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Author Topic: Is CW really having a resurgence?  (Read 7112 times)

Posts: 2

« Reply #30 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.


Posts: 26

« Reply #31 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.


Posts: 109

« Reply #32 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.

Posts: 5095

« Reply #33 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


Posts: 5095

« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2008, 01:44:23 PM »


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

Posts: 227

« Reply #35 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.



Posts: 5095

« Reply #36 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

Posts: 8

« Reply #37 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 NĂ˜TU 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

Posts: 1012

« Reply #38 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.
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