Straight Key Night

Straight Key Night is one of my favorite activities of the year. Even though I don’t spend a lot of time at it, it’s a chance to get on the air at the start of the new year and make some interesting contacts. Many hams use vintage gear to go along with their historic telegraph keys, but my “vintage” gear isn’t up to snuff, so I use the gear that I use regularly – just sending with a straight key instead of the keyer. Since I use the straight key every month in the NAQCC sprints, I’ve kept in practice and can send quite smoothly at around 18 wpm.

If you got on the air for SKN, be sure to send a report to ARRL. It’s one of the few events where participants’ calls are listed in QST, so it’s a great way to get your call listed in the magazine.


cwops_225Earlier this year, I stumbled upon the weekly CWops sprints when working the monthly NAQCC sprint. Our “quiet” section of 40 meters around 7040 kHz was suddenly invaded by high-speed ops sending CWT¬†and working each other with names and numbers. Sometimes, as QRP operators, we can feel like ants getting squashed underfoot, but among the callsigns were a few I had worked in the NAQCC events as well as some I recognized from other contests.

I recalled seeing the CWops events listed in WA7BNM’s contest calendar, so I checked it out. Continue reading “CWops”

Lousy conditions hamper NAQCC sprint

QRP is a challenge any time, but when old Sol acts up, it can really throw a spanner in the works. Last night’s monthly sprint sponsored by the North American QRP CW Club offered difficult conditions, at least for me. The coronal hole that developed a couple days ago muddied the A index (25 at contest time) and made signals difficult to copy. The flutter and QSB was so bad that it was difficult to copy an entire call sign most of the time. I operated for about an hour, made 5 contacts on 40 and 80, and decided to call it a night. This in contrast to when conditions are good when I’ve made over 50 QSOs in two hours, all QRP and sent with a straight key.

If you’re interested in slow-speed, hand-sent CQ at QRP power levels, check out the NAQCC. It’s a friendly group of operators who embrace the minimalist’s challenge. Best of all, there are no dues for a lifetime membership.

January North American QSO Party, CW

cwkey_250The semiannual NAQP events are fun contests that run twelve hours. You can operate 10 of the 12 hours, and the exchange is simply your name and state. Many operators use a different name in tribute to an Elmer or a club member who has passed away (and most everyone in KP2 and KP4 uses ‘Chacho’).

I got on for a couple short periods in this weekend’s CW running, totaling just under four hours, and made 121 QSOs. Continue reading “January North American QSO Party, CW”