CWA Basic: Sessions 4 and 5

Sessions 4 and 5 repeat the prior sessions, but bump up the Farnsworth speed to 5 then 6. It doesn’t look like a lot until you’re trying to listen!

As I mentioned, it’s very common to feel an adrenaline bump when it’s your turn to send.  If you mess up, or are feeling flustered, take a deep breath, send eight dits, take another breath, and start the word again (unless it’s like the last letter that would be understandable from context).  Add more spacing if you like.  Just remember, you’re among friends and it’s all about having fun. 

For the bonus homework:
Compose an amateur radio-related haiku, a three-line poem where the lines are 5, 7, and 5 syllables, respectively. Two examples are below. As you practice at home, think of where it would be appropriate to add additional spacing to compensate for the lack of context clues.

No propagation
Until someone calls CQ
Then the bands open

The new antenna
is only temporary
honey.  I promise!

Pick a couple of short facts that you find interesting and would send in CW.  Try to be concise, though we may elaborate after if there’s interest.   For example, “supernovas produce iron” (heavier elements are believed to be created by neutron star collisions)   

If time permits, listen to K1USN SST Sunday (details at the bottom) and report on your success in copying signs. (If you’re inclined, try to call someone at a speed you feel comfortable.) We’ll be trying to get on-air contacts on this in a few more weeks.

K1USN SST:  Open to all. Please Join Us!
Sunday @ 4:00-5:00 PM PST (Monday @ 00:00-01:00 UTC)
Exchange: Name + (state/province/country)
Suggested operating frequencies: (QSY +/- as needed)
20 meters: 14.028 MHz – 14.045 MHz
40 meters:  7.028 MHz – 7.045 MHz
80 meters:  3.528 MHz – 3.545 MHz
160 meters: 1.810 MHz – 1.825 MHz 
Full details on the  K1USN Radio Club SST Website

Set up time with one or more classmates to do an online CW practice QSO with the basics (signal report, Name, QTH, more if you’d like). You can use Zoom for personal use for free for up to 45 minutes per “meeting,” which should be more than enough time. You can use any other tool (Skype/Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Telegram, …). Or, try on-the-air.

If you’re working, say, less than 200-300 miles, 80m would have a good shot during the daytime. Beyond that, 20m or 40m during the daytime. If your license permits, don’t rule out 17m or 30m, they’re mighty fine bands.

To recap Morse Runner:

  • In the station (blue box), enter your call sign, tick QSK (this lets you hear the other sender while you’re sending), select a maximum WPM and pitch as appropriate.  I’d recommend trying at least 15.  It doesn’t let you Farnsworth out the spacing, and the lowest (10 ) has tones that are frustratingly long.
  • In the band conditions (green box), untick all of these.  They’re different ways to make it harder to hear.  These are actually pretty cool.
  • Set the duration to 5 minutes (default is an hour, which is a lot of commitment.)   Click the a down arrow next to the Run button (outlined here with a red box) so you can select “Single Call” as an option.
Morse Runner (1.72 with better fonts)

In this mode, the computer sends you a call sign.  Type that into the “Call” box and hit return.  You’ll hear you sending back the a signal report and a serial number.  (You don’t have to do anything for this.  If you look at the “Sent” box, the serial number increases.) 

If you have correctly copied the call sign, the computer will confirm with an “R”, a signal report (5NN or 599) and a sequence number.   Wait for the computer to finish sending back to you, enter in the serial number it sends you and hit return.  Another call sign will be sent.  Repeat until the time interval is over.

The response can vary, such as sending its serial number twice or using “cut numbers”  (T = 0, N = 9) in the serial number.    It will be obvious.  (For example it may respond TT1. You can enter it without the leading zeroes.

The computer doesn’t “hear” you until it’s done sending.  If you respond over it, you’ll likely need to do a repeat.  Sometimes, you can stop sending by hitting the escape key and wait for it to finish.  (You may need to retype things…)

If you don’t copy the call sign, you can simply wait a few seconds and the computer will retry up to 2-5 times, hit F7 (question mark). In the advanced levels, where you have a pileup, you should try a partial match. 

If you get the call sign incorrect, it will repeat, with a “DE <callsign>”, sometimes repeating the call sign.