K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Franki - ON5ZO

During one of my regular visits to your site (at least once a month for answering the poll), I read that you're a bit worried about the lack of interest in CW from the "new breed" of hams... I know that you're a "cw for life" kind of guy, so let me tell you my story on CW, for what it's worth... I got my first license for VHF as ON1DRS, not to be a ham, but for a whole other reason. I studied electronics, which is also my hobby. I planned to experiment a bit with homebrew equipment, trying to put some kind of signal on the air. For this, obviously, you have to obtain a license. So I passed the technical test and the test on the regulation according to the Belgian law. I bought my first VHF rig, an old Kenwood TR-9130, 2m all mode. And so I made my first contacts in FM. But as soon as I tried to work some DX in SSB, the original motive (building myself) disappeared somewhat to the background because chasing "DX" (whatever that may be on 2m) was more rewarding. I felt that there was something "more" than working G's or DL's... One day, a collegue and friend of mine, ON4BAI, brought his HF rig to work and when he turned the dial and I heard stations from all over the world. It was right then that I felt the thrill: I GOT TO GET ON HF!!!! HF was fully within reach, I only had to pass the 10WPM test, And so I began; downloaded some training software and there we went... October 18, 2000: I passed the test flawlessly. In the mean time, I bought a second hand TS-850SAT equipped with CW filtering and a Bencher paddle. After having received my documents and callsign, I attached a long wire and took the mic. Although I had told myself that I would not only study CW to achieve my ON4-license, but actually would use it, it was just too simple to grab that mic and work DX. Occasionally, I listened in the CW window of the bands, but wow- were those guys fast!!!!! I could not copy anything, maybe a callsign when they sent it three times. So, just touch that USB/LSB button and take the mic... One day, I heard a really slow G on 40m CW. Hmm, I could copy him... I answered so nervous I put out some dits and dahs without even wanting to send code... Shaking hands... But he was in the log! OK, next a German clubstation. Wooo, I was sending the most idiot things I guess, and put it some extra dits again - on top of that, my paddle's dits got jammed and I kept sending dit-dit-dit... I made a fool of myself, CW is for experienced old-timers,not for me... Life goes on, so did my activity in SSB. I did my first contest, and got to know the guys in the local club. The contest manager there is ON4ACT. Avid CW operator, Honor Role CW, in brief: the man breathes CW. He talked me into the UBA DX CW contest. "Easy", he said "just fill in the call, 599 and the number - there's nothning more to it". He told me that if I was calling, instead of "S&P", I was setting the pace. And in case of emergency: "QRS PSE"... And so I did. But then there were the Russians and the Eastern-Europe contesters... I don't know how many WPM but to me it was warp 6!!! My "QRS" they simple answered like I called "AGN" or "?": not slowing down at all... And what was that "T" they send in the report??? Man, I was lost. After 7 contacts in the log, I decided I was not ready for this at all! I felt a bit ashamed of myself... Deep down I knew that all I had to do was practice. I knew the code, I had the equipment, I was not stupid. Once again, I convinced myself to try to make qso's in CW - but this time for real. Someone in the club told me that he learned it by calling CQ on 21.100-21.150, where "the slow Americans" are... That way, not only do you practice CW, but also you make contacts and work for WAS in CW. And so I did, discovering that I was not the only one there. And so I made my first easy QSO's, not simply exchanging RST, but also names and QTH, equipment and occasionally the WX was put on the agenda too. I tried to make two or three qso's in CW every day, then grabbing that mic again... After a couple of days, CW took over. Right now the mic isn't even connected anymore. I must admit: the fear has gone completely. I cannot copy yet over 18WPM, maybe 20WPM when I'm in good shape and the code is properly sent. But when a station is calling faster then I can copy, I still send my call. I don't care - maybe I got the name wrong, or the QTH - maybe he asks something and I do not copy it, but at least I'm not afraid anymore, I get out in CW, and get better every day... As a bonus: CW operators tend to behave more courteous and disciplined in pile-ups, something I miss in SSB (various bad experiences in my short carreer!). But most of all: CW gives me more satisfaction. For reasons mentioned above, but also for being part of an "elite group" of operators who all speak one and the same language. If I had to draw one conclusion, it is that in CW I am more powerfull than in SSB. I only have one simple dipole I tune for all bands, and a max power of 100W. Pile ups are easier to bust, and DX is coming back more often in CW. And when I look in my log. February 24, the day of the contest catastrophy: 7 CONTACTS in CW, now: 68 COUNTRIES worked in CW, in eight weeks of not too much time in the shack and a couple of days the sun was not cooperating. It took me over five months to work 98 countries in SSB, while being more active. Finally, I'd like to say something about the obligation of passing the CW test to get on HF. I am proud to have done it at 10WPM. Right now, the speed is lowered to 5WPM. I think this is not the way to go. When you pass the test, you can concider it an achievement: the HF ticket was not given to you, but you EARNED it. And last week, I saw the following on the cluster: G4VVP-@ 28000.0 VP8SDX CW CW will we ever get any SSB??? Not only do people wine to abolish the CW-test, but then they get annoyed by the fact that they do not know the code, and even seem to be bothered by other people using CW! I am glad I made it so far, and my only goal is to become a superb CW operator - SSB is no art or craft, but CW is! Just to let you know, and I hope to put you in my log one day - K3WWP is a call already familiar to me! You see John, the CW-community had just gained a new fan, and I'm sure there are some others just like me. GL with the QRP stn and gud DX - 73 TU!

And this follow-up from Franki: Dear John. I often think of your accomplishements when I'm trying to work DX. I "only" have 100W (far from QRP) and 1 simple dipole + tuner. When things don't go smoothly, I think of the "old man" K3WWP, who works far more DX with far less power. But I discovered a secret weapon called CW. Well, you know the story all too well I guess. Well John, feel absolutely free to use my thoughts on your webpage. I'm not a teenager anymore (turning 26 next month), but only recently licensed. Well, you already know why I turned to CW... I'm proud of being the last one having passed the test at 13WPM in Belgium. What I see here, is that not the youngsters dislike compulsory CW tests, but mostly the elderly (50+). Then they complain that they don't know CW when there's some "CW only" DXpedition (VP8SDX recently), and have the nerve to spot on the cluster with the remark "CW CW when SSB?"... So, first they don't wan't to learn CW, then they complain they don't know it, and then they're moaning that other people use it as their primary mode of interest! Ridiculous! But hey, we started out with few, and we will end with few! But CW will never go away... To me it's clear: CW forever, and I also just did my first CW contests (WPX and this weekend's Fieldday) - it went fairly well I guess. Up to 24WPM no problem, when I'm sharp and awake 30+WPM... All that in only 3 months (also just worked DXCC CW nr 100 last week) All for now John. Keep well, enjoy the hobby and good luck with minimal QRP and the website! 73 es gud DX TU Franki ON4CLN

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