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Author Topic: The absolute basic questions  (Read 1201 times)
KC9QEB
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Posts: 17




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« on: August 13, 2009, 08:09:46 AM »

Please don't get angry at either the very basic level of the questions - tried to look at a bunch of the posts and didn't seem to find an answer - likely because these are about as rudimentary as they come. I'm a brand new ham trying to learn about the craft.

If I want to learn and transmit cw on the amateur bands, what exactly do I need to do so? I know I'd need a keyer. What do I need to both transmit and receive?

Thanks so much for putting up with me!
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KC9QEB
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2009, 08:11:07 AM »

Should add, as a new ham with a small budget, my shack consists solely of a FT-60R handheld.
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2765




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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2009, 08:44:42 AM »

"Please don't get angry at either the very basic level of the questions - tried to look at a bunch of the posts and didn't seem to find an answer - likely because these are about as rudimentary as they come. I'm a brand new ham trying to learn about the craft.

If I want to learn and transmit cw on the amateur bands, what exactly do I need to do so? I know I'd need a keyer. What do I need to both transmit and receive?

Thanks so much for putting up with me!"
------------------
Kerry-

You'll have to learn Morse code OFF the air until you're comfortable with it at around the 5 WPM level.

What do you need to transmit and receive?  You need a transmitter and a receiver -- or a transceiver.  And an antenna, power supply, etc. You certainly DON'T need a bunch of computer programs to "read" the code for you.  You do that part yourself.  The sending part as well.

Don't confuse the terms "key" and "keyer".  A Morse code key is simply a mechanical switch with which you make the dits and dahs manually.  A keyer, connected to a "paddle" makes the dits and dahs automatically, although you manipulate the paddle yourself.

Now, your handheld...you can't send actual "CW" with a handheld radio, at least the ones I'm familiar with.  You can key an audio tone through the microphone, but that's not "CW" or even "MCW". And since the carrier would be on at full power during your sending, it might get pretty warm, and the battery life wouldn't be all that great.

Don't know about your area, but are there any hams near you who operate with Morse code on 2M or 70cm? It might be a waste of time to go this route.  You need to get on HF.  As a tech, you have CW privileges on portions of 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters.

First of all, learn Morse code.  And while I'm at it, "Morse code" is what you learn; you don't learn CW.  CW is a mode that employs Morse code (or other systems of dots and dashes); CW is not synonymous with Morse code.

73
Pat K7KBN
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KC9QEB
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2009, 08:48:33 AM »

Thanks so much for clarifying this all for me. I would never even try to go on the air without a lot of practice. I also appreciate the information on the difference between using the terms Morse Code and CW. Again, thanks!
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KE4ILG
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Posts: 149




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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2009, 09:27:35 AM »

First congrats on getting into cw, my favorite mode.  

You need to have a radio that receives HF. Later you can get an HF rig or just get the HF radio now. If you have a device to practice sending with then that's all you need to get ready to get on the air. There are
 W1AW transmits practice cw for you to copy on various bands at various speeds each day, you can find the schedule in QST magazine.  While you are learning to copy cw listen to on-air QSO's along with W1AW broadcasts.   You will learn how a quick QSO goes, what to send and what is required for a QSO.  Don't wait too long get on the air.  Try to learn to send the very best cw you can it will make people want to talk with you even at very slow speeds. Don't learn by counting the dits and dahs rather by complete sound that each character makes.  This will allow you to increase your speed much quicker.  
I have found that the Elmers on air are generous with their time and send great slow cw.  

Thank you to all  the Elmers past and present who help me even to today, 73 Mike KE4ILG
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AA4N
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Posts: 108




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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2009, 10:24:59 AM »

Good news and bad news.

The bad news is, you'll need a different radio.  Your handheld can't get on the HF bands, and that is where all the CW action is.  Time to start radio shopping.

The good news is; As a tech, you are allowed to operate CW in several sub-bands of the HF spectrum  (techs only get to operate phone in one small part of the 10M band).

Of course, you'll need a key, an antenna, and maybe a power supply if the rig you buy requires 12VDC rather than 120VAC.

40M is the place to be for new CW ops.  Hopefully I'll get to work you there sometime soon.  I've only ever run into one tech working CW before.  I would love to see more out there pounding brass.

Good luck and 73

mike AA4N
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2009, 11:01:14 AM »

Not so fast. Don't give up hope.

For example, we have a local 2 meter practice net, "real CW" (no repeaters, no FM) and all, every Thursday night (to keep us lids off the HF bands so we can practice, haha.)

HF is not really a "requirement" for CW. It is more of a real-world USE of CW. I agree FH is the place where you will want to use it eventually.

But you may wish to consider what some call "MCW," which is Morse Code audio to be able to use your radio and practice with local hams.

The PicoKeyer-Plus kit along with an extra jack and some wiring will do this on your HT, but I believe you will need a paddle as well. I don't know yet if a straight key will work for this. It might.

I am not familiar with the FT-60R, so it may have some of the features already for "MCW."

In the long run you DO want to get onto HF bands and do true "CW."

I think it's great you want to do Morse code.

Keep at it. You will find some of the most experienced and nicest Hams doing code and CW.

73
Larry
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2009, 11:03:16 AM »

Did I say, "FH?"

I meant, "HF."
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2009, 11:17:52 AM »

Kerry,

When you are ready to get on the HF and do some useful CW, you might consider a high-quality rig that may fit a little better into the budget you mentioned.

Elecraft markets kits for low power and portable CW, such as the K1 and KX models.

see elecraft.com for details.

These relatively low cost kits will be something you can use for a lifetime.

When you do a QSO and tell the other OM you are using an Elecraft, it will get their attention. Smiley
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WB5JEO
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Posts: 805




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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2009, 12:05:28 PM »

You can pick up any number of older HF transceivers pretty cheap. You can pick up old CW transmitters really cheap to be used along side a reasonable receiver. That's how many of us began long ago, with something like an old Heath DX-40, to which we added the VFO when we got tired of being rock bound or earned the privilege to use the VFO. There's nothing at all wrong with the older radios. They may not be as exquisitely selective as newer receivers, but we had no real complaint. Wire antennas cost next to nothing, besides enough decent coax to get to the wire.

For pretty cheap, you can get onto HF where you'll find slow speed CW nets, both the traffic and ragchew variety. Start making the club meetings in your area. Once you make it known that you want to get on HF in CW, you may well find someone will just loan you an older rig and help you get going. An awful lot of us have working older rigs in the corner that we hang onto simply because they hold the memories of our early days as hams, and many of us see getting someone started as a worthy role for those old radios.

I'd really encourage you to ask around after an old rig and give yourself a fair shot at experiencing HF CW as it's supposed to be and to connect back to the core of amateur radio.
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KE4ILG
Member

Posts: 149




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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2009, 12:40:23 PM »

I have never operated QRP I have of course worked many QRP stations.  So my thoughts are colored by my experience.  I think anyone motivated enough to learn and get on the air using the cw mode is destined to up grade soon to General.  Having stated that assumption I would recommend that you consider a multi-band transceiver.  Many good used rigs are available in the $300-600 range.  This will give you use of many other bands when you up grade and the pwr can always be reduced.  I would be asking what is a good older cw rig.  I had a Icom-730 not the best cw model but up to 15 wpm it is very usable and sells in the $300 level.  It does not have 160 mtrs but I was very happy with it.
Look for a local ham to be your Elmeer, check into local clubs.  There is nothing like experiencing someone's shack.  Good luck and 73, Mike.
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KC9QEB
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2009, 11:07:22 AM »

Thanks, everyone. This gives good food for thought. I'm definitely not one who would only buy new - I love the good equipment (my radio/receiver and speakers are my dad's old Pioneer from the mid-1970s, which I use for everything from listening to records to listening to my iPod using the phono jack/RCA plug). Again, this gives me a lot to chew on (no pun intended) and it is much appreciated.
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W4YA
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2009, 11:50:54 AM »

I assume there might be some ham clubs nearby. My advice is to go to meetings and seek out guys who operate CW. That's one of the best ways to find out about any aspect of our hobby.

You can find a list of clubs in IL on the ARRL website. I suggest that you avoid DX, contest and other narrow interest clubs. Instead look for ones that teach code and schedule exams, etc. They usually have a website that will tell you they welcome new hams, hold classes, etc.
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2009, 11:59:03 AM »

eham, I hope this is not breaking the rules as far as classified ads and what not.

For Kerry only,

If you are interested, I have a very nice Kenwood TS-830S Gold for sale. It is a fine rig in very good shape and would probably fit your budget just fine.

I have TWO of these, actually. Otherwise I would never sell this one.

Ask around and get other opinions on this rig.

If interested, send me an email to my arrl address.

I'm not "advertising" this and therefore will not respond to inquiries other than Kerry's. He said he is looking for something like this and I am offering to sell it.

If this breaking the rules, Kerry you will have to wait until I advertise it and offer to the public.
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KC9QEB
Member

Posts: 17




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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2009, 12:22:51 PM »

Drop me an email - I might be interested if it is okay by the eHam rules: KL-Lemaster@wiu.edu
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