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Author Topic: CW SS  (Read 412 times)
KD2MX
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Posts: 3




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« on: November 07, 2005, 01:13:59 PM »

I'm just into my second incarnation in ham radio.  I was very into it during high school but gradually slipped away from the hobby and was almost totally inactive for about 20 years.

Now with the kids gone I needed another hobby so I got myself back on the air this summer.  This go around I'm fascinated with CW.  I'm having a blast working just about everything I hear with just 50 watts and a longwire.  I've done ok on SSB too but I'm not breaking any pileups.

The FISTS contest was a great event a few weekends back, it gave me a chance to make a bunch of contacts at a modest speed.  Sorry I missed the Get Your Feet Wet Weekend.  

This weekend I thought I'd give the CW SS a try.  Talk about blown away!  I don't think I heard much below 20wpm and  my guess is that most ops were in the 30-40wpm range.  Can you say intimidated?  

Well I got brave and threw my call out.  Actually it was by accident.  I'd been practicing sending as fast as I could with my straight key and thought the FT897 was still set on practice mode.  To my shock the station responded to my call.  Uh-oh, I thought...  

Fortunately I'd been copying exchanges so I had a pretty good idea what was coming and got the info down.  
Somehow I managed to send my return.  Whew...what a thrill.  So I hunted around the band listening for ops I could copy.  Once I figured out their basic exchange, I'd give a call.  Most (not all) slowed down a bit when I called at my top straight-key speed.

I made 51 contacts over the weekend.  I felt like I'd done about 500.  I found sending more stressful than copying but I definitely made progress.

I assume a lot of the high-speed contest work is computer generated.  I don't have much interest in that but I do see the need for getting a good CW paddle for the FT897-keyer.  I have an old vibroplex bug but figure I'm probably better off going the keyer route.  The K8RA paddle looks good.

I'm trying to do at least one cw qso a night and I made a couple of CDs to listen to cw in the car.  I see there are some programs for practicing copying CW contest exchanges too.  

Any other suggestions?

I really feel like a kid in the candy shop...I want to build up my CW chops (never used it much back when), try satellite, digital, get back on VHF, experiement with qrp and so on.
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W5PJW
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2005, 05:55:18 PM »

I have to agree that the speed was intimidating. I'm more comfortable in the 15-20 wpm range. I also found sending more stressful than receiving. My keyer (MFJ-401B) would occasionally glitch or hang for some strange reason; that coupled with my own mistakes made for a nerve wracking experience.  

Still, it was worth the effort. There was fun to be had. I didn�t have that much time to participate but managed 53 contacts. Like you I returned to ham radio a year ago after a long hiatus and find the fun factor is still there.

73, Mark
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KC0SOG
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Posts: 68




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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2005, 08:17:47 AM »

I had good intentions, but when I tuned around the bands, I couldn't believe the speeds.  So I passed on this one.

I'll stick with more the casual QSO parties and such until my CW speed and contesting experience improves.  Maybe next year.

73, Doug KC0SOG
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KD2MX
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2005, 04:59:20 PM »

Glad I'm not the only one.  I stumbled across a qrp sprint last night.  Two hours, first Monday of the month.  
A bit of contest flavor, mostly reasonable speeds, with the qrp challenge.  What a thrill to work 2, 3, 8, 9, 4, and 0s with 5 watts.  

I'm give the CQ WWCW contest a shot the end of the month.  At least the exchange is short.
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W6TRI
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2005, 03:34:15 PM »

I agree completely with the original poster.  I was _very_ intimidated by the speeds in the SS, but did have a great (although somewhat stressful!) time giving it my best shot.

One thing I've never been able to understand in CW contests is the seeming refusal to slow down. I'm talking about several occasions where I've listened to a station calling CQ 'Test repeatedly, over and over with no responses. When I respond, always careful to send only as fast as I can receive, there are times when the responding station replies at a blazing speed way above what I sent at. Sometimes this is fine, sometimes I'll ask for a repeat and the other op will slow down, but at other times the same fast speed is sent.  Is this because the sending is done by computer and its too much trouble to slow it down just for a single contact?

Seems that a slow contact is better than calling CQ over and over and over without a response.

At any rate, I don't let it get me down. If I just can't get the exchange at high speed after a couple of repeat request without the other op slowing down I'll just send 'sri too fast 73 es gl de w6tri'.

73,
Fred, w6tri
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W4BQF
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2005, 03:18:42 PM »

I have found for local (US/VE) contest, I get many more responses when I send slower. My normal pace is about 28 wpm. During the SS, if I was called at a slow rate I did slow down, most of the time to about 24 wpm, several times to 22 wpm, and once to 18 wpm. Twice to tell stations with 03 and 04 checks, that they were doing a great job. One must adapt to the caller simply because the exchange in the SS is more complex than most other contest. But yes, I contacted several station running at a ridiculous speed, and refusing to QRS, but they spent a lot of time calling CQ and sending repeats.I made a little over 600 QSO's in 14 hours, but it never hurts to adapt to the callers sending speed and it is quite easy on my computer program to rapidly change sending speed.
I would suggest if you contact someone who is going too fast for you to copy solid, ask them to QRS, if they do not QRS for you, just keep asking for repeats until you get the information, sooner or later the sending station will get the message.

Above all, make sure you just have fun!!

Tom - W4BQF
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N8CPA
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Posts: 87




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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2005, 06:08:38 AM »

I think the reason some ops don't QRS is that it's too complicated to change speeds, when you're using a keyboard/monitor to encode/decode Morse.  You have to click the speed, select from the menu, then resend.  Or you have to use TNC commands to change speed. Then, when you're done with the contact, click, click, click to reset to what it was before QRS. I have heard that before keyboards were allowed, QRS was a lot easier.  And it appears that top finishers are mostly computer terminal ops.

I don't think keyboards should be banned--too late to re-cork that genie--but I think that there perhaps should be a separate SS class for keyboard users like there are for schools, high power, low power, packet assisted, etc. Perhaps a Class T for "terminal." Such a class might be necessary in the future.  It is easily possible that when NCHF becomes reality, we'll soon see a top SS finisher who doesn't know a dit from a dah.

Not that I'm perfect. I use a paddle and a keyer with a knob speed control--sure beats click, click, click.  But I do all the reading by ear.
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K3AN
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2005, 08:42:59 AM »

NCHF? That's a new one for me.

As far as a new operator class, it would have to be "H" for hand-sent. The majority of ops in major contests now use computers or memory keyers, and hand-sent ops are the exception.
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W4BQF
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2005, 02:11:39 PM »

N8CPA

This has to be one of the most irresponsible and un-informed post I've ever seen on costesting. You just have no clue about the entire subject. I run high speed CW on 40 and 80m, and we do it faster than most computers could copy. It is all done by ear.

As for being a terminal user, are you insinuating that there is nothing beyond the computer? Who the heck set's up a contest station? Do you think a contest station is purchased as part of computer software? Do you think you get a contest experienced operator along with the computer software? Jeezh!!!

BTW, on my computer, I can change sending speed quicker than you can by twisting a knob, so your just not well informed.

And yes, I do 99% of my sending using a computer, the rest of the time I choose from one of my 18 bugs sitting on the shelf. And no, I'm not a novice, I have been doing CW for over 53 years. I do hope if you answer a person's question in the future, you will pick a subject you know something about.

73,

Tom - W4BQF
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N8CPA
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Posts: 87




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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2005, 06:00:13 AM »

Tom, I think you read far more into my comment than I wrote. The issue was intimidating speeds and I speculated why some contest ops don't QRS when requested. After 26+ years in Amateur Radio, and a little more than 10 years contesting, I consider myself informed enough to hope the reason must be some equipment issue that makes QRS inconvenient in a competitive environment. I have looked at numerous terminal, keying, and logging programs over the years and found them lacking in that regard. Or is it irresponsible of me to have such a generous opinion of hams, particularly CW ops, to expect that they QRS when requested?

I don't really care how other stations are equipped. But the vast majority of stations who fill the logs of the major contest stations are meager stations like mine, a couple of transceivers crammed onto an operating desk, and one or two antennas crammed into a yard a little too small. We aren't so much contesters as contest participants. We compete mainly against our own past results. We give out a lot more points than we get. And we love being part of it, limited as our roles and prospects of winning are.  

We need to QRS for the sake of such stations, some of whom are just discovering how much fun CW contesting can be. I remember a few years ago when certain band segments were assigned for QRS, but haven't read anything about it in the last few years.  

My own first foray into SS was 10 years ago. I got into it because I had been intimidated by speeds during the previous FD. SS speeds were even more intimidating, because the exchange was more complex. But I think more ops slowed down when requested then, as opposed to today. I didn't make more than 26 QSOs the entire weekend, but it was enough to hook me on contesting. A month later, I force fed my only HF antenna for the 160M contest.  The following weekend, I jumped onto 10M. And through the following months I worked more and more CW events as time permitted. By the following FD and SS, I was more confident.        
 
But as far as SS is concerned, it seems to me that the existence of a class of stations using packet cluster assistance (Class U) invites a future distinction between stations encoding and/or decoding via Morse terminals when Element 1 is dropped. It would add another Precedence, at least.    

Myself, for reasons just too boring to delve into--I can key on a paddle faster than I can type, so hooking up the TNC or connecting the rig control interface would net me no competitive advantage. Besides I read by ear as a matter of personal pride for my inner CW purist. I'm still working on resolving the contest vs ragchew speed differential. I can read a formatted exchange somewhere in the range of 30-40 WPM, ragchew is between 20-25--still faster than I can key even with a paddle--a reading plateau I've been working to break for a number of years.  
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