>>LONG<< Re: [CQ-Contest] McLuhan Meets Morse

K4OJ at aol.com K4OJ at aol.com
Mon Sep 22 02:53:13 EDT 1997

I pretty much so only operate CW, to me it means radio.  I love CW.

I get on SSB rarely, could not tell you where the mike for the hf rig is, a
ham friend was helping us put up a tower yesterday and asked to get on 20
meters....we all looked at each other wondering where the mic was, I think we
have one someplace!

I find CW fun....it like so many things in life is only really enjoyed when
it is used....once proficiency is attained then the realization of how cool
it is clicks in.

High speed CW QSOs are second nature to me, this is not me bragging, but
something I am able to say because I got there and didn't through up my hands
and QSY to the phone bands first.  They weren't always that way....but are
now, that despite the fact that my current lifestyle means I operate very
little as I have all my ham gear set up about 20 minutes from here at my
parents' QTH where we have a large contest station.

There is something about pulling it out of the ether when conditions are
marginal that IS radio....from noise and more noise only, and then, suddenly
hearing the signal stick its head above it......my latest thrill over the
past few years has been finding the excellent DXing path between Japan and
Florida - on our lowest band, 160 meters

.......during the ARRL DX test I know when to look and religously it has been
there two years in a row.....the JA stations suddenly appear like the
throwing of a light switch, and it is an easy QSO - one call and bang.....the
down side is that few of the JA contest stations participate in this
opening....it is very solid at a little past our local sunrise....it is an
adrenaline rush - it shouldn't be that easy but it is because of CW.

During the intial seconds you hear bits and pieces and within a minute or so
- bam - the calls are all readable and there is that window to work all the
way from Japan to Florida solid Q5 copy, and it is no big deal.....perhaps
this is more a thrill of DXing, than of CW as you see it.....but I could not
imagine finding a half dozen JA stations doing it on SSB!  My biggest gripe
is the lack of JAs who are on the band at the right time so I can "catch"
more fish out of this fish bowl.....Florida and Japan are almost opposite
each other on the globe - and we make QSOs there at a frequency not much
different than that of your AM broadcats band - I have heard some fair DX on
the AM BC band....but ain't heard any DX as a ham knows it...other then of
course the Cuban Stations....hi! 

Good CW QSOs where both operators are proficient are also fun because of
things like abbreviations....it is mentally stimulating to excercise the ole
grey cells (mine are thinking getting up there).  By having to concentrate a
lil on how he is saying what he is saying....fast guys learn a shorthand of
sorts that kind of "bonds" you with the other guy in that it is a special
exchange you are sharing....almost as if you are in each others head.  I am
poor at describing this phenomenon, but can tell you it exists...when you
meet a guy of like mind the qsos change from an exchange of info about
RST/State/Name hr is.....into an actual conversation, and the only way for
the conversation to be lively is for it to take place at a decent rate, hence
the enjoyment of CW when it is done fast....which of course the neophyte
cannot grasp as he is struggling to copy letters......CW ops copy words or
even sentences in their head....they don't write down leeters which are -
surprise - words - which are - golly sentences.....yes we all have to start
that way but those who do not proceed past there do not cross the threshold
into enjoyment of CW as a conversational tool.

I find myself writing down single words on a scratch paper to rememebr to
talk about a given subject....be it you wanna remember to ask your friend if
he has used the 204BA from HyGain - or - has it started getting cold up North

Operating SSB is a challenge, too....besides tuning in the stations so you
can understand what they are saying, it too has its high points.....as an
active contester I can say I enjoy soliciting contacts on phone late in a
contest when the well has run dry.  On sideband....begging if you will, you
can have fun not so much for the radio side but for the psychological
side....the sales side...."please, I am about to break a Floirda record which
has been in place for years and just need a few more QSOs before the end of
the contest to do - you don't have to be in the contest, please call
me"....it is an art unto itself, but it is one that is for SSB - not

As far as - well if you had only one mode what would it be....to me that
isn't a question....CW of course.....it always works, even when there
supposedly isn't supposed to be conditions enabling contacts...like going all
the way to Japan on 160 from Florida.

The hard part is getting the guys "up to speed" - until that time they are
all copying letters which isn't any fun....when you cross the hurdle into
copying without having to write down the letters....when you hear words and
sentences as opposed to characters, THEN you understand how cool CW is.....

This is CW's dilemna, it is a hard sell, especially in an age of instant
gratification, CW doesn't fit....you have to put in the time, and do the work
to learn how to do it....it is not rocket science and is not impossible to
do, anyine can do it you just have to want to do it.  

The reward is an enjoyable unique way to bond with another human being....
somehing that someone who uses AOL (hi) or 2 meter FM jfor tehir
communication with others ust doesn't want to make the effort to do....

I want it and I want it immediately, what - I have to take time to learn that
CW thing....that is hard, nope - I will do something easy instead.  

Fine, so be it, - those who don't want to put in the effort will not clutter
the sub-band, they will QRM each other in the phone band - those who are
willing to invest in learning the fine art of CW will treasure their
un-describable joy like my parents do....they are both post retrement and
both active cw operators....I thank them for the exposure to it, it is fun
and rewarding and was well worth the petty investment of time this teenager
put in a quarter century ago.

Too bad we don't know how to sell it, but then again we don't know how to
teach Geography to our children or even common mathematics anymore..

....pointing at a map and having a child say to you that that is Russia when
you are holding your finger over Brazil hurts....I guess I feel the same way
about our ham organizations failure to teach our younger hams the code as an
enjoyable art form, but rather give them an easy way in to keep the ranks fat
with numbers.

......and you know I hate our schools for being unable to teach our kids how
to correctly make change when the LEDs don't tell them what to hand
back.....it is all the same nut to crack.

Enough, I am feeling very old, albeit pleasantly nostalgic, after this

Jim, K4OJ
Tampa, FL

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