Today I received my first reply QSL card. And for a CW QSO, no less!
On March 7, 2018, during my lunch break I set up my mobile 40m hamstick in the office parking lot and surfed around the CW frequencies of 40m (i.e. 7.000 to 7.125 MHz). It was mostly me calling CQ and with no replies, but toward the end of the lunch hour, I heard someone coming in pretty loud, and slow enough that I could (mostly) make out the characters. By the second callsign send, I could visualize: AB6ET. I hoped I was getting it right.
When AB6ET finished, I sent out, “AB6ET DE AD6DM AD6DM K”.
Expecting to hear the CQ call again (which is normally the case, nearly no one hears me), I prepared to shut down and go back to work. But then AB6ET was sending my callsign! WOOHOO, I had just made a CW contact!
The QSO was horrible, and by no fault of AB6ET. I sent “SRY MY CW IS BAD, NEW TO CW” (or at least I tried to send that), as well as totally mucking up his RST report and other words. I felt so unprepared. I didn’t have a pencil or paper, and when I thought I could rely on the CW translator of the radio, it totally failed me due to the background noise.
I copied perhaps 25% of what he sent, but I did make out NORM as the name, and bits and pieces. It was an embarrassing conversation due to my limitations.
Later that evening I found Norm’s email on QRZ.com, and asked him if I got the callsign right. The next day he replied that yes, we indeed talked on CW, and he encouraged me to keep it up and gave a lot of great tips on how to get better at CW. I felt very motivated to keep at the CW practice after that email.
This contact was 300+ miles away on 40m, transmitting roughly 10 watts into a mobile 8ft vertical hamstick with about 2.2:1 SWR. Not bad for a lunch break, I’d say!