First CW Contact

Well, it was rough, but I completed my first CW contact with W5L SES. Still laughing. Jim was very patient with me. I emailed him after, and he said he still remembers his first contact 59 years ago! Hopefully, it went better than mine! He really encouraged me to stay with it and have fun.

Learned some things. My rig transmits CW just fine, but it can’t do better than the operator, hihi.

Adrenaline causes me to rush the dits. I was starting to slow down after the exchange was over.

Have a laugh at oneself. It helps you get through it and makes it fun.

Don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet, even if you are not fully prepared.

I used Fldigi to receive. The exchange “script” was simple, but the software helped me concentrate on the sending and pickup the difficulty he was having getting my call sign correct. I was nervous and kept sending it until I got it right and he copied it. We exchanged signal reports and 73s, and he was back up to speed with the next caller. Appreciate his patience with a first timer.

Never too late to learn.

The CW community is welcoming to beginners, even during an on-air event!


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Congrats! Special events and QSO parties are good and easy contacts. The exchange is straight forward and pretty short. I made a few FL QSO part contacts this weekend also. I use fldigi to help decode and make sure I understand the callsign and exchange a few times before I call. Then I listen for it without looking at fldigi before trying to call.

I really want to get to where I don’t need fldgi but that’s probably a little ways off for me. But it’s getting better.

Thanks for the encouragement, Wayne! I was really encouraged and motivated when I found I could use Fldigi to listen to exchanges. It motivates me to listen to faster Morse. As you suggested, I plan to use it as a learning aid rather a crutch. It’s a great way to learn the typical “scripts” for exchanges as there doesn’t seem to be a “standard” per se. Which is confusing to a rank amateur like myself.

I see the SKCC uses one type of script. I am sure FISTS, which I recently joined, and others use different typical exchanges. It may only be the club identifier but that’s different!

I like the SKCC exchange where they repeat everything twice: call sign, club number, name, qth, and report. Makes it easy for beginners!

Glad to hear you found some FL stations to work. They are usually the strongest stations I pick up, but I was trying to find remaining FT8 DX contacts. Picked up Kaliningrad and Bulgaria, but they are hard to get LOTW confirms out of.

Thanks again and 73!

Yea the scripts seem to vary. But generally have the same info to get started. RST & Name then from there they diverge.

I try and listen to on air QSO’s when I can find them at the right speed. I found a sort of slow person calling CQ CQ SKCC the other day. I was able to understand most of his signal. I think he was sending at about 10 wpm. His characters and spacing were good. So I have been looking into SKCC a bit. But I tried practicing sending and it’s a disaster on a straight key . . but I’ll keep at it. I would like to play with a bug a little and see what that is like. SKCC seems to be a very active group on the air.

Bottom line I need way more practice LOL

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I finally made a straight key contact yesterday during the SKCC Weekend Sprint. It was a bit nerve wracking but the first on is in the log!

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Very cool, Wayne. Congrats! You’ll be ready for SK night! What kind of straight key do you have?

I’ve seen the term, but what exactly is a Sprint contest? How is it different from any other?


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Wayne, just a shout here with a congratulatory spin on it. Certainly the general consensus is CW can be mastered by all who commit to the task, study, practice, and Yada Yada. Well Sir, I myself am aware of all the challenges of adulthood, the ageing mind, western hemisphere worries, and the ever present job of having a job… Cheers plus Great Work plus, Straight key is awesome and we salute your accomplishment… :yarn: In my country of origin the yarn ball is the symbol for some stuff about things like this.

I believe Sprint is basically a short contest, a lot of times a number of hours rather than a whole weekend.

I have a Japanese “J-38” key. It looks like a J-38 but has “Japan” on the bottom. I got it a BVRC meeting in the raffle. I polished it a bit and mounted it on a oak board.



Got it. Sprint is more my length :-).

Very nice key. May you make many, many contacts with it, Wayne.


I have made 1 with it!

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