[CQ-Contest] A call to action

Bill Coleman aa4lr at arrl.net
Sun Jun 17 09:31:16 EDT 2007

On Mar 23, 2007, at 2:52 PM, Tom Osborne wrote:

> I'm assuming you mean for SSB contesting?  How many of these will be
> learning CW just so they can contest.  If they wanted to learn CW,  
> they
> would have done it a long time ago.  The incentive is no different  
> now than
> it was then.

Sorry for replying to an old message (I'm behind), but I have to  
differ with this opinion, Tom, for two good reasons:

1) There's no relationship between Contest CW and regulatory CW. In  
the US, the highest CW speed ever required was 20 wpm. In the last  
few years, it was only 5 wpm. Contests, on the other hand, are  
hotbeds of massively QRQ CW by comparison. 20 wpm is about the  
minimum speed, with 30-35 wpm being a more common average speed.

If an operator desired to operate CW in a contest, he faces a huge  
uphill battle to gain the requisite speed, whether he starts at 20  
wpm or zero wpm.

2) Phone contesting seeds desire for more contesting. It definitely  
happened to me. In the mid-90's, I frequently participated in phone  
contests, but wasn't much for CW contests. Seeing how much fun other  
contesters were having with CW, and with the encouragement of W4AN  
(SK), I started to participate in CW contests. There were even a few  
years, that were practically all CW contests. Today, I figure I'm a  
mediocre CW op -- but it took several years of practice to get to  
that point.

If we encourage people to participate in contests, then that's more  
incentive for them to get involved with CW contests. The barrier to  
entry for CW contests is very high. Phone is much more accessible,  
and RTTY isn't too difficult, either.


I figure that ham radio offers four good reasons to learn and enjoy  
CW, none of which have anything to do with the regulations:

1) Homebrew (QRP) -- the simplest transmitters are CW trasnmitters
2) DXing -- more opportunities to work a new one
3) Contesting -- more opportunities to contest
4) Fun -- CW is just plain fun

Bill Coleman, AA4LR, PP-ASEL        Mail: aa4lr at arrl.net
Quote: "Not within a thousand years will man ever fly!"
             -- Wilbur Wright, 1901

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