I’ve been working on learning CW so I can activate summits without distracting everyone around me by yelling into a mic (the added range is nice too). Some of you chased me while I operated CW for the very first time on Tuesday, thank you for being patient! I was pleased with how it went and excited to hear Northern Ireland clear as day from California! I also learned I have a long way to go being able to copy effectively.
At this point I’ve finished the whole Koch method sequence from LCWO, and I feel like continuing to train from LCWO is a bit limiting–code on a real summit comes at different speeds and at different signal qualities. Recently I started watching videos of N7KOM activating with CW when he was still fairly new to the mode. I’ve found this way more helpful; the videos show real CW receiving conditions and I can check how I did at the end by looking at his log.
I’ve looked for more videos like this but struggled to find many; so many CW activation videos either cut the actual QSOs from the video or feature operators going waaay too fast for me to copy.
Is anyone aware of any other operators with YouTube channels that show uncut summit activations with CW at ~20 WPM or less? Feel free to self-advertise!
Just install Morserunner and you can have variable signals, variable speeds, pile ups and LIDS.
DX Atlas: Amateur Radio software (Windows only and maybe Macs)
+1000000 for Morse Runner!
You can also load up a custom file of callsigns that Morse Runner will send to you. Have it send you the top 500 SOTA chaser calls!
I like activating the LIDS feature. Alex VE3NEA has some perfect LID behaviour in that program.
There are some subtleties like best-practice protocols (I don’t mean use of prosigns) between activator and chasers especially during a pile-up that you can’t see or make out properly in your typical show-and-tell CW activation video. Those protocols have been much discussed on this reflector but unfortunately not in one thread. Most of us just had to learn the hard way.
I hate to be the dissenting voice here: I like Morse Runner in many ways and it definitely helped me improve speed and accuracy if I used it regularly. However, it needs you to enter callsigns and reports via the keyboard (to measure your performance). That’s fine if you use an e-logger app live at the summit but I use pencil & paper logging.
I want the simulated CW activation to be as much like the real thing as possible - where I write the callsign, report etc onto paper - to help optimize brain-hand coordination in a benign environment (at home) before doing it fighting off biting insects, walkers asking questions mid pile-up, high winds trying to throw my log book over the hilltop, etc.
Therefore I use Ditto CW (on Android) where it voices the correct info immediately after the Morse sequence. Like Morse Runner it has SOTA callsigns built in and you can import any textual info you like.
Yeah check out my channel, its been awhile since Ive done a video but theres a few there. Best advice though just activate at whatevwr apeed you are comfortable at and eventually it gets easier and you go faster. Also CW ops has some great programs online to use go to their website and go to resources.
73 de VE6JTW, Jesse
May I suggest to make use of a an adjacent program for copying practice? There are many prolific POTA activators on Youtube and the exchange is not that different, they have P2P instead of S2S and the rest is pretty much the same, my personal selection:
Hi arthur. Try listening to K4SWL, Tom Witherspoon. He has hour long POTA and SOTA activations so you can listen to calls signs. He probably has more than a hundred of these.
Here’s a link to one of his latest videos
Also, try Practice · Morse Code Ninja
He has all kinds of practice sets from 15wpm to 50. And he has them for just call signs and just SOTA chaser call signs.
You can listen to the on YouTube or download them as a podcast and play them anywhere on your phone.
Finally, check out the speed racing sets. Pick your preferred speed. Say you pick 15wpm. The set starts at around 25 and keeps repeating more slowly with each repetition until the 5th one is 15wpm.
These might be a little above 20wpm, but the unedited audio of my activations: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxpKweJs4V-2qCyHWHDJO8EN6hBaDkbmd
This was my attempt at a CW activation video -
AC0PR, Mike, hasn’t made videos in a couple of years, but has lots of SOTA activation videos with good CW and on-screen captions.
Great video! I was hooked the moment you mentioned my callsign but disappointed our QSO wasn’t on the video or in CW.
Charlie, NJ7V, has a number of nice SOTA videos with cw captions. Some of them also cover various SOTA aspects. Here is an example:
I second Charlie’s videos
I also learned a lot from listening to Thomas K4SWL activation videos. If you haven’t already come across them, there are also excellent videos from Adam K6ARK and Christian Claborne N1CLC.
If you are relatively new to CW, the call signs will sound pretty fast. Don’t let that bother you - most people will slow down if you ask and are happy to repeat their call signs several times. One way listening to the videos can really help is in really letting the TU GM TNX GA GL 73 EE 5NN and similar all become second nature as you hear them over and over.
Also, chasing cw activators is good practice for activating oneself.
Good luck and have fun!
some good advice right there. Chasing SOTA is a fantastic way to prepare yourself. You will hear the flow of an activation and hear a lot of the chasers who will be calling you on your activations.
Thank you everyone! I would love to practice via chasing but unfortunately my home situation is horrible. I live on the bottom floor of a 3 story apartment building with no real outdoor space and with overhead power lines right across the street. I have a 10m dipole set up inside the office that I listen to spots with, but it is rare that I can make out an activator (I can hear chasers a little bit more frequently). So far I’ve only managed to chase W6LOR one time from home. I suppose I could go to a park but if I’m doing that I may as well get on a peak and do S2Ss!
The video recommendations have been very helpful, not only for practicing simple copying but also for developing a sense of how CW activations are “supposed to go” and getting used to the common TU GM GL 73 etc as K6STR mentioned.
I’ve done 2 more CW activations since making this post and it is already going much smoother. I still struggle with copying stuff outside the expected format but I am copying callsigns, signal reports, states, and the standard pleasantries a lot more consistently already. I’ve definitely caught the CW bug, I was able to contact Sweden, Japan, Brazil, England, France, and Spain on my last 2 activations and I don’t think that would have happened with just ssb. Though I admit I had to ask one chaser–7N1FRE–to repeat probably 6 or 7 times because I had never heard of a callsign that starts with a number! I guess I still have many things to learn.
I’ll echo all the great suggestions already made and throw two more SOTA/POTA Youtube channels into the mix–
Thanks for the great contacts on 10m CW!
Vy 73 de Jonathan “JB”
A good friend of mine does some slower speed real time POTA activations - W4EMB, Ed B. Might be perfect for you.
Sounds like you are doing great, Arthur. Here is a link to Kurt Zoglmann’s US states at 20 wpm: