I hurt a CW operator's feelings today - maybe

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KC1CCG, Feb 20, 2021.

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  1. KC1CCG

    KC1CCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was looking for a QSO on 40 in the CW section. I came across someone calling CQ and listened. Good signal, S9 or so. No QRM or QRN it was nice. But....I struggled to read the operator's code. They were drawing out the elements to the extent that they made no sense, was it an A then an E or was it an R ? Couldn't tell - the spacing was inconsistent and not right for either possibility. CW Morse code isn't like Jazz with a lot of room for personal phrasing. Its more like an alphabet. If you are so cute with your written letters that an A looks like an R then you are not communicating. You might be having a great time putting ink to paper but anyone reading your text will struggle. I will qualify this in case the op had a physical handicap...but I don't think it was that, the gear, the keyers, mechanical or electronic, shouldn't sound like that. I told them their "Fist" was difficult for me. "What's a fist?" they ask. Its hundred year old slang for sending style. In the Navy when we intercepted foreign CW signals we got to know the operators by their "fists". Many were unique, none were unintelligible. It wasn't an insult friend, it was tough love. I never want to drive anyone from the low end of the band. Its thinning out fast enough as it is.
    K8BZ, K4YNZ, KA3CTQ and 8 others like this.
  2. N2ICZ

    N2ICZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have
    I've run across this every now and then too. I try to be as patient as I can with the other OP, tell them to slow down or repeat, etc., hoping they get the hint. I think some operators try to go too fast and screw up their spacing. Listen, I'm no speed demon. I cruise around 15wpm, but while it may be frustrating to the other OP who saying, 'come on, come on", I can be understood. And you're right. An Op's fist is like a fingerprint. Unique.
    EA8DHC and N4FZ like this.
  3. K1APJ

    K1APJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My personal response is not to respond to truly bad code, CQ or otherwise. Some "personality" is fine, but random spaces and random dit and dah lengths don't hack it. If, for example, your dit-dah ratio is 1:5 instead of 1:3 I can get used to that pretty quick, but if everything is unpredictable there is no hope.

    Years ago, everybody learned on a straight key, because keyers were rare and expensive. Today, I advise all newcomers to start with a keyer because it is much easier to send good or at least readable code, especially if you are trying to learn without a pal to listen to you. Once you get the hang of what keyer-code sounds like you can try to duplicate it with a straight key or a bug.
    KB3FEI, AG6QR, W5BIB and 1 other person like this.
  4. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    In the Navy when we intercepted foreign CW signals we got to know the operators by their "fists".

    NAVY SPOOK.jpg

    ARRL HEADER   CW 4  EVER.jpg

    73 - K1LKP

    K8BZ and K4YNZ like this.
  5. AG5CK

    AG5CK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Has anyone noticed his hat says HAM? :eek:
    KA3CTQ and K1LKP like this.
  6. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    "What's a fist?" they ask.





    73 - K1LKP
    NK8I, KJ4KPW and W5BIB like this.
  7. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I try to be patient with new hams and their less than perfect sending. It does reach a point where they are either sending CW or not. Some off-the-air practice may be in order.

    Thankfully, the opposite is also true. Just finished a QSO on 30 meters with W7YY, Jack. He sent great CW just leaned back in the chair and enjoyed it.
  8. W7HV

    W7HV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah. There are some bad fists out there. I had three in a row the other day where I was struggling. A common problem with bugs is too much space between dits and dahs in a character. In some cased the space gets to about the same as between characters. Yeah, sending with a bug takes work, but practice up and don't make your problem mine.
    Then some ops drag out the dahs way too long...southern drawl maybe? IDK, but tuf to cpy. I stick with a few polite exchanges and then TNX fer FB QSO 73 de.....
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    CW bands this weekend are pretty crowded (other than the WARC bands) because there's a major contest going on.

    So, making a non-contest QSO on 40 was probably up above 7050, maybe above 7060 or even 7100.

    Lots of newbies there, and also quite a few "oldies" who are just getting back into code after many years away from it.

    I've definitely run across newbie code ops who have never heard of "a fist."

    No kidding.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Anyone using a bug should use it a lot off-air to make it sound the way it really can sound in the hands of a good operator.

    Bill W6DDB was one of the best "bug fists" ever, and was also my first QSO with California (40m CW) when I was a Novice living in NJ. He used to write the "Novice" column for CQ and was an amazing bug op. Always sounded like a keyer.

    Bryan WA7PRC had a similar fist, so well spaced it also sounded like a keyer...the only way I could tell it was a bug was his "R" with the dit-daaaaaah-dit, longer dah. Other than that, keyer-like and just wonderful to copy.

    Too many ops think they're doing great when they're not. They should record themselves and play it back.:p

    Most aren't like that.
    N8AFT likes this.
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