eHam

eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: KV9U on September 27, 2008, 02:18:00 PM



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KV9U on September 27, 2008, 02:18:00 PM
There was a recent incident where the hiker was rescued in Washington State after breaking his leg in a very remote area and thankfully using his Elecraft K1 to call for help on 40 meter CW.

Alan Pitts from ARRL was quoted as saying that "Still, it's rare that Morse code is used to initiate a rescue, ...."

and

"Amateur radio operators used to be required to know Morse code to get a license. That requirement was dropped a few years ago.

Since then, Morse code has actually gained popularity, Pitts said."

Are you really finding this to be the case? If so, what evidence seems to suggest this?

I have taught a number of classes (Technician and General) over several decades, and do some promotion of CW, I would be hard pressed to recall even one of my students who went on to be active with CW.

For a number of years I have even volunteered to work with hams who would like to try CW with on the air practice, but have never had even one individual show interest.

This is particularly significant now that all hams classes can operate CW on portions of 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters.


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: M0JHA on September 27, 2008, 04:10:36 PM
Hello,
      I know many amateurs that would like to work cw but most feel it too hard to learn. Unfortunantly here in the uk at least the only introduction to cw is around 10 minutes on the foundation exam (entry level exam) whereby the only taste you get is a quick message being sent and recieved.

There seems to be a whisper in publications that since the requirements for morse have been dropped that more seem to be inclined to have a go.

I think once someone realises  that its not an outdated mode and that in fact you can hold a conversation exactly as you can ssb then this brings it home that its not some sort of basic message transfer mode.

Untill i actually took time out to find out exactly what morse was about i too thought it was something for the old timers to cling on to and that conversation would be limited. how wrong i was.

i hope cw is having a resurgence . Whats not to like about it?. I can literally go on most bands at any given time and hear morse transmissions even when the ssb portion of the bands have been quiet for hours.

billy uk


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: AB9NZ on September 27, 2008, 04:50:01 PM
 I would have to say were in a low spot right now. Whenever I hear what sounds to be a new op trying code, it turns to be someone who's actually been at it a long time.
  It would be interesting to hear from the guys that offer free morse training programs. I'm curious how many new ops they are putting on the air.
  Maybe our eyes were off the ball when so many guys were working to force others to learn the code, but never teaching it.
  The guys that put modem noise on the air are getting much bolder in their use of "our" parts of the bands. At first glance it looks about as much fun as a crappy dial up connection, but actually they're doing some pretty neat work, some of it very deep down in the noise.
  I firmly believe we're on the cusp of an amateur radio renaissance. No doubt radiotelegraphy will be the medium of the masters.
73 Guys, de Tom, AB9NZ


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: N2EY on September 27, 2008, 05:21:51 PM
You can't have a resurgence of something that never went away....;-)

I think what's actually happened is that CW *use* is becoming more visible now. Forums like this one, rigs like the Elecraft K1, groups like FISTS and SKCC etc. Plus when something like the hiker rescue happens, or the Jay Leno skit, it gets publicity.

It's all good!

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: AB9NZ on September 28, 2008, 08:03:45 AM
Yes Jim, more use perhaps, but where are the new operators? It's very rare(impossible?) to work a new cw op. A year ago you could hear new guys on the air. Now they all seem to either be up to speed, or have given up.
 If every one of us could just teach one kid the code, the bands would be packed.
 I suspect this is an American phenomenon, I'm curious if kids overseas are learning morse. If they are, maybe we should look at what is being done there.
  When I get my monthly ham radio newspaper, the editorials and content are full of hand wringing and and bellyaching about how stupid and lazy the youth of today are. In my experience, I find the new kids to be pretty sharp, and born into a world where a lot of the cream has been sucked off.
  It's my dream that our youth will be able to fully enjoy the gift of morse.
  73 Guys,de Tom AB9NZ
   


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: WW2JS on September 28, 2008, 10:18:18 AM
 I'm new to the hobby and I was not required to pass the code portion to be licensed. I read all the posts about the tests being easier and they were right, the tests were not as difficult as I thought they would be. Right after I passed the Tech exam I wanted to see what the big deal was about working CW. Well to me it was a big deal. After 10 months of practice I'm still not where I would like to be. I found it to be difficult and very challenging. It was only 2-3 months ago that I actually had the confidence to have on air QSO's. Once I broke the ice I find myself working CW 80-90% of the time I fire up the rig. I found that stations on the CW portions are patient with us newer guys and very eager to communicate. It is rare to have one of my CQ's go unanswered, whereas on SSB I could send CQ for minutes and hear static. I wasn't around years ago so I donot know what the heyday was like but if there is a resurgence I'm glad to be part of it.

Joe  WW2JS
 


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: M0JHA on September 28, 2008, 01:33:34 PM
Hello, yes joe i know where your coming from. It was challenging for me also but now realise sitting listening alone was just not cutting it.

The minute i overcome the fear of messing a qso up i progressed much faster. Maybe this is what needs to be pushed to newcomers. Forget messing it up and just get on the bands and use the code for real. It really does make a difference.

billy uk


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KC2MJT on September 28, 2008, 01:51:00 PM
In the first few months after the loss of the cw requirement, I noticed a slight increase in interest. It was my impression that most of that interest came from old timers that had let their code slip by the way side and were looking for something 'new' in radio - not newcomers to ham radio. In other words,people wanted to set themselves apart in ham radio, and cw operation was it.

The Straight Key society saw phenomenal growth and the FISTS freqs buzzed for awhile, but even that activity has waned, and I don't think it is just the solar cycle. Although a member of both, it is my experience that the groups that just chase numbers without something more have a tough go at keeping the masses interested.

Nevertheless, I have met a rare few new hams that have braved the code and won. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. I worked one of the new instant 'Extra' ops last night. His keying sounded like a computer to me, but I believe he was copying me by ear, and that was positive. I also liked the fact he wanted to ragchew a bit instead of just have a hit and run QSO.

To wrap it up, if I had to guess from my on air experience, the loss of the code requirement will mean, with time, the cw portions of the bands will become very quiet. The general ticket carrot that required cw, was the added incentive I needed to learn the code. It is now my only mode of operation. I haven't been a ham for very long, but without other cw ops out there to talk to, my interest in radio would fade fast.



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: WB2WIK on September 28, 2008, 02:19:29 PM
I agree with N2EY, no resurgence when something never went away.

If you check the CQ and ARRL sponsored contests, you'll see the only change in activity over the years is based on propagation (conditions).  When condx are better, there's more activity, and when it's terrible, there's less.  Not just in "entrants" (which is fairly constant) but in number of contacts actually made, since that number is far higher than the number of entrants.

And there's more contacts made in the CW contacts than in the "phone" contacts, quite often.  That trend hasn't changed a bit.  And remember, the number of contacts made reflects overall activity, not the number of contesters.

When condx are at their worst and tuning the "phone" band yields no signals at all, I can still drop down to CW and make contacts.  Happens all the time, after the bands "close."

WB2WIK/6


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: N2EY on September 28, 2008, 04:16:07 PM
AB9NZ writes: "but where are the new operators? It's very rare(impossible?) to work a new cw op."

I don't know if that's really true. I've met more than a few new CW ops online and on the air. True, they're rare compared to those with lots of years, but that's true of ham radio in general because hams tend to stay licensed for a long time.

AB9NZ: "Now they all seem to either be up to speed, or have given up."

It's always been that way. Back in code-test days, there were plenty of hams who learned just enough to pass the test, then never used it again. Others soon left the test in their wake and went far beyond what it required.

Seems to me that the new ops don't stay new - now or in the past.

AB9NZ:"If every one of us could just teach one kid the code, the bands would be packed."

Maybe. But we shouldn't focus on any one age group; everyone's invited!

Didja see my list of "Ten Ways"?

I also think that in today's environment you can't really "teach" Morse, but what you can do is to help folks learn it.
 
AB9NZ: "When I get my monthly ham radio newspaper, the editorials and content are full of hand wringing and and bellyaching about how stupid and lazy the youth of today are."

What newspaper is that?

AB9NZ: "In my experience, I find the new kids to be pretty sharp, and born into a world where a lot of the cream has been sucked off."

Not sure what you mean by "a lot of the cream has been sucked off".

But I do know this: The "youth of today" are not all the same. Sure there are some who are stupid and lazy, just like in every generation.

But there are plenty of hard-working, intelligent, educated, decent young folks out there. (I work with some and know others socially). You don't hear much about them because they're too busy working, getting their educations, meeting their responsibilities and living their lives.  

AB9NZ: "It's my dream that our youth will be able to fully enjoy the gift of morse."

But remember that in every generation the percentage of hams was very small. Back when I was in high school (1968-1972), there were never more than a half-dozen hams in a school of over 2500 boys. The girls' school next door, with the same number, had zero. So maybe 1 kid in 1000 was a ham in those two schools. This was in a suburban community where CC&Rs were unknown, back when old TV sets and surplus radio stuff was all over the place. There were several very active ham radio clubs and radio stores that carried ham gear and parts. Plus mail order and "surplus row" downtown.

Back then there were less than half as many US hams as today, too.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KC2MJT on September 28, 2008, 06:01:02 PM
I'm not sure that a  sample of contest activity since the loss of cw is a valid predictor of interest in cw.


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: M0JHA on September 29, 2008, 02:40:56 AM
I did a quick test lastnight at my sons football practice. I asked around 30 kids of around 10-14 years old if they knew what amateur radio was. Most didn't know and some thought it was something to do with commercial radio broadcasts.

When i asked what they thought morse code was almost all stated it was something to do with the war. They knew it was a form of communication and most had seen them on toy 2 way radios that you get as a kid.

A couple of weeks ago my young daughter had her freind from school call round to play in the garden.Anyway kids being kids he found his way into my shack and was stood behind me in amazement as i tapped away albeit slow.

I explained to him i had been talking to someone in germany and all he could say was "wow really" i let him listen on the ssb portion of 40m to the different countries and he was gob smacked.

My 4 year old daughter was found out last week for coming into my room and trying to turn the radio on to use the key ( i let her tap away using the side tone on the radio sometimes).

She had pumped my chair up to a good hight to enable herself to pull the key close and also go about changing all my buttons and knobs on both my radio and atu to try and get on the air to call cq is anybody there as she does.

The way forward is education in letting people both young and old know that cw is far from an outdated mode and that amateur radio is in fact just as much fun and technical as a pc if not more so.

billy uk


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: AB9NZ on September 29, 2008, 07:43:08 AM
Yes my observations jive more with the new guys WW2JS, M0JHA es KC2MJT, a lot of activity, a very warm welcome, and beaucoup help from the experienced hams, but very few new cw ops on the air.
  In general, I don't think the regular civilians hold hams in the same awe as when I was a boy, but then again world has changed a little bit. My son's Indian Guides tribe (similar to scouts) was in my workshop/shack building pinewood derby cars, and some of the kids gravitated right to the lissajou pattern on the 'scope, and the morse coming out of the speaker, so I'm sure that there is hope.
  Jim, the newspaper is "World Radio", I look forward to each edition, but I think that singing the dumbed down song, and all the lamentation about  "amateur extras that can't solder a pl-259" are just dead flies in the ointment. By "cream sucked off" I was referring to the easy money, cheap energy, and natural resources that were squandered. Regretfully, my kids won't be able to enjoy the same orgy of waste that we were.
  I hope I'm not coming across all gloom and doom. Radio, especially when used with on off keying, is such a miracle that I'm sure you will always find people like us, with a morse monkey on their back, cruising the bands, looking for their next fix.
    73 Men, de Tom, AB9NZ  
 
   


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: LB3KB on September 29, 2008, 11:51:55 AM
AB9NZ Tom,

>It would be interesting to hear from the guys that
>offer free morse training programs. I'm curious how
>many new ops they are putting on the air.

My impression is that the interest in ham radio in general is dropping while at the same time the interest in CW is increasing.

I don't know how many new ops this interest in CW is actually generating, though it seems that it's mostly people who already have a license that learn Morse code these days.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
http://justlearnmorsecode.com


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: AB9NZ on September 29, 2008, 12:13:44 PM
Thank you Sigurd,
   I sure do enjoy your program, I was just using it to blast morse around the house while I do chores. After doing the dishes at 35 words a minute 25 seems down right slow! Thanks for your reply to my query. Your post also got me wondering, should I be capitalizing "morse" code?
73 de Tom, AB9NZ
   


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KE7TIV on September 29, 2008, 02:13:16 PM
New Ham here.  Got my ticket in April of this year and passed the General a couple weeks ago.  My intention when I went after and got the Tech was stick with 2 meter primarily for family use.

Once I started getting on the air and started reading ham web sites and magazines the idea of CW and QRP bit me.  I'm now trying to learn CW and expect to be able to  manage it.  If the code requirements of 40+ years ago when I first go interested in Ham radio were still in place I still wouldn't have joined the Ham ranks.  So now here I am and will be on the air by next summer with low power and CW.  In the meantime I'll be on VHF and UHF.

Byron



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: LB3KB on September 29, 2008, 02:22:43 PM
Thanks, Tom

Yes, it's "Morse code" not "morse code".


73
LB3KB Sigurd
http://justlearnmorsecode.com


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: N2EY on September 29, 2008, 03:46:32 PM
AB9NZ writes: "the newspaper is "World Radio", I look forward to each edition, but I think that singing the dumbed down song, and all the lamentation about "amateur extras that can't solder a pl-259" are just dead flies in the ointment."

Me too! Perhaps that's why I don't subscribe...

I'm only 54, but with 41 years as a ham I can tell you this: For longer than I have been a ham, some folks have been singing various verses of that song. Every change was supposed to be the death of ham radio. I recall predictions in the late '60s that ham radio would be dead and gone by 1978. Yet here we are....

AB9NZ: "By "cream sucked off" I was referring to the easy money, cheap energy, and natural resources that were squandered. Regretfully, my kids won't be able to enjoy the same orgy of waste that we were."

I guess I missed that orgy of waste, too. (sigh).

AB9NZ: "Radio, especially when used with on off keying, is such a miracle that I'm sure you will always find people like us, with a morse monkey on their back, cruising the bands, looking for their next fix."

Yup. I recall being told 40-odd years ago that HF was a dead end, Morse Code even more so, and that we'd all be on satellites with channelized rigs in a few years. And that my generation, raised on coast-to-coast TV, transistor radios, rock-and-roll, man on the moon and the counterculture, would not be interested in something as square as ham radio. Didn't quite work out that way.

The really great thing is that the new stuff generally doesn't replace the old, it just adds more things to do. Something for everyone!

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: WB2WIK on September 29, 2008, 08:47:05 PM
>RE: Is CW really having a resurgence?       Reply
by N2EY on September 29, 2008    Mail this to a friend!

The really great thing is that the new stuff generally doesn't replace the old, it just adds more things to do. Something for everyone!

73 de Jim, N2EY<

::Likely for the same reasons that although we have cars, many still enjoy riding horses.  We have motorboats, but purists prefer sailing.  We have cameras but many prefer painting.  We have television but many prefer shortwave listening.  And we have CDs but many prefer vinyl LPs.

And we have the internet, but most of us prefer ham radio.  The internet is just an adjunct activity to help exchange ideas with fellow hams we can't always meet on the air.

WB2WIK/6


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KI4GSV on September 30, 2008, 10:40:11 AM
-.-- . ...

I'm learning CW and need a few more hrs of listening to code because I take to long to fiqure out the letters. ie copy one charater and then miss two or three simple characters. I'm still trying though and hope to be up to speed by Xmas. I have a long way to go with the abbreviations.

73 de KI4GSV Bill



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: N3OX on September 30, 2008, 04:48:34 PM
"I'm learning CW"

Why?

OK, now you think I'm a troll ;-)

But I'm serious and genuinely curious... I'm interested to hear if you want to do it because of the long tradition, or because you think it will help your DXing, or you just think it's cool, or what?

For me, it was DX.  I got through 13WPM testing in '96 because I wanted to get on all of HF, and it took me a couple more years to discover that I was missing out on all that beepy DX down at the bottom of the band.  I started working DX and the fact that I wasn't allowed below .025 on the bands really pushed me toward Extra, and helped me pass 20WPM, but if I hadn't had another test to pass, I still would have steadily progressed on the CW front to work more DX.  

Until I realized the DX importance, I did SSB and some digital, didn't care much about Morse, and it was just a thing I had to do to pass the tests.

But some people want to learn it because it's a very ham-radioey thing to do, and some people want to learn it just because they like oddball things like knowing Morse in 2008.  My wife memorized it out of my ARRL operating manual a few years ago when we were dating.

At the time I really internalized it and got "okay" at using it, I mostly wanted to work DX... now that I know it I've got a little more of the "ha, I know Morse Code in 2008" going.  I've got lots of geeky friends who think it's cool.

I think that a core of a resurgence could be the emerging and growing electronics hobbyist/geek crowd for sure.  

So I'm curious where new CW interest comes from.  

73
Dan  








Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: M0JHA on October 01, 2008, 03:11:57 AM
Hi bill. Try this one . Once you know the letters and numbers you know them end of.

Get on the air at a speed you feel really comfortable with, call cq and ask whoever replies to qrs if its still too fast ask again.

Try and put all fear of missing letters to one side you will be suprised that you can still make enough out and fill gaps to get through. For example if you don't catch the rst it's not a big deal i used to just thank them for the report anyway as if i had got it.

its the best training you will get.

billy uk



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: K7KBN on October 01, 2008, 04:08:21 PM
Bill, KI4GSV:

"I'm learning CW and need a few more hrs of listening to code because I take to long to fiqure out the letters. ie copy one charater and then miss two or three simple characters. I'm still trying though and hope to be up to speed by Xmas. I have a long way to go with the abbreviations."

----------------------

Don't try to "figure out" the various sound patterns in Morse code.  In order to become "fluent", as with a spoken language, you have to recognize them without thinking about it.

For example, if you were taking a beginning Spanish class, one of the first things you'd learn would probably be the phrase "¿Como está usted?", which means "How are you?".

You don't break it down by thinking "como" = how; "está" = third person singular of "estar", which is "to be"...that must be "is" or "are"; and "usted = you.  So that's "how are you".   No, you hear it as a complete sentence and recognize it as such.  Same thing with code.  Think of it as learning a whole new language rather than counting dits and dahs.

73
Pat K7KBN



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: VA7ICW on October 01, 2008, 04:35:51 PM
Hello,

Well... I am new to cw.  I love it and have about 40 contacts to my name so far and have been at it about a year. Not all that many but 12 months ago I couldn't have picked out a "c" from a "q".  From a new guy on the block perspective here are my observations.
When you look at the list of folks joining Fists and other CW clubs like Skcc and such there certainly seems to be interest and good intentions!  Weather or not the majority are active and to what degree who knows.
I find it funny that 90 percent of my contacts are in California.  Why?  I live in B.C. Does my antenna and probagation favour south?  I have and do make contacts other States as well but California definately sticks out in my logbook.  I am starting to believe that maybe there are way more CW op's in Cali on the air than any other state. :)
I operate mobile often and try to get up high in our local mountains.  There is a zero noise level up there in amongst the cedars and unless I turn on the preamp I have to check and see if the radio is even on.  I like to think under those kinds situations using my antenna's I can tell if a band is active or not.  I do operate mostly during the week however and not much on weekends and in my opinion given the amount of "Online" interest in CW, the joining of clubs etc, etc, the amount of talking the talk. I'll go out on a limb here and say that alot of times I feel the cw portion of the bands are dead.

73,
Sean (VA7ICW)


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KJ4GOW on October 02, 2008, 12:04:56 AM
I got my license the middle of last month. I've been interested in radios for a long time, but I didn't know that you didn't have to pass code on the tests anymore. That was one reason I didn't get my license sooner. Other reason was I didn't have anyone to stand behind me and support my interest like I do now. When I decided to get my license, I wanted to learn code after I got it, but not to learn it for the test. It would have been too much pressure on me to do and I know I wouldn't have been able to pass that part, just because I know myself. I've started trying to learn, but it's going slowly...lol I went to one of the sites posted on here today and it's easier right now than talking to someone. After I learn the characters, or at least most of them, I'll start trying qso's.

KJ4GOW
Kailey


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: WB8NUT on October 03, 2008, 03:26:50 PM
Sure it is, people can know send it from the computer keyboard and read it with a computer. Now anyone can easily send and receive CW. So sure it is making a comeback, just not the way the old die-hards wanted.


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KI6CDF on October 08, 2008, 07:07:32 AM
I don't know about a resurgence or not. All I can relate is my own experience.

I am a re-tread Ham. I was first licensed in 1963 as a novice and later got my general class license. So, I had to have passed the code test.

I let my license lapse in my teens and got it back 40 years later. During that 40 years I did not forget code, quite surprisingly. Can I copy 25-30 wpm? Of course not. I'm a bit rusty.

I enjoy contesting though admittedly I'll never be a winning competitor without substantial changes to my station (CCR neighborhood). Nevertheless, I enjoy it. I've always wanted to try my hand at CW in a contest. Recently, I had the idea of using a CW translator on the computer to back me up. For the first time I made about a dozen or so CW contest QSOs. By using this technique I had the confidence to get on the air with CW in a contest and I'll do it again. Why CW? Instinctively, I know in a contest it is faster and more reliable.

Want a resurgence of CW? If your a contester interested in another tool in the toolbox try it. You'll see that it is an advantage to have.


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: W5ESE on October 10, 2008, 08:04:13 AM
I would say the usage is increasing a little, though it could be the effect of poor propagation impacting SSB more than CW or PSK31.

Field Day Contacts by Mode
http://www.geocities.com/scottamcmullen/FieldDayContactsByMode.html

73
Scott
W5ESE


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: WN2RUJ on October 10, 2008, 05:26:21 PM
When I was a kid in NYC in the 70s there were two big hobbies with many store supporting them, photography & ham radio. In jr.high schoolthe brains were swl guys. High schools had ham clubs. Today my 11yrsrold & friends want me to teach code to them.


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KB9BVN on October 16, 2008, 12:45:54 PM
I've handed out close to 50 or 60 copies of the K7QO CW Training Courses in the last few years.  Out of that I know for a fact that at least 5 people have become regular CW operators.  

I think that's pretty good.  If we can all just get two ops to learn and use it, we're good for eternity.

Next month I will be one of the instructors in our local ARC's effort to bring more amateurs to the fold, we are holding our second licensing class of the year, and the class is already full.  There is hope, and I will try to get one of them to become a CW operator.

73


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: DOBE on October 20, 2008, 09:35:49 PM
I don't have my ticket yet.  I learned and used code in the Army, and had my receiving speed up to 20 GPM.  I have since then listened to code on pc based programs.  I'm actually listening to one run in the background now at 27 WMP.  

I'm interested in QRP.  I would like to combine a few hobbies.  That would be backpacking/canoeing and HAM.  But first, I need to break down and take the test, and then pick up some equipment.

Dobe


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: W9PDS on October 28, 2008, 12:17:00 PM
Just speaking for myself here, but perhaps there are more out there like me...

In my case, I think having the code requirement dropped actually is good for CW overall..

I never had an interest in learning CW, and even though I was always interested in Amateur radio, I put off getting licensed because I did not want to bother with the CW requirement.

I picked up my tech license after the code requirement was dropped, and then got a general ticket after that code requirement was dropped.

After getting General, I got on HF & had a blast of course, but this being the low point in the solar cycle, I quickly got frustrated with SSB and started researching CW.

So through my exposure to the HF bands by my no-code general license (and a little help from solar minimum), I've come full circle and am now teaching myself CW. Something I never would have done had the requirement been there, because I never would have bothered.



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: NK5G on November 01, 2008, 06:06:58 AM
It may be the computer geeks  (I say that respectfully mind you) that have entered the hobby. Sound card modes have increased in popularity and there are several applications that have modulated CW.
I think this has opened a door to a renewed interest in yet another narrow bandwidth mode regardless if it is done with the assistance of a pc or the old fashion way.

Just a thought.


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: N2EY on November 03, 2008, 01:39:48 PM
Well, here's one data point.

This past weekend was the ARRL CW Sweepstakes. It's a contest with a long, nontrivial exchange in which you can work other stations only once. Contest period is 30 hours long but you can only be on the air a maximum of 24 hours. All stations are single-transmitter but multi-operator stations are allowed. Only stations in the USA and Canada can participate.

Towards the end of the contest, a couple of big gun stations gave me serial numbers well over 1000. Which means those stations worked at least 1000 *other* stations in the course of the 24 hours. That's about 42 QSOs per hour, every hour of the 24, each with a different station using CW, and with at least some stations having multiple operators. I suspect the top stations will have QSO totals well in excess of 1200.

All at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, with 10 and 15 almost useless and 20 meters pretty much a daytime-only band. Plus it's only those US and Canadian CW ops who participate in this particular contest.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: N2EY on November 03, 2008, 01:44:23 PM
Followup:

In the 2007 CW SS, the station with the most QSOs worked 1481 other stations. That's more than one a minute, 60 per hour, for the entire 24 hours.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: KC8HQX on November 03, 2008, 05:34:59 PM
I'll drop my nickel in the bucket on this subject.

I spent a good portion of my childhood and young adulthood wanting to be a ham radio operator, but it just didn't happen. I tried to teach myself Morse Code from books and tapes, but had no real mentor. As a kid, I didn't have an Elmer and as a teen, my discovery of the then new Internet (and it's predecessor, BITNET) offered a new world of discovery that put my radio goals on the back burner.

Jumping forwards to the mid to late 90's, I landed a tech job that was my first experience working with like minded individuals (computer geeks). Though that job is long gone, I met on of my best friends there. He introduced me to this new Ham radio class that didn't require a Morse test and prodded me to "just do it", to steal a Nike marketing phrase. I went to Hamfests, learned to be a Skywarn spotter, participated in 2m nets and prodded one of my other friends to get his license.

Over time, work got in the way, my son was born and radio hobbies took a back seat. I still had aspirations to get my General, but the code test still loomed. By this time I was aware of the brewing "No Code" battle and followed USENET and information available on the web. Time and time again, I saw people opine how the code test kept riff-raff out and how folks who didn't want to learn code were lazy or stupid. Here I was, a successful computer engineer who prided himself on making the computers he was in charge of do more and communicate with each other more efficiently with less, rebuilt his parent's appliances since the age a 6, taught himself how to work on his old radio by reading encyclopaedic dictionaries, learned to fly, had been storm chasing and had maintained every car he ever owned on his own, yet somehow wasn't fit to handle an HF rig because he didn't know the oldest mode of radiocommunication in existence.

The code requirement became an object of spite. I refused to be measured by a test that had absolutely no bearing on my intelligence or willingness to be a professional quality operator. By that time, I was entrusted to design and deploy digital radio communication systems for a Fortune 25 company, yet I was being excluded because I didn't care to learn the dits and dahs while living in the world of digital modes. After almost a decade of being a No-Code Tech. the code requirement was finally dropped. My interest in HF communications had been in resurgence and the same friend who urged me to get my Tech prodded me to "Just take the General, you know you can pass it".

I took the test and am proud to say I passed my General at the Dayton Hamfest this year. I've built up a decent little radio room populated mainly with lo-buck, salvaged test equipment, used radios that needed a little help and a home made wire antenna in the back yard. My setup certainly isn't the image of perfection, but it has vastly exceeded my expectations and certainly is the seed for future endeavors.

Now that I've had a real taste of the HF bands, the prospect of building my own equipment and making QSOs with just a few watts is very alluring. I've built a keyer and SCAF filter from kits and am in the process of assembling a very nice Black Widow key. I'll definitely master Morse code, but it'll be at my pace while learning about antenna design theory, soundcard modes and meeting fine people all over the world, if only on SSB for now.

What should the reader take from my minor diatribe? Having a like-minded friend to help you take those first steps is crucial. An Elmer needs to be a friend, not just someone who helps out of duty. Let's be honest, what teenager would feel comfortable joining a Ham club full of people three or four times his or her age? What octogenarian would feel comfortable in a room of teens?  This is not to say we're all uncomfortable crossing age groups, but as an example, I was a reasonably shy kid and being around people closer to my generation would have been easier.  This leads to the next point; you can't bring in people of any age if they're not interested in the science or technology. The best you can do is leave a light on and an open door for the technologically inclined. There are still plenty of us out there. Finally, dropping the code requirement was the best step ham radio could have taken in this respect. SSB/voice, RTTY, Packet, Morse, PSK31, etc. should all be presented on equal ground; they're all modes that have different strengths and weaknesses and therefore appeal to different people for different reasons. This goes a long way towards dispelling the idea that Ham Radio is mainly a dying hobby for old farts who enjoy sitting cloistered in a dark room pounding away at mysterious glowing equipment.  Morse should be embraced and touted along side SSB and digital modes; they all have their place and are equally valid in today's world.

Doug
KC8HQX



Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: N2EY on November 03, 2008, 07:37:44 PM
It would be fittingly ironic if the end of Morse Code *testing* was the beginning of a resurgence in Morse Code *use*....

Far stranger things have happened.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: K7WCB on November 09, 2008, 08:44:52 PM
I am a newer ham, 37 years old. I have always had a curiousity of things mechanical and electrical, and as a kid wondered how radio worked. Recently our church, on a regional scale, implemented a means of emergency communication that involved training some members to be hams and have ham stations for emergency communications use. I jumped at the chance and took the classes offered and became a technician class ham. Our weekly net uses a linked repeater system and covers thousands of square miles.

From the start I have been more and more interested in all things radio and propagation. I studied for recently re-took took my general test and passed it. I say re-took because I took it at the same time I took my technician class test, 2 weeks before the code requirement was dropped. I never went back with my CSCE to make it official.

I didn't start out with an interest in code, but it has grown on me quite quickly. I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and camping, and I have been involved in the local Boy Scout troop for over 10 years now. I have been the Scoutmaster for the last 5 or so years. I take a dual band ht with me on troop activities and work some repeaters, but that has been the extent of meshing my hobbies together.

By accident, I happened upon some youtube videos of NØTU operating hf portable qrp on Mt Herman, CO. Blew my mind the distance he was able to cover <5 watts with cw. I was hooked after watching his videos and have been diligently learning code ever since. I'm hoping to be able to operate portable with the troop on some of our outings and get some of the boys interested in becoming licensed as well. Not an easy task in the age of a cell phone in every pocket.

I tried a few cw software programs and settled on one that I am comfortable with. I started out at 20 wpm and did ok until I got up to about 8 different characters. I tried to tough it out but my brain would overload so I dialed it back to 15 wpm. I am having a blast learning it! I hope to be able to be at a level that I can QSO by the end of the year.

I currently spin the dial on a borrowed hf rig and skip right over ssb and search out cw. I listen for any characters I recognize. Listening to an actual qso with some qrm mixed in is a more effective learning tool that strickly a computer program generating random letters and numbers. I hope to build one or more of the quality kit radios that are out there one of these days.

I personally hope there is interest from hams young and old in cw. It is a great means of communication that definately challenges the mind.

Bill k7wcb
Ritzville, WA


Title: Is CW really having a resurgence?
Post by: K9FON on November 23, 2008, 06:25:11 PM
I took the CW test in 2006 and passed it with no issues. I have had several older ops encourage me to try CW and i have. I use it when the mood strikes. I never took any ham classes (i did in 1994) and most all of my study time was on my own. Even the CW code study was on my own time. I don know but i never had any issues learning CW. It came to me after 2 nights of study. I dont think there is a resurgence but i have had some prospective hams ask me about CW and if we still use it.