This year has been special for me with CW for two reasons. First and foremost, now that Covid seems to be behind us with the country finally opening up again, and second, the continuous presence of on-line CW operations using the ‘Parks on the Air’ as the medium. With ‘Parks on the Air’, I can go on ANY frequency and stir up a pileup in just a moments notice. It’s like making a CW contest any time that I like. You can do that with voice too. For me, that’s like heaven on earth. I seem to treat the service just as that, a contest that keeps me engaged in every contact that I make, and before long, I have anywhere between 50 to 100 contacts in less than a couple of hours. It only takes 10 contacts to successfully activate a park, but I have yet to stop at 10 contacts because it’s so much fun. Most of the time, I rarely stop at 50 contacts. At every park, I shoot for 100 CW contacts during an activation. But due to band conditions, it’s not always that easy, so I’ve done some SSB to suffice any lack of CW contacts. Not only have I been operating extensively on CW with POTA for the last month or so, I’ve done it because it was excellent practice for the event called ‘Field Day’. During Field Day this year, I was able to make 320 contacts in less than 24 hours. My goal was 300.
Working any station that I wanted to during field day came with ease, and at a moments notice with less than a few hours before the Field Day, the ARRL CW qualifying session was to take place. I was pumped up and waiting for it. When the message began, you would immediately recognize that it was not for the inexperienced operator. The session lasted for 18 minutes at around 20 to 25 WPM, and of course I believe I copied every last drop of the message. There were a few bumps during the message though, as some CW operators not interested in copying the qualifying run were transmitting almost on top of W1AW. But, I was able to pull out the message for 100 extra points that the club will receive for copying the message. For me, it wasn’t the speed or the QRM that made it difficult, but my ability to write 20+ words per minute on paper and then to be able to read it so I could send it the officers seemed to be the hardest part. No other member of the club decided to try CW during Field Day, but that was OK with me, as it gave me even more time to operate myself. But working throughout the night by myself was challenging too. At least my son Chris (K5KDE) was present to cheer me on while he also ran digital to help the club in what should be a record score for the GCARC during Field Day.
I’m already looking forward for Field Day next year, but I think for me to participate again in the event will require some other club members to give me some relief when I need to take break. With just a little help, it would be easy to make 500 contacts in 24 hours. So we have a year to plan on that. Maybe someone will step up and help with CW.
There didn’t seem time to gather some of the pictures taken during field day for the June edition of the newsletter, but I’m sure that I can provide several pictures in next month’s news letter and the GCARC website so you can get the feel of the setup and the operators that participated during the event. There may even be a sad shot of me sitting down at the CW station.