Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

CW newbie looking for activation recordings

Afternoon All

For the past six months (may be longer) I have been learning CW, due to work and family I have only managed aprox 10mins a day five day a week using the just learn Morse code software set to 20wpm and an effective speed of 8.
Just reached the end of learning the characters a-z 0-9 / . and looking to spark a bit more enthusiasm on my learning experience. Just wondering if anyone has any recordings of activations they have done recently that I can use to decode the callsingns and check my findings against their submitted activation log (hope that makes sense).
I don’t have a radio setup at home only operate portable on the summits when I get the chance from work, or mobile with a freedom pass from the xyl and kids. Know this is probably a disadvantage not being on the the air on a regular basis, but I was hoping to be on my first CW activation spring next year.

What would be the best key to start with straight key or paddle?


This might help you too: http://www.on6zq.be/w/index.php/CWpractice/HomePage, and of course http://lcwo.net/ .

1 Like

[quote=“M0OAT, post:1, topic:9771”]recordings of activations[/quote]You’ll find plenty of excerpts in the various videos that get posted here, but I don’t remember seeing any complete activation recordings…

[quote=“M0OAT, post:1, topic:9771”]best key to start with[/quote]You’ll find this is an issue of religeous proportions. I’d suggest learning with whatever key you plan to use in anger…

73, Rick M0LEP

Plenty of stuff if you search around YouTube Graeme. Good luck.

Hi Graeme,
You can listen online to other activations by using online amateur radio receivers. A quick search provided this lot;
This might help give you a real world practice in listening when you’re at home.

Traditionally you start by learning with the straight key, my experience was that as soon as I got used to the paddle I’ve never gone back to a straight key.

Roger MW0IDX

Thanks for the link Christope just bookmarked it on the iPad, I had been searching for the link on the reflector as I had seen it before still trying to get used to the new reflector.

Thanks for the reply Rick & Tom been watching a few CW activations on you tube been impressed at the skill of the ops, as I find it hard just trying to write on my log sheet using phone.

Good site for resources Roger never thought of using online Web Receiver are these allowed to be used for the SOTA SWL, may go with the straight key to start with.

Thanks for the advice

Here’s what you need for all the local 40m stuff.

Lots of others outside of UK here.

Here’s the best CW activation video you’re ever likely to see :laughing:
It’s even subtitled for the uninitiated…


HI Graeme.

I practice with this sw… It is very good to learn to pick up callsigns

this one is also good for general learning…http://www.justlearnmorsecode.com/

ref. paddles. I went straight to the paddles and not touched the straight key and I dont regret it a bit.
http://www.radars.me.uk/K7QO%20Course/sending.pdf [this is what i used]

30min a day will get you there.

73 Angel

Thanks for the you tube clip Peter clears it up a bit, there was me thinking you had to do a full QSO format and always wondered how they managed so many QSOs.

Cheers angel for the sw link of the callsgn generator, been using the just learn morse code software myself I did begin with he g4fon software but kept loosing my place when marking.


Hi Graeme,
The best way of learning the SOTA CW caper is to listen to several activators and see what they do. Pick out the best practices from the successful ops for your self.

I used to think one needed to start with a straight key to learn the timing but with many people now using hand held devices (Me phones and Androgenous thingos) and having good finger/thumb dexterity I recommend going straight to a paddle and using that in the field.

To help get confidence go to a local park and chase a couple of CW activators at 8 wpm.


Was thinking of your request today, so while waiting my turn to work fellow ATS4 operator, Jürg, HB9BAB, on his daily activation of HB/ZH-015, I went to Hack Green SDR and hit the record button (less local noise than my receive!).

Only managed to get the tail end of his 7Mhz activity so only a few calls in there, but for ease of distribution I dropped the audio into a Youtube video.

(Oh and I messed up sending ü :frowning:)

Hope it helps.
Pete :gb:

Thanks for this Pete just had a quick listen spot on what I was looking for, will have to wait till the weekend though to have a proper listen with the headphones on and work through the c/s. A lot different than listening to the software teaching programmes more realistic.
Bit tied over with work this week seems since the fuel price has dropped a bit I have found myself extremely busy, good thing is got myself a few recording to listen to on the MP3 player of two and three letter words.


[quote=“M0OAT, post:12, topic:9771”]A lot different[/quote]That it most definitely is! Of the programs I’ve tried, only G4FON gets anywhere close to a realistic sound…

73, Rick M0LEP

VE3NEA’s Morse Runner is very good and realistic.

1 Like

There’s a bit of footage from yesterday morning’s activation in the Christmas and New Year thread.

Thanks for the heads up Tom, saved it to my desktop. After my last post and listening to a few CW activations on the web sdr I realised I needed to go back and do a bit more work on my characters speed and improve it from 8.
Within one month I have managed to improve to 20 WPM at a character speed of 12 within a month. My problem was using the keyboard, I assumed it would be easier with the PC having it check your answer after 5 minutes, but if your not a speed typist like me and struggle to find the characters my advise pen and paper.

If you have the K7QO CW disc you can save the answers as a note pad doc and use it with G4FON or JLMC software at whatever speed you wish to listen at.

Thanks again 73

Couple of things Graeme.

Using the keyboard to enter characters can significantly enhance the learning process. If you can use a keyboard well - ie you don’t need to hunt for the letters - then you have a “second nature” automated physical response for each letter. If you are using a keyboard to note down the morse characters you hear therefore, you are effectively piggybacking and building upon that automatic response in forming a new - but linked automatic response to hearing morse characters.

If you are doing a SOTA activation and using CW, the speed you need is the speed YOU are comfortable with. Everyone else on the frequency modifies to YOUR speed. So the best next step for you is to do some CW activations. It worked really well for me. My first activation was done at 10wpm.

and here’s 5 minutes I recorded whilst out today.
Warts and all, yes I know I was in Wales, I sometimes drop the W when in auto pilot mode!
Oh and I blame all the errors on wearing gloves, at least it’s a valid excuse in my book :blush:


1 Like

A few updates on my CW progression and a quick report on my first CW experience on Ingleborough.

After watching a few video clips of CW activations I realised I was no were near ready to start learning how to transmit. I had been using the just learn morse code software for the past year with a setting of 20wpm and a character speed of 12 which seemed to work well but when the character speed was increased I found it difficult to copy.
I started to use the G4FON software at a rate of 15 wpm and character speed of 15 improving sharply on my receiving skills, you can alsoget a contest trainer from http://www.g4fon.net/Contest_Trainer.htm
this was useful as when it comes to mixing letters and numbers together I am not the best especially if it has 5, J,W or H in it.

My next part was learning to transmit and which key to use, I had bought a used Hi Mound straight key and a capacitive touch paddle key, I enjoyed using the paddles so proceeded to use them. Luck was on my side when the euro took a dive against the pound I purchased a palm mini paddle and the code cube this has an integrated side tone oscillator which gives a small side tone enabling me to practise whilst away working from a home.

D Day

On the 26th May 2015 I finally found some time to get out for a full day activation on G/NP-005 (Ingleborough), the plan was to start on 2m SSB and then move on to the CW section hoping I wouldn’t attract to much attention to my dodgy CW sending. I had copied a basic format on to piece
of paper and planned to use it;


M0OAT de chaser chaser K (from chaser)

Chaser ur rst 559 559 de M0OAT K (from activator)

RR ur rst 559 559 de chaser K (from chaser)

R TU 73 de M0OAT E E (from activator)

EE or TU 73 de chaser SK

As per usual a busy summit along with strong winds meant that all the good sheltered areas were being used, so I had to make do with a small ditch/dried up puddle area for shelter. It was a bit windy for the 2m beam so decided to work the bands 60-6m with the doublet antenna and the 817. After losing the freq on SSB 40m it was time to try some CW.
After finding a clear freq I left a spot on sota watch and sent a few cq calls out, I was a bit shocked when someone replied G4SSH with 55N(9) all seemed to go well and I replied back. Then it happened I started
sending extra dits and dahs mainly due to holding the key in my left hand to tightly (over adjusted the springs with the alan key) and getting a bit excited.

It has probably took me 15 months off 15-25 minutes a day to get to this stage, with the odd break for holidays and the odd weekend were I couldn’t be bothered. With a lot more work to be done for further activations, I will be looking forward to using CW in the future. With my activation rate I should be
able to achieve 20 wpm before mountain goat.

So thanks to Roy G4SSH for your time and patience for my first CW QSO, hope there is more to follow and thankyou to the remainder of the chasers for making fun day on the bands.

Log for the day
12:44z M6UGX 7MHz SSB IO84MO
12:51z G6TUH 7MHz SSB
12:54z G4OBK 7MHz SSB PHIL
12:56z ON5SWA 7MHz SSB
12:57z EB2CZF 7MHz SSB
12:57z MW0YCC 7MHz SSB
13:01z EJ/G4ASA/P 7MHz SSB iota
13:04z G0RQL 7MHz SSB
13:05z M6RUG 7MHz SSB
13:06z M0NVJ 7MHz SSB
13:07z M6NHA 7MHz SSB
13:08z M3NHA 7MHz SSB
13:11z G0HRT 7MHz SSB
13:12z G8NVW 7MHz SSB
13:13z G4TQE 7MHz SSB
13:32z G4SSH 7MHz CW
14:50z G4BLH 28MHz SSB MIKE
14:55z G4BLH 50MHz SSB MIKE
15:17z KA1R 18MHz SSB
15:28z GM7KFS 5MHz SSB
15:30z G8VNW 5MHz SSB
15:33z G0RQL 5MHz SSB
15:34z G0TDM 5MHz SSB JOHN
15:35z GM4XQJ 5MHz SSB
15:42z G1SPC 5MHz SSB
16:05z EA2DZX 14MHz SSB
16:06z EA2DT 14MHz SSB
16:07z AO150I 14MHz SSB
16:08z OE3GGS 14MHz SSB
16:09z SU3BL 14MHz SSB
16:11z S57ILF 14MHz SSB
16:12z M6NER 14MHz SSB
16:13z RV9DC 14MHz SSB
16:16z SQ9MDN 14MHz SSB
16:34z M0MDA 28MHz SSB
16:35z G4OBK 28MHz SSB PHIL
16:42z G4TJC 28MHz SSB
17:12z G0RQL 144MHz SSB
17:14z G3RMD 144MHz SSB FRANK
17:18z M3NHA 144MHz SSB




Congratulations Graeme!

I like Ingleborough, it’s one of my favourite summits but I’ve endured some yucky weather up there!

You should be proud of your achievement making your first activator CW QSO. Roy was a great candidate for your first contact too! The main thing is to not worry about mistakes, I goof up almost every time, but the right call signs seem to make it into the log!

We are lucky to have a great bunch of skilled CW chasers who know just exactly what is going on and what to do. Phil, G4OBK has helped me out numerous times when I’m getting flustered, he seems to know exactly what to do to get me on track again! (Thanks Phil!)

A year or so ago, I really started to enjoy CW SOTA activations, before then, it seemed hard work, but some how I was strangely addicted. There’s something beautiful about a quick, concise exchange in CW where all the required information is passed with little effort, it’s music!

I do hope to work you on CW soon, keep up the great work, the more you do CW, the more fun it gets!

vy 73


Edit - I meant to say that I hope your FT817 has a CW filter fitted, it’s tough on 40m with the SSB filter width!