01 January 2008

Straight Key Night - Happy New Year!

The ARRL's Straight Key Night is going on right now as I type this. It started last night at 5:00 p.m. local time (which is 0000 UTC) and goes through until 2400 UTC. I've spent a few hours on it, mostly listening but I have made a few QSO's. My CW skills are not great but I can do a fair job copying up to about 15 wpm; above that, I'm not yet confident enough to jump into a QSO although I can usually pick out most of the words. Sending is always easier than receiving, but even there I tend to make mistakes after I've been operating for a while and get tired.

I've never done a lot of CW operating and one of my New Year's Resolutions is to start doing more of it. I've got both the straight key as well as an electronic keyer paddle - both of them made by Bencher. One problem with CW is that a QSO takes a longer time than on voice. A typical brief CW QSO might take 15-30 minutes, so to do CW requires a bigger time commitment. And time is something I never have enough of. It also requires a greater level of concentration. But it's really a lot of fun and I know that the faster you go, the more fun it gets.

My first SKN contact last night was with N6WK, who is one of the founders of the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC). Gordon holds SKCC #3T and I was pleased to add him to my log.

We're taking a family hike today so I'm probably finished with SKN for this year unless we get home before 5. It was a great kick-off to a fun year in ham radio!

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