CW Atrophy: If You Don’t Use it, You Lose it!

After two months of chasing CW DX, where the exchange is sometimes as little as 599, TU or at most, 599 GA Ken, and often at 25wpm, I engaged in an actual honest qso with an American ham, K6OLE this morning.

It was at abt 15wpm and the first thing I notice was that I could copy only parts of the qso because it was more than just the “standardized” and predictable DX exchange.  Normally, I shouldn’t have a problem at 15wpm so to me it is a revelation how much one loses fm lack of use or practice.  I would call it “CW atrophy.”  Atrophy is the wasting away of, say, a muscle, from lack of use.

This happened to me on xmit as well.  My sending was, well, frankly sloppy, again due to lack of use.  In contest DX especially, I barely touch the paddle.  Instead, my call is recorded and so is the exchange, so I just push buttons on the radio.  At contest DX speeds, sometimes 30wpm, that’s all I can manage!

Note to self #1: resume practice of CW and resume real actual QSO’s instead of just DX or contest exchanges if you want to be comfortable with CW.

Note to self #2: I will do this after I get my Diamond DXCC (special award for 100 countries worked in 2012) and my 100 countries on ten meters.  (I’ve already gotten 100  on 15 and 20m this calendar year.)

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Propagation can play funny tricks

Worked Madeira Islands Thursday on 17m.  Madeira is more or less east of Atlanta, as it is off the coast of northern Africa, nr Morocco.

My wire antenna is oriented north-south so it’s lobes are east and west.  My beam antenna is pointed due south and presently I cannot rotate it due to faulty rotor controller.

Knowing those facts, one would expect the wire ant to do better in hearing and reaching Madeira and the southward beam worthless.

I heard him fairly well on the windom wire ant but couldn’t break through after several attempts.  Switched to the seemingly sub-optimal beam and not only heard him better, worked him quickly after just 1-2 tries.  Not what I expected!

New band-country, however.