HAM Radio Musings

For the past month, I have been gearing myself up to get more involved in high-frequency (HF) work on the ham radio.  My Elecraft K3 was struggling with trying to tune and the RF output was weak, so I decided to send it in to the shop.  Sadly this journey would take almost 4 weeks to complete.  In the meantime, I went to one of the local field day activities, but the pacific northwest weather would put an early end to that endeavor.  As the skies opened and dumped buckets of water, I decided to throw in the towel and go home.

Another task I have given myself is to learn Morse Code (referred to as CW which stands for continuous wave.)  I have used the website LCWO.net and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn CW.  A few quick tips:

Take the time to adjust the tone to something that is comfortable. I find 650hz to be best for me.

  • Learn at a fast speed. 20WPM is what I recommend.
  • Start with a slow effective speed.  2WPM is what I recommend.
  • Do the lessons until you get 90% or better before moving on.
  • Do 2-3 sessions a day, which totals about 5-10 minutes.
  • Once you complete all 40 lessons, turn up the effective speed.  You want to get your effective speed up to 20 WPM as well.

I have been at this for a few weeks and I’m able to copy 25 characters/symbols/numbers.  I thought it would be impossible for me to learn given my hearing disability, but the key is a good set of headphones and blocking out all distractions.

Last night I was tuned around and was listening to a beacon out of California.  These are nice because they just repeat their callsign over at a fairly slow rate.  After a few passes, I was able to completely copy the callsign!  I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m hammering out a conversation over the air, but it really hasn’t been nearly as challenging as I thought it would be.

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