First CW activation - SP/SP-003!

I activated a summit for the first time in CW :slight_smile: This is something I had been working on for almost a year!

I made 14 CW contacts on SP/SP-003 this morning, mostly on 40m despite trying hard on 20m (propagation, antenna issue?). It went well; I didn’t get a huge pile-up since it was early hours, and no brain freeze either. I am hooked :slight_smile: It was very helpful to have done activations in SSB, as I recognized many callsigns - in particular from the French gang @F4WBN, @F5JKK and @F5LKW :laughing:

I am mostly a portable operator and my sole motivation to learn CW is SOTA!

For those who are interested - this is my CW journey:

  • April > August 2020: I learned the letters by myself, using a combination of Koch and Farnsworth methods, mostly using Morse-it on iPhone and
  • September > October 2020: I took the CW Academy basic class, and had my first actual CW QSO during the class. Thanks Konrad @SQ6GIT for convincing me to take the course, and Roger @MI0WWB for being such great advisor :slight_smile:
  • November > December 2020: I kept practicing daily, either by making some QSOs or training on
  • January > February 2021: I took the CW Academy intermediate class. This is focused on ragchewing but also contesting, which is very helpful for SOTA activations.
  • March 2021: I think I was ready earlier in the month to do an activation, but waited for the weather to be a bit warmer, as I didn’t want freezing cold and wind to be yet another factor to manage during the activation… and that’s it, successful activation of SP/SP-003 at a comfortable speed of 14 WPM :slight_smile:

During all this time, I trained every day with very few exceptions. On bad days, when I really just couldn’t pull myself to train, or didn’t have any time at all, I just listened to some morse code for 10 minutes in the background.

Thanks to all who shared their CW tips and tricks on the Reflector - they’ve all been very useful.

See below some pictures of the activation.


Hello Romain.
Super for the nickname “French Gang”
Christian is the Maestro cosly he hears everybody all around the world and succeed QSO with DX SOTA from US and others continents.
I want you to congratulate about your CW, your handwritting is really clear, and enjoyable to read. Bravo pour l’apprentissage. You know my son knows CW but in fact prefer FORNITE :frowning:
Au plaisir de se retrouver et SOTA FEVER Romain !
73 QRO




Well done with the morse. I read of some hams who take years and can only just manage 10wpm. Practice is the key to perfection.


GOOD SHOW ROMAIN! Enjoy the extra 20+ dB!

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Congrats on your first activation in cw, Romain!
Keep it up, it’s so much fun.

73, Roman (without “i”) :wink:

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Congratulations Romain @SP6SUD on the CW activation and have fun with the future CW activations. I look forward to hearing you on CW one day.

73 Marcel DM3FAM

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Congratulations. I’m just a beginner having started to learn it last November. I sent out a CQ message this week on 40m while sitting on a hill near my home to see what the RBN reported. I nearly had a heart attack when someone replied with my callsign! Sadly several other operators joined in and I couldn’t cope. :frowning:
I used the app Morse Mania to learn the basics, Morse Runner for practice on callsigns and numbers. Recently I’ve been using CW Trainer for more extended practice.


Hi Romain,

Well done, your story is a good one for other learners and for those who have difficulty when multiple stations call after a cq.

I like the symbolism in your photo of your portable setup, the microphone is still in the bag! well composed!
Hoping to work you one day on 20m (the antenna will be working once you find what the problem was).

73 Andrew VK1DA


Congrats! Well done and a very motivational write-up!

I look forward to a S2S QSO with you soon!

73 Heinz

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Well done. You practiced every day and it pays off. That motivates me to practice regularly again.
Hopefully we’ll meet at the CW band soon.

73 Chris

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Well done Romain!


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BRAWO Romain !!!
Welcome to the club :wink:

73, Jarek


Thank you for sharing the experience of your first cw activation. I’ve been inspired to have a try at Sota after watching Steve wG0AT’s excellent videos and although I’m a struggling morse newby, I can copy most of Steve’s youtube QSOs. Great I thought, I can combine sota with my love of home-brewing and build a simple cw transceiver. After listening to a few activations I was disappointed to find that not one operator was below 20wpm and according to rbn, some were as high as 29wpm. Why the big hurry, do they need to get down off that summit fast:-)
Seeing your very successful cw activation at around 15 wpm has given me great hope.
I was beginning to think that these speeds were the norm and if they were I will have to give up the cw option, either my brain is too slow witted or my tinnitus too acute to copy in the mid 20wpm. I will not use morse decoders, there are plenty of machine protocols that could be used instead.


Thank you all for your comments and welcome Steve @M0KOV to the community. There are plenty of very interesting threads on the Reflector on CW SOTA activations for beginners; just type “CW activation” in the search bar and you will find loads of great advice.

In general, you should activate at the speed you are comfortable with, and chasers will slow down to your speed, either by slowing down their WPM speed, or add space between letters (Farnsworth speed). I can report that absolutely happenned yesterday :slight_smile: (I put QRS PSE in the spot, that may have helped as well!)

In my opinion, if you are able to copy Steve wG0AT’s QSOs, you are more than ready for an activation! Have you tried to a some SOTA chasing? That help me get more confidence, and get a feeling for the exchange type and overall flow. Good luck!

Thank you for all the useful information, I particularly like the idea of adding QRS PSE in the spot. Yes I will try and get some practice by doing a little chasing first.

73 de Steve

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Hello Romain,
congratulations, you did a very well job and jour efforts have worth it.

By reading your process I recalled the time I spent to learn it as well…
You are going to enjoy a lot your activations and soon you will find it easier.
73 de Ignacio

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Great write-up! I am targeting June 15th (1 year SOTA activating) for my first CW SOTA activation. My progression is very similar to yours. I am also taking CWOps course in April!

Well done,


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