Dits, dahs and a brand new key!!

I have been wanting to learn CW ever since I got licensed. I would start to learn it, stop for months on end, then start over again.

This last Field Day I sat down with a very experienced CW operator and logged for him while he banged out QSO after QSO. In less that 1 hour, I had two columns of exchanges written into the notebook.

Having had quite a bit of experience with digital modes, I have never seen a QSO rate per hour quit like this. It was amazing, and convinced me to finally get serious about learning CW.

So for the past couple months, I have been trying to learn Morse Code and I am finally starting to have some success. I have all the letters, numbers and many of the symbols learned now.

Most of my time is spent sending CW on the Elecraft KX3 in practice mode (no transmit), while using the built in decoder to learn timing and proper spacing. This is probably not the most conventional way to learn, but it is working for me.

I decided from the very beginning that I would start at 15 words per minute and move up from there. I find it a bit easier to send at 15 wpm than trying to send at a slower pace. During my practice, it is helping me train my ear to 15 wpm too.

I have been using the Elecraft paddles for the KX3 but have been having an issue with missing dits. I have tried to clean the contacts and adjust the paddle but the problem still rears it's ugly head on occasion. After doing some research, I found that the older paddles were notorious for this problem and there is an update kit that needs to be installed to correct it.

After much frustration, I found myself slacking off on my learning.......so I bought a new key to help excite me again.

So....I sent some cash to Italy and the following week, I had a Begali Simplex Basic in the mailbox. While this is not as pretty as some of their more expensive keys, it still has the fine craftsmanship that Begali is known for.

And boy, let me tell ya.....this key is a pleasure to operate. I was breezing through "CQ CQ CQ de W0FW" at 20 wpm with ease. That may not sound all that impressive to the experienced CW operator, but for me it feels like an accomplishment.

I am looking forward to getting back to the practicing CW with my new key. Hopefully soon, I will get brave enough to get out of "practice mode" and get on the air.