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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.


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

Cee Dub
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


Or a Motorola SM-120 for $65 or less



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...

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