My first CW activation! G/CE-003 Bredon Hill

I started this year not knowing CW with the aim of doing my first activation before the year was out. Yesterday evening I did it!

I’d put some calls out on CW on Mynydd Llangorse a few weeks back. But I was a bit tired having already done Mynydd Troed and Waun Fach and couldn’t really work out whether the couple of stations I could hear were having a QSO on the same frequency with each other, or calling me! So just gave it up.

Bredon is easy to get to after work, and a simple walk up so yesterday evening I headed up there to give it a go. I started on 17m, with the hope of not having too many people come back to me. Which worked with two QSOs. Then moved to 20m where I got one more. Couldn’t get a decent tune on 30M which is a shame as I think it would have been my first QSOs on that band. Nothing for it but to brave 40M, where I managed to bag more than enough QSOs!

I stumbled through, and my operating REALLY has a lot of room for improvement! But everyone seemed to be very patient and helpful. In particular @UW8SM who was my last QSO on 40M. He deserves a medal! Whilst the weather wasn’t that bad, I was getting a cold hand and my fragile newbie keying skills really struggled to get the 8 in his callsign (lots of flipping 7s and Zs!). It took me umpteen goes over what felt like 10 minutes to finally manage something that whilst not resembling a QSO did the job! Then, once I eventually managed to complete with him there was a barrage of callers who I imagine must have been waiting incredibly patiently before diving in. I was somewhat intimidated by the pile-up (probably only two callers in reality!), thought I’ll warm my hand-up in my pocket and stretch my legs which had by this point gone a bit numb. Having done that, I thought actually my brain is a bit tired, my hand is still cold, I’m going to stop now. So apologies to anyone that had waited very patiently and then had me vanish! I will get better and work you in future!

So, there’s a bit of boast in this post that I’ve achieved something I set out to do and a lot of apology to the people I worked or tried to work me for some pretty poor operating on my end! But the main thing is to encourage anyone who thinks they may want to learn CW that they CAN do it! There’s loads of tips out there, but the main thing you need in my experience is dedication to stick at the practice every day. I’m not very good at the dedication thing, but signing up to the CWOps Academy courses has helped me to stick at it. I am extremely grateful to my advisors on the courses (@MI0WWB & K7OJL). Having their help, and a group of classmates on the same journey has really made it fun.

Thanks for the QSOs on what for me will be a memorable activation (there may well be some incorrect callsigns in here, but hopefully at least 4 are right!):
17M: F4WBN

Post successful CW activation cheesey grin:


Excellent! Very impressive :+1: I haven’t yet worked up the courage to try a CW activation but am steadily plodding through the K7QO code course so it will happen sometime :slight_smile:


TNX for QSO!


Thanks. You could try a bit of chasing first if you haven’t already. I don’t bother in a pile-up, but if you wait to the end of a longer activation it can be pretty easy - and you have the advantage of knowing the callsign from the spot and hearing the pattern the operator uses responding to other people.

I was definitely helped through by the skill of the chasers, who clocked I wasn’t that great and made it easy for me. You should go for it!


I recognise many of those as regular chasers you’ll hear over and over again on activations.


Congratulation starting CW!


Nice job. And wellcome to CW / SOTA!


Really nice. I had also my first cw activation on the crowdy 40m yesterday and can’t wait for the next one.
It didn’t improve my skills, but it did improve my courage.

73 Chris


Congratulations Chris!

I disagree - I bet it did improve your skills more than you realise! It is the biggest step to go from never having done something before to having done it I think. It is much harder out on a hill than at home in the shack I find, even if it is nice conditions on the hill as I had.

Hopefully it won’t be long before we have a CW QSO!



When activating Sota, I had exactly one challenge so far.

Namely to throw my weight exactly over the best branch, so that the antenna cord does not hang too low, does not get tangled, or in the worst case remains irretrievably stuck in the tree.

Sometimes it works with the first throw, often with the fifth. But it has already happened that the throwing weight almost landed on my head, grrrh.

It’s like shooting a penalty.

Now there is a second challenge. Recognize a cw call and answer without errors. It’s all a matter of mental attitude.

73 Chris


Congratulations Tony, you achieved it earlier than expected!!

I’m glad to see me there in your log, at least I’m one correct, hi.
By hearing you, I soon noticed you were a newbie (extra space between letters), and it was a real pleasure to acomodate my speed and hear you got my callsign straighforward: there was a real pile up there going on!

I also remember my first CW activation, back some years ago, a truly special feeling that you will never forget, and believe me, your CW will soon improve and enjoy.

Thanks for a very nice post and keep on practicing.
VY 73 de Ignacio es CU SN


Welcome to CW activating.

I’ve been to Bredon Hill once or twice. It’s an nice walk up the hill, and a nice place to activate from - plenty of space, and plenty of places to shelter from the wind.

I even had a farmer stop and enquire what I was doing - he was genuinely interested.



Yes, it is the extra spacing I need at the moment. You adapting to that for me made it relatively easy for me to copy. I asked for big spacing on my alert, but no chance to do that on the auto-spot from the RBN. Which I have to say I really like - so convenient!



Thanks for the welcome! Yep, it’s a an easy activation with a short walk and as you say plenty of room and shelter options if needed. Not bad views either given the relatively easy walk up.


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Very well done, Tony!
I slowed down (not too much) and increased the spacing a bit. You picked me up right away and it was great pleasure for me to make QSO.
I’ll be looking forward to making many more Cw QSOs with you.


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Congratulations Tony

Exactly the same here @M5OTA Tony, and although I’ve done a few I think relaxing is the key. I feel like there is sort of a natural selection for chasers which means those that are patient will wait and slow down and those that are in a hurry will move on or come back later.

I’ve done a fair bit of chasing too, still portable and that helps. Highly recommend Rufzxp specifically for training your brain to decode callsigns.

The other thing I do is deliberately try and work fast callsigns who are just interested in a rubber stamp and try not to rely on tools to decode their callsigns. Spending some time often being a little outside your comfort zone is great with this, as is with so many things.

My next challenge is to do an activation with just the Mountain topper.

Regards Mark


Well done, no looking back now. As long as you enjoyed it that’s all that counts.
Bredon hill used to be local to me, so know it well.
It’s possibly just as well you didn’t manage 10Mhz. It can be a zoo.
I always go on 40m first to try and reduce the size of the pile up that comes on 30m!
It’s by far usually the most challenging band to work.
73 Pete


Wow. In CW I haven’t used 30m so far; only 40m and 20m. Is it really the case that pileups are bigger on 30m? I though they would be bigger on 40m as I suspect there are more chasers with 40m and no 30m than the other way round?


Throughout your activation I called you, but without success. My 5W was not enough. Maybe another time I won’t be covered by kilowatts …
vy 73 de Mariusz

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Sorry to miss you Mariusz. When I was on 20m I thought I could hear a station calling - it was just enough to tell there was maybe someone there, but not loud enough for me to be able to understand. Even if I was good at CW I think it would’ve been too quiet.

On 40M, as per my original post, I went QRT with a few folks still waiting so will have disappointed even those with plenty of power!

Hope to catch you soon!