To key or not to key - that IS a question

Up to a few days ago I have either used the inbuilt keyer in my FT-100 or MixW for CW contacts on SOTA. I can manage up to 25wpm receive and sending on the above is easy on both.
I decided to get my very old Kenwood TS-530sp up and running again. It has a 250Hz cw filter. What a joy to use - 40m dipole tune to signal - press filter - non of the noise/crap I get on FT-100.
Problem is I have to use a straight key - keyer can’t switch -63 volts.
It’s 20 years since I last used a key in earnest.
Apologies to all for my poor CW as of late - I think i’m up to about 15wpm sending now so am improving.
The best part is I’m enjoying it :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG

In reply to G4OWG:

PSE QRS - missed that!

In reply to G4MD:
dah di dah

In reply to G4OWG:

That’s better thanks Roger

My excuse is I’m on my second bottle of wine…

In reply to G4MD:

I have the same problem keying and I’m sober, hic.


In reply to GW0DSP:

Heard Richard CWI yesterday, now I know what MGM means in the licence: Machine Gun Morse!

I was too intimidated to call him, and as some activators will testify - my morse is c**p


Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:

Hi Barry

Richard, like most sota cw lads, is a very good operator and would have instantly slowed down to your speed, had you called him.

Give it a whirl some time, it’s not about speed, it’s about communicating and I for one would be more than pleased to work you, or anyone else, even if it’s at 4 wpm.

So, next time you hear me on a summit with cw, please call in no matter what my speed is and I’ll gladly QRS to a comfy speed for you.

73 Mike

In reply to GM4TOE:
Richard was my first ever SOTA contact (August 2002 CW Black Coombe) - I was way out of practice I think I was sending at about 7 wpm - he instantly slowed down. Give it a go :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG

I have just worked Dan DH8DX/P, and as soon as I called he introduced some bigger gaps between his words. Richard has been a massive help and encouragement in me developing use of CW, but these are not unusually benevolent ops - it seems all SOTA CW activators are similarly supportive. Put a call in Barry, you will be worked skilfully by a good op. Another good set of people to work is the FISTs club - they are normally hovering around 3.558 in the evenings, and like the SOTA ops will do a good job of working you at the appropriate speed while at the same time gently pushing you on to the next ‘level’ and generally encouraging you.

In reply to M1EYP:

Tom, you have just reminded me that I joined FISTS back in 1985, I must dig out my cert with membership number and look into renewing my membership.


In reply to GW0DSP:

Hi to Mike and the others, sorry for the delay in response I have just returned from EA (Sunny, warm and gallons of red wine).

I know all (perhaps read - most) CW ops are gents and slow down for the likes of me but I still feel intimidated by the fast morse and if I do not know or cannot copy the callsign then I am not keen to reply (I can actually read morse at 20 to 25wpm).

I will plug away at getting back on the key but a paddle is a new gizmo to me (I always used a straight key in the past but creeping arthritus means the paddle is the only way now); so those of you who are on the hills with a key be warned, I can be extremely creative when sending!!!


Bronzed Barry GM4TOE

PS: Rain God status was confirmed on Friday when I climbed a hill (Gibralter) and got p’d on!

In reply to GM4TOE:
Hi all
I have read this thread with interest.
I somewhat struggle on with CW. My wrists are affected by the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (narrowing in the Carpal Tunnel in the wrists which traps some of the nerves going to the palm side of the thumb and fingers). I can read CW at 30 wpm, but I sometimes struggle to send at more than 15 wpm. At times operating a key or iambic keyer becomes virtually impossible until the ‘shakes’ subside, hi! Some of the SOTA CW operators have no doubt noticed the range of ‘strange’ extra dit’s and dash’es coming from here at times!
In the shack I can just about manage, but to do CW out on the hills would be impractical unless I can find a suitable very light weight memory keyer; anyone got any ideas?
Keep up the good work; CW and phone!
73 de Ken

In reply to GM0AXY:


I use the Palm Paddle which is small, light weight and, with practice, fairly easy to use.

73 Glyn

just to say that I got my key out of the draw after about 20 years. my morse is rubish but its coming back slowly and i am having fun with it, yes iI think some of my sending is bad but its geting through + lots of points in the chasing. No way could I go on the hills with a key as I take the callsigns and locators of the spots and manage to find the station and work them. So chaps you are not alone with the strugle with the code. _ _ … …_ _ dave

In reply to G0AOD:

Go for it Dave, you should have heard the state of my cw on Hope mountain today, hi, mainly due to bad wx, well that’s my excuse anyway, I have said it before, all cw ops especially those involved with sota, will be more than pleased to work you regardless of speed. I look forward to hearing you on the key soon, so if you hear me on a summit, please give me a call. Good luck with it.

73 Mike GW0DSP

In reply to GW0DSP:
Hi Dave,
come on, give it a try :wink: think all sota activators or chasers have problems with qrs or something else. i have the same problems when i´m outdoor operating from the hills. in my cw highspeed training years i listen to abt. 400bpm callsigns and text with abt. 200bpm…morse-keying with abt. 200bpm…ok, that was a few years ago;-) but if i on the summits on sota often i hold the key in one hand with the loogbook or on the ground in the grass or on stones,and then i have also problems with the keying. and often i send extra dots and dashes or something else :wink: that sounds not like fine cw. also when i going to speeds around or down 12wpm qrs i make many mistakes,because i think by this speed the morse-signs sounds very different. but by all my mistakes , most of the regulars, who are mostly excellent cw-op´s , have no problems with extra dots and dashes.a good cw op hear the right words without having all letters complete.G4SSH roy at example have no problems with cw under strenght keying conditions, sometimes he says “Hello Klaus” after my first “QRS?” on the band !!! :wink:
but please at the beginning qrs , because sometimes stations calling me to fast and without a dot/break between the letters and then its very hard to copy the callsign.
by our last qso´s ur cw was copied with no problems by myself.i see no problem with ur cw and sota :wink: hope to work you many times more in cw ( or also in ssb,if signal-strengths allow )

vy 73 Klaus DF2GN

if there is some interest from chasers of making a few extra-QRS sota activations , i will do some on local summits next days or weeks .

In reply to G4OWG:
As you perhaps know, I’m a CW operator. I’am one of the UFT father (French CW club) and of course, I like this mode very much.
During my last trip, I tried SSB few times from F/AM summits. But no chance…
I got no answer ! I suppose I’m not made for that !
When I’am on a summit, I start at abt 30wpm. When the pile up is over, I often slow down for beginners, but once more, no chance… it’s often QRQ answers.
As you know, It’s not easy to modify CW speed on a FT817. You have to enter menu 21, then trim the speed, and then go back to the main menu. But it is possible ! and all (almost all…) CW operators are doing so for beginners.

For example, F4DZY called me few months ago. When I’am back home, I got an email from him, saying “I got your call, but nothing more…!” It was his first SOTA QSO !
And now it’s a real pleasure for me to hear F4DZY from rather all my expeditions; I slow down my CW or add graps between words.

Now, Roger, abt TS530, It’s possible to key the 60 volts. I used TS 520, 820 and 830 in the past and I had this problem. I add a small electronics (a high voltage transistor) at the keyer output. You will find a such circuit on the net.

Alain F6ENO

In reply to GM0AXY:
Hi Ken

I used my Bencher paddle (with heavy base!) on the first summit activated - this was a great motivator for finding something a little lighter!
A quick look on e-bay and G3RCQ came up trumps with a very lightweight and small hi-mound paddle - and for the princely sum of 5 quid + postage was a great investment. If your rig does not have an internal keyer try using a MFJ-441 - again e-bay came up trumps and I got one within 2 days for 15 quid.
73 de Cris