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Author Topic: CW- Contest Vs. Ragchew  (Read 1890 times)
K0DXC
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« on: March 22, 2008, 09:58:48 AM »

Hello all,

Here's the question, contest vs. ragchew.

Do you prefer using CW during contests, where the exhange is a simple K1AR de K0DXC 5NN, KID, MN.

Or rag-chews where QSO's can last hours on end.

I myself like contests, it's just the fun thing for me to do. I don't like phone contests but CW contests are in my opinion one of the best parts of ham radio.

I've only had a few ragchews, they are fun, but I never know what to say to keep the conversation going.

What do you prefer?

73,
Cal, K0DXC, 13 years old
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K7PEH
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Posts: 1125




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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2008, 03:04:17 PM »

I have only done a few CW contests and only to see if I can handle the 30+ wpm exchange.  But, contests do not interest me very much.  And, the long ragchew is something that I have not done on CW yet.  I think my longest QSO was about 45 minutes.  It is kind of nice to get into some new territory at times.  I mean, past the canonical exchange of RST, QTH, name, rig, WX, and so on.
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KC2MJT
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Posts: 59




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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2008, 06:01:57 PM »

Congratulations on your interest in CW. Many hams interests in the various aspects of the hobby wax and wane with age and time. I think you'll find eventually you'll come full circle in your interests. You may even find SSB fun for a time.

I sometimes can be found chasing a sprint.  They don't last long and sometimes you get to chew some dits and dahs with the folks if propagation isn't great - especially QRP sprints. Contests require a commitment of time that at this point in my life I choose not take away from my family.

You'll find a ragchew is as much the art of listening as having something to say.  I find the older cw ops great sources of info and quite funny at times on CW. Listen to what the other op places his emphasis upon and/or find some common interest and work with it.  Often it is simply geography that can move the conversation away from the pro forma rst,rig,ant,wx.  At your age, you might even find some hams can help you with your history and math lessons.

All the best.

73

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AE6RF
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2008, 10:05:35 PM »

Contest vs rag-chew?

Why choose? I love both for different reasons.

I love contests because they drive improvements in my personal skills, station and operating habits. Looking at year over year scores can tell you how effective your station improvements have been.

I love ragchewing because of all the neat people I meet on CW. 40m during the mid to late evening is really good. Lots of interesting people to talk with.

So...

"Why chose?"

73 de Donald
KB dit-dit
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AD5X
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Posts: 1429




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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2008, 04:52:34 AM »

Hi Cal - Congrats on the CW interest!  I'm not much of a contest person, but I love chasing DX and ragchewing - all on CW.  There are a lot of things you can ragchew about - like your age, what you hope to pursue after high school, ask what the other guy does, etc.  I find that one thing leads to another, and a ragchew can last quite awhile.  

Phil - AD5X
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W8ZNX
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2008, 12:27:57 PM »

not much of a contester
also like to run old gear

would not survive 40 meters
during a contest using a 1936 RME 69
and a 11 watt rock bound 6L6 osc

also i have never been good
at short exchanges

copying cw often need a few sec to get up to speed

30 wpm contest exchange
goes by me
like a fast ball
don't know what happend
till i hear the ump
say strike

30 or 45 min rag chew
at 18 to 25 wpm is more my style

yours truly
Mac
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K0DXC
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2008, 01:19:20 PM »

thanks for all the nice responses so far.

I wrote an article on contesting and sent it into eham. Look for it when it gets approved.

I myself do believe that they are both great (contests and ragchews) The only reason I favor contests is because it seems I never know what to say to keep a ragchew going. I do ragchew on CW with FISTS members a lot though, that's about the only time.
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NU4B
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Posts: 2191




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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2008, 08:43:13 PM »

Definitely contesting and Dx'ing. And even better a DX contest. I just find it fascinationg with all the stations from around the world on the air at the same time. CW is very relaxing and playing around in a contest I'm in a different world.

I don't have a big contest station and I operate QRP but I get pumped up when a CW contest comes around anyway.

Alot of times ragchewers aren't really interested in DX'ing and contesting - at least not to the extent I'm into it. But I have a couple buddies around town that make up for that.

When I run across another QRP station, I'll definitely stop and chat awhile. Its kind of a common interest thing.

Good job on the CW. Its an such an amazing and simple mode. The nice thing about amatuer radio is there's a big variety of things to do.
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N3QE
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Posts: 2135




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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2008, 08:59:50 AM »

I do both CW ragchewing and, more recently, CW contests.

I'd been doing ragchewing for 30 years. The contesting is comparatively new.

The rapid-fire pace of a contest is something I'm slowly learning how to handle.

I am continually surprised when folks tell me they have no problem with a rapid-fire 40WPM contest exchange but they have difficulty with ragchewing at 25 WPM. For me it's the other way around - I can sit there for hours and listen to somebody key away at 40WPM about the weather or their rig or their antenna or their job or their kids, but make me have to copy down a 2-second contest exchange on the first try and I struggle.

I am really quite unimpressed with the keying quality of a lot of CW contest stations. I am very slowly learning to cut every digit with its letter equivalent, how to copy callsigns run together with no inter-character pauses, how "X" is not "X" but TU, how to copy computer-driven keyers that seem to always drop the first dit, etc.

Tim.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20558




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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2008, 09:11:20 AM »

I used to do a lot of contesting, for about 25 years.  Not so much any more.

However I still ragchew on CW a lot.

Keeping the conversation going is the same challenge regardless of mode: Either you're interesting, or you're not.  I get past the "WX-RIG-ANT" stuff pretty quickly, sometimes avoiding it altogether, to create real conversation.

To get conversations going with DX stations whose primary language is not English, I used to keep a very good World Atlas nearby.  While the DX was sending, I'd look up where they were and start asking questions about it.  "I C UR NR MTNS -- IT SNOWS THERE MUCH?"  Or, "I C UR NR THE DANUBE RVR, DO U GO THR MUCH?  WATS IT LIKE BNG IN A BIG RVR VALLEY?"

Whatever...start it going by knowing a little bit about the place, and asking questions about it, the other op's work, his family, his ham experiences, whether he builds his own gear (as a LOT of DXers do!), all sorts of stuff.  Before you know it, an hour's passed and you're losing the QSO due to QSB not lack of interest.

WB2WIK/6
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W5ESE
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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2008, 11:40:19 AM »

I do enjoy both.

I think you miss alot by not engaging in rag chewing,
though. There are still many CW operators around who
supported their families by working as railroad
or maritime telegraph operators, and many of them
still are active on the amateur wavelengths on CW.

What I really enjoyed at one time were CW roundtables;
groups of 3 or more CW operators chewing the fat,
and passing the baton round robin. Sadly, you don't
encounter these as much any more.

> I've only had a few ragchews, they are fun, but I
> never know what to say to keep the conversation
> going.

The cardinal rule for striking up a converation
with anyone (SSB, CW, or even in person); *you*
have to actively express an interest in what
*others* are involved in, and they likewise have
to reciprocate by asking about *you*. Anything
less than that, and you'll both find yourselves
flogging a dead horse.

Probably most people nowadays (hams included), are
accustomed to being "titillated" by "entertainment",
and many long ago forgot (or never learned) the
gentle art of engaging in polite conversation.

73
Scott
W5ESE
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NG0K
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Posts: 335




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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2008, 01:53:21 PM »

Well, I'm a little shy with respect to ragchewing but will make a few brief ragchew QSO's.  I like to casually work contests and DX.

But, I really need to ragchew more often because that's the fastest way to code proficiency. Sitting around and just "listening" can be a cure for insomnia :-)

73, Doug
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73, Doug - NG0K
KI4WAF
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Posts: 68




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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2008, 01:09:36 PM »

Hi Cal,

I am in the opposite situation as you.  I don't copy all that well, so I prefer the slower pace of a rag chew where the words are usually spelled out.  If I miss a character here and there I can still figure out what the guy said.

Most of my contacts go like this:

* Exchange RST, Name, and QTH
* Exchange rig and antenna info
* Exchange weather
* Exchange age and occupation (or former occupation if retired and 75% of them are :-))

Usually at least one of those will trigger some kind of common interest.  Some guys will also look you up on QRZ.com, so be sure and mention your other hobbies there.  I've had some great CW QSOs about flying airplanes thanks to that.

Mention your age and talk about what you think you'd like to do for a living.  Perhaps the person you're talking to has some experience in that field and can tell you what to expect.

If nothing else, the other op will be thrilled to hear that a younger fellow such as your self has learned CW.

73 and hope to catch you on the air
-Justin (33 years old)
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W5HTW
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2008, 05:51:03 PM »

I've worked very few contests, just isn't my interest in ham radio, whether CW or any other mode.  And as I have grown older, I find ragchewing is not for me, either, EXCEPT on CW.  I make very few voice contacts, and I tend to keep them short, keeping my own transmissions short as well.  Not much of a talker, is the bottom line.  (No, I don't talk on the phone, either, unless I really need to!)

The exception is on CW.  I do like to chat a while.  But I don't do it at 'pushed' speeds.  I like to just ease into it at 15-25 wpm, not much above.  After all, why hurry to get the QSO over?  On the straight key the range changes down to 10-18 wpm.  And I will cut that short, as the old arm gets tired!

I've noticed in the past decade that besides the RST, QTH and NAME, and sometimes the WX, all of which are part of the standard exchange, something new has come up.  It is the AGE and BEEN A HAM FOR xx YEARS.  

That opens a lot of doors.  If you bump into a 14 year old teen, it's easy to expand the conversation to things about school, cars, dating, goals.  If you bump into a 82 year old man, it is easy to open other doors, not just the "how long you been a ham" one, but what did you do, were you in the military?  

To be honest, I don't normally toss in those two door openers.  I'm not sure why I don't.  Maybe because I would like to find other things to talk about.  Or maybe because, somewhere in the back of my mind, I developed this opinion that they were 'snob factors.'  Not true, and I would not use them that way, but the divide between the "new" and the "old" is more pronounced than it has ever been in my own history in ham radio.  So I don't promote the divide.  

Still, those are door openers that can lead to a very pleasant discussion about radios of another time, jobs, trains, boats, travel, history and a whole lot more.  

I think it is especially neat when the young, such as teens like K0DXC, do announce their age, as it is encouraging to learn of this interest in their age group when so many are tied to the cell phone or iPod.

The bottom line for me on the subject, though, is ragchew by far, contest by nought.

Ed
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W8ZNX
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« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2008, 12:50:54 AM »

hello Ed

throwing in age and how long been a ham
is not snob factor

if i find out the op on the other end is in his 80s
and has been a op since the 30s

i know we can talk about things
that a new op that only knows modern radios
can not talk about

nothing wrong with it
i look for other things to talk about

it's downer to do the rig here lash bs

rig here is a hb version of George Grammers
TNT xmtr from dec 1929 qst using a 211
big 14 watts out rec is a national sw 3 thrill box

or rig is a hb mopa job 6ag7 6l6 es a RME 69 receiver

and have the op on the other end reply with
wx here is

dit dit Mac
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