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Thread: Returning after a long absence

  1. #1

    Default Returning after a long absence

    Not being active for some length of time, years, and I thought it time to check on the expiration date of my Advanced license. In the process I began to read through the ARRL QRP operating threads along with the Morse code documents and found the embers beginning to flare up to get involved again but to attempt to learn QRP operating using CW mode, which had always interested me but that I had never pursued. So, my first step was to order a couple of ARRL manuals, Low Power Communication 4th Edition and Morse Code Operating For Amateur Radio.

    I was never happy with the way I learned the basics of Morse code back in the day and Iím looking forward to attempting to relearn in hopes I can improve my send and receive speeds. After all this time, not using Morse code, I may not be so indoctrinated in the old method, dit dah, that it will be possible. Anyway itís going to be interesting especially at my more mature age.

    My next step was to start looking for a Ham forum that would have a good number of knowledgeable folks and Elmerís available that could be leaned on, so here I am with my first post.

    This has been a fun week for me and Iím surprised how pumped up Iím getting about starting again. Lots I need to refresh on but look forward to it. Fingers crossed that itís going to be as enjoyable as I think it will be.

    73

    P.S. The QTH is in Trempealeau county Wisconsin

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    With my wife
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    In your absence, a number of fine morse tools have been created in order for those of us whose morse muscle has become flabby can work out and get back to our pre flab glory. Most of these reside on the internet and a search should produce many results. Try using the phrase Morse Code Learning Tools. Sites I've used include:

    http://www.justlearnmorsecode.com/
    https://morsecode.scphillips.com/trainer.html

    These two I have tried and think they are a good resource. Somewhere on another computer I had a really nice one that was very flexible in the parameters, but my mind is a little mushy this time of day so I apologize for not being able to remember. Just remember to listen at a fast speed with a slower spacing at first to get back on the bicycle, then close the spacing up. Try to hear entire words instead of individual letters; it will slow you down and keep you slow. But most importantly, have fun and welcome back. Congratulations on wanting to improve and best of luck doing so.

    73, Eric wz7u

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi. Like you, I am just starting back after a long absence (about 35 years) and need to get updated on the hobby. I did keep my Advanced license current over this time so no retesting should be needed. When I was active, I preferred CW to SSB so I need to relearn the code. One site I found online was Learn CW Online (www.LCWO.com). Seems like a good site but for now I decided to dig out my old "Your Introduction To Morse Code" cds, put out by ARRL. I also bought a book called "Getting back into Amateur Radio" by Peter Parker (vk3ye). I just got it yesterday so I can't really give it a review yet.

    Good luck on your journey and maybe our paths will cross on the air.

    Jim KE4RM & 73

  4. #4

    Default

    My first two QSOs on the forum DE WZ7U, Eric and KE4RM, Jim. Thanks gents. Appreciate your welcome and suggestions. I'll be giving the Morse URLs a look and test as that's one place I can immediately get started.

    Have started to search for the Ham boxes where my keys may happen to be stored. There's a straight key and Bencher paddle but I can't remember the model. I had just started to learn to use it and found, if I remember correctly, that I could send much faster than I could receive which always got me in hot water because my contact assumed I could receive at that speed also. I immediately had to send PSE QRS. Embarrassing.

    I am now wondering if I should restart my code training using the straight key or the Bencher paddle?????

    73, Pat KK6YK
    Last edited by KK6YK; Sun 14th Jan 2018 at 02:24.

  5. #5

    Join Date
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    Pat, the post above you from Jim is the one I couldn't remember. All great training tools. Repetition and staying with it every day will get you up to speed the fastest.

    I say use both. The straight key is a skill set that will serve you well in situations where your keying options are McGyver'ed or limited at best. The paddle will help you in faster sending situations and with rag chewing in general IMO. Use both, it can't hurt. Doing it is the important part. Hey, the NAQP CW may still be going on. Check that out if only to listen. I do lots of listening here on the computer on SDR sites because my actual radio time is very limited these days. If you are like me and stuck at the computer for long periods, maybe that could help you too. This instant the waterfall is packed on 40, I'm off to investigate.

    Oh, and you're welcome Pat. Never a problem on this end. Glad I found something I can be of help on for a change. And yes, sending is easier than copying at least in my experience. Work on head copying vs pen and paper; writing everything will slow your overall wpm. just write the important stuff like call, signal reports, location & name as well as any contest related info. Most important is to have fun! That is the prime directive. Now go and enjoy yourself.

    73, Eric wz7u

  6. #6

    Default

    Pat, I agree with Eric that it doesn't hurt to practice/use both the paddle and the straight key. Right now I only have a vibroflex paddle but I actually used to prefer a straight key. Something about using the same fingers to make the dots and the dashes, LOL. I haven't read up on these new fangled SDR sites yet. I know what the letters stand for but that is about all I know about it right now. I do enjoy computers so it may be something I will eventually get into.

    73, Jim KE4RM

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    With my wife
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    Here, let me help -

    http://sdr.hu/?q=kiwisdr

    http://websdr.org/
    ****Hey, as an aside; my AVG claims to have quarantined something from the websdr site called sdr.ydns.eu because apparently it has malware. It must be one of the sites on the list, so make sure your virus protection is on and current please. I didn't know it would be a problem. I haven't had a problem using the halfmoon bay SDR in SF, CA since it's the closest one to me to compare propagation to, even though it's several hundred miles away.

    There you go, those two are the lists I'm aware of. Have fun!

  8. #8

    Default

    More good stuff gents. I did start trying the "Learn CW Online" site this evening and liked it. I was starting to get into it when supper was called. I'll be going back for sure tomorrow and begin some steady application. Will try the other URLs too. Located four of the boxes marked "Important Ham Gear" so hopefully I'll find the keys in one of those. Maybe tomorrow I'll get a chance to start the inventory. Pulling at the bit to get in position so I can start sending practice.

    Anyway, starting to make some progress in the right direction I believe. Love'in it.

    73 Gents Pat KK6YK

    P.S. It was 5 below when I went over to the shop this morning. That's when I really miss that southern California weather, except the fires and mud slides of course.

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks, Eric. I will check those sites out.

    Jim KE4RM

  10. #10

    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by KE4RM View Post
    Thanks, Eric. I will check those sites out.

    Jim KE4RM
    Eric WZ7U got my attention too about the SDR. How things have changed since I was active. Lot of catching up needed here. Did a quick search on SDR at the ARRL website and got a list of posts that should be interesting reads. I'm going to have to be careful that I don't get to distracted from my primary goal at this time although knowing me I'll sure I'll be checking it out. Sounds very interesting.

    Now for doing my morning session on the "Learn CW Online" website. Plan on doing a minimum of two sessions a day for at lest 15 minutes each. Thanks for that URL. You gents have been a big help in getting me rolling and I appreciate your responses.


    Pat KK6YK

    P.S. I edited out some stuff I had on using the iPad for LCWO. Had some problems and switched to the PC for training now.
    Last edited by KK6YK; Sun 14th Jan 2018 at 19:24.

  11. #11

    Thumbs up Koch Method App

    Eric WZ7U and Jim KE4RM, wanted to let you gents know about my progression with the CW retraining. Ran across an app by Dave Finley N1IRZ called Ham Morse that includes the Koch method. I now have the app on my iPad Pro and iPhone 6S. So, I'm really portable with my training now. Very handy to be able to practice and not bug the wife with the Morse sounds when I have the ear buds on. I have the WPM set at 20 and it also allows you to use the Farnsworth approach of sending the characters at a higher speed while inserting extra space between letters to slow the over all speed down to a more manageable rate. Anyway, just went through a 30 minute session and I'm liking it.

    Wife has note and stated "your really getting into it."

    Pat KK6YK

  12. #12

    Join Date
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    With my wife
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    Pat, that is great news indeed. Keep up the great work!

  13. #13

    Default

    Way to go, Pat. I am trying to relearn/refresh about 2 or 3 new letters/punctuation/prosigns a day. Taking it slow so it really sinks in. Keep up the good work. Oh, you probably know this but, ARRL has a bunch of archived W1AW code practices sessions on its website if you are a member. I haven't gotten back enough yet to use them but will when my relearning is complete I plan to give them a try.

    Jim KE4RM

  14. #14

    Default

    Thanks Eric & Jim. It's fun to have you guys to share my startup with. Jim, I did restart my membership with ARRL just this last week and I thank you for the reminder about W1AW code broadcasts. Have started to think about getting the Kenwood TS-440S out and get it setup, at least as a receiver. The big problem is this artic weather we have here now which is not something I want to face getting an antenna up. May start searching for a reasonable indoor setup I can use for receiving only. It would be nice if there was an indoor unit that would allow me to pick up the amateur bands for listening then I could place it in the house for anytime listening. As I practice code my mind is starting to crank up about where I want to go in getting on the air and that right now is QRP CW station. Think I need to start a priority log with questions that come up like what QRP kit would be a good one for me to consider if I think I could handle putting one together. At my ripe age there is not a lot of time for dilly dallying ........ HEE

    I'm really loving this. Keeps the old mind cranking away, which is great for this time of year.

    Pat KK6YK

    P.S. Like to think how much fun it would be to possibly have a QSO in the future with you two. Jim, great that you're practicing your code also. If you don't mind keep us posted on how you are progressing too.
    Last edited by KK6YK; Wed 17th Jan 2018 at 12:50. Reason: fix post

  15. #15

    Default

    I have a couple of CW Morse code apps for Android smartphones and tablets that may help your return: a Koch trainer and a straight/iambic key practice oscillator. Both are available on Google Play and Amazon Apstore. You may find more details on these pages:

    http://www.kg9e.net/apps/AmateurHamR...seCodeTrainer/

    http://www.kg9e.net/apps/AmateurHamRadioPracticeKeys/

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    Last edited by KG9E; Mon 26th Feb 2018 at 22:10.

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