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Author Topic: The Thrill Is Back!  (Read 5447 times)
W7ASA
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Posts: 208




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« on: June 28, 2012, 12:10:04 PM »

The THRILL Is Back -


I've been a ham since about 1972 and a homebrew/SWL long before that.  Naturally, at the time that I got my U.S. ham license, the requirement for the entry level “Novice” license required 5 words per minute in Morse.  I HATED that idea!  Like most teens, I really didn't want to learn the code and frankly, I probably thought that it was beyond my ability to learn.  Well, guess what – I sat in my room most nights, with an Ameco code course on scratchy, skipping, 33 1/3 rpm “long play” records, learned the code and PASSED that code test on the second try, thanks to the mentor/Elmer at my high school ham club. After that followed an 'on-loan' Novice station at home & a friend's QRP in the mountains during camping trips and soon I was 18 and in uniform & using Morse daily in the Army. Ham radio's influence led me into an eventual high tech career designing and using the latest and greatest in technology and etc.

Fast forward forty years & approaching eventual retirement (I hope!).  Until recently, using the latest in digital was my main ham activity – much like at work.  The amazing efficiency & ability to 'e-mail over radio' of these amazing technological marvels and having my computer listening for friend's computers 24/7...well,  it was very effective at passing traffic and etc. but I found that I was not exactly enjoying it as much as I was simply using it as a mode to communicate – like internet, but without a dependence on infrastructure: handy in emergencies, but not heart warming.  Ham radio was no longer fun like it used to be for me – effective yes, but not fun.  The occasional CW contact from ashore or from the boat where we lived was always a HIGH for me. So what to do? 

I sold the high tech equipment and returned to CW using an old Century 21 transceiver and my dusty, home brew QRP rigs.  Soon, it did not take long for me to REALLY look forward to my time spent spinning the dial and 'talking with my hands' (sending The Code) , optimizing my antennas, building and using rigs like the TINY RockMite and polishing my skills with my refurbished Vibroplex Original and the fabulous long handled straight key#199 hand made by G3YUH. I can easily say that returning to the basics has brought the joy back to ham radio for me at this point in my life. 

It's not for everybody.  I do understand that and frankly, it's not an all-or-nothing idea for me either.  I am STILL amazed at the efficiency of the many digital modes that we use as hams and still touch base with friends who are not 'into CW'.  However, there's something about slowly smoking my pipe while soldering, with 40 meter CW or KSM maritime radio in CW in the back ground.  That really is enjoyable to this aging Morse man. I believe that for me personally, it's not always about overall 'system throughput'  and frankly, if it were, that is a never ending battle, because new and better systems and methods come along in a constant stream.  Rather for me, it's about my quality of life, and the enjoyment of my ham radio is part of it.

That's one of the the amazing things about ham radio: there is SO much in it for many people and varied tastes, whether it's having the #1 big gun station for cutting edge contesting, or AWA vintage tube rigs built along the lines of the famous 1929 “new type”  self excited transmitter, maybe with a one tube regen receiver (I made one!) . It's available: satellites (We have'em), certificate hunting (many enjoy this), long, conversations with people from all over the world and next door (I enjoy that). 

I can easily say that the thrill is back.  What's next?  Hmmmm, who knows, but that's another part of what makes ham radio interesting: one tree with so many branches and the fruit is delicious again.


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._

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N5XM
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2012, 05:46:11 PM »

Great post, Ray.  Technology is wonderful, but it can sure suck you in.  Sometimes we keep piling brick upon brick until we become so far seperated from what we are doing that we feel lost.  There's something really refreshing about going back to basics.  I sure wish I had my C21.  I want to get to know the person on the other end of the QSO, not have some kind of automated QSO.  No offense to digital ops.  If you want a sked, zip me an email.  Rick, n5xm@yahoo.com
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M0JHA
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2012, 03:47:56 AM »

Amen Ray . .  the thing is we as morse ops really don't need a pc . It disheartens me when i hear people linking radios up to computers and/or using a pc to send /receive code , personally i think it's an insult to the art of morse code.

Many people i speak to on a UK forum i use won't even bother going on the radio if a pc program they use goes down or a cluster is down  Huh and start to panic ..

We all know a pc can do pretty much what we want it to do and in that i see no enjoyment especially as far as radio goes , too many people nowdays demanding that contact or think they somehow should be able to hear everything in high quality and are reluctant to use a vfo and have a mooch round the bands .

Glad you got the spark back and it only goes to prove less is more ..

billy
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2012, 05:11:24 AM »

the thing is we as morse ops really don't need a pc .

A PC  is nice for logging, LOTW, eQSL, looking up a call already worked in the past and some research about the living and character of your QSO partner.
That last item can be disappointing of course. But it is the worst possible experience for the guy that feels the need to make miles  difference between the way he likes you to see him and reality.

Quote
It disheartens me when i hear people linking radios up to computers and/or using a PC to send /receive code , personally i think it's an insult to the art of Morse code.

Morse code is a skill, especially copying QRQ rag chew by head, it requires a lot of effort , daily exercises for years, to obtain that proficiency. Nice to remark that just the guys with less intellectual capacity can also do that. You only need perseverance, brains are hardly required. The only way I used my brains in this field is to plan an exercising scheme with the best result.

It is true, what you indicate,  that introduction of computers let phone hams to enter the CW area. However, who cares. I don't have a problem with a phone ham touch typing a rag chew on his keyboard and providing me with machine generated code. And he copying me with some decoding program. He has his joy and I have mine  from the QSO.
Francly I prefer that far above some newbee, that buys a blue racer and provides me with generated code, that is a pain in the ears and a certain way to induce a severe head ache.


Remember CW is the master of all modes, phone hams make a picture with their hands on a key or bug, that they can't use, and their oral ham speak is filled up with Q codes, and CW abbreviations, all demonstrating they are wannabees, and when they passed away they are advertised as SK, while they were never anything else as SK because they never made a QSO with a key.

Bob
« Last Edit: June 29, 2012, 05:14:28 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
K8AXW
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Posts: 3670




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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2012, 08:19:22 AM »

Ray:  I've seen your call here on eHam.com a few times and have always envied it ......somewhat.  Then I decided to check your call w/QRZ.com and my suspicions were confirmed!

Nice little rig with the "patch."  I have one like it next to my rig.  :-)  Bad Aibling 54-56.

Quote
Until recently, using the latest in digital was my main ham activity – much like at work. 

I suspect that I've interpreted that statement as well. 

73

Al - K8AXW
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W7ASA
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Posts: 208




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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2012, 11:48:46 AM »

Al de Ray:

'We' are still out there.... listening.  Shocked

Thanks for introducing yourself.

Berlin and other places -

73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 06:20:05 PM »

Ray, I'll bet most of us "OTs" have been through this.  Those who haven't should probably try it.

I've been licensed 47 years and built up "super stations" with kilowatts and beams on a lot of bands, etc, and then gone back to my homebrew 4-125 plate modulated AM rig (built in '66), either on AM or CW, with my 1956-vintage 75A-4 and a Dow Key relay.

The old stuff isn't as good as the new stuff.  But it's just so much more fun.  I don't have a Century-21, but if I did, I'd probably love it.  I spend a lot of my time ignoring all my new stuff and using my 1978-vintage TR-7 on the air.  It's not as stable, and has no DSP.  It just works, and works well, and I enjoy every single contact (mostly CW).

In retirement (someday soon I hope!) I want to resurrect my original Novice station, which was a 6V6 power oscillator cathode keyed with an NC-125 receiver and a hardware store knife switch for a T-R relay.  I made 2652 contacts with that (still have my Novice logs) before I knew it was all a bunch of crap. Cheesy
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2E0OZI
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2012, 06:24:58 AM »

This is a all such a relief to me!  Grin As I'll mostly likely never be able tafford a super station.  Smiley So as a new guy, I'll just stick with my IC718, manual tuner, and home made wire antennas and a straight key for the rest of my life..... 25w fun....
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
K8AXW
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Posts: 3670




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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2012, 08:50:05 AM »

OZI:  You are by no means alone OM!  While I too have never been able to afford a super station even after 55 years of hamming, I still have something that always makes ham radio interesting.  That is a dream.  Those in our position can always dream of a better transceiver; getting an amplifier; a better antenna..... the list never ends. 

I've also found that when we can't afford to buy something new and or nice, we can quite often think about building it which opens a whole new world of ham radio.

Hang in there, dream and have fun!

Al - K8AXW
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2012, 09:00:21 AM »

I want to resurrect my original Novice station, which was a 6V6 power oscillator cathode keyed

Oooh me, It was Xtal controlled I hope so. Because when you are keying a 6V6 power VFO osciilator you are generating 200 kHz wide key-clicks on the band. The hams within 5 miles of your dominion,  want appreciate that. Topic starter want bother because his dominion for sale is far away from groceries , schools, gas stations, and you name it.

But OK, it are plans, ventilated on eHam and long long and prolonged experience learns me that less then 0,1% of plans, are actually realised when it comes on home brewing, not on purchasing ready equipment or a KIT.

Exceptional reason to be proud when you complete a KIT to a working device! Kind of feeling proud when you obtain a WAS certificate (after payment) to hang on the wall close to your swimming certificate you obtained when you reached the age of 4.
Don't forget your "High School" certificate with cap and gown picture  and your home cooking for the elderly certificate.


Probably for phone hams less them 0.01 %, because they are still planning to be a real ham and learn CW at 3 wpm.

Bob
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 09:38:20 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
PA0BLAH
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2012, 10:17:16 AM »

This is a all such a relief to me!  Grin As I'll mostly likely never be able tafford a super station.  Smiley So as a new guy, I'll just stick with my IC718, manual tuner, and home made wire antennas and a straight key for the rest of my life..... 25w fun....

Be happy. 

Congrats.

The purpose of amateur radio is to develop your skills; your circumstances are just right to do that. Don't buy kits or commercial equipment. That is for the super stupid crowd that call themself "Elmers". Invest your spare money in books, such as ARRL handbook, RF design, Receiver design and the like.
Do not build your own equipment because it should be less expensive, it is not, it is more expensive just as building your own bike or car from spare parts, but do it to obtain experience. Use  the books to find out  WHY the hell it didn't work as you expected.

Make CW the only mode you are working, because it prevents QSO's with dombo SSB  eveything purchasing big guns, too stupid to design and construct the most simple circuit from scratch, and it keeps giving you the possibility to construct your own equipment that is energy saving and simple. PSK31 is NOT because it requires a linear final amplifier.
Above that, you do not meet the interesting people but the office bank man used to type on a keyboard and afraid of anything that smells to electronic hardware.

Print this out, put it on the wall instead of WAS WAZ or some other stupid certificate for sale, read it daily till its curled and yellow.

Bob
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M3KXZ
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2013, 06:50:56 AM »

Sorry for resurrecting an old post..... but for me, too, learning CW and now using it daily has made a massive difference to how I feel about amateur radio. I used to stress out when trying to get through SSB pile-ups, my family thought I was a right wally just calling my callsign again and again to no avail. I felt a big sense of relief when I finally got through. And then I realised that I wasn't really enjoying a lot of it. Relief is something you're supposed to feel when you've got through something bad, not when you've done something you should be really happy about!

I ended up spending time building antennas, fiddling about, and coming up with ideas for portable power sources etc, rather than actually talking on the radio.

But more recently, my interest in CW became rekindled, and I made a determined effort to have one CW QSO per day. That has now grown and grown, and I'm really enjoying several CW QSOs nearly every day. Every single on of them I am enjoying. The power of 5W or less of CW is absolutely astounding, and the thrill of working stations who are only just peeking above the noise floor is something else.

Absolutely loving it, and I will forever be indebted to Dieter DL2BQD for encouraging me to look at CW and who I had my first CW QSO with!

73
Pete M3KXZ
GQRP 11767
SKCC 10219
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PA1ZP
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Posts: 212




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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2013, 08:51:05 AM »

Hi Ray and others.

I loved the piece wou wrote about missing the fun in ham.

I loved that the use of CW brought it back to you.
Also loved the piece of PA0BLAH though it could have been a bit more polite to SSB users.
Some hams are mixed ops. like me.

But there is one thing that is certain, a CW qso is more as a SSB QSO and using a lot of homebrew equipement makes fun only bigger.

Using the homebrew Pixie TRX and pwr amp is fun.
homebrew amp, homebrew key, homebrew El keyer, homebrew antenna, homebrew tuner.

Or using the homebrew single freq X-tal TX and the R209 army surplus as RX is also big fun.
Just using 1 freq not able to go to left or right and still make contacts with very humble junk is great fun.
It is for me as a mechanical man instead of a electronics guy fun to solder my own TX with very simple and cheap means on a piece of old print with litle ilses glued to the print.

It is very great fun to give a rprt of 5nn and if the guy asks you what is my real report come back with the remark I hear you.
No filters no S-meter just X-tal BFO and diode detector with little audio amp.  is all the rig.
So your real report is 5?9.
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W9KDX
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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2013, 09:39:46 AM »


....and their oral ham speak is filled up with Q codes, and CW abbreviations, all demonstrating they are wannabees...

Bob

Oh come on now, you know better than that, or at least you should.
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Sam
W9KDX
2E0OZI
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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2013, 09:08:24 AM »

My thrill never left me (only been on CW a year or so) but I had been having a lean patch these last few weeks. last night after reading about the RBN I decided to see if anyone of these skimmer things could hear me, and if my poor fist was good enough to be deciphered. So I tuned to 10.130, listed for a bit, and a bit more, sent a QRL?? de 2E0OZI and then when I heard no reply sent a 3x3 call. I was mighty surprised when a DK station came straight back to me - that is I think only the second time anyone has every answered a call of mine. Hans and I had a nice qso despite me being disorganised and fluffingt things from time to time. When we finished I remembered about the RBN so I searched for my call and I was there!  Grin A Station in Wales and one in Belgium had picked me up, and apparently I send my call at 10-12wpm. Thats fine by me.

Then I noticed this RBN thing was saying my freinds GS3PYE/P were on the air on 40 so I went to where they were and sure enough they were there, and after getting me as OGI at first I corrected it a few minutes later and had them in the log fine.

All in all a good nights CW for me.
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
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