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My New Hobby - CW

The day before Mother's Day, my family went up to the Golden Spike National Monument. We went through the museum, checked out the exhibits, and they even had a reenactment of the ceremony there on Promentory Summit. It was a fun day. On the way back to the car, I head some radio operators:

CQ CQ CQ. This is KB7MRL. Over. CQ CQ CQ. This is KB7MRL. Over.

Contact was made, a short conversation ensued, and they went on to the next band. I knew immediately they were hams, and I wanted to check out their rig, where they were from, and how long they had been doing amateur radio. They were handing out Golden Spike QSL cards to anyone they could make contact with. So, I headed over to their pavilion, chatted with them for a bit, then went back to my family for lunch.

During my meeting, they gave me a couple ARRL magazines, their personal QSL cards, and a Morse Code CD (bundled with Windows software). I've always been interested in learning Morse (commonly called "CW" for "continuous wave"), ever since I was a scout. So, recently, I decided to set to the task of learning it. Why, you ask? What's the point, when we have the Internet, cell phones, satellites, and other forms of communication? My answer: I like a good challenge, and I just want to see if I can learn it. I can still get involved with satellite radio, and packet radio.

So, I fired up the software, and set to task. I'm learning CW using the Koch method, which means learning the number of characters I want, at the target speed I feel comfortable with. So, I set with 10 WPM, and I'm up to 7 characters: ABHJMTW, with about 90% accuracy. I'm hoping by the end of the month, I'll have the entire alphabet down at 10WPM, where June I can focus on doubling the speed, as well as reaching the assigned 40 characters of CW. Maybe that's a bit optimistic. We'll see.

Eventually, I'll set the goal for getting my Amateur Extra license here in the States. I understand that CW is no longer a requirement for obtaining that license, and as already mentioned, that isn't the reason for me learning CW. However, when I do get my license, and eventually a rig setup, I would like to chat on the CW-only bands from the outset. So, becoming proficient with CW before then is important to me.

I'm not sure how my wife will enjoy me picking up a new hobby, especially seeing as though I have so very little time in my life for anything, let alone a hobby. She probably won't be excited about me setting up my ham shack when we move. But, on the flip side, she's always complaining that I spend too much time on IRC/IM, so maybe this can take that place. After all, hams step up for public service when they can, win awards, and just enjoy good company. It's a bit more involved than IRC, with actual purposes, so we'll see. Maybe she'll get her license as well. I know I would like to see my daughter licensed. That would be cool.

So, anyway, there you go. Learning CW for fun. I'll keep progress on this blog as I go along. No promises, or threats, on the frequency of the posts.

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