Recreate Responsibly

CWA Beginner – Session 16

For our last, unstructured session, we’ll do some more sending and copying using these lists of fruits and vegetables, and animals.  As with the exercise we did with the state abbreviations, send a word to the next person, they’ll send the word back, “R” if correct.  (If they don’t copy, “?” to resend)  They’ll send a word to the next person, and so on.  

Welcome, Session 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

I’ve created a brief tutorial on Morse Runner.  On the most basic level, this program is used to practice simple exchanges (call sign + serial number).  When it calls you, if you don’t get the full call sign, you can either do nothing and wait for it to resend, hit F7 (?) or try a partial and F5.  The partial is useful in a “pileup,” that is, if several stations responded but you only got a partial on one, you’d send what you had and the other stations should ignore it.  (In practice, and occasionally in the program, that doesn’t always happen.)  The default time run-time in Morse Runner is 60 minutes, but I would not run it more than 10 or 15 minutes because it gets tedious.  

I’ll work on one for RufzXP.  When I used it for the intermediate and advanced, it was solely to practice learning call signs.  It’s also used in the basic class for canned word lists.

Logging programs:

On Windows, I use N3FJP’s generic logger, which was part of the suite of loggers I bought for Field Day 2018.   (I have a license of Ham Radio Deluxe but found it a bit overwhelming, especially with a smaller monitor.)  It does feel like I need a lot of utilities for a complete set. For example, if I’m running WSJTX, I have: WSJTX (duh), Meinberg NTP (to synchronize the clock), and JTAlert to talk with N3FJP as well as identify call signs I “need” for various challenges. (For example, to “work all states” on 17M, I need to find someone in Idaho.)

For contests, N3FJP’s utilities are super easy, but after several events, the computer gets cluttered. I’ve since learned to use N1MM+ enough to feel its indispensable. I’ll do a tutorial session on this in a few weeks just so you can get some basics on how it works. 

On my Mac, I use MacLoggerDX.   It’s nice for uploading contacts, but if I forget to transfer a contact, it won’t add it automatically.  For WSJTX, JT Bridge serves the same function as JTAlert.  Time is automatically synchronized by the operating system.  

Automation: As far as I can tell, most contesters (non-straight keys) use automation for the sending side to avoid the repetitive stress of sending CQ a few thousand times.  They’ll do the headcopy for the receive. This is very different from the CW “rag chew,” where there are some predictable components, but it can be very free-form.

The Basic Class: has some useful resources. The second and third links are the session booklet and a video tutorial on Morse Code Trainer’s Instant Character Recognition (ICR), respectively.   The course didn’t exist when I went through CWA, so you can imagine how uncomfortable I was going from beginning to intermediate. I’ll work through the lessons before our class starts.

The booklet is very useful to read the narrative part, glance at the lessons, then read the appendix.  A key point early on is to pronounce the letters out loud as you hear them. Run the sounds at 25-30, but with Farnsworth spacing at around 4wpm. Again, the speed is so you’ll be unable to count the dihs and dahs, instead concentrating on how the entire letter sounds.

It will help you if you record yourself with a voice recorder, Audacity, Zoom (personal session & save to file) to listen to after you’re done.  You’ll find there will be clusters of letters that give you problems (For example, B & V gave me fits, then B & 6 in call signs.)  These can sometimes change, but the hope is the list eventually reaches zero.

We’ll do interim meetings on Thursdays, excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.  Plan on doing the CWA session, and we’ll use class to answer questions, share experience, practice sending to each other.  Feel free to work ahead if you have time. The Daily Morse Code Scales are a fun sending practice, especially the last quarter (Bens Best …)

  • November 12 – Session 1: Discovering your character speed
  • November 19 – Session 2: Defining Troublesome Characters 
  • December 03 – Session 3: Add Punctuation Characters 
  • December 10 – Session 4: Increasing effective speed to 5 wpm
  • December 17 – Session 5: Increasing effective speed to 6 wpm

Class will tentatively be Sunday & Thursday at 19:30 PST: January 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, 31; February 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28.  Towards the end of the class (~session 14), there are some short stories and QSOs that have a lot of redundancy built into them to help you with letting go of unrecognized characters.  

As a heads-up, the last two sessions have you inter-week exercises where you’re getting on the air and making several QSOs.  This was one reason I have been trying to nudge you to try K1USN. QSOs can be with each other, but I can help get you connected with students in other classes who want to practice on-air QSOs. 

If you aren’t already set up on Logbook of the Web (no ARRL membership is necessary), it would be worth starting that process.  You start with “proof” of your license (you can download a PDF from the FCC) and ID (black out private bits like the number).  ARRL will mail you a postcard with a secret code.  You verify the code with them and then they send you a “secure certificate” that you’ll use with TQSL to send your logs.  Nearly all logging programs I mentioned in my prior email have a method to do the “signing” for you and it’s painless.  

LoTW is a double-blind system, unlike where you can see any incoming logs that haven’t been matched up yet.  The intent behind this system is because some people take awards like “Worked All States” for achievements very seriously.]

Optional exercises:

  1. On Monday evenings at 18:00 PST, Gurbux Sing (W6BUX) hosts a “CW Story Time” The hour is broken into sessions of 8-12 wpm, 15-18, and then 20+ where Gurbux sends a sentence for people to head-copy. Since there are intermediate and advanced students, people will come in and out on the Zoom call.
  2. On Wednesday, November 11th, CWOPs hosts its slow(er) speed CWT, something they do three times a year to welcome the new CWA students.  This is another simple exchange: <your name> CWA.   Some of the advisors hang out on 7.100-7.110MHz for the first 15 minutes of the 03:00Z session in hopes of giving students QSO opportunities.   (Other times, CWT runs at 25+ wpm.   It is pretty cool to see how busy the band gets during that window.)