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Author Topic: Starting into CW  (Read 29741 times)
KD8TZC
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Posts: 67




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« on: April 15, 2013, 08:06:16 AM »

Well, I have started to dabble in CW on 40M (7.025 - 7.125MHZ) and also 15M (21.025 - 21.2MHz), and while I can hear lots of activity on those frequencies, I will put my call out there and I hear nothing back.

Typically, I will send "CQ CQ CQ de kd8tzc kd8tzc kd8tzc k" and then wait about 15 - 20 seconds, and then repeat. I did this last night for approx 30 minutes on one frequency, and didn't hear anything back. I have done this on a number of other times and have had the same result. So this leads me to wonder if I am doing something wrong with what I am sending, or in my setup.

I am using FLDIGI, and I do know it is transmitting (I have listened on another radio). Any suggestions on how I can improve what I am doing and be more effective?

As for an antenna... I have a G5RV Jr that is tuned on both bands. This is about 35 feet in the air in my attic.

Thanks for the help,

John
KD8TZC
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 08:11:27 AM by KD8TZC » Logged

John - KD8TZC
AA4PB
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 08:35:21 AM »

Make sure that you are listening exactly on your transmit frequency. Use a wide filter setting when calling CQ so that you can hear replying stations that might not have precisely zero beat your frequency. For a first try, you might find it better to locate some other station calling CQ (a fairly strong one) and reply to him. You never know about propogation. You might think that you are calling CQ on a clear frequency when in fact there could be a couple of others using that frequency that you can't hear. Potential responders may be hearing the other stations so they don't reply to your CQ. That's especially true if you have a less than ideal antenna setup.

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KD8TZC
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 08:40:40 AM »

Well, I don't have my notch filter turned on at all (I have a Kenwood TS440S) and I think that is the only filter that I have. as for Transmit and receive frequencies being the same, I have the XIT and RIT functions turned off, so both should be the same.

I have thought about trying to find a station calling CQ, but as of yet, I have not located one that has not already be in a QSO with someone.  What you state makes sense though.

Should I not do CQ three times and my call three times, but maybe reduce them all to just two times?

Thanks
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John - KD8TZC
AC2EU
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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 08:52:37 AM »

FDlIGI for CW?

1) some may say that's "cheating".
2) Machines don't do well copying ( trust me...I know!) many of the fists out there on the bands.
I suppose that it would be fine if the other operator was also using machine generated code. though.
You may have problems unless you can copy CW yourself.
I found that a human operator (me) can decipher QSOs that the machine reads out as gibberish... and I'm not even very good at it!


If you you don't want to learn Morse, then maybe PSK31 or RTTY might be better choices.
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KD8TZC
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 08:57:13 AM »

How do you figure it is cheating if I am learning the code, just not there yet?  I think FLDIGI is a great way to HEAR the code and then see the letter that goes to that code so I can learn the sounds. Not everyone knows CW, but there are some of us who are trying to learn it and using tools like FLDIGI while they are learning.
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John - KD8TZC
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 09:00:04 AM »

Quote
Should I not do CQ three times and my call three times, but maybe reduce them all to just two times?

No that's fine, just leave enough time, maybe 5 seconds,  for the other station to respond before resuming the call.
Some ops such as myself may  need to hear your call twice to be sure that they got it right.
What is the WPM rate that you are sending? What rate can you personally copy?
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DJ1YFK
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 09:03:35 AM »

Well, I have started to dabble in CW on 40M (7.025 - 7.125MHZ) and also 15M (21.025 - 21.2MHz), and while I can hear lots of activity on those frequencies, I will put my call out there and I hear nothing back.

Typically, I will send "CQ CQ CQ de kd8tzc kd8tzc kd8tzc k" and then wait about 15 - 20 seconds, and then repeat. I did this last night for approx 30 minutes on one frequency, and didn't hear anything back. I have done this on a number of other times and have had the same result. So this leads me to wonder if I am doing something wrong with what I am sending, or in my setup.

I am using FLDIGI, and I do know it is transmitting (I have listened on another radio). Any suggestions on how I can improve what I am doing and be more effective?

As for an antenna... I have a G5RV Jr that is tuned on both bands. This is about 35 feet in the air in my attic.

To check whether your signal is getting out or not, the Reverse Beacon Network is a great tool. It's an aggregation of CW Skimmer spots from dozens of wideband CW decoders all around the world. Most every CQ call will be received by at least one Skimmer and then listed on the RBN website; the same data is also available as a telnet feed like a classical DX Cluster.

You can filter this data by a call, e. g. with yours: http://www.reversebeacon.net/dxsd1/dxsd1.php?f=0&c=kd8tzc&t=dx

73
Fabian
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AC4RD
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 09:08:13 AM »

How do you figure it is cheating if I am learning the code, just not there yet?  I think FLDIGI is a great way to HEAR the code and then see the letter that goes to that code so I can learn the sounds.

John, I imagine some people just hope you'll really learn the code and not continue to rely on machine help for copying.  Me, I use FLDIGI for RTTY and PSK, and I started using it for CW when I realized how easy it is to zero-beat a CW signal with the waterfall display.  :-)  I leave FLDIGI running pretty much all the time now, and I sometimes find it useful for "hearing" things that I missed.   My CW skills are way down from 20+ years ago, and I mostly write just the other guy's call plus the time/date and frequency, but sometimes that FLDIGI screen shows me that the other guy sent something I didn't register just copying in my head.  (My wife would say "copying in *what's left* of your head.")  Wink

Anyway, I think if using a mechanical copying aid helps you at all, GO FOR IT!  And congratulations on putting in the effort, too!  CW can be a world of fun, and if you're interested in DX you'll NEED to know code, besides.    So have fun and keep working on it!

73 GL!  --ken
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AC2EU
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2013, 09:12:47 AM »

How do you figure it is cheating if I am learning the code, just not there yet?  I think FLDIGI is a great way to HEAR the code and then see the letter that goes to that code so I can learn the sounds. Not everyone knows CW, but there are some of us who are trying to learn it and using tools like FLDIGI while they are learning.

I don't know of anyone who has learned CW the way you are going about it.
CW is about "critical listening" and associating a sound with a character and putting it down on a word processor or pad. Eventually it gets to "head copy" where one can hear CW as words. I don't think you will hone that skill "visually".
Don't take my word for it, search the forum or google "learning Morse code".

I've been working on the skill for nearly a year before I ventured to do any QSOs just recently. Do what you want, but I'm just saying that there is no such thing as a shortcut with AR CW!
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KD8TZC
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 09:16:07 AM »

Thanks everyone for the great replies.  I was not aware that there was a beacon network that I could check.  I'll take a look at that.

As far as how fast can I copy in CW... well, I only know about four letters well enough, but I don't think that puts me even in the ballpark for being able to copy anything yet.

As far as the comment on zero beating with fldigi... how do you do that?  I have been wondering how that is done with the waterfall display.  Do I want to tune the rig until the the CW on the waterfall is under a specific area of the display?  I know I can listen to a specific area by using the mouse and the guide (not sure what it is really called).

Anyhow, I have been practicing with an app on my iPhone for about a month now.  I haven't put enough time into the practice and I just need to do it.  One of the things I do is actively listen and then watch the character pop up on fldigi to try and learn the patterns.  

Thanks
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John - KD8TZC
K8AXW
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 08:19:36 PM »

TZC:  One other thing you can try and that is to listen to a QSO and when it's finished you can call one of the stations.  Care needs to be exercised here because in many cases the frequency "belongs" to one of the stations..... usually the one that initiated the QSO you are monitoring.  This is another one of those things to be learned.

You can go for it with the understanding you might get "told" about it but don't take it personally.

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M0LEP
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 12:51:57 AM »

I don't think you will hone that skill "visually".

I think it depends a great deal on how you read. Some folks see whole sentences. Others phrases, some just words. Most folk start off deciphering words letter by letter and speaking them aloud. Learning Morse is like learning to read and write again. The way you interpret the character you hear is going to depend a lot on the individual. Folk might hear the characters as if they were spoken words, or see them as words on a page, or in some other way. Using a code reader is going to reinforce the "words on a page" way but not the "spoken words" one.

I've been working on the skill for nearly a year before I ventured to do any QSOs just recently. Do what you want, but I'm just saying that there is no such thing as a shortcut with AR CW!

...and a way that works for one won't work for all, because folks learn in different ways. The trick is to recognise when something's not helping, and ditch it before it causes trouble, frustration and disillusion.

I'll go with the "listen to live QSOs" advice; try to find activity that's a fraction faster than you can manage, and copy what you can. If you're going to use a code reader, try to beat it to the message, though. They tend to run a character or three behind...

73, Rick
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AC4RD
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2013, 04:07:34 AM »

...I only know about four letters well enough, but I don't think that puts me even in the ballpark for being able to copy anything yet.

As far as the comment on zero beating with fldigi... how do you do that?  I have been wondering how that is done with the waterfall display.  

John, what I do is tune in on someone I'm going to call.  I set FLDIGI to CW mode, and that puts a marker at 700Hz on the waterfall--700Hz is a standard offset for CW, though most rigs will let you make the offset anything you like.  So I tune so my target station is right exactly on the 700Hz mark on the waterfall, and since my rig is also set for 700Hz offset, I'm pretty close to being zero-beated!  (Zero beaten?) 

By the way, M0LEP is absolutely right; different people learn by different methods.  I promise you this, though:  Once you can recognize all the characters, and start making a few on-air QSOs using code, your skill at it will SKYROCKET.   Just MHO but there's no practice/learning method even close to actually using code on the air--and it's FUN, besides!  :-)   GL 73!  --ken
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NK7Z
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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2013, 06:26:34 AM »

Well, I have started to dabble in CW on 40M (7.025 - 7.125MHZ) and also 15M (21.025 - 21.2MHz), and while I can hear lots of activity on those frequencies, I will put my call out there and I hear nothing back.

Typically, I will send "CQ CQ CQ de kd8tzc kd8tzc kd8tzc k" and then wait about 15 - 20 seconds, and then repeat. I did this last night for approx 30 minutes on one frequency, and didn't hear anything back. I have done this on a number of other times and have had the same result. So this leads me to wonder if I am doing something wrong with what I am sending, or in my setup.

I am using FLDIGI, and I do know it is transmitting (I have listened on another radio). Any suggestions on how I can improve what I am doing and be more effective?

As for an antenna... I have a G5RV Jr that is tuned on both bands. This is about 35 feet in the air in my attic.

Thanks for the help,

John
KD8TZC

Hi John,
Welcome to CW BTW!  It is fun, and it works when nothing else does! 
What speed are you calling?  It is possible that if you are sending slow folks are not answering you for that reason...  I hear very few slow CW contacts anymore...  In the old days, when the Novice license was around, there were always slow CW contacts to be had, but of late, the number seems to have gone down...  Keep at it though, you will like CW, or at least I do...  Wink
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
AC2EU
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 06:32:05 AM »


 I set FLDIGI to CW mode, and that puts a marker at 700Hz on the waterfall--700Hz is a standard offset for CW, though most rigs will let you make the offset anything you like.  So I tune so my target station is right exactly on the 700Hz mark on the waterfall, and since my rig is also set for 700Hz offset, I'm pretty close to being zero-beated!  (Zero beaten?) 


Not all receivers use 700Hz, so it is important to know what tone your particular BFO is set for, otherwise you will be off frequency if you use the incorrect tone reference. (consult your manual for how to check and/or set this on your rig). My FT450 also has a "spot tone" feature  that allows the op to zero beat on the tone itself.
This is done by listening to the signal tone  vs the spot tone and adjust the frequency until you hear no "wavering" between the two.
 As you approach the correct tone, the "beats" get slower until they go to zero. Thus the term "zero beating".
I also use  a waterfall as backup and practice both methods in case the visual aid is not available.
After a while , I was able to hit the right tone or get withing 50hz without "peeking" or using the the spot tone.
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