quite a few people like me on the bands. I don't see code disappearing anytime soon. It is simply too much fun and works too well. If you don't believe me, check out the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC). It was started 6 years ago, and now has over 10,000 members and is still growing.

I agree with you about the abbreviations. There are lots of people who painstakingly spell everything out. It just makes the conversation flow a lot more smoothly to abbreviate when appropriate.

73 es CUL

Garth, KF7ATL
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N6HE on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article....thanks! And positive, constructive comments - a new record!

My two cents: abbreviating with standard abbreviations is great when copying at slower speeds letter-by-letter, but for me at about 25-35 WPM (I can only write at about 20-22 wpm), I'm trying to get it a complete word at a time. So in this speed area, I like to hear complete words so I don't need to double-translate (.-- .. -.. to "wid" to "with.").


Thanks for the post and all the comments,
Ray N6HE


 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KL7AJ on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'm all for using as many abbreviations as possible, but it's important that new hams know what they mean beforehand! When I was a Novice, one of my first contacts kept sending FB. I thought he was cussing me out, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what FB was. No matter what I did, I kept getting the dreaded FB. Learned a bit later it was Fine Business. :)

Eric
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>My two cents: abbreviating with standard abbreviations is great when copying at slower speeds letter-by-letter, but for me at about 25-35 WPM (I can only write at about 20-22 wpm), I'm trying to get it a complete word at a time. So in this speed area, I like to hear complete words so I don't need to double-translate (.-- .. -.. to "wid" to "with.").<

IMO, you shouldn't need to "translate" anything, because with sufficient use of code, it just becomes another fluent language.

People who are multi-lingual (real fluency in multiple languages) know that if when speaking language #2 you start out thinking in language #1 and translating it as you speak, that's a really slow way that leads to not only slow speech, but speech filled with errors. The real way is to think and speak in language #2.

As much as I recognize that, I stink at languages. :-p

The only new language in which I ever became really fluent was Morse Code. When I listen to it, I don't translate anything, it's just flowing words, sentences and thoughts. I think "anyone" can do this, you just have to use it enough for it to happen.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KW6LA on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Steve- As a spoken langue” English my first “ it can be difficult speaking to someone with a speech impediment or drunk. This is a lot of what happens on the air when
when the sender is not very musical as others have pointed out. My copy drops many factors when everything is running together or stilled kind of stammering. No
different than a spoken langue. HWNWCPYOMBTU How is someone supposed to copy that at 40WMP. This is what a lot of Hams go thru at time and can’t get rapped
around “ oh it’s just another langue “ ? practice practice !
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KW6LA on January 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
" language " spell check is not my best friend ! !
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WX7G on January 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Don't overdo those abbreviations. When op send/receiver very fast CW they tend to spell entire words and only use the very common abbreviations.

Unusual abbreviations such as FRM for FROM make an op think and lose track of his copy.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K8YZK on January 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
All-in-all a nice article. Just one question, early in the article you said instead of sending Kansas City abbriveate it to KC, yet towards the end of the article you send Los Angeles 3 time. Why didn't you just send LA LA LA.
Oh when I do cw, I still write 99% of what I copy.

 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>All-in-all a nice article. Just one question, early in the article you said instead of sending Kansas City abbriveate it to KC, yet towards the end of the article you send Los Angeles 3 time. Why didn't you just send LA LA LA.
Oh when I do cw, I still write 99% of what I copy.<

I usually send LOS ANGELES because "LA" is also Louisiana.

Now, in contests like Sweepstakes or Field Day, LAX is the exchange because that's the well-known (ARRL) abbreviation for Los Angeles Section. (The "X" is used at the end to assure it is not confused with Louisiana -- and also aviators and most travelers know LAX is the sign for our international airport.)

I think sometimes there are reasons to spell stuff out; but often, there aren't any.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KC2MJT on January 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with those that suggest not to abbreviate too much. It really breaks up ones copy when you have to translate odd abbreviations. I'm sure there is a subset of ops on the air that learned from the same abbreviation play book. Unfortunately, they are getting to be fewer in number and the plethora of odd abbreviations from a generation without access to the play book can make copying code a mental gymnastic exercise. It should be painless.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>I agree with those that suggest not to abbreviate too much. It really breaks up ones copy when you have to translate odd abbreviations. I'm sure there is a subset of ops on the air that learned from the same abbreviation play book. Unfortunately, they are getting to be fewer in number and the plethora of odd abbreviations from a generation without access to the play book can make copying code a mental gymnastic exercise. It should be painless.<

I genrly dsagre cuz it shud b no prob at all rdg or cpyng abrvtns -- altho thr r mny stndrd ones I thnk its ez to jst make em up as u go es thr vry understndble -- I nvr thnk twice whn hrg thm.

Most of us who use CW a lot even abbreviate numbers. Sending a long daaah for "zero" is extremely common. So is sending a single dit for a 5, or an "A" (didah) for a one, an "N" (dadit) for a nine, etc. If it's part of a numeric string, it's easy to deal with as you know numbers are coming.

Who on CW hasn't sent 5NN instead of "599?" It's done thousands of times a day, and the newcomers catch on quickly.

For me, it just makes the flow of communications smoother and more like chatting across the table with someone.

Everyone uses "DE" to indicate "from" or "this is." That's an abbreviation, taken from French. Almost everyone uses "UR" instead of "your" or "you are," e.g., UR SIG 5NN. Nobody gets confused.

I believe those who use code and don't use lots of abbreviations, Q signals, prosigns, etc, actually stand out on the bands as inexperienced. :-)

 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K1DA on January 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Sending "fast" is not accomplished by running everything together. Also, in a throwback to the old Vibroplex days, a "D" is not a dash and a bunch of dits, a "B" a bunch more dits, and a "6" a lot more than a "B".
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by NY7Q on January 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I can copy, without a computer or anything other than my brain, anything someone sends me,
But, I am very disappointed with most of the new cw ops procedures as a whole.
Little things like using CQ or DE, K AR are in my play book, but newbies think they are cool and eliminate them. Sorta sucks.
DX jerks going 50 wpm on a computer just make me laugh and I usually go back to them on a hand key at about 18 or 20 wpm just for the fun of it.
Doubt it shocks the new breed cw op, but makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>DX jerks going 50 wpm on a computer just make me laugh and I usually go back to them on a hand key at about 18 or 20 wpm just for the fun of it.<

I think it's more fun to reply to them at 50 wpm, but using a bug with bad timing so a computer can't decode it (but a human operator could). If they reply indicating they copied fine, then they're using wetware.

I know a lot of guys who can send 50+ wpm just fine with almost zero errors, just using a keyer and paddles -- and some who can do it with a bug. I remember Bill, W6DDB, could send 50 wpm with a bug and it was very easy to copy.

Most of the guys who could do that are either very old or SK, but a few are still around.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KD8IIC on January 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I too would rather enjoy a fairly lengthy QSO without too many abbreviations. Small town names are not a bad thing at all and very much part of what I enjoy most.
What exactly was the point of this article?I'm not persuaded in the least to operate like you.QSO's are not a contest and I do not like contests.Real people, not robots... 73 lane de n8aft
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W0AEW on January 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Remember to drink your Ovaltine.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W0AEW on January 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Remember to drink your Ovaltine.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by KD4SBY on January 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
As a person who is not too good with CW, I like OMs to send me the "un-necessary" stuff, like RST, and QTH, etc. It gives me a mental preparedness to copy the following characters, and I will be ready for them. For example, I know that following the RST will come figures, and following the QTH will be letters that not necessarely will form an ordinary word.
And like was remarked before, who is in a hurry?
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N8WRL on January 11, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This is so timely, Steve! Thank you! I love CW but I've found the vast majority of my contacts are DX or contest pileups. As a result, I've gotten really good at copying my call and "TU 5nn BK" VERY fast. But my conversational speed has gone to the dumps. I realized this during a CW QSO with an OK1 last weekend (my apologies to that station!) so I'm trying to make 2-3 CW QSO's every day. It really is a lot of fun!

73, and long live CW!

-Brian n8wrl
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W6UV on January 11, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
My biggest issue when working CW is visualizing words in my head while I'm sending. I seem to get lost after the first few letters, which results in big spaces right in the middle of words, or misspelled words.

If anyone knows how to deal with this, let me know. I mainly have problems with longer words, such as when I say that my QTH is near SAN FRANCISCO.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 11, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>My biggest issue when working CW is visualizing words in my head while I'm sending. I seem to get lost after the first few letters, which results in big spaces right in the middle of words, or misspelled words.

If anyone knows how to deal with this, let me know. I mainly have problems with longer words, such as when I say that my QTH is near SAN FRANCISCO.<

I remember dealing with this when I was first starting out. What worked for me was simply spelling what I was sending (to myself), as if I was spelling it out for someone over the telephone. I'm in San Francisco, S-A-N F-R-A-N-C-I-S-C-O. If you spell it as you send it, it should come out right.

Unless you're a bad speller. :-p
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by W9MT on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Good read, thru all the comments, Steve...

I got my own Novice in H.S. in July 1970 and boosted my code speed up to 17 1/2 WPM by playing Russ Farnsworth's LP's at 45rpm in preparation for going in front of the FCC Examiner for my General the day after Thanksgiving ( a school holiday) at the downtown Chicago federal building that same year.

I've always enjoyed CW, but worked it casually. I had to be shamed by all of my 20wpm Extra friends to get my own Extra in early 2000 before the code speeds were dropped and then eliminated. I had stagnated at Advanced for 29 1/2 years.

So that makes me nearly as old as you.

I enjoyed all of the comments and this old bird learned a few things to use, too.

I believe we worked each other at night on 15m USB during one of those weird openings during the sunspot peak of 1971 (...or was it 1972? Those logs are still back at my Chicago Area house.) I was WB9ERL back then, and ran an Apache/SB-10 and Trio JR-500S receiver.

Again, great message and information flow...refreshingly without any negativity in the comments or sniping.

Makes me want to pull the HW-16/VF-1/HD-10 out of the garage for a month or so....73. (Tony)
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by WB2WIK on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Tony ERL, we may have worked in '71, I was active then but living with my parents and in college, in NJ.

I also had a TX-1/SB-10, but not sure I had that in '71, I think it was more like '68 or so. Never had the RX-1 Mohawk, though. I used an NC-303 with the TX-1/SB-10. Or maybe a 2-B. I forget, it's been a long time.

But I've always made more contacts on CW than on phone. Still do, I guess. I don't operate HF mobile that much anymore, but when I do, it's almost always CW. "It's easier." :-)

73

Steve WB2WIK
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by NQ4A on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Greetings and HNY to All!
Great post Steve and I will be cleanning up my act on CW. I learned most of my CW using a paper tape INSTRUCTAGRAPH. Many may not even know what that is but it is/was a great way to learn morse code. That was back in 1964. Additionally, I took all my HAM and Commercial License test in front of an FCC Inspector at a field office. What an experience that was and one I will always treasure.
I adjust my CW according to conditions and if it is a contest or rag chew, I adjust accordingly.
When conditions are poor, Repeats and reports are longer. I also adjust my sending speed to be approximate to the station I am calling. Not every CW OP can copy 40 WPM. Your article is very interesting and a good read. I hope to work you one day, on CW of course.
Good DX and HNY OM!
73
JB NQ4A
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by TTOMAS59 on January 18, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
All I ever do is work dx runners...
Respond with cq to callsign.
599.....599 in FL bk....
73.....respond with tu ee.

Doing this I can work 30 dx stations
within about 8-10 minutes. Who needs
qth, names, or any other words?
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by TTOMAS59 on January 25, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
If you only work cw at 10 wpm you can work dx runners at 30 wpm. Once you figure out the protocol - what is basically done the same way over and over your speed is only limited by how fast you send.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by NZ5L on February 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article. I would only add one thing: Many of us are building or using simple crystal-controlled transmitters, and may answer your call on the frequency of our nearest "rock", which is probably NOT exactly on your calling frequency, so how about tuning up or down a few? This was routine procedure in the 60s, but often ignored today. Try it - might lead to an interesting chat with the builder or user of "boat anchors" - or me! 73.
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by M3KXZ on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Steve, great post. And it gives me confidence that I'm going about things in a sensible way.

The things that make QSOs hard for me are when I hear all the redundant words, and also when someone starts sending something with really slow character speed. That does my head in!

Managing CW QSOs virtually every single day now and enjoying the mode more and more, thanks in large part to the fantastic ops I'm meeting on the airwaves. And working ops right down in the noise is becoming more and more fun!

73
Pete M3KXZ
GQRP 11767
SKCC 10219
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by M3KXZ on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Steve, great post. And it gives me confidence that I'm going about things in a sensible way.

The things that make QSOs hard for me are when I hear all the redundant words, and also when someone starts sending something with really slow character speed. That does my head in!

Managing CW QSOs virtually every single day now and enjoying the mode more and more, thanks in large part to the fantastic ops I'm meeting on the airwaves. And working ops right down in the noise is becoming more and more fun!

73
Pete M3KXZ
GQRP 11767
SKCC 10219
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by M3KXZ on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Steve, great post. And it gives me confidence that I'm going about things in a sensible way.

The things that make QSOs hard for me are when I hear all the redundant words, and also when someone starts sending something with really slow character speed. That does my head in!

Managing CW QSOs virtually every single day now and enjoying the mode more and more, thanks in large part to the fantastic ops I'm meeting on the airwaves. And working ops right down in the noise is becoming more and more fun!

73
Pete M3KXZ
GQRP 11767
SKCC 10219
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by M3KXZ on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Please, someone delete my duplicate posts! Don't know what happened there - forum said it hadn't been accepted but it had!
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K4PP on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Oh just admit it. As long as it doesn't dominate the discussion, we all get a kick out of "runaway bug". A little chuckle as you listen to the op try to tame it.

K4PP
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K4PP on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
K0RU has some entertaining recordings.
http://www.k0ru.net/fog/highspeed.html

 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by M3KXZ on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
In reply to N1DVJ - my thinking is that CW is MUCH easier to send as well as receive when using sensible abbreviations. I don't think it's "macho crap" at all. I'm only a newish CW op, but right from the start, using sensible abbreviations, leaving out redundant words, etc has helped me progress far better than if I was trying to get my head around spelling everything in full and trying to copy in my head words being sent in full.

I'm sure Steve isn't putting down people who want to spell stuff out in full - each to their own. But for any new op, they would certainly benefit from picking up the commonly used abbreviations and codes. And also, it seems that hams in all countries, whatever their normal language, understand things like "FB" and "OP" whereas they might have trouble with "jolly marvelous" and "my name is".
 
Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K4RHG on February 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I got my ticket last July and since then have been almost exclusively CW which I really enjoy.

There have been some very helpful comments in this thread, and I can't add much more. Just let me say to any Newbies like me who are hesitant to jump into CW, do it!

There are some great tools these days for learning the code and building speed. Every QSO has been great even though I still miss a lot. Most of the operators are normally sending 25 wpm or more, but almost all slow down for me, don't over do the abbreviations and resend when I ask.

It's very gratifying to see your copy speed slowing improving. And unlike the other modes, there's real skill in sending clean, easy-to-copy code. The first time an "Old Timer" tells you that you have a "Good Fist" it really makes your day, even though you know you're making a lot of mistakes and he's being generous in his compliments.

And if you want to DX, you can't beat CW. There's just nothing like hearing someone 8,000 miles away responding to your CQ. Hearing your call sign come back is, well it sounds dopey, but it really is magical. There's nothing quite like it.

In my opinion, if you're a Ham and not into CW, you're missing a lot.
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by N2EY on February 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nicely done, Steve.

I'll just add one thing:

Back in the day (we are about the same vintage), ARRL used to send every new Novice a reprint of the article "Your Novice Accent". I think they also sent a copy of the little Operating Manual (the booklet, not the big book). These were full of info about CW operating, abbreviations, prosigns, etc.

Most of us also spent a lot of time listening to the ham bands before we got on the air. In my case, that's how I learned the code. So it all came rather naturally.

73 es TNX de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Some Advice for New Code Ops  
by K4FX on February 11, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article Steve, I really enjoyed it.
 
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