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Author Topic: CW Observation  (Read 5276 times)

Posts: 2078

« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2011, 05:26:00 AM »

For the most part casual QSO'ing esp on 40M and 80M does seem to be down from when I was a kid (late 70's). If it makes you feel any better though the quality of the QSO is way up in terms of ragchewing.

There is a kind of "sucking effect" from all the November contest activity (roughly starting with CW Sweeps and running through Stu Perry). From November through mid-December, it's easy to spend 20,30, 40 hours a weekend at the rig and given that most ops have real lives this does detract from casual operation outside the contest.

There are still pockets of casual chat activity: QRP frequencies, and on 40M at least lots of DX will be very willing to chat for a while.

It can't be that things are very much different on the West coast... at 10PM most winter nights here on the East Coast 40M is long,long,long and most of the stations I'm working are in the West or West Coast.

If you're looking for a true ragchew, here on the east coast there are many 40M ops in the morning who will gladly hold a hour long QSO. The bands aren't awful crowded at that point.

I'm looking forward to a large number of non-contest operating hours around my Christmas/new year's vacation. Lately I get a lot of hours on the upper WARC bands during the day, less active at night.

Posts: 20543

« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2011, 02:19:28 PM »

N4OI, WB2WIK, K1BXI, N5XM, K0TF, you guys just don't get it or have big antenna systems. 

I see you're in Modesto, which I'm not...but I am in Los Angeles, so only a few hundred miles south of you.

I was on 40m last evening around 0200 UTC and worked Jerry N7WR for a nice rag chew up above 7175 (on SSB).  I had to go up that high in the band to find a clear frequency because, frankly, from 7128 (my low end) up to 7175 or so was so full of signals, ragchews, nets, DX chasers, etc. that I had to go up pretty high to find a clear spot.

I don't know my antenna on 40m is "big," it's an inverted vee up 55 feet, hanging off my tower.  My other 40m antenna is a 6BTV on a roof tower (at about 25') with 24 radials.  No beams on 40.

Maybe you're not on at 0200 UTC, but that's usually about the hour I would be on, and it's usually pretty jammed.

Posts: 2383

« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2011, 05:38:13 PM »

Quote from W7AIT:
CW observation old timer:  1964, wall to wall CW stations on 80, 40 cw after dinner.  Today 2011 ONE or TWO CW stations (or maybe NONE!)  on 80, 40 CW after dinner.

Dropping CW requirement made a huge change in CW, as in lots of dead, quiet air on 80, 40 and no one to talk to after dinner.

Now I just go read a book instead.

I spent a lot of time handling traffic on 80m CW in the early 1960's.  The band was swarming with traffic nets and high speed conversations.  There isn't much traffic handling anymore, but there are still conversations, DX'ing, and QRP activities on both 80 and 40 CW. 

I don't think dropping the CW requirement has much to do with any perceived drop in activity.  If the band seems dead, try CQ'ing before giving up. 

Chuck  NI0C

Posts: 349

« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2012, 03:54:57 PM »

I'm sorry you feel that way.  I have only been a 20 wpm extra since 76.  But my observation is that the CW segments had lost their busy nature long before the CW requirements were lifted.  I think that the CW segments are much busier now than then.  Yes there are more QRS ops.  But bringing them along is part of the hobby.

I was against elimination of the CW requirements when it happened.  I was wrong.

My 2 cents.

73, JP, K8AG

Posts: 200

« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2012, 05:21:37 AM »

... I was against elimination of the CW requirements when it happened.  I was wrong. ...

From the CW viewpoint, I will also admit that I was wrong about eliminating the CW requirements.  The bands seem more active than ever -- especially the QRS "newbies," which is a very healthy sign.   Grin

I do not work SSB, but out of curiosity, has anyone seen the expected influx of "CBers" after code elimination?


Posts: 3835

« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2012, 06:30:23 AM »

I've been a CW op since 1967, mostly on 80 and 40.

Here's what it used to be like, and how the factors that packed those bands changed:

1) 80 used to be crawling with NTS CW traffic nets - section, region, and area nets, plus TCC. Some nets met twice a night! There was so much traffic that it was common to have station up 5, up 10, down 5 and down 10, all handling traffic for a single net. (You couldn't handle traffic on the net frequency; there wasn't enough time before the next-level net started).

Most of that routine traffic is gone, due to cheap long distance, email, etc.

2) The HF ham bands were 80/75, 40, 20, 15 and 10 - and that was it. 160 was full of LORAN and access to it depended on where you lived and time of day.

3) Ham gear was much more expensive than today, and much less "feature rich". A lot of hams were using older/surplus/homebrew gear that didn't work so well above 10 or 15 MHz, so they stayed on 80 or 40. A lot of hams were using rigs that only covered 1, 2 or 3 bands - and those bands were 80, 40 and 20, so that's where they stayed.

Here's an example: In the mid-1960s, National sold the popular NCX-3 for just $369 (less power supply and speaker). $369 back then equates to about $2000 today. What you got for the money back then was an SSB rig that covered 80/75, 40 and 20, SSB and CW - and that's it. Today, for a lot less inflation-adjusted money you can have a rig that covers 160, 80/75, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10 and 6 meters, plus general-coverage receive, in a variety of modes.

The other side of the coin was that practically all older rigs had to be tuned up, so we learned how to do it. Feeding an antenna that wasn't 1:1 SWR wasn't magic.

4) In the 1960s the vast majority of US hams started out as Novices. And the vast majority of Novices started out on 80 and/or 40 CW. (The Novice license back then did not include 10 meters). The Novice only allowed 75 watts input, crystal controlled, and only CW on HF. (Novices had part of 2 meters, but most didn't go up there). Until the mid 1970s the Novice was a one-time, nonrenewable, short-term license.

The result was that most new hams started with CW and started with 80/40. The poor 15 meter performance of most inexpensive stuff used by Novices helped this trend even more. The goal was to get up to 13 wpm and get a General before the short-term Novice license expired in 1 or 2 years. (Techs had no HF privileges at all back then, so the step was usually Novice-to-General).

And since equipment was so limited and so expensive, many would stay CW-only - often for years - after the upgrade was earned. And they would stay on 80 and 40.

5) Antenna restrictions were relatively rare back then. Most hams could at least string a 100 foot wire from the attic window to a tree in the back yard, load it against ground and get on 80/40. Many rigs didn't even need a Transmatch to feed a random wire. And since the rig limited you to a couple of bands, antennas such as a W3DZZ trap dipole were perfect.

6) We didn't have PCs and code practice software, so we practiced on-the-air, learning by doing.

7) No internet, no PCs, no cell phones, only 3 or 4 TV channels and one TV set. Fewer distractions.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Posts: 3651

« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2012, 06:35:37 AM »

It has been my personal experience that the CB converts to ham radio have migrated to 2m.  Very few that I know have bothered to upgrade or do anything else except talk on the 2m repeaters.

I prowl several forums here on and see new calls with questions that once was covered in the ham exams.  These could be the result of CB'rs converting to ham radio or the question pool method of examining used today, or both.

Posts: 0

« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2012, 06:44:57 AM »


Which GOD ? Mines is Shiva (the supreme!)
I respect (the meaning of) other people so I do not deny the reality of their  figments.

Here in Europe the statement is certainly true. 80 m is a lot of noise out of the antenna  and in the past (over 40 years ago) at night is was overfilled with stations (mixed use)
Nowadays the CW operators are mainly retired radio officers so, with ten more years CW will be dead. Just as hieroglyphs.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 07:09:16 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged

Posts: 3835

« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2012, 08:21:31 AM »

I prowl several forums here on and see new calls with questions that once was covered in the ham exams.  These could be the result of CB'rs converting to ham radio or the question pool method of examining used today, or both.

Or there could be a third cause.

The passing grade for the writtens has been below about 75% for as long as I can find records. About 3 out of 4, which in most schools will get you a C or a D, depending on where they draw the line. So it has always been possible to get a license yet still have big gaps in knowledge.

Add that to the fact that in the bad old days we got our radio information mostly from books, magazines and Elmers. If somebody didn't know something, they would either look it up (what a concept!) or ask another ham - privately.

Books on ham radio weren't all that expensive, so most hams had a couple of them. (My 1967 Handbook cost $4 - about $25 in today's money. It was the most expensive book ARRL published back then. A better choice for a beginner was "Understanding Amateur Radio", which cost only $2). A lot of those books focused on the basics, or at least started with the idea that a beginning ham didn't know all that much about radio.

So we read them cover to cover and some things sank in.

Today it is easier and cheaper to just toss a question into an online forum. Yes, there's lots of info on websites, but it is a lot of work to comb through it.

The big difference is that such questions are seen by everyone who visits the site.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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