More Morse code practice

kent Morse paddleHope you all had a very pleasant Christmas! Just before the holiday started I’ve made up my mind: I’ll attend for the Morse code exam in Belgium on 28th of June 2016! After reading the announcement on HamNieuws (Dutch) I was convinced this is the right motivator to finally get my code up to speed.
Since dropping the Morse code requirement in The Netherlands it is not possible to take exams in Morse code anymore. Which is a bit weird since in some European countries (i.e. France, Luxembourg) it is still required to have passed your Morse code exam to operate CW on the HF-bands. The only way to get the official note “CW included” on your license (or registration as it’s called these days) is to follow the “Belgium route”. There are still Morse code exams in Belgium. And because Belgium and The Netherlands both have implemented CEPT recommendations TR61/01 & 02, a valid pass of a Morse exam in Belgium is also valid in The Netherlands. So if you send your Belgium certificate to Agentschap Telecom (the Dutch FCC) they will (or have to) update your license with the note “CW included”.
It’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s the only way at this moment.

So I’ve picked up Morse code training at lcwo.net again. Every night one hour of studying. Also I listen to code created with text2cw on my daily commute. I still need to create something to practice my tapping skills. Thinking of building K3NG’s Arduino CW Keyer. I understand from the web-page I can build this keyer with LCD-display and be able to see what I tap. There must be a Arduino Nano laying around and a 2×16 LCD-display is in my junk-box. I’ll try something on a breadboard first. Will post here on any progress!

Best wishes for 2016!

ARRL DX CW

This weekend I entered the ARRL DX CW contest. It started out as a challenge to score 100 Q’s. But actually it went quite well and I just closed N1MM with 350 Q’s in the log. It was a nice picture to see all the American and Canadian amateurs all lined op in my band monitor. The propagation was quite good so I got a habit of CTRL+[down], call the station, do the exchange, CTRL+[down], next. It seems like the higher bands (20 – 15 – 10) are favorite, I never scored the most Q’s on 10 meter before! A good thing I left my Antron 99A on the roof. It turn out to be an excellent antenna for 10 and 15 meters. Only with a very few stations that didn’t copy me, I switch to the ZS6BKW on these bands. And that’s no guarantee I will work them.

Great adventure and my CW-skills are a little better now!

ARRL 10m CW/SSB contest

Last weekend I entered the ARRL 10m CW/SSB contest. My 10m vertical (Antron A99) was still up on the roof since the last 10m contest. I did climb up the roof the reinstall the Buddipole. Not so successful this time due to a firm wind which blew it down again and again. Despite the support ropes.
The band starts opening up around 8:00 – 8:30 am. I switched back and forward between CW and USB. Actually the vertical was quite successful this time.
Around 7:00 pm the band was pretty much closed. Sunday I could only work until around 2:00 pm due to family duties.
After all a good contest, interesting to do a combined CW/SSB-contest. I think I need a good strategy for these combined contests next time. There were probably more Q’s to make then I did now.
Considering this the last contest for this years division league, I’ll take a rest now. I’ll rearrange the shack, clean out the place etc. Get everything up and running for the new contest year of 2014!