Learning CW

One of the most fascinating aspects of ham radio is working DX. I’m excited at the idea of being able to contact anyone on the other side of the globe just by turning on my radio. It works nearly all the time and it’s completely independent of other means of communications. I like to work DX with phone, but conditions aren’t always ideal and maintaining a contact takes the fun away. Digital modes are great to fight bad propagation, but to me they lack a personal touch. The remaining option is CW (morse code), which works even with poor propagation and one can give their style to it.

I started learning CW by myself with smartphone apps about a year ago. I also tried websites, but they don’t work too well for me. In a few weeks, I was able to recognize about most of the characters with an effective speed of about 5 WPM. The actual character speed is 20 WPM, but it takes me some time to associate a sound with a letter or number. At the same time I enrolled in the first level of CW Academy to add to the motivation. The class spanned April and May for a total of 16 sessions. It went pretty well, by the end I knew all letters, numbers and even some special character. We also made some contacts on the air, although that was very hard! Unfortunately the summer became suddenly very busy and I was away from my radio, so I discontinued my training.

I’m now trying to catch up again, and to further motivate myself I decided to buy a paddle key. It is a Porta Paddle II, and in my opinion it has a good construction and feels nicely at a very good price. Now I only need a portable keyer, so I can also practice away from my radio. I am also scheduled for new level 1 CW Academy class in Spring 2019, which should be easier this time. Wish me luck!

My Porta Paddle II key

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