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See the END of this page for my experience and opinion on learning morse code…
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I earned my ticket in 1991 and hosted nodes in the northern Missouri packet radio communications network providing packet gateways for VHF on 145.01 and HF on 40m & 20m. Primary mode then and now is CW. One of my first rigs was a Yaesu 101EE. There's good things to be said about the sweet sound of a tube rig. I have been off the air for about 10 years with job and family, and have recently returned (late March 2012).

I've participated in a few club field day CW activities. CW is around 27-30 WPM. Working on 35 and 40+ QRQ and hope to make it into the 40-50 WPM range.

Give me a a shout if you hear me on the air. I WILL QRS/Q as necessary. Rag chews are great and enjoy chatting a while on the paddle or on the straight key. Never know, might find me in a few contests as well.

Current set is the K-Line - Elecraft K3-100/P3 x2, KPA-500, KAT-500, KX3, KXPA-100

Favorite CW keys to date are the Begali Sculpture, Begali Adventure, and the Begali Traveler.



Elecraft KX3 mobile CW setup

Elecraft has yet to release a mounting option for the KX3, so this information may be helpful.

The RAM brand mounting fixture is the ultimate way to go and this particular setup installs in about 15 minutes with a few hand tools, and best of all, no drilling or damage. This is the easiest and most solid mobile setup I have ever used. The main components were designed to securely hold a full-size laptop computer. The laptop tray is replaced with a Universal Finger Grip fixture. The KX3 mounting kit consists of the following:

RAM VB-110-VU - Double Swing Arm (fully adjustable positioning and height via hand knobs)
RAM VB-185 Ford F250 Seat Mount (uses 2 existing seat bolts - Note: Your vehicle make/model may be different)
RAM VP-TBF9U 9" Telepole Base (female)
RAM VP-TTM8U 8" Telepole Top (male)
RAM HOL-UN4U Universal Finger Grip (perfect fit for KX3)

This setup is 'throw and go'... Fast, easy, secure. The radio, key(s), and necessary cables are protected in a Pelican 1450 hard case when not in use. Total setup time including key install is about 2 minutes to setup or tear down.

The Universal Finger Mount has rubber fingers that totally protect the finish of the KX3 and hold it firmly. As you can see from the photo, either the Elecraft CW key mount or the Begali CW key mount (pictured) for the KX3 fit perfectly between the mount fingers. No sliding, no slop. The articulating swing arm and pivoting ball mount (attached to the finger grip fixutre) allow endless positioning options.




I am using a high quality, properly fused accessory plug for 13.8v DC power (in dash) and a simple alligator test clip (on the right 'hand screw') to complete chassis ground from radio to seat mount. The antenna is currently a Hustler 5" magnet mount with a Hustler MO-4 22" mast, mounted on top of the cab with coax run in through the back door (or window).

Yes, the Hustler 5" magnet securely holds a single Hustler 20m (RM-20) or 40m (RM-40) standard trap mounted on the MO-4 mast at speeds over 75 MPH without issues. I would NOT recommend using the VP-1 triplex adapter to mount more than one coil at a time using the magnet.

Here is a closer view of the Begali Adventure CW key mounted to the KX3. After using several different keys, the Begali Adventure is the ULTIMATE !!! You get what you pay for, and every Begali key I own is heirloom quality that will last several lifetimes!


Versatile mobile HF antenna setup

I am not a fan of magnet mounts, and wanted an antenna mount that is as robust as the rest of the setup, so I contacted Tom at ZeroFive-Antennas as I have ordered several products from Tom; the quality is excellent, and his antennas are robust and perform far better than most I have used.



Tom designed a custom receiver-hitch antenna mounting fixture that slides into the trailer hitch receiver on the back of the pickup that elevates the antenna mounting point to the top of the tail gate. This is the ultimate in non-permanent mounting options and can be quickly transferred between vehicles with no drilling or damage to the vehicle structure. Simply slide the fixture into the receiver, insert the hitch retaining pin (locking), connect a ground wire to a good frame ground (pigtail with banana plug ready to go), and attach the antenna mast using the Hustler quick disconnect hardware.



The coax (not shown in photo) is attached to the feedpoint of the antenna at the base (Hustler SS ball mount) and run into the bed (heavy plastic zip ties attached to the tie-down points on one side of the bed will make quick loops for temporary routing) and in through the back window, or through the door opening. Later I might run some RG213 permanently under the pickup and in through a grommet.

 



I QSL 100% US Mail. I enjoy looking back and remembering everyone kind enough to share their QSL card. Won't send you a dupe unless you request a dupe card with current stats. If you don't want to QSL, please let me know during the QSO. Please check your QRZ log book and acknowledge our contacts as everyone eventually shows up in there.

By the way, if you're really too cheap to put a $0.33 cent stamp on a return QSL card, let me know and I'll send a SASE for your convenience. (I understand this requirement and the cost for those ops who exchange many hundreds or thousands of QSL cards each year)

 

 


 

 

My experience and opinion on learning morse code…

 

I’ll skip the life story and over simplify the process of learning morse code (CW). I’ve been a ham since 1991 and shortly after became enthralled with CW. I remember spending hours with the 5-13 WPM code tapes to become proficient. After years of operating, I was off the air for about 10 years and then returned to the hobby in 2012. It took me a whole month to get my code speed back up around 20 WPM. From there I decided I wanted to become proficient at higher speed CW (QRQ). While I can often copy upwards of 35-40 WPM, I’ve found that learning CW at low speeds is a major disadvantage. 

 

Here’s why I say this: learning slow code created bad habits like ‘counting’ the dits and dahs, as well as having to completely form a character and then the word in my mind before I am mentally ready to grab the next one. Bad habits greatly extended the time it took to increase my code speed above 20 WPM. Morse code is truly a new language, and as with our native spoken language, concentrate on the flow or idea and not the individual characters and words.

 

If someone asked me today how to learn the code, this is basically what I would tell them:

 

1. While learning, NEVER listen to the code slower than 20 WPM.

2. Use computer software like ‘Morse’ or ‘Just Learn Morse Code’ to simulate perfect code off the air.

3. Use the KOCH method preferably. The alternate is the Farnsworth method.

4. Begin learning/copying CW using pencil and paper.

5. Practice 15-20 minutes every day, or preferably multiple sessions per day. Schedule some time when it is quiet and you are not distracted by life.

6. As soon as you are proficient (90%++) writing the code at 20 WPM, put the pencil and paper away and begin copying CW in your head. This is comparable to listening to music and remembering your favorite songs by their tune. It takes time but will become easier the more you practice.

7. Do NOT change the character spacing/timing as you increase your speed or it will throw off your copy timing in real life QSOs and increase your learning curve.

8. Like physical reflexes, in time your mind will copy reflexively, meaning you won’t really think about what you’re hearing, but will understand it. Words and phrases will just pop in there.

 

Using the 8 steps above many people can become proficient in 2-4 weeks. I’m not one of those people and it took much longer, in part because I learned slow code, so don’t be discouraged if you fall into this group. Practice, concentrate, and you will get better. If you’re practicing too much, take a day off and let your mind relax. Remember, not many people are able to copy every letter in every word. Just enough to get the idea.

 

At this point, you are mentally copying CW and are ready to begin increasing the speed 1-3 WPM at a time. Complete step 5 without paper and use your computer software to increase the speed and soon you will find yourself copying QRQ CW.

 

You will eventually get to a point above 20 WPM where copy is very difficult. This is generally called ‘the wall’. For me it was above 42 WPM, depending on word spacing (I can hear words but am not mentally ready for the next word). If you make it this far and you have not yet done so, it is time to start listening and learning complete ‘sounds’ and ‘phrases’ instead of characters. Examples of sounds are prefixes and suffixes on words like: ist, ing, ant, nce, ed, ex, con, er, etc. You might get a dictionary and create a ‘sound’ list from common words that you can send to yourself using computer software and can become familiar with these sounds at higher speeds. When I make a word list, I usually repeat the same word or sound 3-4 times in a row so the computer will send it that way and I have multiple chances to decode it before moving on. I’m still working on it, so I’ll let you know how it goes from here.

 

Tips/Tricks:

 

1. Use a computer program to send perfect code while learning.

2. Use a program called ‘ebook2cw’ to convert word lists and other text into perfect CW sound files for practice.

3. Use the online tool at ‘http://www.lcwo.net' and read CW resources at ‘http://www.w0uce.net', among others.

4. Google is your friend. Read all you can and learn what is relevant to your learning/operating style.

5. I’ve found basically 2 styles of operators: Contesters and Rag Chewers. Many contesters can not have a QSO at speed because they’ve trained themselves to listen to calls and signal reports and can’t hear normal conversation at speed. Likewise, the opposite is also true, many rag chewers are poor contesters for the same reason. Learn to be versatile and do both.

6. Get used to crazy abbreviations. Many ops like it short and sweet.

7. Do NOT send faster than you can receive unless other arrangements have been made with receiving station. And do not try to send faster than you can reliably send. Sloppy code is bad.

8. Use a decent key. It doesn’t have to be expensive. If you use a straight key, concentrate on perfect timing over speed. Again, sloppy CW is bad.

9. Do NOT run everything together !!! Separate words with adequate spacing so your code is easily understood! Only thing worse than sloppy code is an endless stream of characters with improper spacing!

10. Don’t get stuck on the old ‘template’ of call, report, name, qth, rig, weather, etc. Mix it up.

11. Don’t anticipate what’s coming next. Keep your mind open.

 

*END*

 

 

 

God Bless and Best 73 de Scott - N0NUF

 

 

 

8273357 Last modified: 2017-08-15 01:55:35, 17406 bytes

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