Amateur radio

QRA Locator: IO80fj, 34 m above sea level.

I've held amateur radio licence G8JMS since 1975 or so and mainly operate low power HF SSB and PSK-31.

For true QRP and portable work, I use an FT-817 - a fantastic transceiver - with an LDG Z-817 automatic atu. I use a Ten-Tec Jupiter for a bit more power.
The antenna here is an Offset Centre-Fed Dipole (OFCD). I use an inverted-Vee or a vertical for HF portable operation.

For digital modes, I use a G3LIV Isoterm data interface. I have tried various digi-mode software, Digipan seems good, at the moment.

CW (Morse code)

As a G8, I never 'had' to learn CW. Passing the RAE in the mid-1970's gave me a Class B licence with access to 2 metres and up, no transmitting on HF bands and no CW. Now, I wish I'd learnt CW a few decades ago :-).
Still, it's never too late to learn and there are a huge number of resources on the web to help you learn CW. A lot of these course use the Koch method, where you learn from the outset at high speed, say 20 WPM, beginning with 2 characters. When you copy 90% perfect, you add a third; and so on. Alternatively, the Farnsworth method is much like the Koch method, sending characters at high speed, but uses longer timing between characters. The experts all say it is much harder, in the long run, to learn at slow speed and then try to get faster. You need to recognise the sound of the code, too, so learning by looking at dots and dashes is not much help. But, hey, I am just a beginner myself!
I have found the following useful for learning to copy CW:

LCWO - a free on-line course that you take at your own pace. The course progresses through fixed groups of random characters, starting with two characters and then adding a character as you get more proficient. Speed and pitch are variable, but the time between groups is not. For the assessments, you need to enter characters from your keyboard as you copy them, or write them down and enter the data later. I find listening and typing/writing extremely difficult, but will persevere.

Morse Mania - a program for Mac OSX. You can select the characters to send, unlike LCWO. The learning mode on this program sends the characters you select and you can set the timing of the spacing between letters. It's $20. Sorry, I have not used any Windows programs to learn CW.

K7QO's code course - this is a downloadable ISO image you will need to burn to a CD. The CD contains 500-odd audio tracks in mp3 format and so is ideal for use with an mp3 player to practice whenever you want. The mp3 files stretch from characters only to chapters from books. A huge resource. Of course, you don't have control over the sending speed or pitch, but as a learning resource it is extremely useful.

Between these three, I hope to master copying CW - sending will be something else.


I intend to get operational on the microwave bands; and optical working looks interesting (sorry) - just need the time to build some kit.