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Author Topic: The article that inspired me to learn code  (Read 8075 times)

KK0G

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The article that inspired me to learn code
« on: May 05, 2013, 02:38:53 PM »
Here's a little story of how I saw the light in regards to CW.

I've been a ham for 13 years now, the last 5 as an Extra. For most of that time I was a phone and digital operator with little interest in those weird sounding dits and dahs. While technically I passed the 5WPM code test to get my General ticket, I only barely learned it for the sole purpose of passing the test which I just eked by hair of my chin combined with a little luck. Oh there were a few times when I thought  it might be neat to learn code but it never went beyond that. Then I read an article on another site titled 'The Case for Code' which was the motivation for me to finally learn code. I started studying everyday and within about 3 weeks I made my first CW QSO. From there my main practice was on the air and my code proficiency skyrocketed. That was almost a year and a half ago and I now have hundreds of CW QSO's in the log, a Weber Dual Band rig, a KX1 and I've even homebrewed a couple of rigs from scratch, suffice it to say CW is now by far my all time favorite mode............I almost contemplated selling my microphones LOL. I'm now very comfortable at 12WPM and can often keep up at 15WPM depending on the other ops fist, 17-18WPM gets to be a real challenge for me but I know with time I'll get there.

I checked with the author and he was more than happy to allow me to post a link to his article. Many of you may already know him, some of you may have already read the article. Hopefully it inspires some of you to get off the fence and learn code, I know it did for me.

73 de KK0G
Chris

The Case for Code - Part 1 http://theoriginalpreppernetworks.com/APRN/APRN_blog/?p=4530

The Case for Code - Part 2 http://theoriginalpreppernetworks.com/APRN/APRN_blog/?p=4533
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

gil

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2013, 03:57:59 PM »
Excellent article! Thanks. I should have know that was from Ray!

Like you Chris, I have become a promoter of Morse code and convinced of it's superiority over any other mode. Undoubtedly the best survival communications mode, and not only for radio. Flashlights work great too  ;) Even taping code on someone's arm with your finger... Thanks to Ray I am also up to about 15wpm. Head-copy is next... I am already picking up common words in my head.

My Weber MTR is the best thing since sliced bread.. 5W out of a rig the size of a pack of cigarettes  :o Powered for a week with eight AA cells. You can't beat that, period. When every ounce carried matters, there is no substitute.

But I am repeating myself  ;)

Gil.


KK0G

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2013, 06:24:43 PM »
I'm a true CW convert. The rare times I'm on the local 2M repeaters these days everyone asks me where I went, they assume I gave up on ham radio. Quite the contrary, I think I'm having more fun since I started using CW than all my previous years as a ham combined.

On a side note, I'm planning a backpacking trip sometime in the near future. It'll more than likely be a short 2-3 day affair but rest assured my KX1 will be accompanying me. When the time gets nearer I'll put out a call looking for skeds.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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RadioRay

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2013, 07:42:32 PM »
That KX-1 is an AWESOME rig!  When it came out, it was the only thing like it on the market, including the shortwave/general coverage receiver built in. I finally set mine aside to refurbish it: worn-out switches and it's getting a little worn and dirty.  I think a partial tear-down and realignment is in the future, but not right now.  I'm building up the homebrew home station - with QRO amplifier and that's taking some time to stabilize that amp, that is only operational on 20m right now.

>>>  When you are ready to go, let us know and we'll run some prop analysis to see what times/freq works best for you and your trip.  I like morning shots on lower freqs or noon on higher freqs, to avoid the afternoon/evening T-storms and their attendant noise, but your mileage may vary.



>de RadioRay ..._ ._
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

Joe

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2013, 08:01:39 PM »
Very good article!! If it wasn't for this forum I would have never consider CW. I thank everyone here for exposing me to this. CW should be a priority for coms for every prepper. Having the ability to recieve news from great distances will be very benifical when there are no other means.

73 Joe

KK0G

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2013, 08:15:41 PM »
That KX-1 is an AWESOME rig!  When it came out, it was the only thing like it on the market, including the shortwave/general coverage receiver built in. I finally set mine aside to refurbish it: worn-out switches and it's getting a little worn and dirty.  I think a partial tear-down and realignment is in the future, but not right now.  I'm building up the homebrew home station - with QRO amplifier and that's taking some time to stabilize that amp, that is only operational on 20m right now.


>>>  When you are ready to go, let us know and we'll run some prop analysis to see what times/freq works best for you and your trip.  I like morning shots on lower freqs or noon on higher freqs, to avoid the afternoon/evening T-storms and their attendant noise, but your mileage may vary.



>de RadioRay ..._ ._


I love your homebrew watertight KX1 enclosure Ray, looks damn near factory built, great job. I may look into doing something similar one of these days. The only major disadvantage I see is the added bulk compared to the stock rig, of course by the time I store mine in its watertight container it's even bulkier than your setup. Six of one half dozen of the other I suppose.

Sounds good on the skeds, I'll try to give quite a bit of heads up time before hand. I have plenty of vacation time built up at work but with Mothers day right around the corner, my son graduating high school the weekend after that, and.......... well you get the idea.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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KC9TNH

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2013, 09:15:22 PM »
...work but with Mothers day right around the corner, my son graduating high school the weekend after that, and.......... well you get the idea.
Oh do I ever. #2 is single Dad, no bak-sheesh from  Big G, just nuggin' out raising 2 beautiful kids & classes when he can stay awake. Juuuuuust missed Dean's list but there will be a party, which made it easy to say "no party for me, period" as they're payin' me to stay home in 52 days.

Will be trackin' here when you set up the skeds; have my bearing to you, but any idea where you plan to do the backpack trip? Always like to listen-in, or join if asked - 3-ways & more can get not-fun unless someone is as adroit as Ray or unless in a formal net. Even just listening in provides data about the antenna in practice vice theory.

Thanks for posting the articles - good stuff Ray.
ERRATA: Shucky-darn, I do wish 17m was an option on the KX-1.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 09:42:54 PM by KC9TNH »

KK0G

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2013, 09:41:39 PM »

Will be trackin' here when you set up the skeds; have my bearing to you, but any idea where you plan to do the backpack trip? Always like to listen-in, or join if asked - 3-ways & more can get not-fun unless someone is as adroit as Ray or unless in a formal net. Even just listening in provides data about the antenna in practice vice theory.


Well I'd love to head back out to New Mexico and backpack the Sangre de Christo mountains again but alas my time constraints won't allow that so it'll be right here in boring old Iowa  8). All kidding aside I have some beautiful country right here in my backyard but it still doesn't compare to the desert southwest in my opinion. There's actually an 1115 acre park less than 5 miles from my house consisting of rolling hills covered by old growth timber. There are only two campsites in the whole park both of which are primitive and not accessible by vehicle, the main problem is there's not much 'backpacking' involved - I can reach either site on foot in less than 20 minutes, that and the fact I know the whole area like the back of my hand. In other words; I don't know where I'm going.  ;D

You and I are close to 250 miles away from each other, 40 meters would probably be a piece of cake.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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cockpitbob

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2013, 11:19:24 PM »
Flashlights work great too  ;)
Quick Story:
My dad was a radar and radio tech in WWII, stationed in the South Pacific.  At one point the troop ship he was on was staged in a harbor with several dozen other ships.  It was a full moon night with lots of low puffy clouds.  One communications guy on one ship pointed his signal lamp at a cloud and flashed in Morse to a friend on another ship.  The friend answered on the same cloud.  This snowballed into about a dozen separate conversations on as many clouds.  That must have been quite a site.   

KC9TNH

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2013, 08:42:44 AM »
You and I are close to 250 miles away from each other, 40 meters would probably be a piece of cake.
Probably so, although there is an apparent null quite close to that bearing in my wire. Another gent I know on a voice net in Earlham is difficult to hear, but for some reason Ames is a piece of cake. (May have something to do with orientation of his antenna though.)

As Ray did with Gil, a mix of 40 & 20 gives the "spectators" something to listen for. Do you have the 3080 option on your KX1?

KK0G

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2013, 10:57:05 AM »
I'm guessing the ham in Earlham is WA0AUX, if you get Ames that easily I'd guess it's a null on his end.

No I don't have the 30/80M module..............yet  ;)
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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KC9TNH

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 11:28:32 AM »
I'm guessing the ham in Earlham is WA0AUX, if you get Ames that easily I'd guess it's a null on his end.

No I don't have the 30/80M module..............yet  ;)
Guessed right. Could be a variety of things; the Ames station has his G5RV broadside to me, which probably makes up for my end (or lack of it). 40 would likely be doable then.

As in another old QRP thread said (elsewhere) it's all less about the box at the end of the coax and more about propagation and the antenna, operator then maybe, the box down the list in terms of importance.

I still find it funny that, as nicely as they lend themselves to low-footprint operations and certainly cater to the CW community, they (Elecraft) don't ditch 80 as an option and do something like 17 simply because it takes more wire out on 80. 17 is a small band but it is one of those wavelengths that is quite often useable & can be less congested than 20. The MIL keeps a slice of 18mHz around in their toolkit for just that reason. Oh well, rant over. It's all good.

If starting over I'd probably look into Elecraft heavily but already have the 817 and a separate h/t for VHF/UHF use. Having done a few of the usual tweaks to reduce current draw the 817's pretty friendly.

Looking forward to your trip, in a vicarious kinda way. :)

KK0G

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 01:51:53 PM »
I'm guessing the ham in Earlham is WA0AUX, if you get Ames that easily I'd guess it's a null on his end.

No I don't have the 30/80M module..............yet  ;)
Guessed right. Could be a variety of things; the Ames station has his G5RV broadside to me, which probably makes up for my end (or lack of it). 40 would likely be doable then.

As in another old QRP thread said (elsewhere) it's all less about the box at the end of the coax and more about propagation and the antenna, operator then maybe, the box down the list in terms of importance.

I still find it funny that, as nicely as they lend themselves to low-footprint operations and certainly cater to the CW community, they (Elecraft) don't ditch 80 as an option and do something like 17 simply because it takes more wire out on 80. 17 is a small band but it is one of those wavelengths that is quite often useable & can be less congested than 20. The MIL keeps a slice of 18mHz around in their toolkit for just that reason. Oh well, rant over. It's all good.

If starting over I'd probably look into Elecraft heavily but already have the 817 and a separate h/t for VHF/UHF use. Having done a few of the usual tweaks to reduce current draw the 817's pretty friendly.

Looking forward to your trip, in a vicarious kinda way. :)

Honestly I haven't used 17M all that much. I've had quite a few QSO's on it back during my phone days but nowhere near the number of 20 and 40M contacts. I'm not in front of my log right now but I don't recall ever making a CW contact on 17M.  As you pointed out though it's a moot point since the KX1 doesn't cover it.

Just out of curiosity, how much current does your tweaked 817 pull? I measured my KX1 at 31 mA on receive  ;D
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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KC9TNH

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2013, 03:45:38 PM »
Honestly I haven't used 17M all that much. I've had quite a few QSO's on it back during my phone days but nowhere near the number of 20 and 40M contacts. I'm not in front of my log right now but I don't recall ever making a CW contact on 17M.  As you pointed out though it's a moot point since the KX1 doesn't cover it.
I'm probably just overly biased for 17 because it's another place to run (like 30) during contest times. (Also, I made my longest contact with that 817 (by accident with 2.5w) on 17m. I can see why the selections are what they are and 40-30-20 gets "most" people "most" stuff.  A K1 with 40/30/20/17 with ability to swapout for 80/15 would be interesting because 15 often plays well on the same piece of wire if you tossed one up for 80. Have enough toys for now; as they say about cars I've got the pink slip & it's still running.

Just out of curiosity, how much current does your tweaked 817 pull? I measured my KX1 at 31 mA on receive  ;D
LOL, show off!  I'm at about 260mA; yes, it's a hog in comparison, your KX1 is drawing, say, 12% of the 817. :)
They really are apples/oranges, though. People always compare little CW QRP radios to an 817, when the 817 is really just a baby 897.

BUT, tiny current draw on a receive means you can listen for a very long time for those Cubans that wandered through Gil's campsite...
jes sayin'.
 8)

KK0G

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2013, 04:46:26 PM »
LOL, show off!  I'm at about 260mA; yes, it's a hog in comparison, your KX1 is drawing, say, 12% of the 817. :)
They really are apples/oranges, though. People always compare little CW QRP radios to an 817, when the 817 is really just a baby 897.

BUT, tiny current draw on a receive means you can listen for a very long time for those Cubans that wandered through Gil's campsite...
jes sayin'.
 8)


Yeah, that's several orders of magnitude difference but but then the 817 is an all mode, all band, DC to daylight, do everything rig. Of course that comes at the price of current draw, like you said; apples to oranges.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2013, 04:46:26 PM »