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Author Topic: New to CW and loving it!  (Read 967 times)

Posts: 31

« on: January 17, 2007, 04:45:56 AM »

With the new FCC rules and the impending end of Morse testing, something occurred to me: with the inevitable influx of new Generals and Extras, there's no better time to learn CW!

Sure, I had to learn 5WPM Morse back in the day when I got my Novice license, but I was 13 and really hated learning it then to pass the test. I never used Morse ONCE after that! Today it's different. Today I'm interested in QRP, homebrewing and communicating from the middle of nowhere, meshing my backpacking and radio hobbies. So about two weeks ago I decided I was going to re-learn the code. I downloaded some ARRL code practice files from the web and generated some practice QSOs on I listened on 40m and 80m every night for 30 minutes. Now my logbook shows six CW QSOs, and I'm having FUN with the mode!

If you don't normally work CW, or have pretty much forgotten the code like I did, there's no better time to get back into it! The CW ops I've worked so far have been very nice, and have tolerated my mistakes and slow (~10 WPM) code. And best of ll, I'm having FUN!

Posts: 1140

« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2007, 07:00:35 AM »

Your story is almost the same as mine.  I first learned code and passed my Novice test a little more than 40 years ago.  I let my license expire when I was in college and did not get back into the hobby until February 2004.  I was prepared to take and pass my CW test at 5 wpm but I was told that I could get credit for having passed it once before so I took that route.

Now, almost 3 years of being back on the air with SSB and a few AM QSOs, I am interested in code again.  I have made a few QSOs, definitely under a dozen, but I am still a true novice at this.  My copy speed is somewhere around 10 to 15 wpm and I can pull a call sign out of 30 wpm if the call sign is repeated and if it doesn't have anything to screw me up.

Even though I once copied code at 20+ wpm, it does have to be relearned.  But relearning so far has not been too bad.  By the way, I have not listened to any code practice programs to relearn -- everything has been on-the-air listening even though it was a real struggle at times of missing most of what was sent or picking out a single letter in a stream of five!

I do prefer the paddle over a straight key.  I forced myself to practice and practice and now it feels more comfortable and natural.  But, I actually use both.

There are still a few things I do not understand though.  For example, I am hearing BK (break) at times that I would not expect it.  For example,  listening to two in a QSO, I hear them end with BK rather than K.  Is this inviting others to join or does this imply something to the other party?

Posts: 1526

« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2007, 08:58:20 AM »

"For example, listening to two in a QSO, I hear them end with BK rather than K. Is this inviting others to join or does this imply something to the other party?"

Usually this means you've asked a question and are just expecting a short answer.  So you'll ask a question, followed by BK.  The other station will answer the question, followed by BK.

Phil - AD5X

Posts: 158

« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2007, 08:58:26 AM »

Glad you're both back on the CW track! It just seems to get more & more enjoyable. I was QRT for a long time too, but came back in Nov 2004 & operate CW only.

BK is used to end a transmission without signing, and is pretty much understood to mean that the sending op is expecting a reply from the station in the QSO. In CW, it makes for smoother conversation, especially in good conditions.

Some ops will use it to begin a reply as in,
"So, wat say? BK"
"BK wl all FB here BK"
in which case the first "BK" in the second line is superfluous, kinda like "Go ahead wl all FB here go ahead".

Generally, identifying and ending with "K" does mean that other stations are invited to join in, but it's rare that one will. Identifying and ending with "KN" means very specifically that the only reply expected is from the station identified or already in the QSO. Some ops will send "KN" without a callsign, which I suppose means "BK but only you", and while I find it uncomfortable, I won't be the one to call the CW cops to investigate.

I like to be specific in my habits, but I don't think anyone is gonna try to pull your ticket if you don't use some prosign absolutely correctly. I think it's a good idea to learn 'em right and use 'em right, just to eliminate confusion or misinterpretation when it may be important.

Hope we get a chance to chat,


Posts: 247

« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2007, 12:10:12 PM »

  I'm glad you decided to take up CW. Iv'e been licensed since Feb. 02 and like you, was not interested in doing CW after passing the code test to advance to general. I decided in the spring of 05 to give CW a try and was immediately hooked and have been working very hard at it ever since. I'm now 100% CW and get on the air every day. Iv'e noticed a surge in CW activity since the announcement to end CW testing and I hope it keeps up. Have you heard of the skcc group? It is a VERY active straight/bug key club celebrating their first anniversary this month. I usually use paddles but also use a straight key when working members of this club. Check them out: and their Yahoo group:

Long live CW!
Eric N3EF

Posts: 48


« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2007, 11:46:55 PM »

   When I did mine back in the early 80's and it was worth it to me as I wanted to upgrade from the Tech to General. I didnt feel like waiting for something that might never would have happened. Even though I seldom used it I loved listening to it, and most of the stations I listened to were overseas like Marine stations, as I work on board ships and in my spare time enjoy hearing it. Code was fun and worht the extra effort to upgrade for me. I didnt want to wait 26 years for none HF bands.
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