[AMRadio] Radio Operators

Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Fri May 1 13:08:06 EDT 2015

> These days about 95% or more of my operating is on AM, but there are a 
> few operating events in which I participate every year that are CW-only. 
> In the winter I get nostalgic and operate more CW. All CW operation is 
> with fairly crude homebrew stuff, as it doesn't "float my boat" to 
> operate CW with a factory-made rig, whether we're talking about a 
> TS-440S or Johnson Viking I (but that's just me).

> -Larry/NE1S

Hi Larry.

Enjoyed talking to you from Al W1VTP's QTH during my recent visit to NH and
Cape Cod to attend family get-togethers. It's not very often that I operate
a station with a class E transmitter and Flex SDR for receiver.

My AM transmitters all  have CW capability, including the Gates BC1-T I
converted to 160. An article appeared in August 2014 ER describing my
modifications and a specific trick to make the Gates and other BC
transmitters work properly on CW. I have an iambic electronic keyer and an
expensive set of March magnetic-repulsion paddles, but the keyer and paddles
gather dust; I much prefer my 1920s era Vibroplex Original bug. It's velvet
smooth with no contact bounce, while my 1947 Original is stiff with so much
contact bounce that the dits sound fuzzy. I need to peddle it and my Bencher
paddles at a hamfest, since I  never use them.

I like to say that 95% of  my operation is on AM and the other 5% CW, but
lately my actual amount of CW operation is probably  less than 1%. The
reason is that most of the CW contacts I make over the air can be described
in one word: uninteresting or should I say boring!  Very rarely do I run
into a CW operator using homebrew anything; I think the percentage of
homebrew CW transmitters heard on the air nowadays rivals that of homebrew
SSB rigs, except maybe for the QRPers.  A typical CW contact consists of
exchanging RST, name, QTH, WX and finally, the mandatory oparator's age and
how long he has been a ham.  Then comes the rig: the name of the
manufacturer followed by a string of letters and numbers indicating the
model, which usually is meaningless to me since I don't try to keep track of
the model numbers of all the plastic radios on the market.  After a few
exchanges comes the inevitable news that the XYL is calling, or that it's
bedtime, followed by CUL & 73. 

Every now and again a CW QSO ends up as an interesting ragchew.  Maybe it's
an old timer describing his earlier  homebrew station, a former teacher who
enjoys exchanging war stories from the days before retirement, maybe someone
who has travelled abroad talking about the adventures of youth, or someone
describing the joys and frustrations of home ownership, maintenance and
restoration. Occasionally the op has or does work(ed) AM and that becomes
the topic of conversation.  But between every one of those QSOs interesting
enough to make me willingly spend one-half to several hours operating the
bug, are the dozens of rubber-stamp QSOs described in the previous
paragraph. This gives me less incentive to switch over to CW and re-tune the
rig and antenna to the CW frequencies in the first place. I have no interest
in contests, traffic nets nor chasing DX, since DX contacts tend to be even
more rubber-stamp than domestic ragchews and signal  reports are often
meaningless 599 even when the signal is barely perceptible.

Do you know of any specific CW frequencies on 160-80-40 where vintage and
homebrew operators hang out, kind of like the AM Windows/Ghettos on the
lower frequency bands? I have repeatedly heard for years that such
frequencies exist, but I fail to find them. 

Don k4kyv

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