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My First-Ever QSO -- 50 Years After Passing Ham Test

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by G3EDM, Aug 27, 2021.

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  1. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If he's operating snappy and running stations consecutively its best to simply drop in DE G3EDM at the end of his previous contact.
    G3EDM likes this.
  2. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    It all depends if E7BOSNIA listens and on which frequency. If he does listen, short calls "tailgating" other contacts have the most probability of success.

    But this is "hit and miss" when operating crystal controlled QRP.

    G3EDM likes this.
  3. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    They were calling on 7022.0 and my nearest crystal is 7022.1 so they should hear me even with a draconian filter switched in. But indeed, it's QRP and they were very busy answering everybody else so my signal was likely drowned. They will be on the air again tomorrow (but I will be QRT for Thanksgiving) and again on Sunday, when I will try again. I read the instructions on their QRZ page for formatting of the QSOs, and it says only that "the report format" is 59(9).

    The QRZ page says nothing about frequencies, only bands, so I assume they are not working "split".

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
  4. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is certainly a lot "on your plate" with all the homebrewing too but from this observation point your Morse proficiency and operating savvy seem to be progressing at a decent rate.

    Have you considered or tried listening for the plain text code practice transmissions from W1AW? They give a better representation of a rag-chew QSO under realistic conditions. This was helpful for me during my Novice days.

    Perhaps their 40m frequency, way up the band at 7095 kHz, is directed too much toward the USA and is too close to Euro SSB and SWBC QRM for your receiver, so maybe their signal on 80m 3597.5 kHz would provide cleaner copy in the UK later in the evening.
    N2EY and G3EDM like this.
  5. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The thing is, I was copying "canned" 15wpm QSOs sort-of OK just before first going on the air in late August, and in fact during my early QSOs I remember the copying side of thing being more "automatic" as it just flowed out of my pencil. But with all the rebuilding work on the transmitter and the limitations of QRP, I just did not get much practice.

    It's only the copying side of things that is rather dire and IMO has actually deteriorated since August. My sending, while not technically anything like perfect (and needs improvement), is "good enough" for the moment -- I can work on that side of things later. The sending is fluent but the spacing of the elements, and the variable length of the dahs, will need attention eventually. Also, I will eventually graduate to a "bug" but only when I can copy much faster than I do now.

    Also: I have a "scripted" QSO that I send. I am much less good when it comes to making up sentences on the fly and sending them in Morse. Sometimes I have to write words down on a notepad first, to be sure that I will send them right. This however is getting better over time: I know that it will eventually come more or less automatically.

    The RSGB has its own Morse practice broadcasts which would be much easier to receive than ARRL from this side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately they are on 80m so I would have to haul out the "3-transistor" Novice set and plug in the 80m coil. Might not be such a bad idea anyway, listening on 80m in general, to get a feel for what could be achieved on that band.

    Ultimately though it's the software from the late G4FON that is the most useful for me. It's a Koch tutor, and once you've learned all the characters there are lots of canned, "typical" QSOs and also "the most common 100 words" and "the most common 1,000 words" in English, sent in random order. For me that seems to be much more fruitful than monitoring stuff on the air, in terms of improving copy skills, simply because I can choose the time and place to do it.

    Also the sending is technically perfect. I know that people say "you should learn to copy real world mediocre Morse with QRM, QSB and the like" but I disagree. It's not the QRM or the QSB that is tripping me up. Even when I am copying a perfect signal on air, from an op who sends good Morse, I am really struggling with the "meat" of the QSOs (after the preliminaries) unless they are sent really QRS. But I don't want to go really QRS because you then end up using the dreaded "lookup table in your head" and will actually go backwards, not forwards.

    I've had QSOs with a couple of ops who actually prefer to be QRS all the time, i.e. they've been doing it for years, and presumably they are deliberately sticking with the "lookup table". And I mean really QRS: considerably less than 10wpm. That's not my cup of tea.

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
  6. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just got an email from a UK ham who heard my signal this morning on 7029.8, which is the "7030" crystal that I probably use more than any other. That is also an HC-49 crystal that behaved really terribly with the old Boosted Pierce oscillator, so it is a kind of "marker case" for signal quality.

    "No discernible drift or chirp. T9" was the verdict from this ham, who does not do CW any more but did pass the 12WPM UK test in 1979.

    That's good enough for me.

    That of course was after all of the recent modifications: new oscillator, optimized setting of Load and Tune to deliver noticeably higher output. I will try to record my own signal using one of those clever skimmers one of these days, but absent any concrete evidence of signal quality issues, I am assuming the signal is: perfect!

    I am going to make some additional small modifications to squeeze out, possibly, a tiny bit more power (revamping the sidetone oscillator so it draws less, for example) but I think the transmitter itself is now essentially "finalized" as a QRP rig. Better things on the TX side will have to wait for the amplifier (or new transmitter) and a VFO.

    In the short term attention will turn to the antenna. Checking/optimizing SWR, and hopefully raising the center point by a few feet in the not too distant future.

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
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  7. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recently revised my "cheat sheet" that I use in every QSO:


    The above assumes that I have called CQ and this is my answer to the other op's initial answer to the CQ.

    To give you an idea where the problem currently rests, I fairly routinely get through (1), (2) and (5). But during the "meat" of the QSO i.e. (3) and (4) and wherever else it may go, I am usually completely lost, copying almost nothing. This reflects my assimilation of the "stereotypical" routine parts of a CW QSO on the one hand (good!) and my deteriorating grasp of non-stereotypical Morse copying (bad!).

    Now of course, some ops just aren't interested in anything more than the bits that I already copy quite well anyway. That's fine. Or perhaps they would like to talk more, but get impatient doing it at my speed, which is relatively QRS (maybe 12wpm once the QSO gets going).

    I hear you saying, "you're doing fine OM" and to a great extent, I am. The concern is that my copy skills for "conversational Morse" are not improving, in fact there is a slow decline in the three months that I have been on the air and no longer doing the Koch drills.

    I do send QRS PSE from time to time, but only if there is a very large discrepancy between the speed of my sending and the other op's speed. Unfortunately, most ops then either don't slow down enough, or slow down way too much. I believe there is a way to ask the other op for a specific speed but it is a rare request so I don't bother, for fear of not being understood.

    These things shall pass.... As I said earlier, I am now planning to do some daily "canned QSO" drills using G4FON software.

    Admittedly I do set a high standard for myself. My goal in the medium term is to feel completely comfortable at around 17wpm (copy and send) and then transition to 20wpm+, switching from a straight key to a bug in the process.

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
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  8. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am QRT until tomorrow (Friday) evening for Thanksgiving, as the shack is turned back into our guest bedroom.

    The past five days have seen a different pattern of QSOs because I concentrated, unsuccessfully, on trying to make transatlantic DX contacts. This involved getting up in the middle of the night and operating between about 0300UTC and 0600UTC, then going back to bed for a few hours. This did not result in any contacts.

    However a small number of European QSOs was achieved at other times of day, and they were interesting contacts. The total of QSOs was only 13, but 6 new entities were bagged in the period starting 20th November:
    • Croatia
    • Belgium
    • Hungary
    • Switzerland
    • Poland
    • Guernsey*
    (I have edited this later to update with today's contacts.)

    The reason for the asterisk on Guernsey is that the QSO was ended after a couple of minutes by heavy QRM. We were able to exchange callsigns and I sent an RST (559) but the answer was buried in the QRM. In addition, I cannot find the callsign in QRZ or in the directory of the Guernsey amateur radio society. What I copied was MU0BFY.

    I did find MU0BFY on the Internet, listed as a participant in a Spanish ham contest. So I think the call exists. I am almost certain that this is not a "busted call" because I asked him/her to repeat it several times because of QRM. In the unlikely event that I copied it wrong, the only possible alternative I can find (in the Guernsey society's directory) is MU0GSY but if you listen to that in Morse, it just doesn't sound anything like what I copied.

    So I'm a bit stuck and will do some more research. I've ordered a new call book from the RSGB that covers the British Isles and the rest of Europe, just in case it turns out to be useful when there are gaps in QRZ or whatever.

    Happy Thanksgiving to U.S. hams!

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
    G0CIQ likes this.
  9. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The log since 20th November:


    MU0BFY still "pending confirmation" so it's just a floating paper note.

    73 de Martin, G3EDM
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  10. G3EDM

    G3EDM Ham Member QRZ Page


    73 de Martin, G3EDM
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