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Author Topic: That little ditty and other sundry CW items...  (Read 644 times)
K7PEH
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Posts: 1125




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« on: March 03, 2007, 07:40:10 PM »

"Shave and a Haircut, and the associated response, "two bits", is a simple (7 or 8 note) musical couplet sometimes used at the end of a musical performance (or, much less often, at the beginning)."


The above is quoted from Wikipedia and introduces my first question tonight.  Back in the 60s, this was a common way to terminate a CW QSO.  A few still do it but now I mostly only hear the "two bits" part or the dot-dot.   That is, both sides of the QSO finish with dot-dot and nobody does the first part, the "Shave and a haircut part".

I am curious as to how this evolution happened, if indeed that did happen.  My guess is that it is because of keyers which maybe make it a little harder to key in "Shave and a Haircut" given that the spacing and the length of dashes is not as easily controlled.  Or, another answer is maybe it is just easier to say "dot-dot" on both sides.  Just a curiosity that tickles a little bit.

Another question has to do with maybe the aging of the ham community or possibly something about there not being a Novice license anymore (like there used to be).  However, back when I was a Novice and banging away on my key on the 40 meter Novice bands, almost everyone I had a QSO with was around my age (17) and almost definitely under 20.  I would say that the peak of the normal age curve was probably in the 14 to 17 age range.  I remember that it was unusual to QSO with someone much older.  Now, this is probably because we were all in the Novice area of the band and maybe the code was slow but it is interesting that a lot of contacts I make now are with people my age (turn 60 this year) or older (mostly older it seems when I can find out the age).  So, where are all the teenagers that used to populate the CW bands?  Did they all grow up?

So, when did the practice of using break (BK) for the quick back and forth exchange start.  I know we did not do this back in the 1960s or at least I never did.  We signed each transmission (usually).  But, I do like the experience but I am curious as to when this started.
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KC9HOZ
Member

Posts: 103




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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2007, 08:49:14 PM »

Perhaps "Shave and a haircut" isn't used anymore because the FCC cracked down on the transmission of music on the ham bands?  Wink


Sorry... bad joke!

Scott kc9hoz
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AB2KT
Member

Posts: 62




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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2007, 09:51:39 PM »

Check out http://www.radiomarine.org/tales.html. It's a sequence of true stories by a former Coast Guard maritime radio operator, and it's fascinating.

Anyway, on the specific point here, it's interesting that 'dit dit' was a ubiquitous exchange among the maritime ops. There are a lot of transcripts of real traffic in the articles. In those transcripts you'll see nearly every QSO ending with /EE/EE indicating an exchange of dits between the ops.

73
Frank
AB2KT
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K7UNZ
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Posts: 691




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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2007, 05:26:40 AM »

Actually "BK" did exist in the early 60's, but very few stations were equipted to do it.  Most of us were operating seperate RX/TX rigs as the transceiver was still a bit in the future.

A lucky few did have something along the line of the Johnson TR switch in their shacks, but most simply used a DPDT knife switch to change the antenna between RX and TX.

So, usually the sequence went something like....
1. Throw the antenna switch
2. Turn down (or go to stand-by) the RX gain
3. Hit the key or push the mike button
Reverse to go back to receive.....

Didn't lend itself to break-ib operation very well, and sending the calls gave you time to get ready to do the switching (hi).

Transceivers, and "twins" rigs like the Drake and Collins gear, made it much easier with their semi-break-in vox operation.

73, Jim/k7unz
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W5ESE
Member

Posts: 550


WWW

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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2007, 07:42:07 AM »

> I am curious as to how this evolution happened,
> if indeed that did happen.

It happens. Language and culture evolve, and the
CW subculture in Amateur Radio is not immune. Look
at how spoken English has evolved in the same 50
years. Happens in any subculture with that has
vitality and is alive.

I think that it may owe in part to the habit that
CW operators abbreviate almost everything for
efficiency. I don't think it's owing to keyers;
I send the dit-dididit-dit thing every time I send
my call. Smiley

No problem on a keyer; it works very well.

Someone told me at one time there was an QST
editorial (or something from ARRL) that stipulated
that amateurs heard doing the shave-and-a-haircut
thing would -not- be considered for membership in
the A-1 Operator's Club (guess that rules me
out!). So that may have had a stifling effect.

> However, back when I was a Novice and banging
> away on my key on the 40 meter Novice bands,
> almost everyone I had a QSO with was around my
> age (17) and almost definitely under 20. I
> would say that the peak of the normal age curve
> was probably in the 14 to 17 age range.

I think this has been a long term change. I was
licensed as a 14 year-old late in 1975, and was
active as a Novice in the second half of 1976.
Almost everyone I had a QSO with was much older
than I was; mostly middle-aged adults. So even
then, teenage hams were a rarity.

If you are interested in participating in a little
QRP contest that celebrates the "shave-and-a-haircut"
legacy (and aren't worried about your prospects of
being nominated into the A-1 Operator's Club),
look into participating in the QRP Barbershop
Contest. Information is at:

http://www.dit-dididit-dit.com/barbershop_contest.htm

73
Scott
W5ESE
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K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1125




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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2007, 08:08:48 AM »

That pointer to the QRP 'shave and a haircut' contest is interesting.  I have it bookmarked and the date of the next contest on my calendar.

But, giving up the chance for the A1 Operator Club -- I am not sure.  I heard they serve free drinks in that club and have entertainment.
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K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1125




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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2007, 08:11:53 AM »

"Actually "BK" did exist in the early 60's, but very few stations were equipted to do it. Most of us were operating seperate RX/TX rigs as the transceiver was still a bit in the future."

OK.  Actually, I was thinking of BK as  a means of turning the exchange back to the other party and no as a form of 'break-in' or anything that would need a particular quick turn-around.  What I mean is using it instead of the 'your-call' DE 'my-call' thing and only signing 'DE my-call" per the rules or whenever.
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K7UNZ
Member

Posts: 691




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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2007, 09:50:48 AM »

Let me try this response again....don't know what happened, but when I hit the preview tab everything just disappeared......

BK was'nt used much way back when 'cos the FCC ID requirements were different.  Used to be that you had to ID both yourself, and the station you were in contact with, at the beginning and end of each transmission.....as well as at least every 10 minutes during one.  Now you don't need to do that.

Kinda like the old log requirements.  You had to log every transmission, even if it was nothing more than a "CQ" no-one answered, or a call to another station who did not come back to you.  Now you don't even have to keep a log.

Times change......hi!

Jim/k7unz
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