Been doing CW since 2004, but distractions and obligations in life took me away for several years. But I always enjoyed the faster stuff the best, as I could get my thoughts out at a realistic rate of speed and have better conversations.
What speed do you like to run QRQ CW
Whatever I can get comfortable, relaxed copy (in my head)...and that speed varies from day to day. But lately 45-55 has been easier for me than ever before. Flawless copy is the goal, but holding up my end of a conversation is a more than adequate compromise. This is conversational QRQ CW.
Your favorite key, paddle or bug
Lately I've found that using the bug takes away most of the frustration and stress from sending. I have grown tired of the perfection that paddle sending requires, as it tends to pique my temper, hihi.
Your favorite cw keyboard
The keyboard hardware I use is an old 1980's PC keyboard made by a company called Expo. It had tactile feedback due to mechanical action in the keys, which I like, since I could feel if I was actually sending the letters and words I was endeavoring to send, and with such feedback, I felt I could improve my sending at a more rapid rate. I have been using that keyboard with my FB W5UXH keyer, which was designed, built and coded by Chuck Broadwell.
In the past I used used a DOS program to talk to W5UX and a few times I attempted to join the FOG sked...I believe it was CW500.exe. I also played around with CWType a bit too, but I recall it had just came out around that time, or I had just found out about it. I recall a distinct moment one day of sending some 105 wpm to Chuck AA0HW via those DOS programs, and being amazed at him finding no problem answering my questions fired at him at that mind numbing speed, even when I messed up and shot him a few extra letters occasionally due to performance anxiety.
Your favorite cw sending software
FLDigi, cwtype.exe, cw500.exe, cw101.exe....however, I prefer to cut out the computer when sending on HF and use my W5UXH keyer. And if you haven't tried it, please contact Chuck Broadwell and let him know you'd like to buy one of his keyers. They are the best in the biz.
Your Rig, Antenna and RF Power
Ten-Tec Omni D (series B), 2 Triton IVs, and a Corsair II Antenna is G5RV up about 35 feet.
Your QSK preferences
Full break-in. 1970's era Ten-Tec Solid State...or tube (with QSK circuit).
Your favorite headphones or speakers for listening to cw
What has been your most effective way of training practice, to copy and send qrq cw
QSK/break-in conversation at all speeds with a good friend on HF. Failing that, iCW, and when that isn't available, I listen to recordings of QSK qsos of close friends or acquaintances. People whose conversational style and vocabularies I am certain to run into soon on the air. After training a bit with the .mp3 files, perhaps I'll give myself an edge.
However, the fastest way to learn, for me, is to get on the air and *do it*!
Welcome back Brett - let the fun begin! Hope to hear you on iCW & the air
QRQ of course
I think many of us find it's fun to practice/strive for 60+ but in reality we settle back down to a more comfortable 40 for conversation. At least for me, it's hard to sustain 50-65 for any length of time. Guess I should be practicing more...!
Welcome back, Brett. I got interested in QRQ in 2008 during the great sunspot minimum between Cycles 23 and 24. The lack of sunspots for so long left this Maui ham looking for something interesting to do instead of listening to static on dead HF bands. I stumbled across this website and got to know Chuck, He set up the iCW net and helped all of us get the software up and running. Setting up for iCW looks harder than it really is. Come join us on Saturdays for the on the air net followed by the iCW net. The FOG and CFO groups are still active and as friendly as ever. I have been using Chuck's Icom as a remote station. Not enough sunspots to make it to the Mainland from Maui on 40 and 80 meters at mid afternoon!
Hi Brett! Thank you very much for your interest and the informative comments. I have tried various antenna options, but with the very high electrical noise levels in this area together with the need to keep the installation invisible nothing really worked well enough to attempt contacts. I am now listening with a small MFJ multi-band whip inside the house and reception is passable, but again not usable for two-way communications. Pleased to hear I am not the only one experiencing variations in CW performance from day to day! Internet is perhaps an option, but I will have to get a better and more reliable system going. In the meantime I will try to improve my CW skills :-) 73.
I understand the "crazy line." I've passed it a number of times over the past few years. My gold plated Chevron and dropping $$$ everytime I bump into Pietro Begali with his paddles and keys are two examples. Next step is buying an illuminated display cabinet for the keys / paddles I'm not using at the moment.
Hello! It would be great to work CW with you too, and you may be interested to know I own a Frattini key as well...it is his Semimagnetico, which is like a combination of a paddle and a bug. You are probably familiar with it already, mine is serial number 0080, and he built it for me sometime around 2004-2005. It has a nice feel, but I still need a lot of practice to master it and its adjustment. For hand sending, I typically prefer 25-35 wpm, with an occasional foray to 40 for short bursts if I am feeling confident, but typically switch to a keyboard for 40 and above. Hope to hear you soon...as I am still working on a convenient iCW solution and will probably settle on a hardware/software combination.