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NCDXC Nov 2010 Page 1 of 42 AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW Challenged CW DXing for the CW Challenged By Craig Bradley, AE6RR De ae6rr.

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Presentation on theme: "NCDXC Nov 2010 Page 1 of 42 AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW Challenged CW DXing for the CW Challenged By Craig Bradley, AE6RR De ae6rr."— Presentation transcript:

1 NCDXC Nov 2010 Page 1 of 42 AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW Challenged CW DXing for the CW Challenged By Craig Bradley, AE6RR De ae6rr

2 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 2 of 42 Or who needs a key?

3 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 3 of 42 Disclaimer I am not a CW expert The purpose of this talk is to encourage hams with limited CW skill to give it a try Since I have been working CW DX, my skills have improved, hopefully this will work for others If you have suggestions to improve my techniques, they are definitely welcome

4 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 4 of 42 Which group are you in? I mainly work CW DX I have worked some CW DX I have never worked any CW DX I would like to work CW DX but…

5 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 5 of 42 Why do CW DXing? Because it’s there? For another mode? –worked them all on SSB? I need the entity and they are only on CW –Mellish Reef, Chesterfield Is, etc. The signals are to weak to work them on SSB –Poor antenna, no amplifier, 160 M

6 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 6 of 42 Why are you not CW DXing? I don’t know the code? I learned the code 40 years ago, haven’t used it much and I am rusty I can only do 13 WPM and these guys are going 30 to 40 WPM I can’t find my key (haven’t seen it in 20 years)

7 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 7 of 42 Why did I try CW DXing? When I first got back into ham radio and started DXing several hams (especially Bob, W6CYX) kept suggesting that I try CW DXing I had been QRT for 37 years and had forgotten half of the code I thought that it would take me years to learn the code well enough

8 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 8 of 42 Then I experimented with CW I bought a microHAM microKEYER mainly for PSK31 Then I started playing with the keyer I tried some CW decoders and had some limited success with them and then…

9 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 9 of 42 My 1 st CW QSO (since I was a Novice) XF4DL – Revillagigedo DXpedition –1 Nov 2006 on 80 M CW –I recorded his response and ed the file to W6CYX for verification –He said that it was a good one! –I was hooked yes –I worked XF4DL again on 40 M CW two days later

10 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 10 of 42 XF4DL QSL My 1 st CW QSOs

11 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 11 of 42 My CW Experience 226 QSOs in the log to date CW DXCC: 80 worked / 66 confirmed Mixed DXCC: 191 – 176 (phone) = 15 –That is 15 entities that I would not have worked on SSB –Including BS7H, VK9GMW, TX3A, EL2DX, JT1CO, 3B7C, VQ9JC I did CW Sweepstakes once –it was very painful

12 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 12 of 42 VQ9JC QSL

13 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 13 of 42 Copying CW - Decoders There are 2 types –Software: you need a soundcard interface –Hardware: no interface needed (limited features) They do work – with good signals –Strong (high SNR) signals are needed –The sending must be good – computer or memory keyer sent code is best The decoders are not perfect Humans do not all send perfect code

14 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 14 of 42 About the Code The code consists of characters with variable numbers of elements There are 1, 2, 3 and 4 element letters –E e, T t –A a, N n, I i, M m –S s, O o, R r, K k, U u, D d, etc. –H h, V v, B b, Q q, F f, etc. Numbers have 5 and punctuation has 6 Notice that the longer ones are combinations of the shorter ones

15 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 15 of 42 Decoder Problems Element and character spacing are critical A a and E e could run together into a R r R r could get separated into A and E People sending with a paddle can leave extra space when going back and forth from the DIT to the DA sides Decoders quite often break human sent characters apart into 2 characters Decoders try to sync up to the sending speed but it may not be constant & the gaps may vary

16 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 16 of 42 Decoder Strengths Computer or memory keyer sent CW is easiest to copy by decoders as the gaps are consistent Contesters & major DXpeditions quite often use computer generated CW Contests & major DXpeditions are a good place to get started on CW DXing with a decoder Some CW DX operators may use a paddle to send your call – then they might then use a computer or memory keyer for the exchange If the DX has a good strong signal you may be able to work him using a decoder

17 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 17 of 42 What you need to copy The DXpedition style basics –Your own call –5NN – Your signal report (it is always 599) –TU – over to you You need to recognize the sounds at 25 to 35 WPM Think of them as words not individual characters More on how to learn these sounds later

18 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 18 of 42 A sample CW DX Exchange DX -> CQ DE P5VVA UP –Note his call and he is listening up –The packet spots might tell you where he is listening Everyone (the whole world) sends their call P5VVA -> JA4XYZ 5NN (a JA got him) JA4XYZ -> 5NN TU (the JA’s report) P5VVA -> TU (the pileup starts again)

19 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 19 of 42 Exchange Variations The DX might end with something other than TU –EU eu (Europe only – go get coffee) –JA ja (JA only – go get more coffee) –UP up (listening up) Occasionally the DX will throw in his/her call –try to copy it –you do know what it is right?

20 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 20 of 42 Notes on Receiving CW Check the CW section in the manual for your transceiver –Set the sidetone for a pleasing pitch –In many transceivers the sidetone also sets the receiving pitch and the center of the CW DSP filter –When the signal is at the sidetone frequency you are zero beat –Tune around the CW bands listen to some signals

21 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 21 of 42 Sending CW The myth: “if I send slow, he will slow down for me” –Has anyone ever heard a DXpedition operator slow down? You need to send at or near the DX’s speed –If you send slower, he will get someone else’s full call before you are finished –He wants to work as many stations as possible and he can log more of the faster stations in the same time

22 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 22 of 42 How to send good CW Get a Memory Keyer –A good keyer will have a speed knob on the front –A keyer will send perfect CW how good is your fist? –A basic hardware keyer should have buttons for sending the memory buffers –A computer interfaced keyer will use the computer function keys –Program the first buffer [F1] with your call –Program the second buffer [F2] with 5NN TU

23 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 23 of 42 Practice Your Call Turn on the sidetone of your keyer Some keyers have a speaker output Send your call [F1] over and over Vary the speed – you want to be able to recognize it at 25 to 35 WPM Listen to the entire sound of your call – think of it as a word Don’t try to pick out the letters at first

24 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 24 of 42 Practice the Exchange Send [F2] 5NN TU Listen to the rhythm – TU is your cue to send You will get more practice listening to the exchanges on the air – probably many hours! You will also get more practice identifying your call as you send repeatedly into the pileups!

25 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 25 of 42 Working CW DX First you need to find the DX –Watch the packet spots –Listen to the W6TI repeater for spots –Tune the bands Why did I list tuning last? –If your code is poor, you don’t know who it is –If you watch/listen to the spots, you know the DX’s frequency, call and where he is listening (QSX) –Beware of bad spots (broken calls) –Beware of 2 DX stations on the same frequency This happened with some of the PJ’s

26 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 26 of 42 OK – I found the DX LISTEN – LISTEN – LISTEN Do you hear the DX? –Listen for a rhythm – 5NN and TU –You should hear the same station (same pitch and signal strength) over and over with a rhythm –Be sure that it is the DX not a lid or DX cop Does he ID periodically? Don’t transmit yet

27 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 27 of 42 What style is he working? Is he working DXpedition style? –5NN TU? Is he giving his name, QTH, etc? –If so, you may want to rethink this –You could program a buffer with: UR 5NN NAME IS CRAIG CRAIG QTH IS SAN JOSE CA WEATHER IS GOOD P5VVA DE AE6RR TU –But what if he asks a question…

28 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 28 of 42 Where is he listening? Did the spot give you a QSX frequency or up 2-5 etc.? –If yes, set your split to the QSX frequency Is he sending “UP”? If you don’t know where he is listening tune around and try to find the pileup Set your split to near his listening frequency Switch your VFOs back and forth and see if you can hear a station that he works (check the rhythm between the two) How long is he listening between transmissions?

29 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 29 of 42 Work the DX Turn on your sidetone Listen to his rhythm Set your keyer speed to ~ his speed –If you are sending at his speed your call will sound the same as your sending sounds coming back When you hear TU – send your call [F1] - once –Listen to your call going out (it is good practice) Listen for the DX – if you don’t hear him send your call again If you hear him – stop sending – is it your call? –If it is your call send the report [F2] –Else wait for TU and repeat

30 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 30 of 42 Copying your call Hopefully the DX will send your complete call but he may only get part of it If you hear part of your call (ABC), send your call again You might get ABC? (abc?) Do not send 5NN until you are sure that he got your all of your call correct If you are not sure, send your call again However, don’t be a LID – if he sends it several times and you just can’t copy it Send 5NN TU, log it with a ‘?’ and try again later

31 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 31 of 42 Advanced Techniques Tail-ending –Listen to the pileup and try to find a station that is working the DX –Set your 2 nd VFO to his frequency –Follow his exchange with your call Where is he tuning? –Listen to the pileup and try to find the stations that are working him –Is he tuning up or down in the pileup? –Anticipate and set your 2 nd VFO ahead of where he is now

32 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 32 of 42 Reference Material The Complete DX’er –By Bob Locker, W9KNI Excellent book on CW DXing Easy reading story style Idiom Press /books-complete-dxer.htmlhttp://www.idiompress.com /books-complete-dxer.html $19.95

33 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 33 of 42 CW Packet Spots XMLog Spots Map –Click on a spot to tune the radio Watch the spots for –The DX’s frequency –His Call –His QSX frequency

34 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 34 of 42 CW Decoding SW CwGet –Spectrum display Helps with tuning Helps set DSP –Recording features Play back QSO QSO to Elmer –http://www.dxsoft.com/en/products/cwget/http://www.dxsoft.com/en/products/cwget/ – Freeware or $35 donation Just worked VP2/NY6X but poor decoder copy!

35 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 35 of 42 A Note on using Decoders Put on your headphones and listen to the signal If you are not getting good copy on the decoder –Concentrate on the sound and don’t watch the decoder print garbage –This will throw you off Your ears and brain can probably do better

36 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 36 of 42 Keyers Most modern transceivers have built-in memory keyers There are low cost keyers with memories Many of them require that you program the memories with a paddle This is fine if you can send good CW A computer controlled or keyboard keyer will set the character spacing correctly MFJ has a keyboard keyer for $129

37 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 37 of 42 Basic Keyer microHAM CW KEYER - $165 –K1EL WinKey chip (computer controlled) –CW speed control on front panel –USB interface

38 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 38 of 42 Deluxe Keyer microHAM microKEYER II - $429 –K1EL WinKey chip (computer controlled) –USB interface – Soundcard for CW decoder –CW speed control on front panel –LCD display of Freq, WPM and sent CW text –Full radio interface (serial port, key, FSK, etc.)

39 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 39 of 42 Keyer Control XMLog CW Keyboard Window Message window –Set sidetone –Program messages Part of a free logging program

40 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 40 of 42 CW DX Contests CQ WW DX Contest –CW weekend – Nov –Simple exchange – 5nn03 (RST/Zone) –No serial numbers to copy –Most stations will be using computer/keyer generated code WriteLog has a good CW decoder/keyer built in

41 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 41 of 42 Demo Let’s listen to some CW –Calls –5NN TU

42 NCDXC Nov 2010AE6RR – CW DXing for the CW ChallengedPage 42 of 42 Summary You can work CW DX with limited CW skills Hopefully the experience with help you develop your skills Comments/Questions?


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