New call: PA8E

PA8E

PA8E Kent PaddleAfter eight years I applied for a new call: PA8E. For some time I was in doubt about my old call. PA1JIM doesn’t key well in CW. It’s too long and I didn’t like the combination 1-J. A few weeks ago one of my HAM-buddies, Gerald PA9G changed his call from PE1PQW to PA9G. A while back I did played with the idea to change my call but with the call-change of Gerald this came back to life. But then the big question: what new call should I apply for?
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Hard work pays off: CW training

PA1JIM CW training progressAt least half an hour a day: CW training at lcwo.net. It pays off. This evening I’m a little less tired then other nights and I started my daily Morse code training. I did not had my regular dips in the first training session of two minutes. To my own surprise I hit a 82% score in the first run! I could not believe my eyes! First score in the 80’s! And it was not a one day fly, the next three were in the 80 percent!

Just as I was thinking I will never learn this, no matter how many CW training I do. Day in, day out of scores around 60 or maybe 70 percent correct. Still working to three scores of 90 percent in one practice session. When I reach that, I will switch over to the numbers. And when I got three hits of 90% or higher I will train letters and numbers combined. I’m still a long way from home. On my to-do list also are the pro-signs. But when we will reach that bridge we will cross it.
After today I got back my motivation to go on with this CW training!
2016-01-21 21_24_35-LCWO.net - Learn CW Online

Arduino keyer 1st attempt

Arduino Keyer 1st attemptLast night at the radio-club I did some puzzling for my 1st attempt to build the K3NG’s Arduino CW Keyer. I want to build one especially to train Morse code keying. Therefor I need a display attached to the keyer and some training software.
I have a Hoxo 1621 4-bit 16×2 display laying around so I want to attach that to the Arduino Nano. After a breadboard session and some soldering smoke I have made the connection. Gave my first Sketch on Arduino a go, downloaded the source code of the K3NG Arduino CW Keyer from Github and walked by all settings. When I gave the compile a try, it error-ed on some libs missing. After some copy + paste the code compiled without problems (white smoke!). But when uploading to the Arduino I got again errors. The IDE did not see the Arduino although all port settings where correct. By then it was almost midnight and I wanted to go home for some sleep.
This morning I gave the compiling a second try on my Ubuntu desktop. This time compiling and uploading went without errors! Hopefully I was watching the display, but accept for the back-light nothing appeared 🙁
I don’t know if I made a mistake with this 1st attempt in pinout or if the HOXO 1621 is too much of a difference from a 1602. But some further investigation has to be done. I will be back with a 2nd attempt.

Morse code practice update: slowly but surely stats going up

Training morse code groupcode lettersSlowly the Morse code practice begins to bear fruit. I picked up where I left of in August of 2015 and changed my training speed at lcwo.net from 15 wpm with effective speed of 10 wpm to a speed of 13 wpm with a effective speed of 13 wpm. I did reach a level where I was able to copy most of the characters at 15 wpm but I could not follow a QSO because I lost track after about 3 characters. I decided I need to get up the effective speed which I did in December 2015.

So far I only practiced copying Morse code. I really did not do much about sending it. I do hear people say sending Morse code is easy. I did try it sometime on the bands but find it pretty tricky. Especially the pinching technique you can use with a paddle. In my other project (Arduino keyer) I will create a good training device. Hopefully this combination will be sufficient to pass my Morse code exam on the 18th of June!
I received confirmation from Lode ON6KL for my participation at the Morse code exam. So it is official now.
I noticed the learning curve of learning Morse code is jerky. One day I really add some new high’s and the next day can be so horrible I think I will never make it. Of course there is time enough so everything will be fine, but especially on those ‘down’ days it is really hard to find the motivation to stay practicing for an hour. I realized it has something to do with concentration. My mind let’s true other thoughts and then I lose track of the sounds. I can pick out three or four letters at the time and then they all sound the same and irritate my ears.
Luckily I know from earlier attempts it is getting better over time. The problem now is I am a little impatient and want results quicker 😉

My first CW-paddle contact!

Last night I was fiddling around with my Elecraft K1. Couldn’t get it to work properly. Couldn’t even spot myself on Reverse Beacon Network. Eventually I got out my Kenwood TS-590. Turns out my home-brew coax patch-cable didn’t work! Aaaargh, stupid mistake of course.
After a few spins over 20m and 40m I heard a faint station and after a few of his CQ’s I decrypted that it was M0JRS, Jonathan from England! With shaky hands I send my call and he came back! Now I really start to sweat all over, of course I couldn’t make much of his message because I dropped letters left and right. But I did understand he send my RST and his name (which I already looked up on QRZ.com). When he finished transmitting I tried to send his RST and my name but it didn’t go so well. When I started to listen for his return, two other stations where interfering and I missed his message completely.
Nevermind, I logged him and it’s my first CW contact with hand!
So Jonathan: thank you very much for your patience and excuse me for my bad return, I’ll work hard to get better!

The Belgium route

PA8E Kent PaddleThe other day I was browsing the club’s website (which has a very 90’s look and feel btw) and spotted a news article about a morse exam being organized in our neighbour country Belgium. That might sound weird but wait untill I explain!

When our Dutch FCC (AT) dropped the morse requirement for amateurs, they cancelled the whole possibility to do a morse program. When you think that is a bit radical, you’re right! Because now we have a situation where a Dutch amateur can do his/her full license exam, pass, but still can’t use HF in some countries like, for instance France! If in a country there is still a morse requirement and this country did not adopt the harec agreement, Dutch amateurs officially are not allowed on HF!

This wouldn’t be a problem if at least there was a option of doing a morse exam. But since dropping the morse requirement in The Netherlands, there isn’t. So when a Dutch amateur (who passed his exam for full license) still want a “CW included” notation on his license, he has to take the “Belgium-route” as it is named here. You have to take a d-tour to Belgium, attend a morse exam there and when you pass you can submit your paper in The Netherlands to get your “CW included” sign on your license. I think this is ridicoules but it’s the only way. Only a few indivitual amateurs did this “Belgium-route” so far, but now our club is looking for the opportunity to organize this for more interested amateurs.

I did contact the organizer for more specs of the exam. The next one is in March. But I concluded that I’m not ready for this one. You need to be able to receive at a speed of 13 wpm (that wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t had the actual speed set for 6 wpm ) including the pro-signes. I did not yet trained those. And you need to be able to send 13 wpm. That would be a real problem since I didn’t send at all.

Maybe I can join the next exam!