Title says it all. After a frustrating evening last night, in which I should have summoned the courage to key up and answer some nice slow CQs, I decided I was going to have a CW QSO this morning at any cost.
I found an open spot on 40 meters, 7.060 mhz, tuned up and started CQing with the straight key at about 50 watts on the FT-847. That’s right… I’m not on the 817 today for two reasons — the band is noisy today and I want to punch through, and two, I finally got around to making a cable for the 847 (it requires a stereo plug).
Anyway, I’d only CQed twice when Jim, K4AXF, out of Virginia, gave me a call back. Operating conditions on the band were fairly miserable, as QSB threatened to derail the effort more than once. I didn’t copy a lot of what he said (poor conditions and poor copying on my part). I had his call wrong initially, K4APF, until I quickly looked it up on QRZ and realized something was wrong. I have a bad habit of reversing X and P for some reason. Fortunately he was understanding and patient, as I immediately told him this was my first CW QSO. My RST was 579.
The contact was a short ragchew, and I know I made a lot of mistakes. It can only get better from here eh? Thankfully, my first CW contact was a nice guy!
I had a break this afternoon and decided to try working another station. I was tuning around on 40 meters again and encountered Joe, KI4FLU, out of Georgia, calling CQ at a reasonable speed. I gave him a call and we had a nice exchange. QSB was a factor again, and there were several points where his signal dipped into silence, but most of the time he was a solid 579.
I explained to Joe he was only my second CW QSO, and like my first contact of the day, he was very courteous and patient. He even e-mailed me afterwards, having found my blog, and he’s been giving me some pointers. I discovered we’re both QRP fans and he enjoys running a Ten Tec CW rig with a variety of antique keys.
Once again, my level of copy is fairly low. I catch bits here and there and I scrape by. I’m still in the awkward stage of not knowing what to say at times. Fortunately, sending with the straight key feels fairly automatic. I have to stop and think every now and then, but for the most part, sending hasn’t been an issue. I goofed a few characters, but sent a string of dots to indicate an error and kept chugging along.
A few weeks ago I was really enjoying the paddles, but the straight key seems to fit me the best at this stage. Interestingly, both operators complimented me on my “fist” today. They were probably just being nice, but I do enjoy getting a good cadence going on the key. Whenever I’m idle, I find myself tapping my feet to imaginary rhythms — I always wanted to learn to play drums — so maybe that helps?