Straight key or paddle for a CW newbie?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by NN9S, Jul 19, 2010.

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  1. KB4MB

    KB4MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Definitely the key - KD8NJZ, write down what you want to send. The pattern is almost the same. As a newer CW op, I copied 50% the first few QSO's, and following WB2WIK's advice it was - who cares!

    Remember, you aren't copying bombing coordinates :) It makes NO difference to the other op that you didn't copy that he was from Toledo - heck look it up here on qrz and don't look at the monitor unless you need to... The first exchange is 99.9% the same:

    It might be a little longer, maybe a comma and and a period.. but what do you REALLY need? The callsign and the signal report. The name, if you drop it, you can look it up, same with the QTH - if you miss it , you can look it up.

    Remember, signals fade, and even on SSB, if someone comes in the room to ask you a question, you answer and drop conversations there too - the other OP almost never knows that. You just start up and you can usually figure out what is going on...

    The WORST that could happen is you get flustered... slow down, send a few BT's and just tap that you are new. If you got so flustered you can't copy or send, just say have to qrt, thanks, and send 73's a few times and sign off.

    Even at just a few months, I've gotten way better because of being on the air. I had used practice files, mp3's, computer sent, even the little MFJ sender - and nothing got me better than fumbling on the air.

    If you want to feel safe, stick to where us newbies hang out, 7.110-7.120 :)

    As for the key - believe me, there is some horrendous sending out there with the key as some people have no spacing ability - one person called me a few weeks ago, I could make out the call, but nothing else because the dits and dahs kept changing length; I thanked him after the exchange and told him I had to QRT after I couldn't get one word out of his sending. The paddles don't eliminate bad sending, but at least the dits and dahs are the right length - they just might be spaced poorly between characters and words...

    If you or KC9SNO ever want to sked, just drop me an email/pm... this way for you, KD8NJZ, you can try and if it doesn't work - no biggie! :)

    And let me tell you, even only on the air with just 30 or so qso's, I have already been two people's first contact - and nothing made me feel as good - it always makes the other op's day to be one of your first contacts.

    Kris, KB4MB
  2. NM8W

    NM8W XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    [quote\If you want to feel safe, stick to where us newbies hang out, 7.110-7.120[/quote]

    I will tune in tonight and try to copy! Maybe I'll even swing by Radio shack and grab that 1/8" plug and get the wire soldered on, and attached to the key. ;)

    Thanks so much for the offer to sked. I will probably take you up on that. There's another Ham on Twitter, KD7ZD (he might even be lurking here) that I really want to work CW with. We've been "keeping each other accountable" on practicing over the past month or two. He's done a much better job than I have though.

    I'll give you and KC9SNO a holler. Thanks so much! I appreciate the help!
  3. NN9S

    NN9S Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hadn't heard about the 7.110-120 range before -- I've been hanging out in the 7.050's, to be near the FISTS guys. Once in a while a slow QSO comes through, and I take it as my opportunity to listen in. I'll try 7.110 this weekend!
  4. K3STX

    K3STX Ham Member QRZ Page


    Great that you are learning CW, that is great. You should be proud.

    Stop listening and get on the air!!!!!!!! Go by Rat Shack and get the solder, and also get some alligator clip leads, You don't have to solder it to make a connection to make that straight key work in the rig!

    Like everyone else in the world, you will be sweating like a monster during that first QSO, if you get his callsign correct that will be a huge victory!! And then QSO #2 will be easier, #3 easier still, etc.... That is the way it worked for ALL of us. Even 60 wpm CW operators started out at one point.

    If you get on the air and make ONE QSO per day, I GUARANTEE in one month your code speed will be WAY WAY up. Eventually you will be sending and receiving so fast you will want paddles, but don't start there.

    Seriously, PLEASE try to make a CW contact this weekend!! It is a RUSH!

  5. DL7GEM

    DL7GEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do get on the air. Being able to copy at 13wpm is plenty for your first QSO.
    You might want to go to the SKCC sked page to find a QSO partner:

    cw4ever & 73 de Marcus / DL7GEM

  6. K9PAC

    K9PAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey Neighbor!
  7. K9PAC

    K9PAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Neighbor!
    I passed Extra in January and set a goal of 10WPM by this coming January. I use an MFJ Code Tutor that sends, words, call signs, letters, numbers, prosigns, etc at selectable speeds and spacings. Have the alphabet and after a warmup I have the numbers (more work needed).
    I have a Kent single paddle and a straight key that I practice sending thru the internal keyer in my FT-890 and dummy load, but it is hard to tell if my spacing is right.
    Maybe we could get together and send to each other now and again.
    Info good here on the 'Zed.


  8. KB4MB

    KB4MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can QSO with me anytime on 40m in the evening... should have no problem hearing IL, and I have gotten rusty, so it would be good practice for me. I have been off CW for a month or a bit more now due to work at the farm and would love to get back up to speed (10wpm!)

    Just drop me a line if you are interested...
    Kris, KB4MB
  9. NN9S

    NN9S Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ha -- hey KC9PAC, you really *are* just a mile away from me! I wonder if that's too close for HF antennas. Maybe we can try a QRP connection. :)

    I'm on the same track as you: I got my Technician and General 6 months ago, and in a few days I'm taking the Extra exam. I sure would like to get a shorter callsign.
  10. K9PAC

    K9PAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    My work schedule has me awake at 2AM and riding my bike downtown by 230AM. In bed by 7PM so this could take some work, but let's try. I'll email my cell phone #.

    My original call was KC9PAC and I got my current call as soon as I was able. I have herding dogs (that's Iris in the pic) and work with many kinds as often as possible. I love my call!

    Talk to you soon,


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