CW delay time?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by 2E0LPL, Mar 2, 2019.

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  1. N3PM

    N3PM Ham Member QRZ Page

  2. K8BZ

    K8BZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Let me give it a shot. It can be a little confusing if you have no CW operating experience.

    Consider this; before modern transceivers hams used separate transmitters and receivers. When you switched from receive to transmit electro-mechanical relays switched the antenna from the receiver to the transmitter and at the same time muted the receiver. While you were transmitting you could not receive anything until to turned the T/R (transmit - receive) switch back to Receive and the antenna was switched back to the receiver and the receiver was un-muted.

    Then along came transceivers that had some form of break in. The first transceivers usually gave you the option of not using break-in (the equivalent of VOX on CW) at all and used a switch to put the rig in transmit mode and muted the receiver until you were done sending, just like the example above. They also gave you the option of using Semiautomatic Break-in. When activated, the rig went into transmit when ever the CW key was depressed. It would switch back to receive when after a given time period when the key was open. This time period is adjustable with the "delay" control in your rig. Some CW operators like a short delay so the receiver become active in the space between letters. But the first transceivers used mechanical relays that clicked (sometimes loudly) when ever this switching occurs and they didn't like the distraction. So they set the delay to a longer time period so the receiver would not be active between letters but would "open" in the space between words. As technology improved and the switching circuits moved from mechanical relays to electronic switching, then the use of full break-in became possible. In full break-in (also known as QSK) you are receiving between individual "dits and dahs" of each CW character.

    So what's the point of all of this? Why would you want to adjust the delay time? New CW ops are usually operating a slower speeds. Setting your delay to "word length" spacing can help you develop good spacing between words. When your receiver opens, It's time to send the next work. as your skills increase you may set the spacing to "letter spacing".

    Proficient CW ops should always, in my opinion run full breakin (QSK) especially when working in contests or DX pile ups. Why? So you can hear when the other station is transmitting and know that you should STOP transmitting at that time. It is always pointless to transmit while the station you are trying to contact is transmitting. To do so just cause QRM for someone.

    If you are a CW traffic handler you should operate QSK. If you are sending a message and the receiving station missed a word, then can send a couple of dits that you will be able to hear and you then stop transmitting. The receiving station sends the last word they correctly received and the transmitting station then knows to begin repeating the text after that word. Saves a lot of time requesting "fills" after the complete message has been sent.

    When contesting you should always operate QSK (full breakin) or at least very short delay semi-break in. Contest operations are simplex and there are often several callers responding to a big gun contest station's CQ. You need to be able to receive, at least, between words so you know when the other station begins transmitting, and thus when to stop calling.

    If you have experience operating VOX on HF SSB and adjust the VOX delay, then you will understand the CW Breakin delay setting. It's the same thing; just for two different modes.

    Have fun.
    M6GYU and W5BIB like this.
  3. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not using full QSK has absolutely nothing to do with being a proficient CW operator. Why would the other station be transmitting before you stop transmitting? "It is always pointless to transmit while the station you are trying to contact is transmitting." Obviously, that works both ways.

    Choose the method of going from transmit to receive that works best for you. I have a manual T/R switch mounted next to the rigs I use on CW. Some folks use a foot switch. I don't want to hear the receiver until I'm ready to listen to the other station. Exception, I do jump into CW contests from time to time and will use QSK with some time delay.
  4. K8BZ

    K8BZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I apologize for giving the impression that if you don't use QSK you are not a proficient CW operator. I don't believe that's the case. You can be a very proficient CW operator and never use QSK.

    In answer to your question, "why would the other station be transmitting before you stop transmitting", if you are operating as TU7C in the Ivory Coast DXpedition and have scores of stations calling you, there is never a period when all the callers stop calling. Especially the ones not working some version of QSK who didn't know that TU7C responded to someone else while you were locked in transmit mode. There are special circumstances where QSK is a huge benefit for both sides of the contact, as explained in my original response.

    I do realize that every station is not QSK capable, or the operator my choose not to use it. That doesn't mean that they are poor operators or shouldn't jump in to a DX pile up, or handle traffic or contest.

    I will however stand by opinion that if you learn to use QSK effectively you will be a more proficient CW operator in specific operations of highly competitive contests, traffic handling and DX pileup operations, and you will contribute less to QRM.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
    W5BIB likes this.
  5. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not a problem I love opinions and believe everyone is entitled to one. Opinions that proport to be facts are never acceptable.
  6. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    My WinKeyer USB (link) interface:
    Note that it has KEY and PTT outputs (for two rigs). IOW, using my rig's VOX is not needed.
    While the yuugely variable settings can be programmed using the paddle, the free 'puter application makes that easy. I finally retired my olde WB4VVF Accu-Keyer.
  7. K1LKP

    K1LKP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    This was a super switch..... BACK IN THE DAY
    73 - K1LKP
  8. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I still use one today, with my Johnson Ranger & Drake 2-B :)
    If/when it fails,... I revert... ;)

    AD5HR and K1LKP like this.
  9. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    By Another Name
    On my last 3 rigs the "Hang time" was set using the "VOX Delay" adjustment.
    I never used the VOX except for CW T/R switching delay ! My rare fone QSOs were strictly PTT !
    My newest rig is a FT990 and the first one to have True QSK without Relays clacking Like Crazy when you keyed. I still don't like QSK because, on the lower bands, you hear a lot of atmospheric noise between the Morse. Drives me nuts and I go back to "VOX" control of the T/R functions.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
    K3XR likes this.
  10. W9RAC

    W9RAC Subscriber QRZ Page

    I know your question has been answered, I just wanted to expand a bit about it. Nick I work with quite a few new OP's, so its not unusual to be sending at 12 ish wpm. When that is the case I use around 2 sec delay, many times I am also using a amp also so it keeps the amp keyed too, avoiding a lot of chatter of relays at those speeds. As I move into the higher speeds less delay of course is required to keep the relay chatter at bay. As I approach 20/21 wpm my delay is in the 700 ms range. Keeping the amp/radio stilled keyed while I am sending and keeping the receive quiet but not so much as to miss any of the returning CW.

    At one time I used no delay, but would always hear stuff between the characters which became somewhat distracting and really unnecessary for me doing rag chew, not to mention the additional unnecessary wear on the amplifier relays. It took me a while to learn how to "not hear" while sending by keeping the delay set longer as not to switch to receive. I was use to using vox with SSB my entire life, so I could always hear when a station might call during my TX. I carried that forward into CW. So, I hope that little bit of added info may help in your future CW quest.
    73 Rich

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