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daveIT
04-23-2013, 11:36 AM
I've been wanting to learn Morse Code and started using a Koch training app on my phone. I got m and k down...onto r! :D

Looking at the band chart there is a small piece at the bottom of 2m that is for CW only. Do folks actually use this? How do I hook up the key/paddle to my Yaesu FT-2900R? Does it just hook up to the handheld mic jack?

Is there some kind of small one I could use along with an HT?

For the CWers out there...should I start with a straight key or go to the bug / sideswipe type?

--... ...----..--

.-------.-.-...

DaveInDenver
04-23-2013, 11:42 AM
Do people use CW on 2m? Yes, mostly for EME (moon bounce) and meteor scatter, but other places. There's some AM and SSB, too.

Your FT-2900 is FM only, so it's not ideal for CW, but you could do modulated CW if you wanted. That's how the repeaters ID themselves. Some radios have built-in keyers but I don't think the FT-2900 would. For example the FT-817 can generate Morse by using the microphone's PTT button. There's no range advantage to doing modulated CW, it's still FM and so you aren't more power efficient like real CW. It's main advantage is being easier to decode with noise, but you're talking marginal increases because you're still dealing with the FM detector limitations.

Most people who are doing CW on 2m would have an all mode rig, FT-897, IC-7000 or something like that. The FT-857 for example can do AM, FM, CW, SSB on any band it can cover, 160m up to 6m, 2m and 70cm. It'll only do 50W on 2m rather than the 100W it can do on HF and 6m, though.

DaveInDenver
04-24-2013, 08:30 AM
Here you go.

http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-552
MFJs JimHandy Morse Code / CW Interface plugs into your 144/440 MHz handheld and converts it into a modulated CW transceiver -- all you need to do is plug in your key. Get your ham buddies together on-the-air and enjoy some fantastic CW fun!

Run a little morse code practice on your repeater. Start your own FM CW net. Have fun and upgrade! A transmit/receive switch automatically switches your HT to transmit when you send CW and returns you to receive when you stop keying. The MFJ-552 has a built-in speaker, volume control and great sounding true sinewave sidetone -- NO harsh keyclicks!

The MFJ-552 measures 4W x 1 1/4H x 3 3/4D inches. The MFJ-522 uses one 9V battery (not included).

daveIT
04-24-2013, 12:04 PM
Hmm...was hoping for something small.

I think I may build up a Small Wonder Labs Rock-Mite and homebrew an antenna. With my Tech ticket it looks like I could only get the 40M or 80M one. I read somewhere that the bulk of QRP CW is on 20, 15 and 10M. Should I bother with 40M or build something else that uses 10 or 15M?

Are most of these homebrew kits set for one band?

DaveInDenver
04-24-2013, 12:58 PM
What is your intention here?

Those SWL Rockmites are pretty fun kits but extremely limiting. You're not only talking one band, but one frequency (I think the crystal for 40m is 7.040Mhz, for example). They dissipate about 1 watt of power. To say making contacts with them is challenging is an understatement.

I don't do CW (one of those things I really, really mean to learn), but most of my QRP phone contacts have been on 20m. Not that you can't do them in other bands, but 20m propagates most reliability and the antennas are still reasonably efficient and portable. At home I have no moral dilemma, QRO all the way!

Tell you what, though, I need a major kick in the pants to finish some things radio-wise. A couple are to get a decent HF antenna set back up and the other is to learn Morse. So being that 40m is better for regional contacts and you have 40m privileges on CW, we could set up a sked to learn together.

I think for something locally like that 1W could work. I think you might be happier overall having something with more power. QRP (especially QRP-L) is a challenge alone even without dealing with antennas and operating. I generally recommend when asked to get something with 100W as your first HF rig to avoid the frustration of making contacts. I think your money is better spent finding a used FT-857 or IC-706 personally, if you want something small.

We could always use VHF as a back-up, even a repeater if pressed. But learning CW on HF seems more right.

daveIT
04-24-2013, 02:33 PM
I'd like something I can take along on a field day to try out some CW. Thinking more about the RockMites...since they only seem to be for the calling freq they wouldn't really work for ragchew...since folks usually meet up there & then move freqs.

I've been looking at the FT-817/57/97, but will need to save up some $ for those! You can alwas crank those down to 5W for some QRP action. There's a ham (NOAMY) here in COS that has 706 and 706mkII on ebay & CL, but if I buy a rig like that I want to have 70cm ability.

I plan to learn Morse and get my General ticket. My priority right now is finishing up 3 more classes for my Bachelors degree and taking a few CLEPs. I hope to have that done by October at the earliest and end of year at latest. After that crap is over I'll have time to go back & learn fun ham stuff and start guitar lessons again (and I want to learn how to weld!)

I think it would be cool to learn CW along with some folks! I recently started practicing with a Koch method app on my phone. Trying for 15 mins a day at lunch...I'm trying to learn at 20/15 but can't seem to write the stuff down fast enough, so I might slow it down a bit. I also printed out the General question pool to start learning those.

DaveInDenver
04-24-2013, 02:55 PM
The 706mkII has 70cm, doesn't it? I know there is a 706 with UHF. I wouldn't be too concerned with it if an Elmer offers something like that at a fair price, I'd go for it. My first HF radio was an Alinco DX-70TH that had neither 2m or 70cm. You can always upgrade or keep it for a back up.

I know the call sign N0AMY, although can't say I've ever eyeball QSO'd with him AFAIK.

QRP and more so QRP-L (which is one watt or less) are more about just making contacts than conversations. That is part of the reason I try to steer new hams away from the FT-817 and QRP in general, it can be really frustrating. It's geeky and technical fun, but you don't ragchew and you have to be patient.

daveIT
04-24-2013, 03:35 PM
IC-706mkIIg has 70cm, but the 706 and 706mkII don't. If my FT-2900R did 70cm I would have bought the 70cm, but only my HTs have it right now. Seems like a lot of the EmComm stuff uses 70, so I'd like that feature.

DaveInDenver
04-24-2013, 04:02 PM
Understood. If you're doing a go-box I'd probably keep the HF and V/UHF radios separate anyway. With any of the all mode, all band radios you can only be doing one thing at a time so it's a lot of wasted HF capability just to get 70cm FM. There are loads of dual band and used single band UHF radios that could be used.

Like a Kenwood TK-840 for like $50

http://www.ebay.com/itm/KENWOOD-MOBILE-RADIO-TK840-UHF-Wide-Band-MIC-BRACKET-HAM-TK-840-25Watt-450-470-/111050669325?pt=2_Way_Radios_FRS&hash=item19db22bd0d

Or a Motorola SM-120 for $65 or less

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Motorola-SM-120-UHF-Mobile-Radio-/111057809061?pt=2_Way_Radios_FRS&hash=item19db8faea5

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Motorola-Radius-SM-120-25-Watt-16-Channel-UHF-Mobile-Transceiver-/290901441541?_trksid=p2047675.m1982&_trkparms=aid%3D333005%26algo%3DRIC.FIT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D177%26meid%3D7196064407068902484%26pid%3D100009%26prg%3D1088%26rk%3D2%26sd%3D111057809061%26

There are tons of old UHF radios like this since all the agencies are moving to 900MHz and narrowband, so they have to remove the old Motorola and Kenwood and Vertex VHF and UHF radios. In particular there are tons of wideband business and emergency service radios, which are useless to anyone but hams now.

daveIT
04-24-2013, 04:04 PM
Just saw that Elecraft KX3...good for QRP. Supposedly a 100W amp coming out for it too...

DaveInDenver
04-24-2013, 04:49 PM
Elecrafts are sweet radios. Haven't seen the KX3 up close, but the K3 is uber nice. One of the best receivers out there of any radio. Sherwood measured the KX3 above the very awesome FTdx-5000 and higher than the K3 itself. It's only second to the PT-800, which is undisputed king of the hill.

http://www.sherweng.com/table.html

Spendy, though!

Base KX3 is $900 if you assemble it yourself. Also does not do VHF or UHF. But compared to a FT-817, it's not bad. Those go for about $700 new right now and there's no question the KX3 is a much better radio. I have an '817 and do like it a lot. I think the form factor is better than the KX3 and it had a unique niche unto itself for a decade. But it's performance is that of a design badly showing its age.

The regular K3 can accept a 2m module. But to get a K3/100 starts at $2100 if you assemble and the 2m module, which is 10W, is $300. If you want to do UHF you'll need to add the transverter module to the 2m module to drive a UHF amp.

For around twice what the 2m module alone costs you can get a whole FT-857, which you can find right now at around $850 brand new. That's another reason the FT-857 is I think the best choice for a first radio. You can build a battery pack for $50 and have /way/ more radio than the $200 difference to the '817.

But of course the radios we mortals can afford are straight up lousy in comparison. The FT-817 3rd order dynamic range comes in around 83dB and the ft-857 at about 88dB/65dB. Those are around 20dB worse than the K3 class radios.

DaveInDenver
04-24-2013, 05:09 PM
And all of this is just dreaming because to really take advantage of performance, QRP especially, you need to know Morse. Even the FT-817 can be a very good radio with CW. All of the numbers Sherwood and others quote make a difference in contests for sure but for us, normally, ambient interference is so bad that we'll give up a ton of it just being around S5 or higher noise.

daveIT
04-25-2013, 08:14 AM
After trying to dig stuff out of the noise on the .130 and .160 lately I think I'm ready for anything :) Some weird stuff going on!

daveIT
04-29-2013, 11:43 AM
Ordered a Vizkey & code practice oscillator this weekend. I think it will be easier to learn if I can do it along with listening.

I've been watching some videos and reading a bunch of reviews and I've decided I'm going to start saving $ towards an Elecraft KX3. I plan to get the 2M module and 100W amp whenever those are released as well. I'll begin researching the best antenna and I want to build a go box setup.

DaveInDenver
04-29-2013, 12:27 PM
You will like the KX3, that is the top of the line radio. You should never feel the need to upgrade! I'm super jealous, an Elecraft is my 'someday' radio.

DaveInDenver
05-17-2013, 09:40 AM
This was in a recent QST. I'm planning to build one, interested?

daveIT
06-06-2013, 07:44 AM
So, I ended up buying a couple keys and a HamGadgets MK-1 (http://www.hamgadgets.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=106), so I've been practicing with those. The MK-1 is a bit overkill for a practice oscillator :D, but I have future plans for it. I ended up with a Vizkey (http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/6168) and a tiny, micropaddle from KK5PY (http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/1761) which fits in a film canister (for future SOTA stuff!)

I have C, Q, W, 0, A, L, E, M, K, R, S, O down...that's almost half the alphabet and a number! :)

I've been learning at 20 characters/15 words per minute. I've been using Koch Morse Trainer Pro (KMT Pro) on my Android. Go to lunch, grab your paper and pencil, throw some headphones on and copy away for 15-20 minutes.

Trying to finish my degree is definitely my top priority, but it's been fun to sit, listen and try to copy stuff. I don't know how the heck folks can send/rcv that super fast stuff! Once I have all the letters down I'll probably download the files from W1AW and try copying those.

Oh, and the KX3 dreams are on hold for a bit. I want to get a nice battery backup/go-kit set up before I buy that. I'm really liking my Kenwood HT, so I'll build that up with a Kenwood TM-710A. I wish I would have bought a dual-band mobile rig instead of the FT-2900R since the ARES guys down here use both bands.

So, Dave have you been doing any CW practice?

DaveInDenver
06-06-2013, 09:50 AM
I hear ya on ham radio budgets. Just keep in mind that the radio is just a pretty face you look at, what makes or breaks your station is the antenna. Any radio made in the past decade or two is far more sensitive and stable than we need.

So get what you can afford and spend the time & money on wire and a tuner. A $50 single band Altoids xcvr hooked to a decent antenna will run rings around a KX3 connected to a subpar one. Plus you won't cry when it gets crushed and dunked in a lake backpacking... The majority of hiking contacts I make are 20m so having a bunch of bands really is just a luxury.

Haven't had time to practice, nothing to practice on.