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Author Topic: Variable Speed CW  (Read 3968 times)

Posts: 93


« on: July 09, 2002, 10:40:24 AM »

There has been a disturbing (at least to me) trend in CW transmission in the last few years.  There are logging programs that will allow you to use you keyboard for CW transmission AND vary the speed during the exchange.  For example, the main body of the text may be sent at 30 WPM and then the callsign exchange will be sent 40 WPM.  I understand that during a contest or DXpedition this approach may save the operator a few milliseconds per QSO but it wrecks havok with my brain.  I can easily copy 30 WPM at a ragchew and faster during a contest type exchange even amonst heavy QRM but when the sending speed makes an abrupt change I get thrown totally out of sync.  I realize that the information sent at the higher speeds may be stuff that remains the same for every QSO but the operator on the other end may not know this unless he hangs around and tries to decode it.  Different operators can come at me a various speeds and I can adapt but changes during a given transmission are a problem for me.

I wonder if this sending technique causes problems for most operators or is it just me?  By the way, I operate exclusively CW on the HF bands and I am on the air a bit each day.  Maybe with more practice with this type of transmission I can adapt but at the moment I simply feel that it is a poor operating practice.  It often causes me to have to ask for repeats or hang around longer to get all of the information correct and I don't see how this could save anyone time.

Posts: 21764

« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2002, 12:38:42 PM »

I operate a lot of CW also, and have noticed the same thing during contests, and occasionally during non-contest "DXpeditions."

It doesn't throw me off, at all, since the CW, while sent at varying speeds, is all on the same frequency.  Once my ear sets to the pitch of a signal, and that pitch doesn't change, I'm quite sure it's the same signal -- hardly any QRM is at precisely the same pitch, and the human ear can distinguish very minute pitch changes.

What drives me more nuts is when a contest station uses automated "voice" CQing, and the operator's voice doesn't sound anything like the digitally recorded CQ!  That's disconcerting, since it's hard to tell if the station really answered me or not -- sounds like a different guy!


Posts: 28

« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2002, 01:32:04 AM »

You make a very valid point!  The variable speed technique you refer to can definitely throw you an unexpected curve.  No doubt a lot of it is from memory keyers and the like. I just used one of these at our field day, and the guy who owned it made a very valid point that it is better to call CQ on a freq. and make the call and the exchange very easy to copy to anyone who might be coming by to listen.  It worked. We racked up almost a thousand QSOs on CW that day, and never had the keyer going any faster than about 22 wpm, but it was good, solid copy.  I find the same thing in a ragchew that if someone is sending a good solid copy, I am much more likely to want to spend some time ragchewing, no matter what the speed.  Makes no difference to me.  Good code is good code at any speed.  I have taken to using a keyboard keyer a lot more lately, not because it's easier (trust me, it is) but because it's easier on the ears of the person I'm in a QSO with.  I keep it at whatever speed they're sending, and I feel like it really makes for an enjoyable QSO.  I still use my paddles when my fist feels right; but on days when it doesn't the keyboard does help.  If I do change speed, I do it in nice gradual 1 wpm increments rather than just hitting a faster speed.  N5XM has posted in here several times that we are judged by our fists and not by our ears, which is true.  Good post, and some really good food for thought.  Thanks, and 73

Posts: 73


« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2002, 09:19:02 AM »

I am a very avid CW contester and also a QRQ CW operator. My contest software on my computer allows me to change sending speed during the transmission. Over the years I have found if I send around 28 to 32 wpm, without any speed changes, my QSO rate increases. Even though I can comfortable copy in excess of 70 wpm, in my opinion, a contest is no place for excessive speeds. If I can send you a contest exchange at 28 wpm and you copy it solid, we are both a lot better off than my sending to you at 40wpm and having to repeat several times.

Posts: 63


« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2002, 06:12:05 AM »

Actually, all the OMs around here taught us "youngsters" that that would be poor operating practice and would say the op had a bad fist.....thats as bad a cut as you can have!

Posts: 242

« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2002, 10:28:29 AM »

I don't have anything against the use of keyboards per se, but I don't understand using them for ragchews.  If someone wants to use them, that's OK, but the only way to develop sending skills is to send. One of the best CW contesters I know, who is a good friend, is amazing to watch in action during a contest.  I prefer casual ragchewing at modestly slow speeds, 18-25 wpm, depending on how good the other guys fist is.  I can copy a nice, steady consistent fist a lot better than a ragged one, although this doesn't have a lot to do with the question of this thread. For contests, anything goes, really, unless the contest rules outlaw it, but using a keyboard for simple beats me, because that is how you develop sending and copying skills in the first place. The little CW contesting I do, it always amazes me to hear an exchange done by keyboard at 35 wpm, then, bammo, when it's time to send "CQ test", up goes the speed to 45 wpm and above.  I wonder how many contacts are missed because folks like me can't get calls at 50 wpm no matter how hard we listen?  I swear, I hear calls made that have to be even faster than 50 wpm.  People can do whatever they want to do, but for me, the fun is trying to improve my skills copying AND sending. What continues to frost my behind is when I send perfect CQ's at 18-20 wpm, and someone comes back at 24 wpm. It isn't that I can't copy, it's just I wish folks would follow the adage to answer a call at the speed it is sent. That is the polite thing to do. If I am sure to never send CQ faster than I can copy, theoretically, I should never have to ask anyone to slow down ( QRS ) IF they follow the rule and answer me at the speed I am sending. I know, I know...picky, picky.  My comments about being judged by our fists and not by our ears is meant to give us reasons to practice off the air so we might send better CW. No more, no less.  Thanks for noticing.
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