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Author Topic: Attitudes against CW over the years  (Read 6513 times)
N3QE
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« on: January 11, 2010, 07:07:02 AM »

The sweepstakes participation thread got me thinking.

I was licensed back in the 1970's as a kid.

The local club was running novice classes at the community college and I took advantage of them. It was great, they taught me code, they taught me theory, they even had class in the lab so I could play with scopes etc. This was all great stuff for me as a 9-year-old.

All that said, the prevailing attitude was that the novice ticket "confined" you to CW, that the real next step after that was to get your General and get phone privileges. Then you wouldn't be stuck in the CW ghetto.

When my dad bought me my first rig he refused to look at any CW-only stuff and insisted I needed a rig that would use phone for when I upgraded. I got a used HW-100.

And when I upgraded at age 13 (went to the FCC field office to test for General, but when I passed that the examiner asked if I wanted to try the Advanced theory test too, I gave it a shot, and just barely passed!) , I tried SSB a couple times... and didn't like it. Went back to CW. My parents were obviously disappointed that I didn't make the transition. But they accepted it.

I did do some RTTY with the HW-100 :-). But I've given  up on that too!

I note that all this was going on in the late 70's, which as noted in the SS thread is when phone SS log submittals surpassed CW.

Only a few years ago did I realize what I had in common with my elmer who gave me my J-38 when I was 9 years old. He was respected in the club but thought an oddball... because he traded in his nice Collins SSB station for a Heath HW-8. Until recently I thought that was odd too. But he clearly identified what made radio fun. He loved that HW-8, he had a passion in his eyes when he talked about it. We all thought he was crazy, but only now do I realize that he was definitely the most "into" ham radio, and what made it fun.
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WB5JEO
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2010, 07:55:03 AM »

CW - Ham radio comfort food.
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NU4B
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 08:11:42 AM »

Its amazing what an extended solar minimum will do. I noted in that same thread the 2008 CQWW DX Contest where CW entries set a record and outpaced phione entries. All of a sudden CW doesn't seem that bad if it means you can work that needed DX.

I never did understand what the "thing" about CW was. It seemed more of a mental thing - like learning algebra or something. The "others say its hard to learn, therefore I can't learn it" syndrome.

It doesn't much matter now, although I find it hard to see how CW "confines" someone when in fact they know how to do something others don't. (I know it was in the context of the novice bands). But the end result was that those that know code can use phone or CW, but those that don't know code can use phone only (Not taking into consideration other modes). So in the end, which ops are the confined ops?

In my case CW is very relaxing, I can put my headphones on and I'm in another world. And it makes for some great DX'ing!

Nice post!
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W5ESE
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 10:48:28 AM »

Thanks for the interesting article. I was also licensed as a kid in the 1970's.

You're right that the prevailing attitude was that upgrading to General was desirable,
because then you would be allowed to use phone. I felt that way myself, and looked
forward to upgrading and acquiring a radio with SSB capability (which were still quite
expensive in the mid 1970's).

I didn't really come to appreciate morse operation until after I upgraded to Extra,
and became proficient at speeds above 20 wpm.

By the way, I noticed on the ARRL web page that 1554 people submitted logs
electronically for Sweepstakes-CW in the 2009 event. So that means if 123
submit paper logs, the participation will equal the record level (1677) set in 1958.

I don't know how many paper logs they normally receive for Sweepstakes-CW.

But at any rate, it appears that participation in 2009 exceeded the 1419 logs
from 2008.

73
Scott W5ESE
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WX7G
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 02:59:42 PM »

I don't own a microphone. I have made sure that the human voice has never played through my K3. Voice is for CBers.
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W6OP
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2010, 03:53:22 PM »

I don't understand why WX7G needs to insult everyone. Ham radio is a nice hobby with many different facets. There is phone, cw, digital, VHF, HF, EME and many other ways to enjoy it. Just because someone picks a mode you don't use doesn't make them a CBer. I could say you are stupid because you have never moved along with technology but that would not be the right thing to do. I would suggest, however, that you learn a little tolerance for others.

Pete W6OP
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WX7G
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2010, 07:00:54 PM »

This is the CW forum and as such you should expect a strong bias for CW.  

Voice is for CBers, amateur radio operators, the average citizen, and the military. In other words, voice is for everyone with a mouth. CW is for those who chose this newer mode of communication. Newer? Why yes. Voice has been around for a million years. CW is but 170 years old.
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N3QE
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2010, 11:29:12 PM »

The "CBer" comment is interesting, because in fact it was the CB boom of the mid-70's that began getting me interested in radio in the first place when I was a kid.

(Not that I ever really was a "CBer" in any sense of the word... I was only a little kid!).

Look at the 1960's QST's and you can see that anti-CBer attitudes by hams have been around for a long time... and  the flip sign of the coin was that a certain chunk of folks who first heard about CB, decided that ham radio was really what they wanted to do and that CB was not right for them.
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WA9FZB
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2010, 05:24:30 AM »

Wellll. . . when I was a novice in the early 60's there was another reason to upgrade to general -- YOU GOT THE REST OF THE BANDS FOR CW! ! ! !
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WX7G
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2010, 05:57:14 AM »

W6OP I am being facetious when I say 'phone is for CBers.'

But take a look at where you are. Out of 33 eham forums you are at the only CW forum. And you are at a thread that is titled "Attitudes against CW over the years."

Telegraphers rule and telephoners drool!
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W6OP
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2010, 06:46:44 AM »

WX7G, I am glad you weren't serious with that comment. However, I think that we often discourage new people when we seem to be anti whatever. I would guess many new Hams stop by the cw forum to learn what cw is about. I would rather encourage them to stick around and learn why cw is a good skill to learn.

With conditions the way they are, cw is sometimes the only mode you are going to make a contact or work a dxpedition. We should teach new Hams that and get them interested.

Pete W6OP
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W5ESE
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2010, 07:00:54 AM »

> The "CBer" comment is interesting, because in fact it was the CB boom of the mid-70's
> that began getting me interested in radio in the first place when I was a kid.

Yup, me too. I got a chuckle out of the comment.

A photo of my novice shack is at

http://sites.google.com/site/arsw5ese/home/wn5rmq

The Radio Shack CB radio is visible on the lower left, next to the big Heathkit Mohawk.

So it's obviously not true that the code test kept CBer's out!

73
Scott W5ESE

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N2EY
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Posts: 3880




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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2010, 07:27:30 AM »

N3QE writes: "the prevailing attitude was that the novice ticket "confined" you to CW, that the real next step after that was to get your General and get phone privileges. Then you wouldn't be stuck in the CW ghetto."

I was licensed in the 1960s as a kid, too.

The big reason to upgrade from Novice back then was simple: until the 1970s the Novice was a nonrenewable one-time license. When it ran out, you were off the ham bands unless you'd upgraded.

On top of that, the Technician back-then had no HF privileges at all, even though it had a 5 wpm code test and the same written as General.

So if you started on HF, as most of us did, the natural next step was to General (or Conditional, if you lived far enough out)
 
N3QE: "When my dad bought me my first rig he refused to look at any CW-only stuff and insisted I needed a rig that would use phone for when I upgraded. I got a used HW-100."

Luxury.

Here's why:

Before the 1970s Novices were limited to 75 watts input, small parts of 80, 40 and 15 meters and crystal control. That meant most newcomers started with a "Novice" station, which then had to be resold or rebuilt to get something that had VFO, more power and more bands. Or 'phone. That swap could cost serious money if you bought new and then sold used.

The rules changes of the 1970s that gave Novices more power and VFO meant a newcomer could start off with a rig that wouldn't have to be replaced when the General was earned. They also caused the prices of used "Novice" gear to plummet, and greatly reduced the number of newcomers homebrewing and converting surplus.

N3QE: "when I upgraded at age 13 (went to the FCC field office to test for General, but when I passed that the examiner asked if I wanted to try the Advanced theory test too, I gave it a shot, and just barely passed!)"

Did you go to the Philadelphia office? The same thing happened to me in 1968 (I was 14).

N3QE: "Went back to CW. My parents were obviously disappointed that I didn't make the transition. But they accepted it."

I wonder why....

N3QE: "We all thought he was crazy, but only now do I realize that he was definitely the most "into" ham radio, and what made it fun."

Great story!

Here's my theory:

In those days, as well as now, there was a mindset that saw everything "new" as "better". This was particularly strong in some parts of Amateur Radio.

The mindset took many forms. Transistors were better than tubes, SSB was better than AM, coax was better than open line, miniature was better than octal, green paint was better than black crackle, FM was better than AM, etc., etc., etc.

And of course just about anything was better than Morse Code, which was older than radio itself.

That was the era of "status" and "keeping up with the Joneses", when things like the car you drove meant a lot to your social circle. Chevies, Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles and Buicks might all come from the same factories and be practically identical under the sheet metal, but they were worlds apart in the minds of many Americans. It's not an accident that Volkswagens were a symbol of the counter-culture back then.

So in Amateur Radio, the ham with a Collins S-line was like the man who drove a shiny new Cadillac. Trading it in for an HW-8 was as odd as if he'd gotten a red VW microbus with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction....

And there's one more factor. Jealousy.

The big thing about Morse Code is that you can't buy skill in its use. Most people already know how to talk, so voice is immediately available to them, but for most of us just *using* Morse Code means learning new skills. Those skills aren't taught in school and they can't be learned by reading a book or watching a video.  

Yet even young children can learn to use Morse Code to a high degree of skill if given the chance. Worse, the mode makes them anonymous; you can't tell the age, gender, color, ethnicity, etc. of the person at the key. The hotshot down on 7002 working the rare ones at 35 per might not even shave yet, for all anyone knows.

I suspect that more than a few adults don't like the idea that someone they consider "inferior" - which can be a young person - could do something much better than they can.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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NU4B
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« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2010, 08:17:33 AM »

"VW microbus with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction.... "

I never thought Alice's Restaurant would make it into a EHAM forum. Haha.
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N3QE
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« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2010, 09:40:28 AM »

Actually in the 70's the 40M Novice segment was completely polluted by the European SW broadcasters. Combine that with the Russian woodpecker and it was a great way to train young ops in dealing with godawful QRM.

But the 15M Novice segment, was pretty sweet. A fair amount of DX would show up in it. I was in grade school and junior high and working Japan every afternoon after school on 15M CW with a folded dipole made out of TV twinlead and stapled to the side of the house... that was sweet!

Of course upgrading got me 20M and bigger segments on all the other CW bands.

Tim.
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