Getting a bit discouraged.

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by M0KBO, Aug 15, 2018.

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  1. M0KBO

    M0KBO Ham Member QRZ Page

    So this could be a sob story ad nauseum that has been posted here many a time before, but before I get flamed I’m looking for some advice from you guys that will know more.

    Since getting my advanced licence about two months ago, I’ve been working on learning cw. I’ve ground it out on Just Learn Morse Code during my lunches at work and have been a bit proud of myself in getting up to 10 wpm in that time.

    Sooooo long story short, I was saving sending until I had moved qth and improved my antenna set up. The big day arrived two weeks ago, plugged in my shiny new Begali I’d treated myself to for getting the M0, and have been bashing out cq’s on 20, 15, 10 and even 2 to try someone local. I’ve tried responding to some cq’s too.

    Unfortunately not a sausage back at all, I know I’m getting out, I’ve checked RBN and WSPR with all my antennas, pretty happily getting into Europe, and I can hear a lot of European stations, so my set up seems to be working ok.

    My question is, is there something I’m doing wrong? I send a cq of a decent length, have tried the qrs / fists frequencies, tried chasing a cq or three but alas to no avail.

    Either my fist is still a bit ropey or I need to grind out the cq’s for a few weeks until I get into the clique? I’m getting pretty bored of sending cq for an hour then just practicing my sending into my little decoder lol.

    On the plus side, I’m getting pretty good at cq and my call sign hi.
     
  2. KA3CTQ

    KA3CTQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Couple things to think about:

    Everyone practices reading code. Did you practice sending?
    I have suggested to some that they should get a code reading app and send to it and see if the app can decode what you sent. Or have someone else copy what you sent for some better feedback. I never learned to read code until I learned to send. My dad taught me this way and it worked great.

    Have you set up a scheduled contact?
    It would be good to put your call on one of the sked pages. The other op could give you feedback on how you send and about your signal. This would be more helpful than a reverse beacon. There are sked sites that can help such as SKCC, FISTS, or QRZ.

    Where on the band are you sending?
    There are set frequencies for calling CQ. Some CW clubs have set frequencies from 14.048 to 14.060 on 20M. This is a good area to start.

    Since I mentioned clubs, look into one of the CW centered clubs. FISTS, CWOPS, and SKCC are the more popular clubs. FISTS and CWOPS have annual dues. SKCC is free, but it is concentrated on straight key sending. You did not say what type of Bengal you are using.

    Hopefully this helps. Let us know how you are doing. Good luck.
     
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  3. M0KBO

    M0KBO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had no idea that there were set frequencies for cq on cw, rookie error no.1 lol. I’ve been mainly over the qrs freqs then a bit lower. This is good advice, cheers!

    My begali is a little mono paddle running through the keyer in my Yaesu. I’ve been practicing sending the last four weeks using an MFJ decoder just to check I’m sending clean, seems ok, I’m not up to the speed of you guys yet but I’m getting there.

    Sked, good idea, get some feedback, might be something I’ve not set up properly on my radio maybe.
     
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Call CQ on bands where you hear good activity. If 10m or 15m isn't "open," probably nobody's really listening.

    20m and 40m are better bets a lot of the time.

    Re CQ strategies: Find other CW activity, and then find a frequency near them (maybe "in between" other QSOs, just 2-3 kHz separation is usually enough on CW, although 5 kHz might be friendlier).

    QRL? Listen. No answer.
    QRL? Listen again. No answer.

    CQ CQ CQ DE M0KBO M0KBO CQ CQ CQ DE M0KBO M0KBO M0KBO K

    Listen.

    Rinse and repeat. Always end a CQ with "K." No reason to send AR, as that only signifies "end of transmission," but is not an "invitation to transmit," which is what "K" is for.

    Eventually someone will call you.

    On 20m when the band's active (mostly daylight hours, although can be well beyond dark) or on 40m when the band's active (mostly local stuff daytime, then much longer DX after dark), usually if I call CQ three times within three minutes, I get answers. If the band's dead, I won't get answers so I don't bother trying.:p (There are some exceptions for sure: I actually have called CQ on what sounds like a completely dead band, like 12m at 9PM -- not a signal to be heard -- and actually received answers. But I wouldn't count on it.)
     
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  5. N1OOQ

    N1OOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    What SNR is the RBN reporting for your signal? Usually needs to be abt 10 dB or better, or else you won't get much response.

    Other than that, propagation. Try different times of day, different weekdays.

    Edit: My favorite trick on "dead" bands... Listen for the RTTY racket near 070-075 up from the band edge. If you can hear RTTY, the band is open to somewhere. I call CQ and make many contacts on "dead" bands this way... If everyone's listening, no one's communicating!
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  6. N8TGQ

    N8TGQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Double-check your transmit/receive offset. It's easy to be off a bit especially if the setting is buried in a menu somewhere. Don't ask how I know about this!
    My first attempt at CW was with a Heathkit HW7. I called CQ every chance I got for 2 weeks before my first QSO. It was a guy 3 blocks away. Great start to DX!
     
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  7. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This. Listening is about ninety percent of successful HF operating on any mode!
     
    M6GYU, AE7BT and M0KBO like this.
  8. M0KBO

    M0KBO Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a good call actually, I'll get the waterfall up on WSPR and scan around a bit check the band. TBH I think I'm catching the bands just as they close as I'm CQing as soon as I get in from work about 18:00z.
    Looking at RBN, the SNR is in the 10-41dB range, think the average across the week is about 19dB.
     
  9. M0KBO

    M0KBO Ham Member QRZ Page

    True dat, as the young 'uns say around here. Two ears and one mouth and all that...
     
  10. KD2RON

    KD2RON Ham Member QRZ Page

    I feel you. I think you are dead on. I am older and learning cw at advanced age and after 3 years feel most comfortable at around 10 wpm. Very little activity on the air at this speed. I found your best best in the 40M skcc freq around 7055. Obviously you need to use a straight key but I found the transition from keyer to straight key rather easy. I still love working cw and the lousy band conditions are making it more difficult to find other slow pokes like me. Hope to hear you on the air.
     
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