First CW

Well, after years of pontificating I went and called CQ in Morse.

It was worse than I had feared it would be!

Amelia (10) and I set off up the Gun, G/SP-013, with Morgan the black SOTA dog and built our station. In lovely sunshine and a fresh breeze we were a few meters to the East of the trig point and using a SOTABeams Band Hopper 3 set for 40M but not very high, maybe 5M at it’s vertex.

I had a listen for a while and made sure I was as ready as I could be. I turned the width down on the KX3 to .8 so I was not distracted and plugged in my straight key.

I checked for a clear frequency then put my spot on using the iPad and called CQ. By the end of the first call I had a taker, I think it was ON1??? but other signals soon blocked him.

I had a lovely clear signal from MW0BBU and after a few times around his call I was able to reply and send 599 - easy peasy. Trouble is that I was then outside the VERY limited bolier plate that I had been relying on and the reply was too much for me. I did manage to read the 599 but other bits were lost I’m afraid. I don’t even think I remembered to send him 73 - sorry!.

I managed 3 more contacts and must say a huge thank you for all the patience - one poor soul must have sent his call 20 times before I got it! G4ELZ, G3XYE, and G4WSX all went in the log and by then my poor brain was fried so I went QRT for a while.

My basic problem is that I am OK with the 15WPM characters but I need more time between them to be able to process them, a malady that I know can only be remidied by more practice. The other problem is that if people slow right down to 8WPM or less it is actually harder to read because I learned with 15WPM characters. Of course I also send too fast so people reply at the speed I send.

After a short while playing with Amelia and the dog I tuned up to the SSB portion and had a listen around. I contacted TM3B and G100RSGB before having a nice chat with MW0WYB/P who was on holiday in Wales. A tricky QSO with M3OHA finished off the afternoon and we retreated back to the QTH for a BBQ with the XYL.

So, in summary, THANK YOU for all the patience and repeats, I will keep working on my speed and do the job properly ASAP.

In reply to M0TGT:
Well done! That’s a good result for your first effort.

I cycled up to see you when you were spotted the other day but you had gone. I must cycle faster next time!

73 Richard G3CWI

In reply to M0TGT:

Indeed congrats, well done.

As with everything pratice will bring you further, but before being able to master a pile-up on 7MHz for sota some water will still be running to the sea i think, same here hihi… … but, want to work sota in CW, start on a higher band, less crowdy. I’m running 10Watts in my homebrew 40,30,20 inverted Vee on 20mtrs and work States side, without the big pile-up.

Another trick, break the pile-up…stop for some minutes, and send QRS if some speedy keyers are dropping by…If they are gentlemen, they will decrease their speed.

I know people who stopped completely with CW after a pile-up…a shame…

This is not the first time a message from a beginning CW operator is here, it will not be the last time.

Please chasers…be a Gentleman and adapt to the activator…he’s after all giving you the points you want.

73 2 All

In reply to M0TGT:

Congratulations Simon.

Don’t focus on what didn’t go well, focus on what did go well. Stick at the CW it will soon get to a level where you can do SOTA style QSOs with ease. You’ll begin to pick up words rather than letters - gl 73 tu etc.

Good luck.

Colin, M0CGH

In reply to M0TGT:

Hi Simon;

Congratulations on taking the plunge, as mentioned by others you were very brave to take on 40m on your first CW activation.

I notice that you quote my call sign as G3XYE, I know that you sent it back to me correctly during our qso so perhaps it got changed in the panic of logging :slight_smile:

Looking forward to working you again soon.

73 de Ken G3XQE

In reply to M0TGT:
Hello Simon,

Firstly well done on your first CW activation and you did just fine, no worries, just stay with it and you will be popping along nicely in no time, at the end of the contact it was just FB GL 73 TU … I look forward to catching you on the key from another soon, all the best.

Steve… MW0BBU.

In reply to M0TGT:Well done Simon, nice to see you had a go, I’m sure we will be hearing more of you on CW soon - the first one is always the worst, great stuff!


Keith GW4OKT

Thanks All, positive feedback all around.

I chose 40M because I thought they would all be G or M stations and perhaps more inclined to forgive a fellow countryman and I deliberatly chose SOTA because everyone is so jolly nice!

Although I mentioned some problems I perhaps forgot to say what a great buzz it was and how good it felt when I had 4 callsigns on the log page. I appreciate that CW is not for everyone but for me it is an essential skill to master to feel part of the Amateur Radio community.

Thank you SOTA friends.

In reply to G3CWI:

Aw, I am sorry I missed you Richard, I always enjoy your company.

I would have laughed however. You might not remember but when I bought my SOTABeam 270 a couple of years you came up to the Gun when I activated and you helped me pack it away and I had a giggle at the time about how good the service was.

So, if you had arrived on the day I first used my BH3 and you helped me pack it away it would have put you in a league of customer service that could not be beaten!

Maybe next time…

In reply to GW4OKT:

Thanks Keith, you are always an inspiration.

See you on the week of the BoA…

In reply to MW0BBU:

Cheers Steve, It was so reassuring to hear your clear signal coming across - love it.

In reply to G3XQE:

Hi Ken, I did log you incorrectly - drat.

Out of interest why would 40M be more or less scarey than 20M?

Do you expect different levels of activity or different chasers - what’s the score?


In reply to M0TGT:

A combination of wide skip and lots of ears probably. 30 meters can be a great sota band, from gm anyway. It’s not unusual to receive a call from a g station then have a us station call in just after. Seems to be less qrm too.

Congratulations on the cw activation by the way. It gets easier, then harder for a bit, then easier again…only joking. Stick with it, it’s worth it for the dx.


Nice one Simon.

Here’s a tip to make things a bit easier for you next time you activate Gun. Also announce your activity on the WFF reflector, and go on 20m CW. Call CQ FF and give the Peak District WFF reference of GFF-014. Then enjoy a nice relaxed activation with just a small number of easy QSOs.

Yours sincerely,


In reply to M0TGT:

Absolutely well done for diving in at the deep end…much respect…I am only in my infancy studying morse…I sent out a cq call several weeks ago and couldnt deal with what came back…so can relate to having your brain fried…since then I have continued listening until I again pluck up the courage to do what you have done…I am just using straight key at the moment as this is what I want to master first…I know I could take the easy option and use the paddle, but many before me have self taught straight key, so thats the challenge I have set myself.
Keep it up and again congratulations for taking such a big step.
Best Regards

In reply to M0TGT:

Hi Simon;

On 40m, most of the time you will be within the skip distance of most of Western Europe and hence exposed to all the cw chasers in Western Europe and at weekends this can be a huge amount.

Unfortunately not all chasers are as polite as they should be.

At the moment activity seems to be fairly low but there are times when even an experienced operator using 25wpm can take three quarters of an hour of solid operating to clear a pile up, the noise has to be heard to be believed.
This is particularly so if you are occupying a ten point summit:)

I don’t want to put you off activating on 40m cw but you might want to consider running very low power and or a low antenna in the beginning to limit your range a bit.
As suggested by Steve MW0BBU and Tom M1EYP practice receiving the vocabulary used in SOTA exchanges, this is under most circumstances very limited and you should soon learn to recognise it automatically at normal or less than normal spacing (yes some people do not space correctly. Practice reading call signs using a program called Rufzeichen, this will certainly be too fast for you in the begining but another way around the problem is to copy the callsigns from someone’s log on the server and paste them into whatever program you are using for cw practice.

I hope this has helped a little.

Good luck on the road to cw enlightenment


In reply to MM0GYX:

“Stick with it, it’s worth it for the dx.”

That is a BIG motivation for my efforts.

I’ve never heard a band with no CW yet even when there is no SSB going on.

In reply to M1EYP:

LOL Tom, You are my Hero. I watched you sitting in a snowhole in a blizzard pounding out the CW and I thought “I want to do that”.

Just without the snow and the blizzard.

In reply to G3XQE:

Cheers Ken, some interesting thoughts there. I was only at 10W today but that is QRO for most SOTA chaps!

One thing that struck me was a consequence of having the audio bandwidth control.

I have been listening to CW as I drive around on my FT-857 with no width control and it is easy to ‘hear’ the different signals.

When I called CQ I guess most folks are tuning to my frequency and if they weren’t close they would be filtered by the width control. The outcome is that all the signals sounded much more alike and I struggled a little to hear the difference.

I love the idea of dropping the most common SOTA CW callsigns into a practice programme - must learn how to drive the database…

In reply to M0TGT:

Just another point Simon;

In pile ups if everyone called exactly on frequency then you would not be able to pick out an individual call.

It is normal practice to call slightly off frequency and presuming that nobody else has precisely the same offset then you can pick out individual callsigns.
Therefore in activator mode you wouldn’t want to use less than a 300hz receiver bandwidth, 500hz would be better based on my observations.

73 de Ken G3XQE