Modulated CW over FM: a Call to Arms

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by M0FEU, Dec 7, 2016.

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  1. M0FEU

    M0FEU Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's nice to hear lots of positive feedback on the idea. As someone involved with teaching Morse code on a regular basis, the question is: how do we reach out to those people who might have given Morse code a try but drifted away? I don't know how the band segments are decided in the US, but here in Europe we lost 20 KHz of Morse segments this summer to the data operators; something we in Austria disagreed with quite strongly as it was based on potentially flawed RBN data I.O.H.O. When the CW requirement was first dropped as a condition of licensing, I think most people thought 'Why not, if it gets more people into ham radio then that can only be a good thing'. However, now we see a situation developing where the CW band segments could become increasingly eroded due to fewer and fewer people taking up Morse code, so I think the issue of getting more people into Morse code should not be ignored or taken lightly.

    Of course, there are some things that can be handled best by local clubs, but also some things that manufacturers could do as well. I read online that the FT857 is actually MCW capable, so Yaesu have clearly thought about this at some level. I'm sure everyone has had a look through the plethora of microprocessor functions on their HT and thought about at least one or two of them, 'who the hell uses that'! In that context, I think our message to manufacturers should be 'It is not for us to justify to you the inclusion of MCW on every HT, it is for you to justify to us the fact that it is not included'. As others have stated here, the costs to the manufacturers would be minimal, and thus lead to only a very small increase in unit price for the customer.

    Someone else here pointed out that keys are not exactly cheap: quite right too. But this is one area where the local clubs need to step in and offer their support. At the Graz Morse code school we have a good stock of [Palm] paddles which we lend out free of charge to new students, so getting them practising is not really an issue; it's getting them on air that presents the biggest problems. When the students graduate, they are given the option to either buy the paddle at a good discount, or give it back for the next student.

    Yes, F2A modulation is terribly inefficient when compared to CW. But if it is the case that any increase in MCW is absolutely not welcome (on the bands where it is permitted), then it seems to me that we should be discouraging the building of MCW oscillators in general. Of course, I can only speak to the situation where I live myself, and I think that that is not the case; that there are many underused repeaters in our area; that with proper negotiation and common sense there should not be any conflict of interest. I would also mention that in the UK at least, the 2 meter band has just gained an additional 1 MHz of bandwidth at 146 to 147 MHz.

    Merry Xmas es HNY
    de OE6FEG
     
  2. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is an option. Not cheap but relatively inexpensive:

    http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-552

    Best idea would be to get a group together and buy several at a whack.

    In Canada our "distracted driving" rules tend to keep repeater usage down. Our Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) folks are working with each province to reform the laws to allow amateur radio ops to operate mobile. At present in BC, for instance, we can operate mobile as long as the microphone is ONLY a microphone, with no tuning or DTMF buttons on it. How many new rigs have you seen with a plain-Jane mic?

    Because of the way the law "works" I live in range of several repeaters that very rarely have any traffic except for a net once a week or so.

    We've got the capacity here. It'd get a lot of folks involved with CW. As far as I can tell most of the guys around here say they forgot the code as soon as they were allowed to pick up a microphone.

    I'd like to start bringing the younger ops along.

    Tnx,
    Chuck VE7PJR
     
  3. KJ4RZZ

    KJ4RZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This would absolutely drive those monitoring the local repeater completely batty.

    But, since I never hear anything on the repeater other than "monitoring" and health reports, and occasionally a NET with no messages, why not. It would be entertaining to listen to the chaos.

    Of course it's a bad idea but I am finding humor in it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  4. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, the idea is to use VHF simplex for those local CW nets. Of course that works best on the flat. I live in a valley that's narrow enough I can almost spit across it. Takes about 25W just to hit the locals, and I can't hit anything else. I'd love to have a simplex net running, but aside from the four or five other hams who live in the same valley, at VHF we're not going to rock the world that way.

    A little negotiation is called for -- our club has a repeater and I suspect I could get a spot some evening for "QNI?"

    73,

    Chuck VE7PJR
     
  5. W1JFH

    W1JFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    A couple of us in my area are interested in doing something like this. The picokeyer looks interesting and is something we might follow up on. Can anybody advise how it works out on FM in practice, any quirks, hookups, etc. That I would need to know about?
    Thanks.
     
  6. M0FEU

    M0FEU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Instructions for wiring the PTT are included in the info pdf and can be downloaded from the pico keyer website. It's a good solution at a reasonable price.
    Cheers
    Matt
     
  7. N1BCG

    N1BCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think this idea has merit, but I'd anticipate a "aren't there other frequencies set aside for CW?" reaction.
     
  8. W1JFH

    W1JFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a real probability, and a lot depends on the area and the people involved. In an area where repeaters are already busy, it might not be received well. In my area there is very little traffic on our club repeater. We are considering trying a couple of scheduled sessions for practice and instruction to see how that flies. With simplex, the thought is that by local consensus perhaps the use of one or two specific frequencies could work. It all depends on the level of interest and participation, and some form of "buy-in" from the club or repeater owner. Certainly it would be worth trying.
     
  9. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...and on the face of it that's correct. However, as I've learned about MCW it's not "really" CW, it's "fone" but with just one tone. It should stay out of the planned CW bandwidth. Likewise, using MCW on VHF/UHF would ordinarily be mainly a simplex activity, but there again NOT on more common simplex freqs. It can go on a repeater, of course, since it's just regular FM but it'd take some negotiation across the user base.

    The main intent is not really to have an alternative means of communication in the event of need, but rather to create small local nets or groups of amateurs using low power VHF MCW gear to practice their R/T skills. Given the low price of some common 2m HTs, such a network in most locations could be put together for about $250 investment per op, all-in including the antenna, rig, key, and interface all bought new. Still lots of old IC-2ATs floating around, I see people giving them away. I don't think I've seen one for more than $25 for years. Perfectly good radio, and ideal for this use. The entry point is lower than even an inexpensive HF rig.

    A setup like that isn't a DX outfit, but I'd certainly carry one on travels if I knew there was a little local CW net on the other end. Setting up on a motel balcony and "making beepy noises" as my wife says sounds a LOT more interesting than yet another Iron Chef rerun on TV.
     
  10. W1JFH

    W1JFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Would anyone be able to give a detailed set of instructions for setting up the picokeyer to work with a Yaesu ft60r? I'm getting a bit frustrated.
    Thanks.
     

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