I have been a mostly CW (Morse code) operator on HF for the past few years. I have to admit something though – I have been using a Morse code decoding program for the computer. This has always bothered me – I should be able to copy by ear. After all, it isn’t good to be able to yell if you’re deaf.
So, I have nearly completely cut the use of the computer. I have slowed down to about 10wpm (I send at 13 and space it out a bit). My copying is still a little rough, but I am getting better.
This weekend I am away from the normal shack but I brought along my ts-2000 and my crappie pole. I have made a couple CW QSO’s – the right way. It really is pretty neat to be able to listen to the code and know what the other person is saying. Before, all I heard were a few things here and there – like some call signs, basic Q’s, abbreviations, names, states, and signal reports. I couldn’t listen to the code like someone was speaking to me. I am getting closer and closer to that point though.
I can send close to 40 words-per-minute when I am in my “groove”. My goal is to get my copy speed up to 20-25wpm. I used to send at 20-25 when I was in normal QSO’s – the pace seems to be about right. I can think and transfer my thoughts to my paddle pretty efficiently at that speed. It’s too bad I can’t go the other way around right now.
I am also a bit embarrassed to be an Extra and not be good at copying CW. That’s how it used to be and I think that’s how it SHOULD be. Therefore, I am staying away from the extra CW portions until I get my copy speed up. I don’t want to slow things down in the bottom 25. I also don’t want to throw in the computer again because that doesn’t make me a “true” CW operator, I’m only a CW transmitter hehehe. Since I am an Extra I need to operate like an Extra. I passed my 5wpm test 6 or so years ago, and I could pass it very easily now. I could probably pass the 13wpm test, but that still isn’t up to the 20 that an Extra was.
I am proud to be a Ham radio operator. Just because the FCC lowered the speed and then dropped the Morse code requirement all together doesn’t mean I am going to take advantage of that.
To quote the ARRL (from the cover of “Your Introduction to Morse Code”):
“Accept the Challenge, Enjoy the Reward”.
Where is the challenge now?