To CW or not to CW? New ham - a few questions

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by NT4TC, Mar 2, 2017.

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  1. KO4LZ

    KO4LZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would definitely encourage you to get into CW. I've experimented with just about every mode out there, and CW is still my favorite. If I weren't trying to finish all-digital VUCC, I would be about 100% CW at this point.

    A word of caution regarding QRP: I always get a chuckle out of folks who talk about how they worked a guy in Australia on a half a watt without mentioning (a) what part of the solar cycle they were in and especially (b) what kind of antenna they were using. I would much rather have 5 watts into a high, directional, well-matched antenna than 100 watts into an attic dipole -- like mine -- tuned to get the VSWR to a manageable level.

    I've always said that in addition to 'QRP' there should be something like 'QBA' (for bad antenna), with special calling frequencies, etc. for people who are stuck using rain gutters, etc. instead of three element yagis at 100 feet. :)

    My feeling is that it's extremely challenging to operate both QRP and 'QBA' -- it can be done (and I do it on a regular basis), but in my experience two out of three (power, antenna, sunspots) is kind of a minimum for all but the most hardcore hams :)

    Good luck and hope to hear you on the bands!
    AD5KO and N2EY like this.
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great post.

    I did recently work a guy in Bulgaria when the band was really open late at night on 20m (not very common), around 11 PM local time. He was so strong (CW) he encouraged me to QRP, so I did. We kept going lower and lower power until my power was so low my wattmeter wasn't reading anything (probably less than 500 mW) and he still have me a 539 at that level.

    He was capable of going "lower" and down to less than 100 mW, and he was still over the noise.

    CW is amazing, but of course propagation help a hell of a lot! (We both had beams on towers, which also helped.)
    AD5KO likes this.
  3. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    With all due respect.....that's not true.

    The commonly accepted "standard" is that an S-unit is 6 dB. 10 watts to 100 watts is 10 dB - closer to 2 S-units.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  4. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Jim, you're right - my bad. Still not enough to make a big difference unless you're way down in the noise. If you're "S-9" at 100 watts, you're still "S-7 (plus a little bit)" at 10 watts. Still arm chair copy.

    Ultimately, it's more about propagation than power. There are some days 5 watts will get you around the world. There are other days that 1,000 watts won't get you across the street. :p
    N2EY likes this.
  5. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    the best way to learn it well is to get your basic understanding and then submerse yourself in it. IF I remember license correctly from the late 80's novice was given CW portions of 80, 40, and 15 and voice only on 10m so we HAD to immerse ourselves in CW if we wanted to work stations anytime other than when 10m was up :) That's what engrained code in to me, at least - I just came back after 20 years away and can still send/receive around 30 wpm.

    So my advice - learn it to the point where you can engage in a QSO at 5 wpm and then just do that over and over again. I see 2x1 and 1x2 calls down in the lower ends of the bands sending at 5wpm all the time so lots of hams are exploring CW and doing it one step at a time
    W1BV and KO4LZ like this.
  6. N1BCG

    N1BCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I found the CW learning/practice website to be invaluable. For learning, it offers both the Koch and Farnsworth methods. For practice, it offers a variety of real-world news headlines or simulated QSOs that you can set the character speed and spacing separately.

    This is a very well thought out website and it, and the mobile device app, are particularly beneficial for anytime practice.
    N2EY likes this.
  7. N6RGR

    N6RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am using "Just Learn Morse Code" to refresh my sending and copying. I type in typical QSO's and then I listen to actual QSO's on 40 meters. Slowly getting back up to speed. I think I will hide my microphones with XYL (she will not give them up) and try and concentrate on CW.

    73 es GUD DX,

    Roger de KK6IVD
    W6OGC and N2EY like this.
  8. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want to do DX, CW is a great equalizer. I just worked VP6EU on 15m CW with 100 watts and a mediocre antenna. My odds of breaking an SSB pileup wouldn't have been good.
    N2EY and KO4LZ like this.
  9. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Exactly. Perfect example is the ARRL DX contests...I had a great time on CW b/c I could make it through the pileups in short order. He current SSB one makes me want to beat my head on the desk...
  10. N1BCG

    N1BCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here's a snapshot of some CW accomplishments in 1925:
    (from "200 Meters & Down" - Clinton B. DeSoto 1936)


    Note the mention of Loren G. Windom. An antenna design still used to this day bears his name.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
    K4EI and VE7JBX like this.

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