Any skilled CW people want to QSO? I am having trouble getting anybody to respond to CQ calls with CW, im new to it and trying to get better but its hard when you have nobody to practice with. Beers on me when we summit together.
Consider becoming a SOTA chaser - many SOTA activations are primarily CW and the exchanges are simple. Good practice. Also consider joining SKCC (Straight Key Century Club) - you will find CW ops looking for short and long exchanges.
Not only SOTA, but there are a good number of POTA CW activators. The exchange is pretty much the same as SOTA. Chase both programs for some good introductory practice.
I also listen to WebSDR on my phone when out walking and such to be able to practice my head copy.
CW Ops has a program that might help: Giving Back (On-Air Coaching) – CWops
I’d also say to make sure you’re running enough power. If I’m looking for a conversation, I’ll choose the stronger signal to make copying easier. And if I’m calling CQ, I’ll use max power (100w is all I have) to try and have the loudest signal possible. Also, if its too late or a strange time other people might just be off the air.
Answer a slow CQ on 14.060 or a few Khz down. That’s where QRP folks hang out, and lots of them are newbies.
You could join a local ham club??
I will second getting involved with SKCC (https://www.skccgroup.com/); it’s a great way to get your feet wet and gain confidence. They also have a sked page where you can find others looking for a QSO (https://sked.skccgroup.com/). SKCC has a very supportive membership for beginners.
73, Mike W5RST
Depending on where you’re located, the Carolinas Slow Net meets daily at 8 PM Local Eastern time on 3.571 MHz. They work at 5-7 words per minute. It’s a traffic net, but they also welcome all check ins, even if you have no traffic. They’ll always slow down to your speed. The web site is CSN and it lists the CW exchanges you can expect to hear as well as how to check in.
I’ve also gotten my speed up a bit by chasing some of the faster activators. While I may not be able to have a QSO every time, a lot of the standard phrases become easily recognizable in CW at much higher speeds than I can normally copy. Things like “UR RST (or just “UR”)”, “599”, “QRL”, “QSL”, “TU”, “THX”, “S2S”, “CQ”, “SOTA” and a few others. Plus, it’s just plain fun to try copying. And when I do make a higher speed contact it’s a real blast. Still have to activate my first summit on CW, but almost all of the crowd is patient, so looking forward to it. Pick what works for you and have fun.
Good luck and have fun,
Forgot to mention - FISTS has the “code buddy” program where you can pair up with another op for practice. Like someone mentioned above, but through another organization. The FISTS motto is “Accuracy Transcends Speed”, so they’ll be happy to slow down. The FISTS web site is: www.fists.org and the Code Buddy link is: FISTS CW Club - Code Buddy
It isn’t quite what you asked, but MorseRunner (program) has been really helpful to me. Although it is set up to practice contesting, it strongly resembles a SOTA exchange. It is helpful when you’re done with simple code practice sites. It will teach you to catch a call sign and send it back. There’s only a little else you need for an activation. Everyone who’s ever chased me can testify that I can’t do much more!
For SOTA chasing, if you’re not real sure about your skills, just wait until the pile-up winds down and call at YOUR speed. If I hear someone calling at 5 WPM, I may not be able to slow my character speed down (depending on which radio I’m using), but I will put big spacing between my letters. If the activator really doesn’t want to work slow, you won’t break his/her activation. It is easy to mentally filter out someone who is operating way off from his listening speed.
If you’re thinking of activating with weak CW skill, go ahead. Get out there and call at 5 WPM if you like. Any chaser who doesn’t want to work 5 WPM just won’t chase you. There will be plenty. Heck, I think it would be a hoot to work a 5 WPM (or 10 WPM or whatever) activation.
Musicians often get together for a jam session. There’s a special type of jam session called a “slow jam”, where everyone plays popular pieces at 1/2 or 1/4 speed, so beginners can learn the tunes and high-skill people can focus on details they can’t work at high speed. Calling or responding sloooow is OK.
If you strongly want to work someone besides SOTA, call CQ on the FISTS calling frequency. You’ll often get a reply and it will be at whatever speed you called. FISTS Operating Activities