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Author Topic: Low CW activity on the bands, how bad is it?  (Read 7306 times)
VK5EEE
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« on: July 14, 2017, 06:13:45 PM »

I have perhaps been living under some misapprehension that things were far better off in Europe. When I listen on 40m on Twente university (Nederlands) web SDR I can hear CW it seems 24/7. Unlike here in VK, where there is most of the time, nothing. But, the population of Europe is very high. Yet there are rubber stamp QSO, QRP stations using XTAL, and CQ to be heard. However, just now I listed on 80m, at around 1am West European time. There is excellent propagation across the big pond to North America. W1AW was coming in very loud and clear on 3581.5 until it was wiped out by a huge non-amateur data signal. But there is only one or two stations to be heard on the entire 80m band. I'd have thought without having to wake up too early on Saturday, there may be a bit more activity in such a populous continent. A swedish beacon, not encouraged to be on 80m, is on 3566 loud and clear, and a Russian R1 calling CQ a few times before giving up, presumably to sleep, must be 3am there. Generally the band is empty, in great condition, and hardly any activity, one should also be hearing more W/VE stations given the great conditions, strong W1AW and strong Gander Volmet. And that's evening time in USA. Are things really that bad in N America and Europe too? I still don't understand how the bands fill up during contests with so many QRQ stations (high speed). Do they use software only? Can their ears only detect random callsigns but not plain text words? Maybe they are fully automated CW contest stations that the owners set to all the contests years ago and forgot about, and are watching Tell-lie-Vision, while the PC hammers out 5NN? I think the die-hard contesters are perhaps not in this forum, maybe there is a contest forum. They may not enjoy CW but contesting.

The population of Europe is huge, but I don't have any idea of it in reality. Perhaps is it half a billion? 500 million? If so, that is 20 times more than here. So where we here have on average maybe 3 stations per evening on 80m in the entire evening, that should be about 60 stations per evening, or say 10 QSOs at the popular hours of the evening in Europe. Is it that bad too? It would be good to get some measured data of actual non-5NN CW activity and find out if it is still declining, or growing again (here in VK it is growing, slowly, we are agreed but no scientific measurement of it).
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever
VK5EEE
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 06:19:05 PM »

On 40m, 2am in Europe Saturday morning, appears to be around 10 frequencies in use with CW, but maybe 1 on 80m, I guess this is the problem of antenna size. So that seems to equate with the level of activity we have down here, rough guess population wise. So maybe no surprises here.
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever
M0LEP
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 11:27:47 PM »

Summer doldrums, too; by the time the D layer's faded and skip goes long it's probably bed time....

There are plenty of ops who live for contests and don't do any much other operating. To be competitive they're quite likely to use a memory keyer or computer to send and log, but none of them CW contesters I know would bother using a decoder because it just wouldn't even begin to keep up...
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KE4KY
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 11:58:03 PM »

It's summer...enjoying the many activities that come with it.

Patiently waiting for the upcoming contest season.... Grin
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Glenn KE4KY - Ham since 1975
OZ8AGB
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 02:59:05 AM »

It is July. Most of the EU population is on summer vacation. And many hams are at http://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de/ham-en/

But I  would like to work you on 80m.  Smiley
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 03:01:08 AM by OZ8AGB » Logged
GW3OQK
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 04:48:24 AM »

Lou, during weekdays, daytime, I also find very little activity on 7 MHz, and no CW on 80m during daylight. Today, Saturday 1130, just 2 signals. No contests!! I'm not that desparate for another EU qso to want to call CQ.

In the RSGB predictions for 7MHz it gives 1600 to 2000 the best chance between us, with 0400 on long path. These are antisocial times for us who like to sleep. I could test the path by looking at web SDR Sydney and pressing my key. At moment I see some steady carriers and about 3 weak CW qsos. Would be good to have a sked and read each other at -10dB.
Andrew
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N3QE
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 05:15:12 AM »

Europeans take their summer vacation travel *really seriously*.

Many of the ones who operate through the summer, are still recovering from IARU HF less than a week ago.
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AC2EU
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 06:41:16 AM »

I, too think it's curious that the bands become crowded with high speed ops during contests, only to disappear afterwards.
Many of the contesters that I know do use automation to send but generally copy by ear.
However, all they really have to copy is a call sign and maybe a brief exchange.
These same guys never rag-chew or go on the air UNLESS there is a contest!

Personally, there is just so many times I can hear 5nn 599 TU before I turn off the radio.

So, does the avid contester only enjoy the "thrill of the chase" or have limited  CW skills?
I have heard one contester of 10 years who I know participating in  a CW net. He was definitely struggling...in fact he had told me that he has difficulty sending unless he has written text in front of him.
That statement took me by surprise at the time he said it. Now it is beginning to make more sense.
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2017, 08:32:17 AM »

Thanks all for the great replies, every one of you!

KE4KY: your post was number 599  Grin pray tell, are you a contester? I'd love to understand more about those who enjoy ONLY contesting in CW as to why and how... I think there are many who chase DX only too, a great many. So if you're a contest-only CW OP do let us know. I like to take part in contests sometimes, but not 48 hours non-stop, not even 24 hours non-stop, though I've done it a few times.

AC2EU: seems we have the same questions. Maybe those who like contesting and are good at it, don't like other type of QSO as possibly 1) they don't see the point or the fun in it 2) they don't know what to say as it's not a set format. If so, the solution to get them on board "QSO CW" could be 1) to understand the fun involved but this likely requires enjoying CW PER SE and 2) assisting them with "rubber stamp QSO" format.

This last point, I suspect that English speaking world, deviates heavily from rubber stamp, I NEVER EVER heard a rubber stamp QSO here in VK in 2 years on air here. But in Europe, and I suspect more non-English speaking Europe, i.e. EUROPE, I hear many rubber stamp QSO. I suspect we need to reintroduce the concept, so that non-rag-chew CW ops can see how easy it is and the fun of it. RST, NAME, QTH on first over, RIG, PWR, ANT, 73 on second over. In recent decades, there is NO CW procedure shown, but until the 80s at least, rubber stamp format was part of the exam A.F.A.I.R.

We could re-introduce rubber-stamp-QSOs in the English speaking world via a CONTEST that is very different: one point for HONEST RST, one point for NAME, one point for QTH, one point for PWR, one point for ant -- total 5 points per QSO, and QSO with RST only would be INVALID. And, 2 overs are required, RST, QTH, NAME, 3 points,  then PWR, ANT, 73 additional 2 points. To make it slow and no rush, what would be incentive? Hmm... I think the QSO duration... a QSO must last at least 5 minutes, and no more than 12 can be held within an hour? Would that dampen the contest spirit?

Maybe it can be called the NONTEST instead of CONTEST so that "CQ TEST" can still be a valid way of calling but it isn't seen as a normal contest.

Thanks for reminder: summer holidays! That'd influence it a fair bit I guess. Well, here, 40m is out except during daylight hours, as modest antennas don't get VK any more as it is winter and skip goes long fast as darkness approaches.

OZ8AGB: I'd love to QSO on 80m too! BUT, impossible... my QTH is too small... (31m x 10m in area) even the other longer one (41m x 10m) I could not DX on 80m. Bearing in mind too our height limitations in VK. VK is the SICK MAN of Region 3, we have LOWER POWER restrictions, LOWER ANTENNA restrictions, compared to ALL our neighbours and beyond. 10m maximum height here in VK5, otherwise it will cost the earth for "planning permission", and likely not be granted anyway in residential areas. I have 2 poles each 10m high LEGAL LIMIT and they're about 13m apart.

GW3OQK: Sent you an Email before reading this. Funny, as I was wondering why I don't hear G stations via LP, but plenty of East Europe. I had thought the same, then forgotten, and you now reminded me and confirmed: 0400 is too early of course to be awake, generally. Likewise, when it is 4am here, short path would be good. But, let me see, I PLAN to put up a (only 5 m high) X-beam for 40m, though, it will be "beaming" E or W and not rotatable, but switchable. It'd have been NW/SE (required for Europe), if my QTH was not N-S (the 31m length). Will have to have another look... but at 5m only it's likely not as good as a dipole at 20m, and even such a dipole both ends isn't going to make it on 40m easily.

What about 30m? That would be open an hour longer each end of the 40m window, e.g 15Z-21Z, and, antenna smaller and height better... so perhaps I should aim to make an X beam for 30m and could perhaps fit that in in direction NW/SE (which is to Europe from here). Angle of radiation would be better than a 40m version at the same low height, perhaps less of a cloud warmer. And, I could conceivably wake up at 2030Z (6AM) or go to sleep at 1530Z (1AM).

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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever
W3TTT
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2017, 06:46:45 AM »

VK5EEE - Your observation of lack of stations on CW.
Could it be the oppresive QRM here in the states.  I don't want to change the subject but it seems that we get an oppressive amount of noise on all bands.  Sometimes, that is.  I don'[t understand.  I was listening on 20 meters this morning.  At 1000 z it seems to be quiet.  I could hear Japan even.  Then suddenly, at about 12:30 zulu the noise started up and nothing could be copied.  Did anyone else notice that noise at that time?  Or is it a local thing here?  My suspicion is that it is some national noise maker.
Joe W3TTT
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PA0WV
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2017, 08:03:24 AM »

TTT that are spread spectrum stations, using all bands by just increasing the intelligence containing noise.
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2017, 09:14:26 AM »

Could it be solar noise because there was a major storm at this time I believe?
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever
KE4KY
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2017, 12:39:17 PM »


Thanks all for the great replies, every one of you!

KE4KY: your post was number 599  Grin pray tell, are you a contester? I'd love to understand more about those who enjoy ONLY contesting in CW as to why and how... I think there are many who chase DX only too, a great many. So if you're a contest-only CW OP do let us know.


VK5EEE:

I have read many of your posts from time to time and see that you are truly a CW enthusiast, lauding the use of CW to have a "conversation" as a true art form. Nothing wrong with that, excellence in the CW skills for those of us that do it is always applauded, especially by me.

I first got into the hobby some 42 years ago. CW was a requirement at that time, and to be honest, I am glad that it was. I have done many things over these 42 years of being licensed, from simple rag-chewing, EMCOMM, paper chasing awards, DXing, etc... My primary interests at this juncture in life is DXing and radio sport, especially utilizing the CW and RTTY modes. Thankfully, there are so many facets to this hobby, it would be disingenuous to try and forcefully pigeon hole others into one certain aspect of this endeavor over another. Contests and DXing is not all that I do, having a local contingent of friends that may also occupy some space on 75 meters from to time.

Simple axiom to live by: Enjoy your aspect of the hobby with all the enthusiasm you can muster, and others will enjoy it as they see fit.

It's like my other hobby, which is archery hunting for large game. You should hear the arguments that occur about the use of modern compound bows vs. the simplicity of a recurve or longbow. Each camp is dedicated to their individual aspect of the sport, and take great pride in it, but is one side right and the other wrong? Don't think so.

Being in law enforcement for ~26 years (a paramedic 8 years before that) is a testament to my slightly "Type A" personality. I like the competitive side of things (most times) and that is why I enjoy the ambitious and energetic nature of contesting.

73!


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Glenn KE4KY - Ham since 1975
AA8TA
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2017, 01:45:35 PM »

Here goes... I've been CW-only below 54 MHz for over 1.5 years.  Contesting is about all I do.  I'm not necessarily anti-social but I have never enjoyed rag chewing even during my voice and digital days.  I would go out of my way to avoid any contact longer than 10 seconds.

I can do OK with call signs but I can't head copy at all.  My proficiency on paddles is pretty poor; I use a keyboard to call DX.  Contesting is great, partly because I'm lazy.  The computer does the dull work of sending; I just need to copy the important stuff (which 5NN is not).  I can make a quick contact and move on; no expectation of hanging around and wondering what to say.

When I started out on CW, I would make a contact but have no clue what to say.  I had a cheat sheet, but if it wasn't written in front of me, I could not send anything.

I'm one-dimensional to a fault.  Contest-style CW is all I can do.  Maybe, some day, I'll get up to 40 WPM, but I still won't be able to copy the simpliest non-contest exchange at 15 WPM.  Heaven help me if I come across somebody I know in a contest and they go off script.  I have no idea what they're sending me.

I really enjoy contesting.  I'm not a serious contester because I don't have the energy, skill or station.  But, it's what I like to do.  If it doesn't suit other people, then I'm sorry.
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TU es 73 de Joe AA8TA
VK5EEE
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2017, 04:44:07 AM »

Excellent! A big thanks to KE4KY and AA8TA - and no need to apologize for anything, and I'm not asking for any ulterior motive other than to UNDERSTAND -- after all, I may be missing out on something that I could be doing more of. At this point, all I'm trying to do is find out why the bands are really FULL of high speed CW during contests, and then next to nothing at other times. Aside from being driven away by contests on weekends, which I think is a factor as contests no longer respected contest-free segments since many years, and those who only have time on a weekend, find the band full of QRM... but aside from this, there have to be other reasons!

And first KE4KY, you touched on one perhaps, the joy of competition. After all, that's what a contest is. So I'm not the competitive type, I'm "B Type", and there are "A Type" so that's the first thing to understand. Great. And AA8TA, what an insight, thank you. I'd like to continue this conversation if possible, and I'm sure others here are interested too and hopefully some more strong contest-only people will also offer their insights. So, sorry that I am always long winded... so now I understand that there are indeed those who can do higher speed CW and get callsigns right, but are "lost" when there is anything longer. NOW that is making sense to me, and before it did not, thanks to your great explanation.

I have a few questions thus having understood this much better now. But first to confirm, I think having many short QSO, e.g. DX and contests, would be fun, fill in the log, and done and dusted. Can see more QSO in shorter time. Though the part I still would not understand myself, is the 5NN part, since to me, I always enjoy giving and receiving a real report as I like to know how propagation conditions are, relative to antennas, power, which is why in the QSO I always like to know the power and antenna of the other station, but could not care less (or in U.S. English could care less?) what rig people are using -- unless it's a very old one, I mean super old.

You say that style of CW is all you can do, and I now understand how that is as you said you cannot head copy. I don't think head copy is necessary, I think many former professional who sent and received telegrams all day long also cannot head copy, and in fact, often don't know what to say -- what DOES one say in an amateur radio conversation with a stranger?! Even on SSB I would find it hard to know what to say. Heck, even on the Internet to a stranger, if there is not a subject of interest such as on this forum - CW in this case. But, what is to prevent writing down what the station sends to you, and having a cheat sheet? Of course, this would not be enjoyable if you did not find an interest in RST, NAME (to me name is not that important, a callsign already identifies a person better in my view) but QTH I am often interested in, like to look on the map and maybe somewhere I've been or would like to visit. As I said, on the second over, Power and Antenna -- and height of antenna -- even orientation of antenna -- are of great interest to me, perhaps more than name and QTH in fact.

So I am wondering, if a QSO was in a set format such as this: AA8TA DE VK5EEE GE/GM TKS CALL UR RST 459 459 45N OP LOU LOU QTH ADELAIDE ADELAIDE HW? AA8TA DE VK5EEE KN

VK5EEE DE AA8TA TU UR RST XXX NAME XXX QTH XXX HW? BK

BK DE VK5EEE FB OM PWR 100W ANT DIPOLE UP 10M TNX FER FB QSO HPE CUAGN 73 77 AA8TA DE VK5EEE SK

DE AA8TA TU 73 SK (or give PWR, ANT info;-)

This is what we call a "rubber stamp" QSO... after all, there is not anything else one could add in a QSO with a stranger, other than perhaps your age, the key you are using, the WX. That is in fact all there is to a "standard" QSO. The "rag chewing" is really a different thing, for that head copy is of course useful, but more so the imagination or a subject of interest that both have hit upon. Me, I can NOT rag chew with a stranger that I've not had many QSO with before, and gotten to know a bit. There are very few stations, VERY few, that I could talk about anything under the sun with, most notably Tim VK3IM we can QSO non-stop for 6 hours!!! (grabbing tea/coffee, taking a leak, answering a phone call, here and there, but otherwise non-stop. That is EXCEPTIONAL to the extreme.

So I'm wondering, and suspecting (if not for yourself but for some others) if the lack of rubber stamp QSO activity outside of DX contacts, is a reason there are not more non-contest non-DX non-5NN QSO? I absolutely love DX QSO but totally disklike (due to being very unsatisfied with) a 5NN TU few second DX QSO -- I love to enjoy the 5 minutes to 10 minutes long QSO with OP, QTH, PWR, ANT and maybe WX (though personally I find WX very uninteresting!) -- and I love it when the band opens for DX and I can have rubber stamp QSO with those far away, but, I'd also enjoy it very much if VK stations who don't otherwise come on except in contests, would have a rubber stamp QSO! But I have yet to hear ONE VK-VK rubber stamp QSO! It's either rag chew among known friends, or 5NN TU!

Please do not get me wrong either, as I have no objection at all to those who ONLY contest or ONLY DX, or ONLY-anything-else-CW! None whatsoever! I do have some great personal dislikes: unnecessary unlimited split "UP", and DX "5NN" (at least I want an honest report if nothing else), but I have zero objection to any type of contest or contesting other than that I wish the bottom 10kHz were left free for DX and top 10kHz for QSO, as it was when I was last on air in the 80s. The only reason I'm asking these questions is coz I want to understand, I may be missing out on something, and, there may be people that WOULD be interested in a short rubber stamp QSO not only during contests, if they knew that it was perfectly OK in fact very normal and expected, to have a default script QSO.

Over to you! And thanks again as I did not expect in this forum to be able to have a chat here with a contest-only OP, if you are a regular reader of this particular forum (I don't know the others nor look at the others on eham myself) then you must also have an interest in CW -- I think that you enjoy CW and enjoy using it in contesting! That you are not one of those who enjoy contesting an CW is a "necessary evil" but that contesting provides an opportunity for you to have fun rather than trying to win, but then that you would in fact enjoy being able to do CW more often -- KEYBOARD is absolutely fine don't let anyone tell you otherwise, just use abbreviations if sending slowly, i.e. don't spell out "the name this way is ..." (I've actually had that on keyboard CW and worse!)... sticking to the rubber stamp format on a keyboard is absolutely FB, my only objection is to the use of decoders and only because they are inefficient.

KE4KY you are currently deliberately interested in DX and Contest even though you can do rubber stamp QSO and more if you wish, because you enjoy the competition. It's fine! My own habits also changed over the years with CW activities, I do less contesting than I used to, less rag chew (but only due to lack of partners these days compared to in Europe in the 80s), but I do more elmering and helping than when I was younger. We all do what we want to do in this diverse hobby! It's just that my original question I'm trying to work out, why the bands are SOOOO busy in contests and SOOOO quiet outside of them, as it was not always like that.

Nice to hear from you both and I hope there will be more replies from you both and others in this thread, thank you!

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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever
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