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Can't Make Cw Contacts

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN4ICU, Nov 25, 2018.

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  1. KN4ICU

    KN4ICU Ham Member QRZ Page

    The past few weeks I have been having a dreadful time makings contacts on 40m. When I DO make them, they are relatively close by (1 state over) and are difficult to copy. Some nights the RBN shows me hitting as far away as Calgary, Canada, with a strong signal. . Some nights, nothing is being picked up..... My antenna receives just fine (last night was crazy. .......), but no contacts. Anyone else running into this???,,
  2. KC9YGN

    KC9YGN Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Don't feel like people are ignoring you. I run into the same thing all the time. The other day I called CQ down on 40 meters on and off for a long time and got nothing. I could see other signals on the waterfall, the reverse beacon network said I was being heard all over the place, but no replies. Propagation is a fickle thing sometimes. And despite the claim that "if you can hear 'em you can work 'em", that just isn't true.

    You might try looking at the reverse beacon network ( and see if you're getting out.
  3. KN4ICU

    KN4ICU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am definitely getting out. Some nights better than others.... But I'm definitely getting out via that website.
  4. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sometimes it just happens.

    If you're hearing band activity and your signal is being picked up at multiple RBN stations then your rig and antenna are working. Not much you can do but try to answer folks calling CQ or throw out a bunch of your own on clear frequencies.
  5. NG9F

    NG9F Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    What kind of rig, antenna, coax, and power are you running? Are you using a straight key? What is your procedure for calling? I use this:

    QRL? wait a few seconds QRL? wait a few seconds CQ CQ CQ de NG9F NG9F NG9F K wait 5-10 seconds then call again.

    I've had some experiences the last few days where it seems like propagation is lousy. I keep a page open on my profile, and it means a lot more to me when the lookups go up than if I am spotted on RBN because these are people spotting me and not skimmers. Oh, and to be spotted on the skimmer I use my rig's auto keyer because it won't spot me on my straight key. But a couple of times lately my lookups haven't gone up at all- not even by 1. That tells me nobody is hearing me.

    What speed are you calling at? Are you a new op or very experienced?

    The contest you were hearing last night isn't indicative of normal conditions. A lot of these stations are running legal limit power, they have beams high up, many have dedicated receive antennas, and lots of a ton of experience with HF and have really tweaked their stations over many years or maybe many decades. So don't look at the waterfall and say "wow condx are great" because maybe they aren't. And my feeling is that last night, for example, propagation wasn't great at all.
  6. NG9F

    NG9F Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Also cats. Do you own cats? The more cats you have in the shack while you are calling (not just in the house), the greater your CW power. This has been my experience. If the cats are actually on your desk helping you, more of the cat power aids your CW signal. I just got started maybe 60 days ago and just made my 94th contact. I added a second cat early on, and I feel like it made a huge difference. Probably they shouldn't be the same color- one of mine is black, one is grey, and this seems to be a really good combination. Hoping others can weigh in on this. Might add a white or orange when my code speed is higher and I can make more use of him/her.
    N1EN, KQ9J, WS4JM and 1 other person like this.
  7. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    IMHO, stop relying on the RBN. It only increases your stress. Personally, I have never used the RBN. Just tune around and listen. Personally, I don't care whether the contact is near or far. A contact is a contact.

    Sometimes the a band is just dead. If you can't find anyone you can copy on one band, try another. Maybe 15 meters, if the sun is still up. That's always been my favorite band. I worked 15 meters CW almost exclusively when I was living in Germany (DA2EU). After work, and until the sun went down, 15 meters was always hopping. In the summer time, where I lived, the sun didn't go down till almost 10 PM.

    Twenty, or so, years ago, I was tuning around the 40 meter Novice band, looking for a contact. I sent out a few CQs but no one was out there. I was about to pack it in, when I heard a sole operator sending some CW. It was slow CW, but crisp and clean. As I listened, the operator was sending out "hello is anyone out there - can anyone hear me" and would then sign his call sign. I listened a bit longer, and gave him a call, when he signed.

    It turns out, this was his first contact, and he was absolutely ecstatic. He didn't even know how to send a CQ. We talked for about 15 minutes, when he signed off because he was exhausted.

    The moral being, if the band seems dead and there is no one to talk to, relax and just listen. Tune around for a while. The static of an empty band is quite soothing. But you might also hear someone in the noise, looking for a contact.
    N0NC, KK4NSF, KU4X and 2 others like this.
  8. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I live in the middle of nowhere, and have a nice low noise level. I also had mediocre antennas until recently, and now have one poor antenna for 40/15 and one fair one for 20m.

    As a result of using inadequate antennas, and having a low noise level, I often hear stations than I cannot contact. Their local noise level is probably higher than mine, and as a result my signal is buried under their noise floor.

    In my own experience, the single biggest cause of this is using a horizontal antenna that is less than 3/8 wave above ground. This set-up really does seem to favor the oft-disputed "one-way propagation" effect.
  9. KC9YGN

    KC9YGN Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Now that's a good point. The way my dipole is configured it's far more useful for NVIS than it is for anything else. I often get better results with CW and digital on my junky little vertical. It's much less efficient but has a lower takeoff angle.
  10. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had a weird one on 30m last night just before 0000Z. Mostly quiet band, so I threw out a CQ for the heck of it. A K6 started coming back, and suddenly it was like echoes and stutters. I got enough to understand that there was an N0 literally on the same frequency at the same RST. I tried a QRZ? but they both came back together again. I couldn't get enough separation to null one out with the passband. Since they were both the same strength I couldn't just work the loud one. Then the usual 0000Z QSB hit and I decided to just let it go, but I kinda regretted it.


    Chuck VE7PJR

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