Working special events with CW ???

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K5UNX, Jul 7, 2019.

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  1. K5UNX

    K5UNX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    So this is from a guy that’s trying to learn CW. I am trying to work the 13 Colonies stations with SSB and as little FT8 a possible. I tuned to a couple of the 13 colonies stations that were running CW. They are calling CW super fast, from my point of view. So I am hoping to try working them next year, after I get a bit better at CW. On that note I have a couple questions.

    How do people in general work these stations? Hand key/paddle their calls? Since the exchanges are simple like Field Day, use something like a Winkeyer with “recorded” or art-generated code? I watched our CW Field Day stations this year and they had the exchange programmed into F keys and used the paddle for a few things not already stored.

    Will these stations typically slow down for a newbie to code??

    I am really enjoying learning CW, just now up to speed yet receiving.
  2. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    1st off, what I know about contesting and fast CW is next to nothing. If someone tells you I am wrong; believe them over me.

    I'm pretty new to CW. This is what I do (and did with the 13 Colonies)..... I listen to the station do a few exchanges just to make sure I understand the exchange. Then I listen to the station call CQ; they call CQ four or five times without an answer I will come back to them with my (relatively slow) speed. They seem to always slow down and then crank it up after they are done with me.

    If the station is running with QSO after QSO at high speed I just set on the sidelines and listen. If they are in a lull I will try for the QSO; if they hear me they will comeback.

    I'm curious as to the comments from the more 'seasoned' with this approach.
  3. WB4BIN

    WB4BIN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I copy by ear, and send by hand, regardless of the QSO.

    I'm not very fast, but for chasing contests, DXpeditions, or special events, I use a paddle/keyer set to 22 wpm, and have never had any problems, even if the event operator is running 30-35 wpm. That is how I worked field day, and all of stations in the 13 colonies event for the past several years. Don't hesitate to call them, at much slower speeds, though. Most operators in the special event stations understand that we all had to start somewhere.

    For SKCC events, I use a bug and straight key, and typically stay between 12 and 18 wpm, depending on how fast the other operator is going.

    Even for a slow operator like me, there are plenty of QSO's out there. :D
    K5VZD and AD5HR like this.
  4. AD5HR

    AD5HR Ham Member QRZ Page

    To the OP,
    Yesterday K2Z was on 40 meters and sending very QRS, abt.00:00Z.
    I'd guess 10 - 12 WPM, sending perfect code, and I kind of
    had to "shift gears" to work him as the last 13 Col. stations I needed
    Who ever was manning the key, was an outstanding operator !
    Most stations will QRS, and sometimes I've broken a pileup
    by slowing down to a slower speed than most "competing" for
    the contact, even some pretty rare DX.
    W5WTH had some darn good advice, listen a few times to get the
    callsign and exchange, they want QSOs, so your "luck" is as good
    as mine.. The best advice for any Morse operator is to copy with your ears,
    or so I've been told by many Morse operators way better than me.
    K5VZD and W5WTH like this.
  5. K5UNX

    K5UNX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am not using a decoder. I want to copy/understand myself eventually. I do listen to live QSO's several times per week and understand more than I did a month ago. The "contest" exchanges are so quick, I miss a lot of what's being passed. More practice. I'll get there, I have a couple real CW QSO's in the log, trying to hit 100 by end of year. The ones I had so far were a mess but I am keeping at it.

    Thanks for the replies!
  6. K5UNX

    K5UNX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Found K2Z calling CQ slower, but then about 100 people answered! LOL . . will have to wait that one out.
  7. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Wayne

    Congratulations and good for you for sticking with it. You are well on your way to becoming a proficient CW operator.

    It takes time, and you will find yourself getting stuck at several predictable plateaus in your CW speed. Huge hurdle at about

    10-12WPM and another about 17-18 WPM These are speeds at which your brain is shifting gears and changing the manner in

    which it is processing the sounds-- from letters, to entire groups and word fragments. Your brain is constantly getting better at

    the task and will surprise you when it finally jumps in speed ability, seemingly overnight. But -- Speed is not important and

    should not be what makes you feel successful or not.

    Any special event or non-event operator on the air who does not slow down to approximately match your answering-speed is, by definition,

    a poor operator and deserves no respect irrespective of his or her ostensible talents.

    You can smear peanut-butter on a "F3" and "F4" key and get a chipmunk and a woodchuck to belt-out "RI" "599" on a computer. Does that

    mean they're radio operators? Actually, they're as good as the humans who do that.

    Stay with your manual CW, both transmit and receive. Take pride in your skill level, whatever it may be. Send clean code, and receive

    by ear.

    Those hot-shots sending at 30 WPM? Try to engage them in a conversation at that speed, and most have no idea what you just transmitted.

    30 WPM is not an appropriate speed on HF for any general communications purpose. This weird cultural phenomenon of super-fast exchanges

    did not exist more than 10 years ago . Bad operating breeds bad operating.

    Good luck to you and hope to see you on the bands.

    WF7BSR and N2OTG like this.
  8. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thought I was the only one who did that. It works for us 'qrq challenged' stations. Helps the contest station because you don't need several repeats and helps your confidence level rise. I have no clue what a qrq contester does, because I'm pretty sure I won't get there, but I hesitate to say those 30-40 wpm guys can't read code unless it's an exchange. Hope that's not the case. Keep it fun. Keep it clean. If you can do it faster, even better. 73.
  9. N1OOQ

    N1OOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just to reiterate what everyone has said here... Go ahead and send your exchange at whatever speed you're comfortable with. Contest ops need every contact for points, so they will gladly work you. At your end, just listen to them make exchanges for a while... Usually, you can decode their call, one letter at a time if necessary, at nearly any speed by hearing it repeatedly. This is actually a good way to improve your copy skills.
  10. N4UP

    N4UP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Some good advice here ( e.g., W5WTH ).

    Most of the 30-40 wpm guys can copy very well at those speeds, though for some the slower speeds are problematic because they then have to think about what they are hearing instead of "getting" bigger slices of code. Higher speed CW requires a different way of copying than simply listening to characters and words.

    For the code proficiency tests you have to be able to perfectly copy a minute of plain text at the desired speed. In my experience, most of the better CW ops can easily carry on extended conversations at 30-40 wpm. Some even at 60 wpm though that is well beyond my capabilities.

    Most special event stations will slow down as needed, often simply by adding space between characters. That is what I do when running and a slower op calls. Most contest operators are more concerned about rate, and many respond to slower callers without slowing down. So I make sure I have the call sign correct and anticipate the exchange before I call them.

    Contest exchanges are typically 30 wpm +/- and most send using macros ( I use N1MM+ software ). I don't know of any "fast" CW operators who use decoders ( why use something unreliable that undermines your ability to copy in your head ). I copy 30-35 wpm in my head quite easily and I typically send at 30 wpm in a contest. But if I have to send by hand I usually do so at 20-22 wpm due to physical dexterity issues.

    I highly recommend the CW Academy for learning code, though there may be a waiting list to get in. I have worked many brand new CWA graduates at 25 wpm. When you get to the ball park of 20-25 wpm then I recommend the weekly CW tests. They are held on Wednesdays 1300-1400, 1900-2000, and 0300-0400. Typically 25-35 kHz up from the bottom of the bands. Exchange is name and member number or name and state.

    For me speed is not king. I simply enjoy CW. Just as happy to work someone at 10 wpm as 30 wpm.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
    N3FZ likes this.

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