Friday, January 05, 2007

Nothing like CW

This post appeared on the QRP-L e-mail reflector yesterday. It hit the nail on the head; and I want to share with you folks who might not be subscribed. This was posted by Jeff, AB6MB:

Hello all;

I was out in my backyard working out the bugs in QRP portable setup.
There was a table on my patio that I setup my station on. Then I tossed my combo 20 meter half wave, 40 meter 1/4 wave up in the tree and sat down at the table. Turned on the K1, tuned up the antenna on 20 meters and listened around for QRP stations. Nothing on as it was pretty late in the afternoon. Tuned up the antenna on 40 and then over to 7.040 I went. Heard a loud station and called him when he finished his QSO. We had a nice chat and wished each other a Happy New Year.

That's when the beauty of CW hit me. I had been working a lot of digital and even posted here that digital would eventually dominate CW. However there is going to be something lost when that happens. Something about those CW signals on the air. Having to actually listen to them and copy down what is sent. Sending back with a keyer in response. Working them through the noise and QSB at times. Out on a patio, woods, a park or at a home station I have thoroughly enjoyed working those stations. Not just clicking on a signal on a computer screen in total silence. So while I still think wide scale use of CW will come to an end some day. It will be a sad day when that happens.


NorCal QRP Club #65, QRP-L #1780, ARCI 10071
Radical FIST Member 6798, Fanatic A's fan #1

Jeff, I agree with most of your post. I enjoyed reading of your appreciation for the mode. I disagree, however, that CW will ever disappear. On that matter, Paul W9AC posted this today, in answer to Jeff's post: "An artist does not stop painting because cameras can more accurately capture an image. " And I totally agree! Maybe while not in the majority, there will always be people who like to tie their own fishing flies, fabricate their own musical instruments, restore and use classic cars. There is a romance and magic to CW that will not let it disappear, will never let it die. There will always be people engaging in activities just because they are a little more difficult or a little more unique, or a little "different", or perhaps just darned more enjoyable!

73 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Ned, W8VFM9:20 AM

    Hi Larry: I have been a cw ham since Jan. of 1955 and have enjoyed cw all of that time. I still sense the magic whenever I build or operate. I still find it amazing when something I put together emits a rf signal and someone "out there" comes back to my call. All I can say is WOW and AMEN!

    Ned, W8VFM

  2. Hi Larry:

    I think CW will stand on the core cultural element of amateur radio, or radio enthusiasts, even if they are no longer required for earning the amateur radio license.

    I started my ham radio life in 1975 as a no-code licensee (in Japan), but soon learned Morse and earned a code license in 1979, which largely enhanced the activities.

    I should say CW is still the least offensive mode to operate for your non-ham family members (especially for your spouse), because you do not have to shout, and you do not have to listen to higher tones, which are likely to leak from your headphones, when operating RTTY or PSK31. I feel nothing against those modes and I occasionally enjoy them, but you usually have to deal with the signals with higher frequency tones for better decoding and preventing sending harmonics.

    And of course CW is the most efficient mode for pursuing HF DX; without CW I wouldn't have earned DXCC on 20m/17m/15m in 100W with a simple vertical antenna, let alone WAC on 20m with <5W QRP, with all I can afford without a tower or a beam antenna from a small condo room.

    And I should say I still operate CW by typing a computer keyboard, solely for my technical interest; you still have a joy to listen and decode the tone by yourself, even though you still log to a computer.

    Kenji JJ1BDX
    NAQCC #517, FIST #8962