I decided to participate in CQ Magazine’s World Wide CW (Morse Code) contest. It’s one of the, If not the biggest CW contest of the year.
I have been trying to learn CW off and on since the summer so I needed some help if I were to even make one QSO on CW. I setup N1MM logging software for the contest and used DM-780 that comes with Ham Radio Deluxe to decode and encode the CW.
Since I never participated in a CW contest before I wanted to see how it worked so I can configure my macros to work with the contest. I was very impressed on how fast contacts and exchanges are made. It’s way faster compared to SSB, RTTY and PSK31 and I felt even more compelled to learn CW after playing in this contest. I worked the contest off and on so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed about the activity. I started off searching and pouncing (S&P) on only the strongest signals. I would wait until I have their full call and exchange before even attempting to contact the station. N1MM does help out by looking up the CQ zone which came in handy a couple of times. After establishing contact I would get the typical 599 and zone exchange. After the first night working the contest. I have learned what my new call sounds coming back to me and phrases like “TU”, “TEST”, “?” and some of the shortcuts ops used to make a faster contact like instead of a RST of 599, it will be 5NN and A5 would be zone 15. I went to bed with code buzzing around in my head. I woke up the next day to play again. I’ve managed to make 100 contacts even though I know for a fact that I can make more. I just wanted to see what it was like to play in a CW and I liked it. Nothing like just jumping right in with both feet and absorbing everything. Once you learn the key terms in code the contest went much easier. I would encourage ops who want to learn CW to work in a contest. After learning what some of the stuff sounds like, the only trouble would be on decoding the call sign. I just hope that the people on the other end got my call right.
This now leads me to my rant. I lurk around on a lot of Ham radio related forums and also hear it by ear. I see a lot of people saying something along the lines of “These No-Coders are going to ruin HF” and “Amateur Radio is going to be just like CB” because the FCC dropped the Morse code requirement years after many other countries dropped the requirement. Now all these “Techies” or Technician license holders are upgrading to general and/or extra without passing a Morse code proficiency test.
After spending a couple of years on HF I have not seen much (or any) evidence to support this claim that has been spewing out of the elders mouths for over 4 years now. A lot of the Issues I see have a lot to do with elder hams. For example, when it comes to contacting a DX station I see a lot of things happening. Things like after the DX station acknowledge someone, there are still people trying to crowbar their callsign in because there is a second of silence. I also hear 1KW amps tuning up RIGHT on frequency of the DX station then spew out their call (like we don’t know who you are when you’re 40+ on my meter). Then you got those that see a massive pileup trying to contact the station and when acknowledged, will try to strike up a rag chew session by describing their town and the weather and their medical ailments even though there are 100′s of people waiting. And if the DX working split… FORGET ABOUT IT! They endlessly send their call even though you have a bunch of people telling him that the DX is listening 5KC up. Try listening to the RX Frequency of the DX station working spilt. Wholly crap there are a lot of people who don’t even come close to following the DX code of conduct. I’ve jotted a bunch of these calls down and looked them up on QRZ to find out that a majority of them are elder hams (By the age of their call and station setup).
For a Hobby that is so-called “Dying”, I wouldn’t spend much time complaining about those who are actually trying to stay interested in Ham radio. Not only should you welcome these “No-Coders”, you should thank them for showing interest. Because with that negative attitude you will drive away the young Hams that are genuinely interested and you will see a truly dead hobby. After a couple of years on HF and thousands of contacts, It’s rare that I run into someone around my age (28). I basically think that those who bitch and moan about it are just jealous or feel that they are “A class of their own” because they had to pass a 20wpm (or 5wpm) CW proficiency test. The funny thing is that since I’ve upgraded, I wanted to learn CW more than ever so I can make even more contacts farther away.
This is just my personal opinion, I could be wrong.
At the beginning of the month I participated in the New England QSO Party. This is the first contest that I’ve taken a part of to where I submitted logs. I’ve participated in contests by accident. Meaning that I just happened to be on the air when the contest was going on and thought it would be fun to make some contacts for the log book. The reason I wanted to take part fully in the NEQP is that I’m based out of New England and thought it would be fun to see how well I can do in New England considering I rarely hear New England stations. On Saturday night (May 5th), I’ve spent 5 hours planted on one frequency on 40 meters and started calling CQ. I’ve tuned the 950 so I can filter out most of the QRM and I have to say that I had a really fun time. I thought I would be horrible since I am not running with what I consider the big guns (expensive setups, beams, towers). With my 100w rig and a G5RV dipole I thought I did very well to the point where I was getting pileups. I would have never thought there would be a pileup to contact me. May 6th was not as exciting as the bands were dead (well, for me). However I kept on 40 meters and made an additional 50 contacts with brought the total to 256 X a multiplier of 31 = 7,936 points.
In days since, I received many QSL cards with SASE. Please be patient as I am trying to find a good printer, that is decently price for full color QSL cards. Once I receive them, SASE cards will be sent first followed by those who sent cards and finally, those who I promised a card to. I would also like to thank all the stations that contacted me. Also like to thank the NightWatch Net.
Now for a drink
This contest now brings me to my rant. I don’t like ranting because it causes nothing but trouble. This time I don’t care. During the contest I’ve heard a couple of people referring to me as “these contesters” like it’s a bad thing. I’ve also seen write-ups and videos of hams complaining about “Contesters”. I don’t understand what the big deal is. Oh no! you now have to move a couple khzs because someone is contesting on a frequency that you’ve used since 1909. For a hobby that is so-called “Dying”, I wouldn’t spend time complaining about other ham operators that are actually involved in this “Dying” hobby. Now if they just hopped on the frequency that you’re currently talking to your buddy on (or 1-3 khz near) and starting contesting without checking if it’s a clear frequency and/or calling QRZ, then I can understand. It’s happened to me and it’s just plain rude. But if they’re using proper ham etiquette then let the contesters play. I’m sorry, I can’t sit for hours listening to long-winded hams talk about their setup and the weather. It gets real old, real fast. That is just my 2 cents, I could be wrong!
Since my recent purchase I’ve been back into digital. In the past couple of say 20M in the afternoon has been really good to me
I made contact with the following
RK9AN – Anvar -Asiatic Russia
RN3AJK – Artem – Euro Russia
DK9WB – Jakob – Germany
CT2FPY – Leonel – Portugal
M0NPQ – Nerijus – England
DL5MGH – Armin – Germany
IW3SGT – Alessandro – Italy
IZ3LEF – Emiliano – Italy
IW6NBX – Antonio – Italy
SP5GRU – Wlodek – Poland
EA3BJW – Joan – Spain
US5CCO – Vlad – Ukraine
UA3ON – Antoly – Euro Russia
RD3WW – Vladimir – Euro Russia
IN3NHZ – Roberto – Italy
KE5AQD – Roger – USA
W3CRR – Craig – USA
9A4A – Zlatko – Croatia
I have been noticing lately that after sending CQ and acknowledging someone that people are still trying to contact me. I like pileups for me but it’s hard in the digital world. It gets annoying because I’m unable to make out the first half of the conversation because of QRM. I figured like on SSB, once someone acknowledges someone else that everyone else on the frequency remains QRT until the exchange ends??? – END RANT
I also got work K2TPZ on CW. I still have trouble receiving so I cheated and used the computer to receive his CW and used the touch pad to send. I hope by engaging in CW more and more that the dits and dahs will automatically turn into letters and words