Imbalance in activities on the CW bands

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by VK5EEE, Mar 27, 2016.

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  1. VK5EEE

    VK5EEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Never before have the amateur radio bands been so wildly fluctuating in terms of occupancy and activity. Originally there were no contests, real QSO took place with RST, QTH, name, details of station, and this activity was not only on weekends, it was quite well spread out in terms of time, and also frequencies.

    Later, the bands became rather too busy, and WARC bands were won, and by default contests as a result of not being allowed on the WARC bands which are rather narrow (and 30m still is Secondary for us) spread themselves out over the entire CW band on 40 and 20m. Prior to this, contests avoided the DX window (bottom 10kHz) and the QRS and QRP sections further up the band. Even today some responsible contest organisers publish in the rules where a contester can and cannot transmit for a valid contest entry. This is so that non-contesters can also continue to carry on and not be driven off the band.

    More recently however, this is what is happening: on some weekends the bands are bursting at the seams: contests and split DX consuming the entire bands including at times even the WARC bands. And where there are "normal" QSO taking place, these are often short affairs of simply a callsign and "5NN TU 73". Before becoming upset, those who enjoy such activity, we're not against you and that activity.

    The result these days is an imbalance like never before: on the one hand at times we have too few real human CW QSO going on any more, as a result more and more traditional CW operators have been put off by the bands being full of contests and other 5NN activities on weekends and being unable to get an answer to a CQ, and where an answer comes, it's from DCW or a "5NN", resulting in the bands being quieter than ever before when contests and DX activations are not occuring.

    Certainly CW clubs are addressing that issue of imbalance, but some more imagination may be required. Much of the time, never have the bands been so underused in the last 50 years, and at some other times, the times when we are free on the weekends, never have they been so over-used. It's a huge fluctuation between too crowded and too quiet.

    This imbalance which is not a healthy state of affairs needs addressing. On the one hand contest organisers can start to put allowed frequency ranges into the rules.
  2. AI6KX

    AI6KX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not sure what was happening a few hours ago - a contest or huge "down" pileups extending 15 kHz. But the rest of the CW bands were pretty empty. I consider it a good thing because people (like me) give up on the pileups and listen around for normal mortals.
    K6FNI likes this.
  3. VK5EEE

    VK5EEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    73 Steve, not sure I understand you as to what you consider a good thing, can you elaborate?
  4. KG7TDC

    KG7TDC Ham Member QRZ Page

    wow a very passionate disertation on the state of cw on air. thank you! you obviously call it as you hear it. i found it insiteful and good thing to think about. I also think that having online discussion is good for practioners and attracting the milennials to the craft.
    best regards,
    "another mere mortal"
    W5BIB and VK5EEE like this.
  5. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find that it is getting harder and harder to work DX. When a rare one is on, word spreads rapidly on social media, and the pileups become huge even faster that they did in the DX cluster days.

    This has led to a situation where few DX stations are ever willing to work W/K stations. They are too busy chasing rare ones.

    As a result, it has become common for band openings to see the entire band dead except for one or two massive pile-ups.

    Not sure anything can be done about it. Hopefully it is just a phase. But I certainly miss the old days when band openings found the entire band filled with activity from one end to another and people in other countries didn't shun W/Ks just because we are not rare.

    And please, if you are reading this and are a DL or a JA or a VK or other DX, throw us a bone and work a few W/Ks every now and then. I assure you we appreciate it.
    VK2WP and VK5EEE like this.
  6. PA1ZP

    PA1ZP Ham Member QRZ Page


    I am a CW lover but I hate contests.
    DX-ing, wel I have worked the most idiotic things a man can wish, so totaly no interest in DX at all anymore.
    I work both CW and SSB and like both modes.

    What i do like is nice chats with people, and I do not care where they are from, just if they are able to make a decent (long) cw chat or ssb chat.
    So any-one hearing me can call me but do not expect a 5nn-001 report I will not even give one.

    When large contests are around certainly in SSB or CW I will not even turn on my rig that weekend.
    Leave all the space to the 5n or 5nn guys and girls.

    73 Jos
    2E0OZI, NK2U, WF9Q and 4 others like this.
  7. VK5EEE

    VK5EEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wonderful comments, you guys are from my CW family. I think true CW afficionados think pretty much alike on these things. The art comes from an era where not everything was better, but values and respect were more widely held.

    You don't need to do that any more. A growing number of us have found a new CW bands which are quiet and where you can even call CQ in a different manner, dah-dah-di-dah-dah-dah basically QTT if you like to also avoid RBN, Digital CW Users coming back to you after finding you on the Internet and then placing you onto clusters so more DCW can find you, or just want to return to the earliest days of Amateur Radio when Quality-not-Quanity True Telegraphy and Quality Talk/Telegraphy Time, were the norm. In those "new" CW bands you are among friends and family. Just search Google for "QTT CW" it should be top search result, have a read and "joining" is simpler than even signing up to SKCC. It's naturally viral too.

    Point taken, I will make some changes to my habits in the light of your post and also some UFB QSO I've had with W Ops since returning to the radio. My antennas on 15-17-20m are in the wrong direction, but on 30m I think my inverted V is omni-directional and I've had good results to W-K-N there. I'll try to get onto 30m more often. Listen for QTT too.

    I don't hate contests myself, but can understand people hating them and also those loving them. I'm just in the middle I guess, but what I do hate is how some of these contests, with increasing frequency take over entire CW bands without any regard for other users, and in the even worse basket (since they don't listen on their frequency and thus cause even more harmful QRM and disruption) are the so-called DX pedos. I thought pedo was a bad word, forgive me, I'm new to these forums. I keep seeing they refer to themselves as DX pedo not just pedo. I didn't realise there was a connection :( now it all makes horrible sense unless I've got that wrong too. Language keeps changing, I've been under a rock for a great many years. 73 & 77, QTT
    AE7WS and K6FNI like this.
  8. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Wow! A new topic o_O
    W8ZNX, K3XR and VK5EEE like this.
  9. AI6KX

    AI6KX Ham Member QRZ Page

    My logic is that, since I often get tired of trying to hack through a massive pileup and then scan the rest of the band, there must be others out there who will do the same. (like the quest for extra-terrestrial intelligence).

    K8PG, VK2WP and VK5EEE like this.
  10. VK2WP

    VK2WP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Quite true, all the fraternity are in the pile ups or shrieking abuse at each other (or the dx expiditioners) on clusters.

    As far as I am concerned chasing wallpaper is waste of time, just have better things to do with my radios and my life.

    On working W/K's the States are something of a target of mine, trouble is quite often when I'm calling cq on say 30M and getting spots from the RBN all over U.S.A everyone is asleep.

    Perfect conditions but wrong time.

    If you like, give a few hints what bands and times you like and shall see about listening out for you. At times am a night owl op.

    Can point a hex beam 20/17/15/10 your way and my loop aerial 40/30 works well into the States at the right times.
    VK5EEE likes this.

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