How do YOU copy CW?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by WQ4G, Feb 6, 2019.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A lot.

    It's easy? Try actually doing it.

    First off, the "599" is NOT, repeat NOT, "inevitable". Many contests do NOT include signal report in the exchange at all. ARRL Field Day doesn't; neither does CW SS nor the weekly CWTs.

    Second, copying callsigns and contest exchanges RIGHT isn't so easy. With computer logs and submissions, logs are often cross-checked, and if an exchange isn't right, you lose that Q. Sometimes you lose others too; depends on the contest.

    Third, contesting often involves pulling a signal out of QRM, QRN, QSB and worse - and getting it all down correctly. Not just once but hundreds of times or more, for hours on end.

    I'm not a big gun contester, but I've broken 60 Qs per hour in CW SS. That means more than 1 Q per minute for more than an hour. With my own modest setup. The big guns do double that or better on peak hours.

    This past Field Day, the 20 and 40 meter CW setups at the group I went with did more than 1000 Qs per band. Neither station was on the full 24 hours; 20 faded late at night and 40 was picked so clean that on Sunday the station went on 15 CW to pick up more points. Peak rates on 20 were close to 100 per hour.

    Every Wednesday evening (Eastern Time) there is a sprint contest called CWT. One hour long, exchange call, first name, and membership number (if a member) or state/province (if a nonmember). I try to get on every week, starting on 40 then moving to 80. My personal record so far is 56 Qs in an hour - with my setup, paper logs, bug, and all search-and-pounce - no CQs. It has helped me get better, even after 51 years on CW.

    Fourth, contesting can give an intense experience that builds skills fast. Some folks like that.

    To a certain extent. Ragchewing requires some different skills. But the basics are the basics. Ragchewing doesn't really become enjoyable IMHO until one can copy and send Morse well enough to not have to think about it much - if at all.

    Traffic handling also develops CW skills, but, sadly, is not as common as it was before free long distance phone calls and email.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  2. N7ASZ

    N7ASZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I learned Morse when I was in the Boy Scouts and had my ham ticket at 12 years old in 1958. It's one of those things that if you want it bad enough, you will figure out a way to achieve your goal. Once I learned code, it was like playing music to me, the more you practice, the better it sounds. After a while you don't even think about it, you can copy code while reading something else, just hearing it in the background. With lots of practice, you recognize word groups so even if you miss a letter or two, it all comes together. Even after being off the air for the last 18 years or so, I can still copy 50-60 wpm easily. I did a couple tours in Vietnam and Morse came in handy a few times so it's been a part of my life since I was a young boy. I'm just getting back on the air again & it's nice to still hear lots of CW signals. I just don't get some of the new digital modes with hands off operating and nothing but call sign & grid locator, etc. Getting too old I guess. LOL
    W1ADE likes this.
  3. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Will this be a benefit to my conversational CW? I have found it requires a diverse ability to complete a decent conversation on possibly a variety of subjects. If Im "in script" ie name,RST,QTH,Rig its EZ going, completing complex conversations have been more of a challenge to honing my head copy abilities. 73, Rich
  4. W9JEF

    W9JEF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The separation could have been to avoid any possible confusion, because the corresponding W2 calls between yours and his may have been already in use.

  5. G0GSR

    G0GSR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I suspect not.
    I was called by a station who I knew very well from talking on SSB. I started a few CW pleasantries but he just responded with NAME, QTH, REPORT, 73 and was gone, even though I had spoken to him many times before.
    He couldn't do anything else and I could tell he was using a straight key so no computer involved.

  6. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I get it Frank, I have never been just a report type guy and then gone, but also I do understand many are trying for upgrade in SKCC status or the like and have a limited time to enjoy CW throughout the day. While I do not seek that type of contact I will respond politely with needed information. Some at a beginning stage of CW want to be in a QSO but are apprehensive of their skills and are just kind of testing the water. I did that also at first, many years ago. Id get into a QSO with the stats then if the conversation got complex, or looked like it might get that way OR asking me a dreaded question I missed.... I got out, fast! Once you understand that this will not be the first time in your lifetime of feeling as if you are looking like a "idiot" if things so south, its easier. Now I can laugh at myself and not feel embarrassed, things happen. Thanks for the comment, 73 Rich
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    I responded to a very strong signal yesterday afternoon on 20CW: WX1FLY. Unusual callsign, but it's real.

    Very, very slow CW op but I found out why: Jerry sent that I was his second CW contact! Also turns out he lives only a few miles from me, which explained the very strong signal with no QSB.:p

    He's an airline pilot and may not have a lot of time to operate, but he's plugging away! It's fun to work new guys, even when they're not so new, just new at CW.
  8. N7KO

    N7KO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I write and some head copy, I write cursive after I head copy the word , does that make since to any one?
  9. WD4IGX

    WD4IGX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Headset is legal here as long as you only cover ONE ear and not both.
  10. WF4W

    WF4W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm just getting back into CW ragchewing - I'm usually a quick DX/Contest type QSO'er - and copy 90% in my head but every once in awhile i have to start writing a few words down. I just assume my brain is filling up so I need to let some out :)

    I got into straight key sending again after last month's SKCC week day sprint - I had a blast and need a letter after my SKCC number so been hanging out around 7.030 - lots of good guys to chat with :)
    N7KO likes this.

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