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Author Topic: First CW Rig?  (Read 2249 times)
KD5TGN
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Posts: 36




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« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2006, 08:30:22 PM »

Well. I went ahead and ordered the SW40+... I may take awhile to get here but that's ok...I have a lot o CW learning to do. Which leads to my next two questions, which should most likely go in a seperate post:  What is good key to start with?  My current "key" is the mouse on this MAC...

And any hints to hearing code? I can send (with the mouse) at 10+ words a minute, I can write CW, but when I try to copy WAIW I can't seem to hear the letters, they all start to run together, and this is at 7.5 and 5 wpm!
Any thoughts? or do I just need Prozac? :-{

73,
Dan
KD5TN
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2357




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« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2006, 11:24:45 PM »

There's an ARRL-published book on QRP, with quite a bit of antenna material.

There's no difference between QRP antennas and QRO antennas, except that the QRP antennas can use smaller-diameter wires and lighter baluns.

Alpha Delta makes some "shortened" 40-meter antennas, with loading coils toward the ends of the wires.  If you can get the center up high, they should produce decent results.

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N3EF
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Posts: 247




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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2006, 03:27:34 AM »


  What do you mean when you say you can write CW? I hope your not visualizing dots and dashes. That's the wrong way to go. Get the G4FON program (www.g4fon.net). Set it to 15wpm character speed and 5wpm effective code speed and practice, practice, practice...etc. You need to decide if you want to start with a straight key or paddles. Some will tell you that you should start with a straight key, but I disagree. It doesn't matter. It's a personal preference. I use paddles most of the time but use a straight key when working skcc (straight key century club) members.

Eric
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K8GU
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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2006, 11:32:32 AM »

The SW40 is a nice little rig.  I have one sitting around somewhere that I haven't used since Dave Benson was NN1G...

Since my advice against starting with a QRP rig was disparaged, I'm sure my suggestion of a key will be as well.  Starting with a straight key will stunt your growth.  I agree with Eric, just go right away to a keyer and paddles.  And, get a REAL key that has some heft to it.  You can usually find a Bencher on the used market for $25-$50, if you look at hamfests or ask around your local club.  Somebody might even give/lend you one.  

You'll appreciate the weight, especially when you're learning to send.  I have a Paddlette that I absolutely despise because it's too darned small!  Even after improving my technique so I don't "slap" the key so much, it still is a pain.
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KG4SGP
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2006, 01:14:25 PM »

I've got a Carolina Windom on 40m, basically an off center feed dipole with a vertical radiating element. Works well. You will be suppressed what a little height can do for your enjoyment. Had this same antenna at 15ft not very high in terms of wavelength so take off angle was high. I heard stations all right but was not getting out that far. When the antenna came down from a storm a month later. I decided to put it up as high as I could. Well I didn’t get it as high as I wanted but got it to about 40ft. It really was amazing how much of an improvement that was. That very night 40 opened up and I was receiving DX. There’s a tree just out side of the property that I’m going to try for, its at about 70 to 80 feet. Take off angles for DX needs to be low at around 15 degrees and down most are at 10 and lower. You’ve heard people say build them big and high, don’t take it for granted. A good antenna will do wonders after all you have to take the signal out of the air before you can transfer it to audio. You can have a great rig with lots of power on a bad antenna loose a fight to a simple QRP station with a good antenna.

Have fun with CW!

73s KG4SGP - Jim
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KG4SGP
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« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2006, 01:33:33 PM »

I second G4FON CW training software. I’m at around 7wpm also but I can receive half of the alpha bit at 15, that is by reflex. I have to say one way I know I have the group of letters that I am practicing down is I start to think about other things and still copy the code. Its an interesting thing to experience.

I learned the code at 5wpm just to pass the General test and I thought that I might get into CW, it was an interest. When and after I got my Extra ticket I realized how much theory sad that CW should best. Well I just couldn’t live knowing that as I used SSB at 100watts QRP CW stations were getting further more efficiently.

I finally decided to study the code 15min or more every day at 15wpm because that’s as fast as I can recognize and then right down the letter (it's righting now that’s holding me back!).

Its been three weeks since I decided and I’ve got half of the letters down (out of 40). That’s a little slower than I would like but at least I'm still getting there.

73s KG4SGP - Jim
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N3EF
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Posts: 247




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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2006, 05:12:33 PM »


  Well, another cool program for practicing your sending is CWComm You can do cw over the internet with this and it's fun to do that but you don't have to be in qso with someone to practice sending. It's a free program and you just hook ur key or paddles to your computers serial port. I think it works through an usb adapter also if you don't have the serial port.

http://www.mrx.com.au/
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KD5TGN
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Posts: 36




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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2006, 07:59:21 PM »

Wish this software was MAC compatible...looks like all the good software is Windoze (what a thing to say). Morse Mania is for the mac but I have some issues with the way the timing on the Learn Characters works, and it's not user defineable.

I downloaded G4FON's software to my work laptop (don't tell!) and have started working with it some.  I now see the advantage! I am still having problems hearing the letters at 20wpa. My main problem is hearing the beginning , after a couple of secs my hears seem to "tune in" and I can hear better, but since I lost the first few characters I feel lost.

Is this something that will go away or am I just CW challenged? Wink

Cheers,
KD5TGN
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N5EAT
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2006, 08:25:52 PM »

My first rig was a Yaesu FT-7 and matching amp.  The rig itself puts out about 14 watts.  I rarely ever used the amp.  The rig has a wonderful sounding receiver and is still available on ebay and other sources.  I still have mine and used it periodically.
It's now 21 years old to me, and I have no idea how old it was when I purchased it.   It can be had for 150 to 300 dollars depending upon condition and seller.

Rig also does sideband.   As for the K1 - you can get them pre-built for around 300.00.  They are super little radios.

If you can swing it, an Icom 706 can be had for less than 400 bucks now.  They are hf/uhf and fine little rigs.  ALso, the yaesu 857 is a great all band/mode rig which can be had for around 500 bucks.

I have a Ten-Tec Argo V, and sure enough - it has the best Transmit/receive switching of any rig I own.  The rig has a large, wonderful sounding speaker and has all your filters built-in.  You won't find them too cheap, but can probably find one for 500-600 dollars used.  This radio will probably be the easiest to listen to of all the rigs I mention, however - the receiver on the FT-7 is very nice.  The yaesu 857 (or FT-100 or FT-100D) has a nearly contest quality receiver.  I have my 857 fully filtered, and it's quite a wonderful little rig.

The small wonder labs cw rigs are nice as well if you want CW only.  You will get an argument from some ops on this statement, but there is a big difference between 4 watts and 15 or 25 in terms of making good contacts.
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N9ESH
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Posts: 27




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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2006, 07:35:59 PM »

Oldies are usually goodies. Look around for some clasic CW rigs at hamfests. Might I suggest Icom-735 or the older tube Heathkit HW-16? Both are good rigs. There are lots of others out there sitting in closets of Ham stations and just gathering dust. Ask around. You'll be surprised what you will come up with.
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YV5MBX
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Posts: 71




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« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2006, 02:32:44 PM »

My personal recommendation is IC-718, that is not so expensive, very good rx and very simple to use.
Adding a cw filter improves it a lot.
You can buy one very cheap in Ebay (look for dsp installed)

GL de yv5mbx
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AB2RC
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Posts: 126


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« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2006, 09:51:04 AM »

"I finally decided to study the code 15min or more every day at 15wpm because that�s as fast as I can recognize and then right down the letter (it's righting now that�s holding me back!)."

Instead of  writing the letters on paper, try typing them into a text editor. You can probably type way faster than you can write (even if you hunt-and-peck)

 
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AB9LZ
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Posts: 198




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« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2006, 11:02:44 AM »

Whatever rig you get, CW RX filters are a must have. The closer into a city and or the lower in the bands you go, the narrower they should be. Rigs with variable DSP IF filters, like the Ten Tec Argo are really nice. Or, if on a budget, keep a lookout for an older boatanchor that has Varible Bandwidth Tuning (Like the Kenwood TS-830), comes pretty close to doing the same thing but with old school technology. AF dsp is next to useless for CW (tho ok for SSB) and rigs equipped with such, like the Icom 718, will still need the CW filters.

Unless the straight key thing tickles your fancy, start learning the paddle sooner than later. It's a great way to send nice clean easy to copy code that will guaruntee lots of comebacks to your CQ's. The straight key thing is an art unto itself and may (or may not) interfere with all of the other stuff you are going to be learning in the process.

Have fun, c u out there.

73 / Mark
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KD5TGN
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Posts: 36




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« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2006, 02:14:25 PM »

Speaking of paddles, which would this august body recommend for a new comer?  Keep in mind that I am on a XYL imposed budget and that I'm still not sure...

Thanks for all the great replies so far!
73!
Dan
KD5TGN
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AB9LZ
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Posts: 198




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« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2006, 08:53:46 PM »

Is this something that will go away or am I just CW challenged? Wink
 
it'll go away, don't worry.

lots of folks like the bencher paddles, I have one but think it's too flimsy, it's now on loan to a friend. Until recently, I've neen using an LTA (spanish made) key, at $79 it's solid, holds it's adjustments and has a good light touch. The build quality is kinda funky though, looks like the brass blocks were machined by hand with a hacksaw. The exotic olive wood finger grips make up for it.
I use a pico keyer, a nice $19 kit that is small enough to slip inside my $230 TS-830 (with twin 500hz filters and vbt).... I'm on that same xyl budget, hence the cheap keys and boatanchor rigs.

73 / Mark.
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