More CW Practice

Merry Christmas! Today I landed upon a video by KJ4YZI Eric of HamRadioConcepts (https://youtu.be/Jls-PiR-dBI) entitled “How I learned Morse code fast and easy”. I found the title suspect because CW is neither fast nor easy, but he did help me a lot with this simple video. He learned with the help of an Android app called Morse CT that allows him to practice by tapping the alphabet and numbers on his phone. It never occurred to me that I could tap on my phone screen to learn sending. I have been so slow going because the Koch method is tedious and very hard in the beginning. I was thinking I… Read More

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Passed the Amateur Extra exam

It took a while of studying, and a HamCram at the end, but I got my Extra class ticket this afternoon with W6SF Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club. I missed one out of the 50-question exam. This is the last level of amateur radio licensing. Now I have no excuses… I need to just focus on actual radio practice and experimenting with all the different things that have opened up at this level. I will have the ARRL Band Plan on hand at all times till I memorize it, and can now pretty much transmit on all available FCC amateur bands without worrying if I’m in the wrong operator allocation.… Read More

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SDARC Meeting 11/9

Met with the club members of Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club (SDARC) this evening at a classroom in the Bear Creek Community Church. The club elected (or re-elected, rather) the club board for 2018, and discussed upcoming club events. Then W6SXA Mark gave a presentation and demo of the Rigexpert AA-600 antenna analyzer. He reviewed other types of analyzers with their pros and cons, and settled upon the one he got, the AA-600. This is a sensitive piece of equipment that can scan from 0.1 to 600 MHz (all the favorite ham bands) and even interface with your computer to produce very accurate SWR, reactance, capacitance, return loss, and TDR (Time Domain Reflectometer)… Read More

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Learning Morse Code

I’ve found that learning CW is hindered by my preconceptions I’ve had about Morse code. When initially starting on the Koch Method using HamMorse, I would turn the sound I heard into a mental picture of dots and dashes, then I’d do an internal lookup of what that picture in my mind was against the alphabet. As you can imagine, this takes way too long, and takes too much concentration to effectively work in real-time CW translation. After many hours of trying and listening, I realize now what others have said all along about Morse: Just relax, and let the sounds come in on their own. The sounds need to… Read More

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Got my General!

Passed the General License exam this morning in Granite Bay, California. I’d been studying for about a month. But last night I thought to cram for it since there was an available exam going on in the morning about 50 miles north of me. I went through the whole General Exam question pool. I was unsure of so many answers, and not even halfway through all questions, that I thought, “I’m never going to pass this thing.” There’s a bit of math and frequency allocation memorization needed, as well as understanding schematic diagrams and figuring out ohms, picofarads, and millihenries. But I did power through the studying, referring often back… Read More

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Being a Ham Means Figuring Things Out

A setback day today, as I finally received a USB audio cable for my attempts to use fldigi with my mac laptop (one of the few SDR programs that works on macOS). I was so looking forward to CQ’ing on my available bands with CW in an automated sense, but no luck. The USB audio cable I ordered (manufactured in Greece, no less), doesn’t seem to work. It is quite frustrating to wait forever for the requisite parts only for me to once again face the world of failure and non-support on Apple Mac computers. The ham software world is very driven by Windows software, something hams really need to… Read More

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Ham Code Guide

Spurred by the previous post, I’m using the Koch method for learning Morse code (CW). I’m attaching here a document I made back when I first became a ham in 1999 that is a quick reference for prosigns and Q-Codes. Morse is also there, but I do not recommend CW by sight, has to be reflexive by sound. A good iOS mobile app for this is Ham Morse by AA9PW. Here is my reference document: Ham Code Guide by KF6UJS.

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