PA3CLQ's Leuke Linken Nr. 488


[skcc] The Future of Amateur Radio?

Fire up your rig, start FT8, click on your 'QuickMacro' program, eat breakfast and go to work.
When you get home, do your chores, eat dinner, grab a beer and retire to the shack to see how many new countries you've worked for DXCC and how many new grid squares you've obtained toward ARRL's International Grid Chase.
Too impersonal you say?

Well, personally, here's what I think: Even though they're technically advanced, I think many of W1JT's programs are impersonal, and after giving us FT8, I think Joe Taylor is probably laughing at us.
So many of the digital modes are laden with boring, insidious macro operation.

Don't get me wrong, PSK is a really great keyboard rag-chewing mode!

Unfortunately, MOST of the PSK operators I've contacted are only interested in sending you their macro-bio consisting of their birth date, the temperature of their backyard, how many dogs they have, their sister's boyfriend's name and what they had for dinner last Saturday.

After that's done, and you wake up, you can send them your own boring macro so they can learn what your shoe size is.

When I decide to light off the SignaLink and fldigi, I usually go for RTTY or Hellschreiber because I know the people using these modes are mostly 'old school' and I can get a real QSO out of them instead of macro-drivel.

I also love the history of both of these modes.
Illegal, you say?

Probably, but in this day and age, does that stop anyone?

I think what should be illegal is the ARRL recognizing computer-to-computer communications for any of their awards (with their over-priced certificates).

Even the basic, simple WAS award is badly cheapened by the thought of someone being awarded it via automated FT8.

I've tried FT8 and was impressed, but I think I'd rather commit myself to listening to 75 meter nets all night long for a year than operate FT8 in an automated fashion to gain an award.

To me, that's just morally wrong.
Oh well, thank the Lord for CW, the original digital mode.
Read about QuickMacro at AE5X's blog:

73, Jay W8ES
Jay is correct...

I could put my cell phone (worst invention of my lifetime) on ABD mode (auto butt dial) and get as much satisfaction as I would from a PC-to-PC "QSO"... IMHO, These digital modes require little, if any, electronic knowledge and even less skill....To what end?

Another "smart phone" past time??

I tried it once (one contact) and wondered why this would be considered "Ham Radio" ...

Because the modulation is conveyed via RF radiation?

The same RF radiation used by cell phones?

The ARRL should not hand out awards for this kind of activity....IMHO, today the ARRL is little more than a self serving group of people making a job for themselves.

They seem to actually accomplish little and what they do accomplish usually benefits themselves...

The ARRL, with their "Trophy For Everyone" mentality, is not a friend of ham radio..In days gone by, perhaps, but not today...Yeah, yeah yeah I know...I'm a dinosaur..

Mike AA7WU
I must admit that I'm no more hopeful about the future of amateur radio than I am about the future of our "civilization".
I concur 100%.

ARRL is about $$$ these days as well.

Create it (award) and they will come !
Jerry - K4KBL

It has sometimes been noted that there is a dearth of CW activity while the latest digi fad is booming.

One reason, apart from novelty, is that CW is more difficult.

CW is the most difficult mode, either to master initially or to use on an ongoing basis.

It requires relatively more physical activity than other modes (not that that is very much); and certainly the greatest amount of mental activity.

To what degree it flourishes in the future compared to other modes, or doesn't flourish, largely depends on how much people enjoy working. "Easy" has a lot of
73, Drew AF2Z

Your observation is probably the main reason the CW requirement was eliminated.
73, Buddy WB4M

The ARRL, with their "Trophy For Everyone" mentality, is not a friend of ham radio..

In days gone by, perhaps, but not today
Mike Fitzgerald
I whole heartily agree.

The whole thing started to collapse when the code requirement requirement was lifted.

Back in the day you could not walk in off of the street and get your extra.

The extra class license doesn't mean anything anymore!
73 - Dave - K8HW

Dave...If the truth be known and the facts be faced, the "No Code Requirement" and the silly written exam was for one purpose...

That purpose was to import as many people as possible with the slightest interest in "radio communication" so the people at ARRL would have a job....

Namely CB'er's...I have no doubt that Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood and others had a hand it these goals as well...

And for the same reasons...$$$$$..

It can be boiled down to the lack of instant gratification...

My own grandson wondered aloud why he should put forth any effort to become a ham..

I had no answer for him as REAL ham radio offers little instant greatification...

REAL ham radio (back in the day) required a lot of dedication both in the aquistion of knowledge and mental skills (CW)..

Last week I was tuning across 40 meters and heard a guy (extra class licensee) asking why he was having problems getting any power out of his amp...

He said he was "peaking" the plate current like he should but kept blowing the fuse...Really?

With an Extra Class license?

There are folks doing it the "right way" but, thanks to the ARRL, fewer all the time....

No instant gratification doing it the "right way"...
Mike AA7WU

As long as there is beer, there will always be beer drinkers.
The same goes for, as long as there is CW, there will always be CW operators!
Regards, Joe, K8JP/V31JP,
I gave QuickMacros a try.

The only thing it really does for the op is press the ENABLE TX button to call CQ after a QSO is logged.

All it takes for it to shut down is for nobody to answer your CQ.

After experimenting, I found I could get maybe 3-4 contacts before WSJT watchdog turned off xmitting.

Unless you have a prefix such as P5 or on a rare DX-ped, this erroneous idea below of walking off and logging QSOs all day isn't going to happen.

Instead of bashing digital ops and modes (while using the computer your hate) , get on the air,
73 Buddy WB4M

Sounds like it'd be very easy to script it into completely unattended operation, even for non-programmers by using various keyboard automation and scripting utilities.

I'd be surprised if someone wasn't doing it already.

(Try that with a J38-- considerably more programming experience would be required, hah!)
73, Drew AF2Z
I don't understand all the doom and gloom and pining after the "glorious past".

There have been jerks on the airwaves ever since humans have been able to get on the airwaves.
Morse code was removed as an amateur radio requirement for the same reason we don't have dial telephones any more.

Old technology.

We don't have to know how spark transmitters work either.
Many of us, including, I assume, everyone on this list, happen to be fond of the old code technology and are making an effort to keep it alive.

Given that the SKCC has issued over 18,000 member numbers, I'd say that effort is reasonably successful.

These are folks who are doing Morse code because they want to, not because they have to.
No one is less of an amateur radio operator because they didn't have to pass a Morse code test.

 A ham's actions on the air determine that person's status as an amateur radio operator.
Spending your time whining about how "great" the past was will change nothing.

If you don't like what you hear on the phone portions of the band then don't go there.
Let's celebrate the fact that 18,000 ham radio operators have still taken the time to learn and use Morse code.
Steve AI9IN
Sounds like it'd be very easy to script it into completely unassisted operation, even for non-programmers by using various keyboard automation and scripting utilities.

I'd be surprised if someone wasn't doing it already.

(Try that with a J38-- considerably more programming experience would be required, hah!)
73, Drew AF2Z
If you don't condem the current direction the ARRL is taking ham radio then you condone it....Enjoy!

Mike Fitzgerald.

Ive read this thread with interest.

That the hobby has changed is a given.

There was a time when an amateur was required to understand radio theory (yes, I had to draw circuits for the Advanced class) and some level of electronics to build and operate a ham station.

I understand themionic valves (tubes for us Americans), how they work, what makes them oscillate, what an LC circuit does.

I barely understand transistors, op- amps, etc. (I worked with a group of new EE types on aircraft control systems and they did not know why the input values for op-amps were figured the way we figured them, that was what the book said)
There was a time when I could and did build my own equipment.

The folks who bought Heathkit were often considered not true home-brew since they bought the kit. Still Heathkit did a lot of good stuff that many loved to build and use.

Now we are in the world of extremely large scale integrated circuits.

One can buy an entire transmitter on a single chip.

I dont know about you but does anyone truly understand how a chip with over 50,000 logic gates works?

I used to be able to write a radio but now I buy a PC board and stuff a few components and done.

There are some truly great solid state kits out there but I havent made a PC board in 30 years or so.

Things like good soldering skills are rare.
I perceive that most of the current test are more about regulation than about skill.

Perhaps this is as it should be but I am appalled by the number of people who, after finding out that I am a ham, say something like, I didnt think ham radio was around anymore. Sad.

The great American radio companies are gone.

Even the ones that are left (Ten Tec as an example) often sell Asian products under their logo.
Where we go, I dont know.

I am happy to have a lot of hams to protect band width.

I suspect I wont live long enough to see CW go away. Even the military is once again training CW ops as many of our potential foes and allies still use CW.

It is simple, reliable and inexpensive and works when most other forms of communications fail so there will be a future for a while.
As a total aside, what is this thing about 75 meter phone?

I read disparaging remarks about it back in 62. Ive never been on 75 mtrs so cant really comment.

Fact is I havent touched a mike in years but I did note that CW ops did seem more disciplined and better able to handle crowded frequencies than voice only ops.

Just a non-scientific observation.
Les, Leslie Hock WB5JWI
Besides your statement being not logically true (it's a false dichotomy), I never mentioned the ARRL in my original post.
Steve AI9IN
True, ARRL was never mentioned however the implication is that we have yet another option to chase paper which most often includes the ARRL and a
rather substantial fee.
I can say that I have participated in this activity for years regarding DXCC awards and now LoTW credits.
Jerry Pereira
The amateur radio I grew up with in the late 50's is missing.
The closest thing to what I enjoyed as a novice, tech, general and extra is SKCC today.

Well, personally, here's what I think:

Even  though they're technically advanced, I think many of W1JT's programs are  impersonal, and after giving us FT8, I think Joe Taylor is probably  laughing at us.
Jay Wilcox
I agree with your sentiment, Jay, but also am glad that hams like w1jt are making great contributions. In certain situations, e.g. military, simple to use, low power modes that work effortlessly are welcome!

And this is first rate research.
On the other hand, like many SKCCers I enjoy the minimalism and simplicity of CW coupled with amazing results.
So, keep going w1jt!, but at home you know what mode rules.
73, Mike ab3ap (still having fun with his Bayou Jumper!)
I go by enjoy what you have while you have it.
I think all the digital modes are fantastic, who could have imagined this a few years ago!
Some of my friends think software defined radios are 'not radio' - but how far do we go back to what is 'radio'?
If we go back to the beginning, we had spark and metal particles in a glass tube (coherer) and a bell circuit detecting signals or instead of a bell, they had an ink pen and moving paper recording device.
Then various types of other detectors like galena crystals and chemical detectors which were fed to a telephone headset receiver.
Soon they had magnetic amplifiers. Is that where radio stopped?
Or a little later on, when vacuum tube detectors arrived (diodes) or when vacuum amplifiers (RF amplifiers) arrived.
Then transmitters changed from spark gap, carbon arc transmitters, or high speed alternators (like Grimeton Radio / SAQ in Sweden

to vacuum tube oscillators and power amplifiers.

Or later when transistors were developed, or after when large scale integrated circuits arrived?

Or when computers were used to enhance reception?
All of them enhanced spark gap detection by metal filings in a glass tube.
So sit back and enjoy what you enjoy, get young people interested by attraction by the fun you're having - or maybe just our natural curiosity will attract them.
73, David N1EA

Good afternoon all,
I am a numbers person.

I am a Retired Math Teacher and Banker.

So numbers show me what is happening.
Before retiring I was a horrible QSL'er.

Who needed Tarrant County Texas (Ft.Worth) and Grid Square EM12?
Since retiring, I joined LOTW and have loaded all my known HF QSOs since 1985 as well as all of my VHF/UHF/Satellite QSO's since 1982.
In loading all my new QSO's, you really get a sense as to who is drawn to LOTW and who isn't.
First all, I do not do FT8.

I have done a fair number of WSJT QSOs way back when (before 2005 and more recently WSPR), but I really enjoy RTTY and PSK31. I was heavily involved with PropNET (.org) doing Propagation research and real-time reporting.
So look at my QSO and QSL numbers for the past year February 15, 2017-February 14, 2017:
PSK31 60 36 60% 6% 7%
RTTY 179 116 65% 19% 24%
SubDigi 239 152 64% 26% 31%
SSB 219 91 42% 24% 19%
CW 466 248 53% 50% 51%
Total 924 491 53%
My favorite mode is CW and over 1/2 of my QSOs are on this mode.
Notice that on my QSL rate is much better for my old-school Digital Modes (RTTY, PSK31), the CW rate is my average, and the SSB rate is well below average.
So the point I am trying make here is that if you use a Mode that has a more active interaction with Technology, it is applied to LOTW.
The less technical, LOTW does not see it as well.
I am not now and have not been a member of the ARRL (since 2006) for many reasons that have been mentioned earlier, but I am enjoying watching the Awards section and Grid Square listings for me on LOTW.

I highly doubt they will ever get a plug nickel from me for an award.

I already have one that I am extremely proud of (2-Meter VUCC #237), but it's going to hard refraining myself from spending my fixed income on the Triple-Play WAS one.
Getting back to the business at hand, we need to probably work towards making our software (like SKCCLogger), along with PC CW reading programs (like FLDigi) to work in unison to get us to load our QSOs into LOTW and get some more instant gratification.
Logging QSOs into a computer and tapping a Straight Key is a little work (keeping up with the trek to Senator is mind-blogging enough), but maybe someone out there can come up with a system that will make us want to play more.
Times are changing, but it's time to embrace it before it more overwhelms us.
73 Art Jackson KA5DWI/7
I go by enjoy what you have while you have it.
D.J.J. Ring, Jr.
The truest words of wisdom.
I think all the digital modes are fantastic, who could have imagined this a few years ago!
Some of my friends think software defined radios are 'not radio' - but how far do we go back to what is 'radio'?
The universe is math.

Software defined radio lives (almost completely) in that pure world of I and Q.
73, Mike ab3ap
*/The extra class license doesn't mean anything anymore!/*
I decided to take my extra class exam before the 20 wpm requirement was dropped as that meant something to me.

Still does!
James - KB7LJP
Fully agree with all the opinions poured here.
I´ve also, out of curiosity, tried FT8 and the the first thought was that this thing, although brilliant, doesn´t seem real radio anymore to me.
I also get frustrated by the fact that when checking bands at night, like 30 meters, there seems to be nobody there... oh, wait, on CW I mean, because when you get to the FT8 frequency, almost always, it sounds quite crowded!
So, sometimes, when the lack of CW activity does leads us to think the band is closed, it just only means the little activity remaining is on FT8 and the likes.
Best wishes. Fernando, EA4BL.
Hi,Benefiting from a view developed by having been in this hobby and the profession of HF radio for the last 70 years.

Starting at the age of 7 when I needing two cushions and both hands to reach and turn the black micrometer dial on my dad's HRO.

Having read all the comments about the possible future loss of ham radio as we knew it, could not agree more.
My view has always been that: the demise of Commercial CW is probably one of the greatest acts of stupidity of the ITU and with it the CW requirement for ham radio. In an emergency CW will always win through when all the "gizmo digie mode" wonder boxes are long dead in the water.
Cell-phones , Internet, satellites the whole digi caboodle.

If that were not true, why do the Russians; the Russian Navy still train and employ morse operators?

Certainly not for fun as it is a more costly time consuming process than training voice ops.
Which only reinforces my though that our hobby of ham radio has been "polluted" by the digi-everything mindset driven by the $$$$ signs in the eyes of the vendors.

Vendors of the over-priced, under engineered, "gizmo gadget" boxes.

The reason I use HF marine gear, that I know has to be "reliability, maintainability, tested to get it's type approval. A riend of my'n has such a Transceiver problem.

It has been back now 4 times to the shop as the same component has burned out; I conclude on examination, insufficient ventilation was "designed in" - or it was
built to price.
One change that I would suggest the ARRL/ITU/FCC/etc make is to require all HF digi-signals to ID every 3 minutes in CW.

This would help to ID the "digi-LIDs" ops who start transmitting not just over well established CW QSOs/Nets but also SSB QSOs/Nets.

Here in Europe this is started to happen even on 60 meters. 60 meters up to the last year, represented more like as I remember it in the late 1960 up to the
1980s, well disciplined, ops with manners! Some call it progress; Pene calls it regression, and stays away.
Have a great weekend, Dave (and Pene) G4JHT/EI0DB/VP8ART West of Ireland (Were the QRN/QRM is < S1)
*'m left shaking my head at these ewfangled digital modes, where you have a contact that's, you know, at or below the noise level, but is just long enough to automagically exchange callsigns and some sort of signal report.

I don't understand the appeal.

But I also don't understand the appeal of:
KB5...again please? 59.
...Again please?

Again your call?
Dear NN.
I got into ham radio at the ripe ol' age of 14 because of the human connection...the connection to other people.

Sure...some guys get into it for the building, and admittedly, that's an aspect on which I feel I have really missed out.

But ham radio has always been about the guy (or gal) at the other end.

Not the signal report, not the "Oh wow, I contacted some uninhabited rock in the middle of nowhere".

Sure, some of it is about having a skill that a lot of people don't and perfecting that. But most of it isn't.
*SMH* Yep. I really need to put up another hf antenna.

Have been off the air for a couple years now.

But I begin to wonder how motivated I am really?
Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV
I wish the community was more open and positive rather then negative.

Yes we love CW and want more people to use it, but the tone I see on this reflector sometimes shocks me.

I am surprised there are not threads bemoaning iambic keyers as cheating and "Not real ham radio".

Maybe they exist but I am relatively new to the reflector.
Please take a moment and think back to your first days with HF.

Remember that first contact?

Maybe it was SSB, maybe CW or RTTY.

Remember that feeling?

For me, as a relative newcomer, my first ever contact on HF was a digital mode (PSK-31).

I was ecstatic for the whole day!

I talked to someone... using the sky!

I was amazed.

Now consider a new ham today.

The bands are horrible.

HOA's and their restrictions have taken on more and more land.

For these people FT8 is a way to actually make some contacts with their new radio and a portable antenna.

They will get to experience making contacts and want to make more... hopefully they will see it is not very exciting after all and want to take up the challenge of CW. I know I have!
Let's talk about real radio, CW, and leave the trash talking to 80 M SSB crowd (Joking!).
Ronald Legere
Doom and gloom, yet in all those years since the code requirement was eliminated not only in the US but all over the world, CW continues to flourish.

I haven't operated the FT mode yet but will probably try it at some point like I have most of the other digital modes.

 If you like it, you will probably continue as long as others do as well.

Many of the digital modes have come and gone as the flavor of the day like HF packet and Amtor.

I enjoyed them while they lasted.

Some have been around for decades and may be for a century at some point as long as there are operators interested in them like RTTY and Hell.

When will a mode die?

When operators quit using it.

I may have not been around for as long as some have but after 3 decades you can see a pattern.

I have had the Extra license for all but a year of that time.

Knowing CW doesn't make anyone smarter or a better operator.

It was pointed out before in this thread there have been plenty of "lids" on the air since way before that requirement was dropped.

How many of us could build a rig today that you would want to use all of the time on the air today like they had to do in radio's infancy?

I know I would certainly rather use my newer rigs of today than the old TS-520 I started with (even though it was a great rig).

If no one ever mentioned what rig they were using on the air, most would never know the difference between a new Flex and an old Swan (outside of the freq drift) but we would sure know the difference if we were on the air with one yourself.
I don't think the SKCC has much to worry about as there are more and more people learning CW every day.

My point is to embrace what you love about the hobby and don't let other modes, op's or organizations you don't care for to worry you into bashing what they love about the hobby.

That is the great thing about Amateur Radio.
Tim, K9CQ
Thank you Ron,

I have been biting my tongue.
I would like to say something about the future of Amateur Radio.
I am one of those "No Code Hams" that so many seem to loathe.

I started in the hobby when I was very young and actually took and passed the 5 wpm code test.

For reasons I don't need to get in to, I never went any further.

In 2014 I decide to look into the hobby again.

I discovered AFTER I decided to do it that there was no longer a Morse requirement.
Well, that made things easier.

I studied and took the Technician exam and got my license.

I kept studying and got my General and then Extra.
Now, some of you will say, "Yeah, but the books have all of the answers". So what?

I guess that makes me and other no code guys like me less of a ham?

We didn't make the rules guys but we do follow them and we do learn.

There are a lot of Hams that have been licensed a long time and passed the code tests but have never touched a key since.

They have long since lost the ability to have a CW QSO because they have only done phone, RTTY, etc.

Wouldn't that put them in the "No Code Class" now?

There are a lot of us "No Code" guys that have learned Morse and learned to operate CW on our own.

A lot of us are able to work at 20 wpm or more now.

We did that without any requirement to do so. 

I am certain that some Hams only did it because they had to and given the choice, would not have done it at all.
One last comment and you can all start up on me.

When I was 10 years old, I developed a strong interest in electronics.

When I was 12, I took, and passed, an Electronics training class.

When I was 13, I had a job after school at an electronics distributer.

I put stock away, helped as needed, etc.

When I was 16, I had a job repairing audio equipment and televisions.

I owned my own VTVM (some Hams don't even know what a VTVM is), Scope, Signal Generator, tube tester, etc.

At 18, I was doing work on audio systems for theaters, stadiums, colleges and high schools.

I worked as an audio technician for concerts and such.

My favorites were the Boston Pops Orchestra (I met and had lunch with Arther Fiedler) and Steppenwolf.

So, I may not have had any experience in ham radio equipment in 2014 but I will bet I have had more electronics experience than a lot of "Code" hams.

Finally, CW is the only mode I operate.

I will not be offended if anyone does not want to work me because I am a "No Code Ham" but us "No Code Hams" are certainly helping Amateur Radio move into the future and many of us are going to be the ones that keeps CW and Amateur Radio alive.
I apologize for grammar errors or misspelled words.

I have never claimed to be a language expert.
73, Dave, N9EEN
I have to respond to you.
Welcome to ham radio and SKCC!!
I am a partial code ham..
5 WPM for novice in 1959 and 13 wpm for general in 1960.

The advanced didn't require any code.
Only got the extra (no code) a few years ago because I wanted the lowest 25Khz (kc to the old timers HI HI) of the cw bands.
Like you, ham radio gave me a career in electronics.
I was a NERD in high school.

I was building, repairing, etc. Ham radio gave many of us a real foundation for our careers.
When the ARRL pushed no-code licenses I thought it was a mistake.

Now I believe it was a good thing.
Many hams are in the hobby because code wasn't a barrier.

As soon as it was optional many decided to learn code and like you have become excellent cw ops.
I doesn't make any difference if someone is sending 5 wpm or's still ham radio and I want a QSO.
My pet peeve is the folks with vibroplex keys that are not adjusted well and not used well and get 1 or 2 too many or too few dits in a character.
That always throws my copying for a loop.

Most of the folks I work are less than 20 wpm any way so I sold my "bug' and just use my J-38 I bought for 50 cents Army surplus in 1958.
Dang the criticism and full speed ahead!
Viva CW!
Tim...You make some good points, but just for the record, there are fewer and fewer CW ops every day...Yeah, SKCC has 18,000+ members, but just like everything else, they come and they go.

Many are not active, perhaps a majority...

I'm sure many ops like the digital modes...

I built an interface, hooked it up to my old PC, downloaded a program and actually made a (one) PSK-31 contact...

I then realized that my PC contacted another PC in "6 land" with 30 watts.

No skill involved, nothing but a sig report, name and QTH...realized then this wasn't for me...

But if that's what blows your hair back, then go for it..

I just don't see it as ham radio...

Neither of us are "Right" we just see things through a different lens...

Also think that becoming a proficient CW operator will indeed make you better operator..

More mindful of others on the band , etc...

We also differ about the vintage gear.

I have modern gear with most of the whistles and bells but prefer my 40 year old FT-101 ZD...or Heathkit SB-102...

Real radios glow in dark.
73 de Mike AA7WU

Ah yes.

Sure would love another Drake B line one of these days.

Sweet radio, and no mistake.

Wouldn't say no to a Yaesu FT-901 or such.

I have a Swan 270 upstairs that I got on eBay.

Receives fine, but no idea how well it transmits!

Once had a National NCX3...that was fun.

Now, along with the KX3 and the K2/100, I have the rig of my youthful lust, a Kenwood TS-440S.

Am keen to get it on the air, even though it doesn't glow in the dark.

Hey...anyone want to help me with a Hammarlund HQ150A?
Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV

My Extra class ticket means allot to me.
I am a New Ham...yes a no-coder as far as test go.
When my interest was spurred I studied hard and took all 3 test in June 2015 and almost passed all 3.

Went back in July(same year) and got my Extra ticket.
That said, I dont do phone much.

Local 2 meters and rarely on the other bands.

CODE is what wets my wick AND Straight Key to boot plus a bud or cootie when the mood strikes.
The flexibility that my Extra ticket gives me is invalueable.
OK, Ill step off. my stump and go take my meds now.
Rocky Weeks, AF5AF

I too am a CW op who came in after the code requirement went away.

I have three buddies in the area that did the same thing.

I also know many folks who were licensed when code WAS required but have never used it.

I think if you learned it on you own, you appreciate it more and will stay with it.

As someone else added a pet peeve, so will I.

I have two: Bug users who for whatever reason their characters and words are all run together and can't be understood.

Second, are the those who aren't using bugs but whose spacing between words is non existent.

I am working very hard and getting better at Head Copy.

But if there is no spacing between words, it's very hard.

Whatever your speed is - remember spacing!
73 Paul kc2nyu

I have some software that my computer savvy sons have found me, for some DIGI modes.

So I have run a wire across the room from the radio line output audio to the computer desk and have been able to decode some PSK QSOs but that is as far as I have gone in the DIGI world.

I have plenty of CW QSOs to keep me busy.
CW is Real Radio 73, John...K8JD
I wasn't gonna touch this, but can't resist....Rtty, ft8, all that jazz in my book is just that.

If you can't decode it in your head, YOU didn't make the contact.

Like the song " IN the year 2525" ----Some machines doing that for you!
Only my opinion, but I will say wit all these new techie modes, I don't seem to learn anything new in a QSO like I did 30 years ago.
I totally agree with Paul, those bug users words together sound like a bunch of lids.

Slow down and be a little more concerned about the guy who's trying to copy that nonsense.
Baofeng radios and weekend tickets will be our demise.

Since 77' @ 12 years old
73 all Have a great day
Dean K2WW
Hi Dean et. al.
I don't think running words together or insufficient spacing between groups is unique to bug users.

I hear that sin being committed with electronic keyers all the time.
I do agree that a failure to properly space words/groups is a serious error.

As one's CW proficiency improves, he actually develops a vocabulary of words and a failure of a transmitting operator to space words properly makes code difficult to copy, even for good operators.
As for digital modes....I believe the differentiation between CW and digital modes is a differentiation between technology and art.

FT8. PSK, etc., are technology applications.

CW is an art form, which must be practiced.

The former methods, once implemented are static in development.
The operator becomes a user.

CW on the other hand, always demands improvement of the operator.

He remains a very active participant.
I have noticed over the years that quite a few CW operators never lose interest in Amateur Radio, whereas their counterparts who are limited to VHF/UHF repeaters or HF digital modes drift away from active participation in greater numbers.

I have no statistics to back this statement, but I suspect that some simply get bored with repeating the same activity again and again in which there is little challenge.
73, JW (WB8SIW)
I am a marginal copier of cw.

Mainly from lack of practice/participation and because I came to it late in life.

I have herd senders that do not space between letters and words.

So badly it sounds like a continuous string of dits and dahs.

Would it be bad form to send cannot copy because of poor spacing.

One never knows if it is because of a handicap or condition.

I certainly have room to critique.

How ever if they are unreadable what to do?

IMHO, proper spacing, or lack thereof, of characters, words and sentences are the most important part of CW....

FWIW, I use the code pratice from W1AW to keep my skills up as good as possible.

At my age, it's a constant effort...

The CW practice programs are good too but you won't know what the text will be on W1AW...

When I learned CW, my elmer used a tape recoder (was an actual tape recorder) to tape the students sending skills...

I was always amazed that about half the time I couldn't copy my own "fist"..

Very effective training tool..

I still use it to this day especially for "bug" practice..

Try it, you may be surprised at how good you're not! 

There are a few very good CW ops among the SKCC group...

One of the best is Tony
Mike AA7WU
I do not think it would be bad form to tell the other Op, you can't copy him because he is ruining all his words together.

Is there a Q code for "Your spacing is bad" ??
73 Paul kc2nyu
QSD is defective keying.

To be very rude, QLF.
Bill, N5IR

I find the recent discussion on the future of ham radio rather depressing.

I also question if SKCC is a good match for my interests.
When first licensed in 1969 I had a VHF only UK license with no CW.

My main interest quickly became 2-meter SSB.

I built what was probably the first transceiver with an all integrated circuit exciter section.

With help from others, mostly Plessey Semiconductor employees we actually won a few UK 2-meter SSB contests.
I passed my 12 wpm UK test (1-minute RX no more than 3 errors, 1 Minute TX no uncorrected errors) but my first attempt at a UK 2-meter CW contest was very discouraging, another story.

I had only the CW QSOs done in that contest before taking the Extra 20 wpm test in the USA.

At the time I took the Extra class CW test it was joke, I must have copied all of 10 % of the sent code.

I thought I had obviously failed, but when given the multiple-choice questionnaire there were a lot of unreasonable answers.

I passed.
VHF contesting has never really appealed to me on the west coast after experiencing European VHF contesting.

For quite a few years now HF CW and 10 GHz SSB contests have been my only operating activities.
Since my teen years I have always copied code listening to the dits and dahs decoding and write down the results.

This was OK for 12 wpm, not so good for 20 wpm and a serious barrier for higher speeds.

Over the last 6 months I have been attending CW academy courses to try to improve my code.
I get carpel tunnel issues with using a regular computer mouse and have to use a trackball.

Using a straight key for a moderate length of time shows signs of this problem recurring.

I learnt to use a bug and thought I was doing ok, in fact, I have taken part in quite a few WES events.

I recently purchased a Begali Morse machine which clearly shows that I often run characters together and also extend others.

Actually, I am not much better on any key straight, bug or keyer.

It is very difficult for me to get on the air knowing I am making so many mistakes.

I have been practicing CW on the computer so much so that I can type what I receive with no idea of the content.
I have a 16-year-old son KK6EME, Andrew, whos only voice communications have been a few 100 QSOs on 10 GHz.

He has lost most of his interests in ham radio, being only a little way from taking the Extra class exam, only retaining interest in building and repairing radios, made from vacuum tubes to surface mount parts, and learning CW.
SKCC problems:
In trying to improve my CW I am advised by CW Academy not to use the bug.
The risk of carpel tunnel is high with a straight key.
I make to many mistakes running characters together and need to practice more until my code is perfect.
KK6EME is a sub-standard radio ham as he has never taken a CW test.
I am interested in 10GHz EME but path loss calculations show that in my case it would take the use of digital modulation which is NOT ham radio.
I have really enjoyed SKCC it has been fun.

I have recently backed away in my efforts to improve my code and the need to learn to use a keyer.

Based on my obvious errors in running characters together I will refrain from SKCC activities until I improve.

I will also work with Andrew to ensure that his code would have enabled him to pass sending code tests.

I fully understand the feelings that things may not change for the better from some points of view, and this world has become a less friendly in many respects.

I hope CW maintains both its historical and its artistic interest.

I am not happy that if I want to do EME I need to use digital modulation, on 20 meters a test was trivial, I am not so sure that it is quite as trivial on 10GHz but success without it is unlikely.

Long after those who needed to use CW are gone the Andrews who only learnt CW for fun, with all other ham radio like activities being easier done on their phones, will be all that is left.
73, Brian KF6C
Brian, please don't give up on the SKCC.
If you've read all of the posts in this thread, you know that not everyone in the SKCC thinks the world was better in 1957 until the evil ARRL took away the CW requirements.

Not everyone thinks that digital modes are not real radio.
NO human being, including those who preach in this forum, can manually produce perfect code.

Perfect code will only emanate from a computer, which, of course, would make perfect code a digital mode.
My suggestion is to ignore the old curmudgeons who have nothing to do but whine about the "good old days" (which only exist in their minds anyway).

You are also free to ignore those who declare that only persons who can send perfect code should be on the air.
Please stick with the SKCC.

I'm convinced that the vast majority of members will be happy to QSO with you (they put up with my sending, so you should be fine).

Code sending, like other manual tasks, gets better with practice.

And practice happens when you get on the air and make QSOs.
(And, please keep up with those digi modes.

Among other things, Amateur radio is supposed to be about technical innovation.

Besides SKCC, I'm also a member of AMSAT and find that working with the amateur satellites, including digi modes, is a great complement to the other aspect of ham radio that I enjoy, working old fashioned code.)
Steve AI9IN
Hi Brian,
First remember there are thousands of people in SKCC and not everyone has the same opinion about licensing, proper operation, qrp, qro, other  modes, etc., or anything else for that matter.

You are bound to hear opinions from other SKCC members that you don't share.

The unifying aspect of SKCC is the use of straight keys, bugs and sideswipers.
To the extent that CW Academy insists on your using an electronic keyer only, well that *is* incompatible with the interests of SKCC as an organization.

You will have to decide if you need to avoid using a bug in order to advance in CW Academy.

Personally, I don't believe using a straight key or bug will "hurt" anybody's ability to improve their CW.
On the contrary, there are good arguments that using a mechanical key can help.
If you do forgo the use of mechanical keys, you can still participate in SKCC sprints, etc; just avoid exchanging your SKCC nr with other members.

They expect that during QSOs within the realm of the SKCC award structure (i.e., exchange of numbers), both operators will be using mechanical keys unless some physical limitation prevents it.

SKCC's purpose is to promote the use of straight keys, bugs and sideswipers; it would be odd indeed if we made an exception for members of other
organizations that prohibit the use of such keys.
Sending perfect code is not a requirement for SKCC activity.

It is a goal.

But again, only for some- not all.

Maybe you will lose a few QSOs with less than perfect code.

But there are still plenty of SKCC members who will be happy to QSO.
73, Drew AF2Z
I feel the same way.

Is there much difference between a digital qso and a qso where all the is exchange is skcc numbers and a 73.

I find both perfect for fulfilling the needs of the operator.
Larry WB2UFO
Brian --

None of us send perfect code and each of us has individual thoughts on what is good and bad about ham radio, digital or otherwise.

Most of these thoughts are neither right or wrong -- just individual prejudices.

We each have unique ham radio histories of how we got to this point in time where we share our common interest in the SKCC.

I don't think we should throw that away just because we're not perfect code senders.

Have you ever heard my less-than-adequate fist?
We're not paid professionals and we can be excused for not being perfect operators.

Most of us strive to become better operators, and many of us get discouraged because we feel we're not doing as well as we should.

Still, with that said, I believe throwing away the benefits and camaraderie of our club would be the wrong move.
Please stick with it, encourage your son and enjoy what you find good in your experience with the SKCC.
I wrote the original post in this thread as a tongue-in-cheek poke at running W1JT's FT8 without operator control.

All I expected was maybe a few chuckles or comments about the new QuickMacro program, which by the way, does much more than just automate FT8.

Had I known I was unleashing all the emotion noted in these posts, and the possibility of you dropping out of SKCC, I would never have written it.

Don't go away, Brian.
73, Jay W8ES

Please keep in mind that "perfect code" doesn't exist unless sent from a machine....As Drew said, "perfect code" is only a goal...

I think the real goal is "copyable" code" ..

A goal that is attainable by almost everyone with a desire to communicate with CW...Straight key, bug, cootie, keyer...who cares as long as it's readable?
If I can copy you, I'll be happy to work you!

Also, please keep in mind, IMHO, that good solid readable CW sent at 7-10 WPM is prefered over poorly sent CW at 20 WPM...

The speed is not important to the SKCC group..

If you're concerned about what others hear, record yourself...

If you can copy you, so can I...

Hang in there!

Hi Brian,
My code is far from perfect.

I am a no code ham and am proud of the fact that I learned Morse and am CW only.

I took a CW academy class and their goal is to teach you Morse.

They insist on using electronic keyers but that is just their method.

Once you know Morse, you are over the hurdle.
In the SKCC, no one cares how fast you go (well, maybe a few but they are certainly not the norm) and when you are learning to use a new key, no one cares if you go a little slower or make a mistake.

In fact, if you tell them you are learning a new keying method, you will get support and help.
One other thing I would recommend.

Try a sideswiper (cootie).

You can build one for nothing if you have a hacksaw blade and some small pieces of wood laying around.

Do a Google search for ideas.

I started with a straight key, went to a Iambic key and keyer and then built and tried a sideswiper.

I am now a cootie only op and I have no problems with my hands or wrists.

In fact, I sold my Kent Iambic key and don't even own one now.

I have several straight and cootie type keys and switch around once in a while.

So, give the sideswiper a try, get on the air and have fun with SKCC.

It really is a great club.
I would love to work you and see how your cootie fist is.
Dave, N9EEN

A Kent Iambic key can easily be changed to an SSK!

Take o look at:

I the others: SKCC contains a lot of members that are very interested in many other ham radio activities!

I also am learning through CW Academy, and it has helped me a great deal.

I have yet to 'break through' to head copy 20 WPM CW.

They encourage using a keyer, probably so that you are immersed in correctly timed dits and dah.

But I don't see why you could not also make some SKCC contacts using a straight key!

All those QSO's will help.

I really need to get off my but and get my antenna up and do the same.
On a final note, if medical issues prevent the use of a straight key, you might want to look at this :

And I don't know if you are aware of this sked page for CW Academy:

Have fun!
Ronald Legere

Hey Brian,
I am a no-code HAM and have only been active with CW for about 6 months although I practiced for about two years before getting on the air.

I found learning what I needed to learn to pass my Extra Class test to be something to proud of.

As for my code, hopefully my sending shows the practice but ultimately jumping in knowing Id make mistakes has allowed me to find that the active ops all seem to be quite tolerant and very helpful.

I have had similar feelings to yours relative to the negativity in this string but I acted on it as an Elmer coached me to act on the inappropriate, mostly 80M, stuff that I found upsetting.

That action was to exercise my right to flip the switch or spin the dial and not listen to it.

Amazingly that worked and I stayed more focused on the majority of the HAMs I know who are very forgiving, helpful and friendly.
I found that a program developed by Jerry Wheeler, W6TJP helped me learn and practice the rhythms of the characters.

The system uses soundalikes and of course there are critics of that.

I am able to uncomfortably copy at 20-25 wpm and very comfortable copying 13-15 wpm.

Fair disclosure, sending/copying speed is commitment related.

I did not pressure myself to spend hours a day to learn CW.

Had I wanted to make CW painful I could have worked much harder for more hours in a week and increased my speed of copy and sending but I found patience made learning this fun. One key decision I made was stick with one key. After trying straight, Iambic and Sideswiper I chose Sideswiper (W1SFR Torsion Bar Key) mainly because I really enjoy the SKCC attitude, find the monthly activity to keep me quite active and quite frankly see limited fun "for me right now" in working at speeds above 20-25 wpm.

If and when I do the Sideswiper will be easy on my carpal tunnel.

Interestingly I also found that the Sideswiper didnt mess me up too much on my straight key.
One last comment, I have a device much like your Begali Morse machine.

I have had the same experience you wrote about.

That told me the machine was fulfilling its purpose.

I knew I was not creating anything close to perfect.

So I use it periodically each week for dedicated practice.

My machine now more often hears my sending as properly formed letters and words than when I first started using it.

Now with that said, I then set the machine aside, get on the air, and judge my sending by the number of times an op has to ask me to resend my message.
So in summary, going back down the learning curve a bit and doing the Code Quick 2000 program may help you establish the rhythm which can help your character formation and spacing using the Sideswiper as it has for me.
I encourage practice, patience and continuing, as you have already, to employ new tools to address improvement.

I also encourage you to flip the switch when the talk gets negative and exercise your right not to listen so that you can enjoy CW.

I too know I am not sending perfect code but I sure do enjoy the rush I get when another op sends rrr tnx fb qso 73 hpe cuagn.

My goal is keep at it, be the best I can get to be and live up to my Elmer who worked CW for 65 years and patiently encouraged me for about 50 years to get on the air and use CW.
73 de Brad AI6DS
"KK6EME is a sub-standard radio ham as he has never taken a CW test.
I am interested in 10GHz EME but path loss calculations show that in my case it would take the use of digital modulation which is NOT ham radio."
Are those remarks supposed to be cynical jokes or do you actually believe them?
73 Buddy WB4M
Jay, Do whatever you enjoy, If it isn't fun for you, why do it?
As far as FT8 being illegal, did you get the FCC to decide that or was it soime armchair lawyer?

FTY 8 falls under the heading of Automatic control and is expressly permited by the FCC rulesas longf as it's fail safe
73, WaltW5ALT
Wat back when, I put my rig on the air undrr automatic controol, so you could login my computer using CW and get your email in CW, it was an interesting mix of old and new technology!
73, Walt W5ALT
There may be many who have already considered the demise of CW as a foregone conclusion.

However, anyone reading any of the print or Internet media are inundated with reports of hacking critical infrastructure, terrorist threats and acts, and humongous damage from natural disasters.

Any of these could, and have like in Puerto Rico, drive local or national societies back to the stone age.

Without power or communications systems working correctly we as people cannot bank, travel, or even transact business.

Even our armed forces are realizing this and are now teaching their forces hand signals and morse code.

Why, because these simple to build, operate and maintain communications systems could be set up to keep people in contact despite the worst that could happen.

Remember the movie "Independence Day?"

They use morse code to create communications across international boundries.

One last thought, CW is still used by spy organizations (numbers stations still in operation) as a safe method of communicating safely and secretly.

Maybe they know something that our enlightened business and technocrats do not.
Jim Kenedy

Dr. Jim...

Your comments regarding "emergency communications" is the EXACT charter and mission that created what we know as Ham Radio...
Still is as far as I know
Hello Jim et. al.
During a major Federal Disaster exercise (June, 2016), a nationwide team of CW operators (part of Radio Relay International) scored an impressive 99.998 percent accuracy rate against five letter cipher group messages transmitted from Idaho, Alaska, Northern California, Oregon and Washington State to the National Response Coordinating Center in Washington, D.C.

This accuracy rate not only exceeded digital networks (close second with 99.997 percent accuracy), but the CW circuit also had a superior message propagation times (measured from the time the message was presented for transmission to the time it appeared in the data stream at the NRCC).
Sadly, most radio amateurs never heard about this because the ARRL systematically suppressed any coverage of this component of the exercise in their press releases.

However, facts are facts and the CW performance surprised many, including me.
Of course, the operators weren't your average rag chewers or contest types, but mainly operators with extensive CW traffic experience, but it shows what CW can do in the right hands.
An interesting aside to this....I had quite a few meetings with Federal officials.

High Frequency radio was repeatedly referred to as "the weapon of choice" in today's global threat environment.

As Puerto Rico and other events have proven, high frequency radio in general and the Amateur Radio Service in particular remain relevant as an emergency communications asset.
CW is an amazingly versatile mode in the hands of a skilled operator.

I strongly encourage CW operators to get active on traffic nets to develop advanced communications skills in case they are ever needed.

Everything one needs to get started is available at the RRI web page:

RRI also has a mentoring program through which one can be paired with an experienced CW operators to learn EMCOMM and traffic handling skills.
73, James Wades (WB8SIW)
Interestingly, when I gave demos of amateur radio to kids, theyt were most interested in CW.

Once they learned to recognize their name in CW they said "toats ma goats!"
Walter B Fair


Well, remember, civilization did bring us beer.

So there is that.
Randy w2ran

Right on, Randy!
As long as there is beer, there will always be beer drinkers.
Regards, Joe, K8JP/V31JP
Yes, but if we go back to the Mesopotamians we see that the women were responsible for the beer, while we guys were off beating each other's heads in.
Chuck VE7PJR
But somewhere along the line, they figured out how to distill the beer and make whiskey!
Walter B Fair

This message was sent from wherever I was when I sent it, It's a Belville thing and you wouldn't understand.

New Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail replacement - get it here:

Mike AA7WU


Have a nice week(end) gents, BCNU.
73, Yann, F5LAW

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