ALL THINGS HF: MAY

All Things HF…

Gosh! 4 days in a row with no sunspots making DX a bit difficult if not impossible. I managed to get my DX fix whenever I sat down at my station so it wasn’t that bad plus…all the good rag chewing was super enjoyable as usual.

This station is active and has been since HF privileges were awarded back in 96-97. If bragging rights are allowed, there are over 13,000 QSO’s in my electronic log and another 6,000 in my paper logs. It seems like a very long time ago since I took my novice test followed by the technician test. I quickly realized that getting on HF depended on passing my element 1A test which was the dreaded CW part required for technician plus and 10-meter privileges. At that time (1997) during sun cycle 23, 10-meters was the king of the bands. One could operate the world with a simple wire antenna. The emission privileges at that time were from 28.300 to 28.500 for us new guys. I passed the 5 WPM CW after studying code for 6 months and this opened the window to the world of DX for me on SSB.

I knew that if I was to be successful and get the coveted DXCC awards…I needed to get my General ticket. I breezed through the exam but there was one other thing waiting in the wings and it was CW requirement at 13 WPM. I started the learning process of operating CW at 13 WPM when the FCC dropped the mode as a requirement for licensing…whoopee, I was a General with HF operating privileges on all bands. I opened the window and tossed the CW as far as it would go. Good riddance!

Fast forward to the new century when I had worked and confirmed 225 countries and entities. I was getting on in years and I felt that I was missing something in this great hobby and that something was ‘CHARLIE WHISKY’ as some of the old timers called CW. An order was placed for an MFJ code tutor…when it arrived, we became pretty good buddies for the next several months. Somewhere along the way I was able to copy 10 WPM and send at 13+ WPM with my new paddle. I also ordered a software decoder program and installed a remote key pad that was programmed to send my call sign.

About a month or so after my 80th birthday I worked an ATNO and my very first DX contact using CW. What a great moment for me. By July of last year my DXCC credits were at 310 worked and confirmed with half of those 80 new ones using CW. DX is easy using CW if it’s a station looking for 5 band DXCC or a DXpedition…as soon as my call is confirmed I send ‘TU UR 5NN TU’ and I’m in the log. Its been a long enjoyable journey from the beginning to this point in time and I wanted to share it with you.

If I can learn CW, you can learn CW, just do it. Remember, take time to sit down at your station and call CQ, someone somewhere is listening…don’t disappoint them.

So long from Huntersville for now, 73 es gud DX from Bob/W0ZPE.

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