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Author Topic: Percent of new operators using CW  (Read 1753 times)
KV9U
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Posts: 166




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« on: January 03, 2009, 04:50:15 PM »

Since CW is no longer a requirement, does anyone have a rough guesstimate of the percentage of new hams who are active (at some level) with the mode?

When talking with another ham class instructor today, we realized that of all the hams that have taken our classes, we could not really name any who have gone on to using CW. And that includes those who upgraded from Technician.

Realistically, it may only be a couple of percent of new hams are actual users of CW at some level.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20540




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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2009, 05:42:12 PM »

I agree, the "percentage" is likely very low.

However, the "percentage" of new hams who use CW and are also remarkable, good operators is very high compared with those who don't.

If anyone questions that, just listen in the CW contests and then listen in the "phone" contests...concentrate on those with the weaker signals, trying to work the DX.

It becomes apparent quickly.

WB2WIK/6
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N0UY
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2009, 08:25:42 PM »

Most operators from todays crop of newbies just need to find that special reason to get hooked on cw.  Whether it be dx or contests as Steve mentioned, or maybe like me they might discover the aurora and all the wonders of working the scatter that it brings.  No matter what it is, many will come to realise its magic.

ray
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2009, 09:06:21 PM »

Well, with this "newbie extra" it is 100%.

honestly, I never thought ham radio would interest me, as "radio" stuff has been my day job since around 1977. why would I want a hobby so much like my "work?"

However, there was always that subtle allure of cw... beckoning, inviting me to do intercontinental communications without the aid of any telecom infrastructure, and by radiating less power than a household lightbulb.

Who knows why, but I decided to get licensed last February. I gave it a whirl and almost effortlessly did my first DX (SSB) to a station in the South Pacific.

Holy &!*+!! I can't tell you what a RUSH that was! For me it was equivalent to a good day windsurfing. These were the second and third best sensations I'd ever had.

THEN...there came the challenge of building or installing antennas for such BEHEMOTH wavelengths. SRI, OM, but "SHORT"wave it ain't! (yes, I know; the name arose in the old days when it truly was comparatively "short.")

At that point I knew I had to learn the code and get serious about this.

I will say, for the record, the hobby itself is far more enriching and rewarding than the internet* forums where the hobby is discussed. My very first post, an honest question, on "another" forum was met with such flaming, insulting, denigrating, argumentative crap that I was shocked. And few of those flamers knew half as much as I did about the technology. Disgusting.

Yep. The hobby, especially CW, is an awesome ride.

The forum armchair analysts and "master debaters" are the IP equivalent of QRM.

*Internet, noun; 1. "an infinite source of incorrect information" 2. "disputatious environment for the uninformed."
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NB8N
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2009, 03:56:39 AM »

Well, I've been a ham since '78, and a lover of CW for the whole ride.  Back then, of course, an individual had to know code to upgrade, but for me it was more: it was a personal goal.  You see, at that time when I heard an "Extra's call (voice or CW)," I knew it meant proficiency at 20WPM, so I was not about to rest until I could do it too.

Today I'm a VE and I cannot remember a time in recent years of an applicant mentioning desire to operate CW.  On the flip side, when the code requirement was dropped, we experienced a spate of those wishing to upgrade or enter the ranks of Amateur Radio for the first time.  In other words, CW had not been seen as the carrot-on-a-stick, only a roadblock. With this barrier gone, then, folks poured out of the woodwork.
 
On a lighter note, I have not lost sleep over this. And that's the beauty of Amateur Radio's menu: there's something for everyone.   Your mileage may vary, but I've tried most modes over the years and CW remains my favorite. This magic mode existed before I made the scene and it is my hope it will continue long after I reach life's checkout line.

73,
Bob - NB8N
Harassing electrons since '78
www.bobburdick.com
   
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PLANKEYE
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2009, 09:01:57 AM »

I don't know about the percentage, but I agree CW was a Roadblock.  That Roadblock is gone now.    

It is interesting, however, to see the new Hams post their Resume before admitting they didn't take the Code Test.

I think you fellas ought to just call it like it is.

CW once set this License apart.  It no longer does.  

Me and Gordon West are goin on a Harley Ride.

I got to go!!


PLANKEYE    

   

 

   
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N2EY
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Posts: 3833




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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2009, 02:46:50 PM »

K5END writes: "Well, with this "newbie extra" it is 100%."

EXCELLENT!

K5END: "why would I want a hobby so much like my "work?""

Because it's not really like your work. Or maybe you like your work a lot.  

K5END: "However, there was always that subtle allure of cw... beckoning, inviting me to do intercontinental communications without the aid of any telecom infrastructure, and by radiating less power than a household lightbulb."

Yup. Simplicity and independence in a complex, interdependent world.

There's also the concepts of "the journey is more important than the destination" and "the medium is more important than the message".

For example, it's one thing to ride coast-to-coast in an airliner, and quite a different thing to fly a small plane yourself with the same origin and destination. Or to drive a car 26.22 miles vs. running a marathon.

Since you mention windsurfing, you probably get the idea.

K5END: "I gave it a whirl and almost effortlessly did my first DX (SSB) to a station in the South Pacific.

Holy &!*+!! I can't tell you what a RUSH that was! For me it was equivalent to a good day windsurfing. These were the second and third best sensations I'd ever had."

bwaahaahaaa...

K5END: "THEN...there came the challenge of building or installing antennas for such BEHEMOTH wavelengths."

You mean like 80 meters? Just part of the challenge.

K5END: "At that point I knew I had to learn the code and get serious about this."

Great!

Do you like contests? Great way to build up skill and speed.

IMHO, the best definition of what Amateur Radio is really all about is "radio for its own sake". Some folks understand that, most don't. Take your DX contact, for example: unless the DX is really off the beaten path, you could probably call the DX op on your cellphone. But it's just not the same thing!

I hope to work you on the air.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N2EY
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Posts: 3833




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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2009, 04:43:39 PM »

I don't have even a rough guess at how many new (or old!) hams are using Morse Code.

But I suspect it may be more than we realize. And, ironically, it may be the dropping of the test which increases the use of Morse Code.

Here's why:

In the bad old days, every ham learned Morse Code, sending and receiving, to get the license. Most hams were exposed to at least some practical Morse Code operating by being Novices or by getting started with simple equipment.

But then the FCC started "simplifying" the testing. First, they waived the sending test, which meant a considerable number of newcomers didn't learn to send, not realizing that learning to send helps one learn to receive.

Then came multiple-choice and fill-in-the blank code tests, medical waivers, the nocodetest Tech and the dropping of the code test to 5 wpm. There were also more and more learning methods that didn't involve actually listening to real live Morse Code on the radio, too.

At each step, the learning/testing process became more removed from actual Morse Code operation. For more and more new hams, it became a matter of "learning the test", not learning the skills.

But with the test gone, the main reason for an amateur to learn Morse Code is to use it on the air. That means sending and receiving, listening to actual Morse in use, making QSOs, etc. , and learning the actual operating skills needed for *use*, not just to pass the test.

On top of all that, I've seen efforts by code-using hams to shine the spotlight on Morse Code more, now that the test is gone, the same way that the repeater folks did back when repeaters were new, or how the packet folks gave presentations, etc.

For several years, I did Field Day by myself, or with a couple of carefully picked friends, going for maximum score with the available resources. Which meant a lot of CW operating, hidden away from public view.

Then a couple of years ago I started doing FD in a completely different way. A team of us CW ops set up and operated a CW station as part of a larger multi-club FD that was mostly 'phone. The first few years we put ourselves off in a tent away from the noise and bustle of the 'phone stations, but then we got smart and put ourselves right in the middle of things.

We still make a lot of QSOs (our station makes more points than all the others combined!) but we're also publicizing the mode. Hams and nonhams alike find the CW station to be a major attraction. More than a few have *never* seen Morse Code in action in real life!

Usually there are two of us on duty - one to operate, the other to answer questions and explain things. Headphones keep the noise down for the ops while a spare set lets folks listen in.

IMHO, it's things like that which will get people interested.

There's a list of "Ten Ways to Promote Morse Code" that I put together sometime back, if anyone's interested.

The end result may be fewer hams who 'know the code', but more that actually use it.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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K5END
Member

Posts: 1309




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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2009, 08:02:56 PM »

PLANKEYE said, "by PLANKEYE on January 4, 2009 It is interesting, however, to see the new Hams post their Resume before admitting they didn't take the Code Test."




Hello, Plankeye, my trolling friend.

I'll post my resume when you post your call sign.

:-)

The only reason I didn't take the code test is that it did not exist when I took the test.

The code test or absence of it had nothing to do with my decision.

PLANKEYE, how fast can you copy, and what is your DX "resume" like. Are you ever on the air?

Oh, wait, what was your call sign again?

I guess we will never know.

<good natured fun here, my friend...don't get riled.>



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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2009, 08:06:15 PM »

quote,"I hope to work you on the air.
73 de Jim, N2EY "

Thanks!
Looking forward to it!
Can I put you on my W.A.S. to-do list? (I only have 44 States left to go, hihi.)

73
LK

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NB8N
Member

Posts: 12




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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2009, 03:31:42 AM »

Jim,

>Then a couple of years ago I started doing FD in a completely different way. A team of us CW ops set up and operated a CW station as part of a larger multi-club FD that was mostly 'phone. The first few years we put ourselves off in a tent away from the noise and bustle of the 'phone stations, but then we got smart and put ourselves right in the middle of things.

Funny! Another CW op and I did this during our last Field Day.  Little tent.  Hotter'n who'd of thought it.  Thunderstorms.  Water running through during the downpours.  But, still cranking out contacts.

>We still make a lot of QSOs (our station makes more points than all the others combined!)

Again, same result.  CW rocks!

>Usually there are two of us on duty - one to operate, the other to answer questions and explain things. Headphones keep the noise down for the ops while a spare set lets folks listen in.

We were set apart from the phone stations, so we didn't use headphones.  And we had many stop by to peek into the tent.  But their interest stopped there, which is why I'm interested in your next statement:

>There's a list of "Ten Ways to Promote Morse Code" that I put together sometime back, if anyone's interested.

I'm very interested.  You may reach me at bob@nb8n.com and thanks.  Take care.

73,
Bob - NB8N
Harassing electrons since '78
www.bobburdick.com
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N2EY
Member

Posts: 3833




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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2009, 03:53:08 AM »

K5END writes: "Can I put you on my W.A.S. to-do list?"

Sure! State is Pennsylvania, ARRL Section is EPA, County is Delaware.

K5END: "(I only have 44 States left to go, hihi.)"

It's not how many you've worked, it's how many you've got confirmed that matters.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N2EY
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Posts: 3833




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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2009, 04:18:39 AM »

NB8N writes: "Another CW op and I did this during our last Field Day. Little tent. Hotter'n who'd of thought it. Thunderstorms. Water running through during the downpours. But, still cranking out contacts.

BTDT.  

NB8N: "We were set apart from the phone stations, so we didn't use headphones. And we had many stop by to peek into the tent. But their interest stopped there,"

I did the separated-tent thing, with the same result. The tent forms a barrier, and a small tent is much worse than a big one.

What worked best for us is a location in a public park where there's a big open pavilion to keep of the rain and sun, and we put all the stations under it. One in each corner, food and logging server in the center. Folks can wander by without the barrier of a tent.

I didn't think it would make that much difference, but it did. It's a visibility thing, I think; most people are visually-oriented, particularly today, and the tent makes you less visible.

Posters/signs explaining what's going on can be a help, too. Same for handouts about Morse Code.

Sure, maybe 1 in 10 or 1 in 100 will be interested enough to go further. That's OK, the point is that people have the info. I can't tell you how many hams told me that they'd never really had Morse Code operation demonstrated and explained before.

We also do things like inviting others to log for us, (we write it down, they put it in the computer) or guest-op with an experienced operator sitting right there "just in case". Sure it probably costs a few points but the PR value is enormous.

Here's that list. It's been on eham before, in other threads. Please feel free to re-use it, just put my call on it.

Ten Ways To Promote Morse Code

1) Use Morse Code on the air. For ragchewing, DXing, contesting, traffic handling, QRP, QRO, QRS, QRQ, whatever floats yer boat. If your favorite band is crowded, try another and/or get a sharper filter. If
you contest, even a little, send in your logs, photos, soapbox comments, etc. Our presence on the air is essential.

2) Work on your Morse Code skills. Got a Code Proficency certificate?

But not just speed alone. Can you send and receive a message in standard form? Can you do it faster than someone on 'phone? Can you do both "head copy" and write it down? How about copying on a mill? Ragchewing? Contesting? Being able to have a QSO at slow as well as fast speeds? They're all useful skills, and having them makes using Morse Code more fun.

3) Find a local club that does Field Day and go out with them. Particularly if they have little or no Morse Code activity on FD now. Help with their Morse Code efforts however you can - operating, logging, setting up, tearing down, etc. FD is one way to actively demonstrate 21st Century Morse Code *use*. Talking to people about Morse isn't nearly so effective as showing them.

4) Set up a Morse Code demo at a local hamfest/club meeting/air show/town fair/middle school etc. Not as some sort of nostalgia thing but as a demonstration that Morse Code is alive and in use today.

5) Conduct Morse Code training classes - on the air, in person, over the 'net, whatever. Help anybody who wants to learn. Could be as simple as giving them some software, code tapes or CDs, or as involved as a formal course at a local community center.

6) Elmer anybody who wants help - even if they're not interested in Morse Code at all. Online, on the air, in person, whatever. Your help and example may inspire them.

7) Write articles for QST/CQ/K9YA Telegraph/Electric Radio/your local hamclub newsletter etc. Not about the code *test* nor about Morse Code history, the past, etc., but about how to use Morse Code *today*, your experiences, etc. For example, how about an article on what rigs are best for Morse Code use, and why? Or about the differences between a bug, single-lever keyer, iambic A and iambic B? Your FD experiences with
Morse Code? (QST, June, 1994) Yes, you may be turned down by the first mag or site you submit it to - but keep submitting.

Cool Get involved in NTS, QMN, ARES, whatever, and use Morse Code there. The main reason so much emergency/public service stuff is done on voice
is because they don't have the people - skilled operators - to use any other mode.

9) Join FISTS & SKCC and any other group that supports Morse. Give out numbers to those who ask for them even if you're not a contester/award collector.

10) Forget about "the test" or "how it used to be/how it oughta be". It is long gone and FCC won't bring it back. You may say they made a bad decision, but that's nothing new, just look at BPL or their rulings on the sale of broadcast radio stations. FCC won't preserve our standards and values - we have to do it.

And our attitude is a key part of that (pun intended). If we're seen as a bunch of old grumpy gus types, not many will want to join us. But if we present ourselves as a fun-loving, welcoming, young-at-heart-and-mind,
helpful group with useful skills, people will want to join us.

----

It may be slow going at first, but word does get around. The first couple of Field Days we didn't get much attention, but now we're a cornerstone of the operation.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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PLANKEYE
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2009, 05:53:06 PM »

And our attitude is a key part of that (pun intended). If we're seen as a bunch of old grumpy gus types, not many will want to join us. But if we present ourselves as a fun-loving, welcoming, young-at-heart-and-mind,
helpful group with useful skills, people will want to join us

___________________________________

THIS IS PLANKEYE:

You post like you post and expect Folks to look at you as fun-loving, welcoming, and young-at-heart-and-mind?



PLANKEYE
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N2EY
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Posts: 3833




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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2009, 07:19:29 AM »

PLANKEYE writes: "You post like you post and expect Folks to look at you as fun-loving, welcoming, and young-at-heart-and-mind?"

Why wouldn't they?

Is anything I post untrue, inaccurate or misleading?

73 de Jim, N2EY
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