NAQP CW Weekend 2020

I had a fun weekend getting back on the air for a contest. I haven’t done much contesting this summer but was excited to participate in the NAQP for a little bit. What made this contest unique for me is that I was able to stretch my CW skills quite a bit.

When I do conversational CW, I am operating somewhere between 13-15WPM with some Farnsworth spacing thrown in there. Thankfully there are almost always some hams out there that like to chat at that speed, which makes for fun QSOs. Contesting with CW is a totally different ballgame. Operators often go 20-35(or even higher) words per minute. In the past for CW contests, I’d have to use software on my computer (fldigi) to help me decode the CW at that speed in order for me to comprehend what was being sent. For this contest, I decided to do it all by ear. Now, I only made 20 contacts, but it felt good knowing that the ones I made were done by ear. It also helps that the exchange was very simple:

CQ NA W7DK (Caller)
N7CPM (My response)
N7CPM Doc WA (Caller's exchange)
TU Chris WA (My exchange)
TU (Caller's farewell)

This is the type of exchange I could do with a pad of paper and my ears! No complicated exchanges, no serial number, or crazy additional pieces of info like in the ARRL Sweeps (which I one day hope to do by ear).

I love CW and contests like this are great practice at increasing my speed. I’m trying to get my conversational speed up and getting my ears used to higher speeds has helped a bit. Before some of the big contests this upcoming fall, I’m going to keep practicing with apps on my phone that send CW from RSS feeds or sample QSOs to help with my “head copy”.

If you are at all interested in CW and are on the air around 8PM PDT(I get to the shack after my kids get to sleep) on 40m, I’d love to work you!


Chris N7CPM