Tag Archives: CW

Upping my CW pile-up game with Morse Runner

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been practicing my CW (Morse Code) skills in an effort to build confidence to do a Parks On The Air (POTA) CW activation.

But how in the world do you practice handling a CW pile-up without actually going on the air–?

I’m glad you asked!

My DXing and contest friends have often touted an amazing free PC application developed by Alex Shovkoplyas (VE3NEA) called Morse Runner.

Morse Runner’s goal is simple: teach you how to manage a CW pile-up.

In short? It’s incredibly effective!

When you start a Morse Runner session, the application emulates the sound and atmosphere of the HF bands in CW mode (meaning, a narrower filter setting). It’s very convincing.

Instead of using a key to send a CQ, the Morse Runner interface emulates a contest logging system where a computer generates your CQ and sends the signal report you record for a station.

Screenshot of Morse Runner (click to enlarge)

You simply set a few parameters like your call sign, max CW speed, pitch, and bandwidth, then press the “run” button and call CQ by pressing the F1 key on your keyboard.

Within a few CQ calls, you’ll hear anywhere from one to several stations answer your CQ (depending on your settings). Your job is to then start logging those stations accurately from the pile-up. If you reply with an incorrect call, the other station will repeat their call until you correct it.

Morse runner has band condition settings you can select like: QRN, QRM, Flutter, QSB and–yes–even LIDs.

Quite often I’ll accurately reply to a weak station and they’ll send “AGN?” and I repeat their report until they copy it.

Morse Runner is so convincing that when I’m in the middle of a big pile-up, I honestly forget I’m communicating with a computer application! I get some of the same excitement and the–let’s be frank–anxiety I would get on the air during a live CW pile-up.

If you select the “LIDs” Band Conditions setting, it’ll crack you up with how accurately it portrays annoying operators who either deliberately or unintentionally try to interfere!

Here’s sample audio from a session this morning:

The screen shot above shows the settings I used for this very tame session with no large pile-ups. If you’re a seasoned CW contester, pump up the speed and the activity level then you’ll feel like you’re on the Heard Island DXpedition!

In short: Morse Runner is giving me the courage to do my first CW park activation. I highly recommend it!

Click here to check out Morse Runner and download.

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Radio Waves: Sealand’s Caretakers, BitCoin & Ham Radio, CW Training, and 50 Years Ago Casey Kasem Started AT 40

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Tony, Mike Terry,  and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Sealand’s caretakers (Boing Boing)

Sealand is an unrecognized micronation off the coast of England, established in the 1960s and issuer of stamps, passports and occasional offshore business shenanigans (“BECOME A LORD“). But Sealand is also a rotting sea fortress in need of constant maintenance. Atlas Obscura met the two caretakers who spend two weeks at a time doing what they can to keep the statelet running smoothly. Dylan Taylor-Lehman’s feature article is a great introduction to the place, if you’re not familiar with it or its wild history.[]

How Bitcoin Is Like Ham Radio (Coindesk.com)

Understanding bitcoin is difficult. And so we cast around for the perfect metaphor. Bitcoin is email. Digital gold. eCash.

Here’s a new one. Bitcoin is ham radio.

Bitcoin is old-fangled. It takes days to download the Bitcoin blockchain, just like it took forever to download software back in 1994. In an age of instant email and real-time Zelle payments, a bitcoin transfer takes 60 minutes to safely settle. It’s more volatile than gold, a relic of our previous monetary system. Thousands of computers are constantly replicating each others’ work, making it vastly inefficient. And lastly, there’s no privacy. Like a medieval marketplace, everyone can see everybody’s holdings.

All of these features are anachronistic. But they do sum up to something unique. What exactly is that thing?

A ham radio allows its operator, otherwise known as an amateur radio operator, to use certain bands in the radio spectrum to communicate by voice or code. This is an old technology. Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi became the first ham radio operator in 1897 when he transmitted Morse code across Salisbury Plain in England.

It seems odd that something as archaic as ham radio continues to exist in a world with email, Snapchat, iPhone and Facebook. A ham transmission can only be used over a couple of kilometers. No emojis. No video. No gifs. Forget about privacy! Anyone can listen into your radio conversation.

Yet, ham radio is a very active niche. Associations all over the world keep the hobby going. According to the American Radio Relay League, there are some 764,000 ham radio operators in the U.S. Japan has more than a million. The International Amateur Radio Union pegs the global number of amateur radio licensees at 3 million.

Like ham radio, Bitcoin is for hobbyists. I’m not talking here about all of the frenetic speculators who keep their coins at Coinbase. I’m talking about users who can run a full node, use Lightning, securely store their own coins and make frequent transactions with the stuff. This pool of bitcoiners is tiny. It’s probably smaller than the number of active licensed ham radio operators.[]

CW Training Program (Southgate ARC)

In this video Howard WB2UZE and John K2NY of the Long Island CW Club talk to David W0DHG about their CW training program

The club started in 2017 offers over 45 hours of CW classes EACH week, and has grown to over 600 members from all 50 states and 15 countries all over the world.

HRN423 Long Island CW Club

50 Years Ago, Casey Kasem Began Counting Down The Hits On American Top 40 (NPR)

On July 4, 1970, the countdown started. Originally hosted by Casey Kasem, American Top 40 played “the best selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico,” as he stated on the first program broadcast 50 years ago as of tomorrow.

On any given week, American Top 40 could feature a ballad, next to a country song, next to a funk song, next to a rock song. The show became a national obsession but 50 years ago, it was considered a risky idea.

“You remember, at the end of the ’60s, Top 40 was not the most popular format,” Casey Kasem told NPR in 1982. “And here we were coming along with a show called American Top 40, and people said, ‘You must be nuts!’ “[]


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Hamvention Special: Begali offers free shipping to US

My Begali Simplex paddles have served me so well and perform flawlessly.

If you planned to pick up a Begali key at Hamvention this year, you’re in luck.

I just found out through SWLing Post contributor, Grayhat, that in honor of Hamvention, Begali is offering free shipping to the US and 50% off shipping to the rest of the world. This promotion ends tomorrow.

Since Begali keys are heavy by design, this is a great deal on shipping!

The Begali family not only makes the best keys, but they are amazing friends to so many in the radio community.

I purchased my Begali Simplex paddles, pictured the top of this post, at the 2008 Hamvention. I absolutely love them. While they’re one of the least expensive hand-crafted precision keys in the Begali line-up, I think you would find they perform better than any other paddles on the market anywhere close to this price point. I never miss a visit to the Begali booth to try out all of Piero’s latest designs. Begali is always one of the busiest vendors at Hamvention.

Click here to check out the full line of Begali keys.

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“The Spy” dramatizes careless use of covert QRP HF CW transmissions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

The new 6-part Netflix series ‘The Spy’ about the Mossad agent Eli Cohen (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) who infiltrated Syrian military intelligence from 1962-1965 dramatizes his careless use of QRP HF CW transmissions in Damascus, which were DF’d to track him down.

SWLing Post readers might find the series interesting, especially segments depicting Mossad’s use of covert QRP HF CW transmissions.

Radio-savvy viewers will find unintended humor in the use of a transistor AM radio circuit board, tiny batteries, and no antenna(!) to send CW messages from Damascus to Israel–and in the comical depiction of a Soviet/Syrian radio HF DF van. You’d think a TV series with star power could’ve found a willing ham or film crew member to lend some basic technical expertise.

Links:

Thanks for sharing, Ed! I’m sure this is a great series. And, yes, I suppose this wouldn’t be the first time the movie industry made an attempt at authenticity but fell just a little short! Since that’s such a key part of the film (no pun intended!), you would think they could have consulted an expert to make the setup authentic while preserving the integrity of the scene.

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CQ Serenade – Very Cool!

This link was forwarded to our Amateur Radio Club by a member (who is quite proficient in Morse code, unlike me!) and I just had to share it with Thomas and the SWLing gang!

https://www.on6zq.be/w/index.php/Audio/CqSerenadeFr

There is both a French version and an English version of the song, so enjoy them both!

Robert Gulley, K4PKM (formerly AK3Q), is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.       Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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“Night of Nights” CW Event Returns Tonight!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian Smith (W9IND), who shares the following announcement:

“Night of Nights” CW Event Returns Friday (U.S. Time) 

“It was 20 years ago today,” say members of the Maritime Radio Historical Society, but they’re not covering a famous Beatles song.

They’ll certainly be on key, however, when they fire up two maritime CW stations, KPH and KFS, and their amateur radio club station, K6KPH, for the 20th annual “Night of Nights” at 8:01 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, July 12/0001 UTC Saturday, July 13. (Alas, several previously participating stations will be absent again this year, including ship-to-shore stalwart WLO of Mobile, Alabama, and a quartet of Coast Guard stations.)

This weekend’s event marks the date in 1999 when commercial Morse code operations ceased in the United States. One year later, the preservation-minded MRHS staged its first “Night of Nights,” treating shortwave radio enthusiasts to the dits and dahs of historic maritime station KPH and other callsigns that were once presumed dead on shortwave CW frequencies.

This year, the society has put out a special appeal to anyone (licensed or not) with CW proficiency to help operate K6KPH. While KPH and KFS transmit “code wheels” (repeating messages), personal messages, and tributes to long-gone maritime stations and operators, K6KPH will make CW contacts with other amateur stations on 3550, 7050, 14050 and 21050 kHz.

Whether reporting for CW duty or not, the public is welcome to observe today’s event and tour the facility, located at 17400 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Doors open at 3 p.m. local (Pacific) time.

And if you’re not within driving distance, you can tune in the Morse signals on the following medium wave and shortwave frequencies:

KPH:  426, 500, 4742.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8, 22477.5 kHz

KFS:  12695.5 kHz

Reception reports go to P.O. Box 392, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956. Please include an SASE if you’d like a QSL.

The following links provide additional information:

Maritime Radio Historical Society: 

http://www.radiomarine.org

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1109843077277&ca=156b371f-da9f-4fed-8819-4bb55bd7bd44

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1109843077277&ca=b54f353c-4692-4564-b79a-0059721f9206

National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/events_nightofnights.htm

Okay, Brian…that “being on key” bit? Clever! 🙂

Looking forward to some sweet CW music on the Night of Nights! Thank you for sharing!

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Tips on receiving Lightsail 2 telemetry and CW ID

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Grayhat, who shares the following update to our post regarding the Lightsail 2:

Some updates about the micro-satellite; first of all, sounds like it may be possible to receive the satellite CW beacon and FSK telemetry data using an SDR and a 70cm Yagi antenna, at least according to what is reported at the RTL-SDR website:

Solar Sail Satellite Lightsail-2 Now Transmitting Morse Code Beacon

Click here to read.

By the way, one will also need to be between 42° and -42° latitude to have some hope to pick up the satellite signal; also, the satellite now got a different NORAD ID (44339) so the N2YO tracking URL is now:

https://www.n2yo.com/?s=44339

The above may be useful to track the satellite and know when to attempt receiving its signals, other than that, the mission is proceeding well and the “mission dashboard” is now active:

http://www.planetary.org/explore/projects/lightsail-solar-sailing/lightsail-mission-control.html

The only missing bit for hams willing to track the satellite status is a piece of software to decode the telemetry data, whose format is publicly available:

https://planetary.s3.amazonaws.com/projects/lightsail/manuals/ls2-beacon-info-v01.txt

Also, given that, once the satellite will deploy the solar sail, its orbit will change, I think that it would be a good idea attempting to receive it now, since later on, it may become more difficult.

Thank you sharing these tips, Grayhat. I will attempt to receive the CW signal from Lightsail 2. I do miss one crucial element: the 70cm yagi. I’m willing to bet I know a local radio friend that has one, though!

If you successfully receive the CW ID or telemetry data from Lightsail 2, please comment and share your results here. A video or audio recording would be wonderful!

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