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On-Air Practice Sessions

To encourage new and old CWers, the Peel Amateur Radio Group holds 80m on-air slow CW QSO exchange sessions on most Tuesday afternoons or evenings (the exception is the Third Tuesday of the month - our meeting & TechTalk night). PARG will be holding another Slow CW event late in 2021 - probably December 4th, and there's always SOTA and VKFF Parks activators out there looking for CW exchanges... so time for some on-air practice?

So again, this will be for anyone interested in having a go on CW - both PARG members and friends of PARG.  

So I suggest that we start on 3600kHz and have a set of QSO exchanges between everyone who can hear each-other, where we’ll just simulate a basic signal report exchange as we might do in the Pow-Wow - for example:

  • CQ PARG de VK6ARG AR K

  • VK6ARG de VK6COM K

  • VK6COM de VK6ARG UR 479004 479004 BK

  • BK QSL UR 389001 38NTT1 BK

  • BK R QSL 73 dit-dit

  • Dit-dit

Then call someone else or call CQ again. And if no-one’s calling, call CQ PARG and see who you can hook up with - doesn’t matter if you’re in PARG or just having a go - everyone’s welcome.

If there’s lots of people queuing up waiting for a go (I live in hope!), once a QSO is in progress (or if there's QRM or switch-mode power supply sprogs on the frequency), slide down 5kHz and call CQ PARG - checking occasionally to see if 3600 is clear. And if both 3600 and 3595 are in use, try 3590 and so on. You never know, we might end up with a bunch of calling frequencies in use (I know, I’m an optimist!). If nothing else, once we have QSOs in progress, I’ll slide down and see who I can catch. Even if you’ve worked me already, second, third and forth contacts are most welcome… I need the practice.

So Tony VK6DQ will be running the CW practices on 146.550MHz in the Mandurah area from 1900 WA time until around 2000. So I propose that we be on 3600kHz +/-QRM CW from around 1930 WA time. I'm planning on being there using my VK6 call VK6QI via the VK6SR Southern Electronics Group Remote HF station at Bedfordale (just SE of Perth for those not familiar with the area). Most synthesised receivers when switched to CW will resolve a 700-800Hz tone when tuned to 3600 - but for anyone listening on LSB, you’d need to offset your receiver to 3600.8 with your Clarifier/RIT to resolve the tones.  

Note, theres an interesting problem when I use the Remote - it sporadically sends a long un-commanded dash that I can’t hear on my computer’s sidetone - but I may be able to hear from here in VK2 if propagation allows - envisage a dude (who struggles with CW at the best of times!) in NSW with two sets of headphone on his head trying to send on the computer while resolving the two CW tones that are some 100-odd milliseconds apart. So I’m not trying to distract you with those random long dashes… it just happens!

Also, if the Remote is in use by someone who doesn’t want to participate, I’ll try the SEG Remote at Carnarvon VK6CRO - which is toned down to 30W output at the mo. If that doesn’t work, perhaps Martin VK6MJ or another participant could conduct the activity by sending CQ PARG at a suitably slow speed - eg 5 - 10 wpm.

Some of our members have found that CW didn’t work as expected when they first plugged their keys in - and a little problem solving was required to actually get on air. So again, Tuesday night would also be a good opportunity to iron out any bugs (sic).

So it’s all about having a go and having some fun - no-one’s judging how well you send and receive (my CW skills have always been pretty fusty) - so even if you’ve never had a CW QSO before, this’d be a great opportunity to have a go. In recent weeks we’ve had a couple of first CW QSOs on the net - fingers crossed that we’ll have a few more tomorrow. Remember, if you don’t get the info sent - don’t worry - it’s all good fun - just send one of the following options:
  • di-di-dah-dah-di-dit (= ?)
  • di-di-dah-dah-di-dit   di-di-dah-dah-di-dit (= ??)
  • PSE RPT
  • QSM CALL (repeat callsign) or QSM RST (repeat signal report)
  • QRZ (who’s calling me?)
Any problems on the night - I’m happy to receive SMSs on the number below (pls include your callsign if I’m unlikely to have your number in my Contacts already).

So again, the activity is open to everyone to have a go and have some practice. And our nearly Aussie Mate Gary Liljegren VK6GAL / W4GAL has said in the past that the way he improved his CW was to listen around “the Novice frequencies” listening to the slower CW of the beginners which helped him to improve his ability to read CW without writing… so hopefully Tuesday will be an opportunity for everyone to do the same… but in return, please transmit as well!

The other thing is that the activity isn’t going to be coordinated…. just listen on 3600kHz (and perhaps 3595, 3590 and who knows, lower?) and if the frequency is quiet - throw the big switch and give a CQ PARG call at 5 - 10 wpm.

I send out the times by email before each session - the information goes to PARG members, but I also maintain a Friends of PARG Slow CW email distribution list - and I'd be happy to add any interested amateurs and Short Wave Listeners to the list; click here for more info: https://groups.google.com/g/on-air-slow-cw-training-email

Please let me know if you like the activity. Cheers - and have fun!


Mark Bosma
VK2KI / VK6QI