In this section you will find material relating to amatuer radio.
Check out this operating aid that I created. Let me know what you think.
This is a very old and out of date Moniteau County ARES site. There are some interesting pictures there.
In this section you will find material relating to amatuer radio.
Check out this operating aid that I created. Let me know what you think.
This is a very old and out of date Moniteau County ARES site. There are some interesting pictures there.
|928 5 element colinear|
1" aluminum tubing was used for the large sections. 12 gauge stranded copper wire with ring connectors for the small wire sections. The ground plane wires are from brass rod. Ring connectors were soldered on to the brass rod. The rods were riveted to the base section of tubing. All stranded wires were riveted to the larger aluminum tubing. The coax used was Radiall-Larsen Dual shield RG-58.
Peformance is much better than the three quarter wave below. A station that had quite a bit of QSB on them with the 3/4 wave was Q5 with this antenna. With the SMA3 they could not be heard and they couldn't hear me either.
I really need to go back and rebuild this antenna. After revisiting Ross's site below, I realized that my first element is improperly built. I should be feeding the first fat element in the center. I also did not utilize the 75ohm quarter wave match that he does.
I built a similar 3 element colinear for VHF. I tried the techinque of feeding it through the bottom section to act as a decoupler trick and it doesn't appear to work all that great. I'm going to try it out again with a 75ohm quarter wave match.
This site was the inspiration for this antenna. I just sized things for 928Mhz.
|928 3/4 wave|
This antenna was built with all scrap box parts.
The top piece of aluminum tube was left over from an antenna trimming/conversion project. The bottom piece of tube was from scrap that was cut off of another antenna. The RG-58 a/u with molded BNC was another piece of scrap. As well as the PVC tub that serves as a support. The ends of the coax had ring connectors soldered on them. Both piece of aluminum tubing were drilled through the pvc support. Then the coax ends were connected to the aluminum tubing with aluminum rivets. (The tape is added for waterproofing and aesthetics.)
It performs better than the Comet SMA 3 it replaces.
I wanted to have a resonant antenna on 160M so this is what I came up with.
Construction is pretty straight forward
k0emt's 6m/2m whip
I used a completely threaded 3/8"x24 TPI bolt with an Allen style head and a lock washer for mounting the cobalt steel heavy duty spring to the mount.
Next is a lock washer and a medium duty stainless steel spring.
Then a 3/8" x 3" extender topped with a barrel connector with locking nut.
A whip adapter with stainless steel whip tops it all off.
The radios in my truck are mounted on a "Shelf-it" brand over head shelf. I went with this brand because the fabric covering is actually fabric particles that are blown on to an adhesive coated aluminum shelf. (That way you don't rip all of the shelf material off when you are drilling holes!)
SummaryThis is my 80M "field expedient" antenna. I primarily use this as a NVIS antenna with my FT-817 QRP rig.
WA2ZKD suggested the following (edited):
Reports from Builders
Numerous people on several yahoogroups, of which I am a member,
have commented about the need for a flexible HF antenna.
This is a prototype antenna I built up from material on hand.
The antenna shown has approximately 20" of tubing.
The analyzer says it is resonant on 6M and 70cm.
On the air tests with the Yaesu FT-817 show this to be true in operating as well.
Variation: use a section of 3/8" x 24TPI bolt instead of the aluminum wire. Warm the vinyl so you can work the bolt head into the tubing. Use a ring connector on the wire at the bolt end. Tape the wire to the tubing around the bolt head to help secure everything.
If you are only using the stock antenna that came with your SWL radio, Yaesu VX-7 or Kenwood TH-F6/TH-F7 you are missing out on a lot. This page describes a couple of parts box medicine bottle antennas that you can build. Specific values are not that important. Especially for receive only use.
In one example the coil was wound on 3/8" plastic tubing. In the big bottle example the coil was wound on ~1/2" plastic tubing.
The ground side of the capacitor is soldered to the ground of the BNC connector. The positive side of the capacitor takes 5 turns around the toroid and is soldered back to itself. The center pin of the BNC connector takes 5 turns around the toroid and then continues on to the wire wound inductor. From there the antenna continues with an attached piece of wire.
Toroid, capacitor and inductor specifics are not critical as this is intended primarily as a receive antenna. You can check your resonant frequency with a tool like the MFJ-269. This simple antenna will greatly increase your enjoyment of HF SWL with your TH-F6a.
Give this simple parts box antenna and matching unit a try and you'll be surprised. I'm only using about 6Ft of wire after the inductor. For the larger coils I used a plastic form and ~22AWG magnet wire. For the smaller coil I used a piece of tubing used on water systems with very fine magnet wire. Materials and values are NOT critical for the most part. The Important thing is to have fun!
The biggest thing is to have fun and experiment.
Drop me a line and let me know how it works for you.
This antenna is designed to be mounted off the side of a tower. The idea is to run the arm through the tower, bracketing to the far side of the tower. The middle of the arm should be zip tied to the tower.
In the "laboratory" this antenna showed a VSWR of <= 2.0:1 from 136-153.1Mhz. With 1.1:1 at 144.2. This is good since the primary intent is to use it as a packet antenna. It also tested well for the entire 70cm band.
By the way, I will be going to black UV resistant ties before installing permanently.
How long is the counterpoise? The overall length including the "pigtail" that is attached to the antenna bracket is the appropriate length for the frequency based on Bonnie KQ6XA's research. Here are some excerpts from the Counterpoise_Radial_Length file on the HFPack yahoo group:
The problem of predicting or computing the length of a resonant wire gets more complex when using dragging counterpoises and very low radials or radial wires laying partly on the ground. Because of proximity to the earth surface, the wire needs to be shorter. Earth (soil) conductivity affects the resonance, so different soil types may require different length counterpoises. Generally, the more conductive the soil, the shorter the counterpoise. ### Pedestrian dragging counterpoise length With broadly tunable whips (such as MP-1, mobile whips, etc) I've found impirically that a pedestrian dragging counterpoise wire can be about 10% to 25% shorter than the standard quarterwave formula predicts, and the whip will usually tune to a fairly good 50ohm match. Insulated wire with low ohmic resistance should be used. For best dragging quality, Teflon or slick PVC-jacketed or oil-resitant multistrand wire is best. For safety while walking with a dragging counterpoise, some sort of slip-connector or an alligator clip should be used so that the connection will break apart if the wire is caught by a rock or vegetation.
|BAND| FEET | |----|------| |10m | 7.4ft| |12m | 8.0ft| |15m | 9.9ft| |17m |11.0ft| |20m |14.0ft| |30m |18.5ft| |40m |26.3ft| |60m |34.3ft| |75m |45.4ft| |80m |49.3ft|
I am using a bass pro big country pack. I picked this backpack for it's external frame, hydration pack and because it fit me! The frame and padding are set up really nice. They do a really good job of letting air circulate around. I was really surprised when I felt a breeze come across my back while wearing it.## Antenna Mounts
I found some great brackets at a truck stop for mounting antennas. They are Barjan 300-306, "GM Models" prior to 1990 Mirror Mount. I did grind down the part of the bracket near to the pack.
One mount is configured with NMO so I have a lot of versatility with it. Using adapters can go to UHF or BNC F. Coax is terminated with BNC.
The other mount is standard 3/8-24 with a quick-detach stud. Connected a detachable counterpoise wire to one of the nuts on the mount.## VHF/UHF Station
I use a Kenwood TH-F6a mated with a Comet SBB-5 dual band antenna. The rig was an easy choice. The main factors were simultaneous dual VFO's, all-MODE recieve and excellent battery life. I can keep one VFO on a local repeater or simplex frequency. The other VFO can be monitoring 18.157.5 USB. So, then I don't drain the HF rig's battery in RX.
The antenna was a tough choice. In the end I went with a Comet SBB-5 because I like the black color with the pack, the height is just right, flexibility is good and I had one on hand. Why do I care about height for this antenna? As you wear the pack it is on the right side. I did this because typically a brush/trees that hang over the trail are lower on the outside. I'm going to see how this works out, but I will be very tempted to get one of the new Comet EX-510B NMO 6/2/440 antennas. It doesn't take much additional antenna on the F6a to really bring up the receive on HF.## HF Station
The Yaesu FT-817 is the rig that I use on the HF/50 side of the house. I use the homebrew vertical for the antenna.
I have a length of 14 gauge wire that has ring connector on one end and a female spade connector on the other. The ring connector is attached to the antenna bracket. The wire is routed down around the outside of the pack to where it terminates in the female spade connector. I then attach a counterpoise wire that has a male spade connector on the end. With this arrangement if the counterpoise gets hung up on something, it disconnects. Otherwise, the wire could pull on you causing you to lose your balance and fall. Not a good thing.
Now, the question becomes where to put the quick disconnect? Because of the way I have my wire routed I opted to put it a couple feet away from the bracket, past the end of the pack. My thought is to put the quick disconnect far enough out that you can easily reach back, grab the wire, pull the connector around in front of you and plug the dragging part back in. Saves you from having to take the pack off or from practicing to be a contortionist.
Also, take a piece of flagging tape and tie it to the part of the dragging counterpoise that is by the quick disconnect. Now when it comes unplugged you'll be able to quickly spot it. Optionally, use a brightly colored wire. But be prepared to have LOTS of people tell you, "you're dragging a wire."## Identification and Patriotism
I've also added a yellow ribbon (HFPack identification) to the VHF/UHF antenna. Thin, ribbed cloth type, melted the ends to keep from fraying.
On my HF antenna I added a US flag to the top. I used a flag that came on a round tube. Cut the top off the tube and again below the flag. Secured to the whip by putting zip-ties in place above and below the flag. HINT: wrap the zip tie twice and through itself to really snug it up! Now the flag waves freely when /PM.## Safety When in an urban environment the ribbon and flag also serve as added visual attention getters. Especially handy when you're in hilly terrain. I sometimes find myself out during the twilight hours. For those times I have an LED flasher on the back of the pack. I also keep and LED flashlight in one of the pack pockets. Plan your route, follow your route and make sure someone knows you're route and expected times. Pretty much your standard hiking/backpacking safety rules apply. Be safe and have fun! 73 -- de Bryan, K0EMT
Numerous people on several yahoogroups, of which I am a member,
have commented about portable HF antennas being a compromise in
performance versus convenience. I believe this antenna slams down
the scale on the side of convenience for operating 160M and 80M portable.
The analyzer showed low SWR on 160M and 80M. My FT-817 agrees.
40M and 30M show a bit higher SWR on the analyzer.
The 817 shows 3 and 4 bars respectively.
I was testing with 2.5W out CW.
I designed this this mast mount because I wanted to be able to rapidly deploy a mast mounted antenna in a location that didn't have other supports available.
After having practiced with this mast mount, I would likely have the bottom collar welded to the rest of the frame. Although that doesn't lend itself well to transport. So, it's a toss up.
John, AA0ZC built the mount for me. If you would like him to build one for you, contact him directly for an estimate.
* End Cap & Mast ** Generation 1 Bottom has a 3/8" x 24TPI bolt in a PVC end cap. Then a section of 1" aluminuum tubing. Overall length and coil weight of the Gen 1 have relegated it to a primarily portable HF vertical role. ** Generation 2 Changed to a metal end cap, filling in extra space with PC-Metal Epoxy. Then a section of 1" aluminuum tubing. Mast shortened for mobile operation. ** Generation 3 Copper tubing mast design. Much nicer appearance. Field use demonstrated that the copper is too weak for extended use. ** Generation 4 Fiberglass tube w/epoxy filled PVC cap * Coil A smaller section of PVC slides inside of the mast. Coil is wound on the PVC. ** Generation 1 Topped off with another bolt that has been pressed and epoxied into the PVC tube. Then a whip tip adapter and a whip. Taps at various places, required tuner. Antenna ends up ~9'9" tall. With full coil resonant at ~6.9Mhz. Bypassing coil it covers the entire 10M band < 1.8:1. ** Generation 2 The bolt is simply put into the PVC end cap. Nut and whip tip adapter arrangement. Taps are located for resonant frequency, no tuner required. Coil shortened for better mobile operation, only goes to ~10Mhz now. ** Generation 3 Nut and whip tip adapter configured with Quick Detach spade connectors. After 20M tap switch to smaller gauge wire, allows for 40M operation. ** Generation 4 In progress, going to fiberglass coil form. Most likely will use PowerPole connectors instead of spade connectors. * QSO's First Contact, Generation 1 05 Feb 02 1035 CDT 28Mhz EA3XA 58 58 Jose - Barcelona Spain w/ICOM IC-706 mk II @ 100 Watts * 80M Use a wire with Max Coil for 80M, works well for Section Traffic Net. Better results on 80M can be obtained by using a 56" extender below the coil. (Stationary use only!) * Costs Al Tube ~$4 (~$12 for 8ft pc) PVC Tube $1 Wire ~$4 Incidentals - Epoxy, Hardware, Ring Connectors, tape ~$2 3/8" Hardware - ~$7 Whip - ~$7 Total ~$25 10 Bands for about the price of 2 mobile monobanders. * To Be Done ** Document Where tapped, how chose where to tap. How tapped, 14Gauge wire length of each section
I sat down and drew out what I did and thought I'd pass on what I did/found out. The design is from The 1993 ARRL handbook that was given to me by wd0hbx. The x-beam was originally intended as an HF mono-band beam. I used the formulas to build it for 6m. It also happens to work out really well for 2m & 70cm use as well.
The text says that this antenna design will typically have a 6-8dB gain and a forward to back ratio of 20dB. The handbook also states that this design should perform as well as or better than a similar yagi.
(That will make more sense when you look at a picture.)
There are tails on all four arms.
I didn't have my arms exactly perpendicular.
I had the inside angle of the directed element < 90 degrees.
I used square tubing on the back and round on the front.
Tie the tails to the nylon cord that is strung around the beam for support.
f swr (48.4 - 51.35) <= 2.2 50.110 2.2 420.000 1.3 50.125 2.2 426.000 1.6 52.525 2.5 430.750 1.6 435.000 1.1 144.000 1.1 436.300 1.6 145.050 1.2 442.000 2.0 146.000 1.3 444.000 1.6 146.400 1.4 445.000 1.1 146.520 1.4 446.000 1.5 148.000 1.2
On air testing has shown that it is indeed directional. Had S-8 noise on discone, switched to beam, now S-3. Conversely, when testing on 6M with a horizontally polarized "local" station kb0qhz, noted an improvement of 5 S-units when using beam. (cross polarization could come in to play though -- the discone is vertical.)
When testing with kb0hnr mobile in Jefferson City, MO I was able to copy him at times S5-9 when the discone couldn't even hear him. A similar gain was noted when hearing DX when cross-polarization shouldn't be an issue.
Noted, that when I changed the direction it is pointed wasn't able to bring up certain local 2M FM repeaters.
Hooked up an ICOM 706mkII, using 20w on 2M SSB made a contact with K9IMX (Lake of the Ozarks), he reported me 57. He regulary works n9wyx, another "serious" 2M ssb station within ~1/2 mile of my QTH and he said he was impressed with my signal.
As a side effect, it seems like the discone is peforming better now than before. The discone is mounted off the top of a 20' mast. The beam is approximately one foot under it. Maybe, it's benefitting from some sort of ground plane effect?
Overall, I'm fairly happy with this beam. I have the feeling I will be building another one this year. I'll use better materials and be more exacting on the next go around.
If anyone decides to build one, please let me know. I'd be glad to help any way
that I can and to stick it on the analyzer when you've finished construction.
2001 Jan 23 *******
kb0hnr was over recently. We had the antenna hooked up to my Kenwood TS-570S. The 570's tuner matched the rig to the antenna on 20 and 40 meters. We had a 59 contact into MA on 20m and were able to check into the 3905 net on 40 meters.
Not bad for a VHF/UHF antenna!
2001 May 31 ******
I now think that the reason the antenna was working on the HF bands was because it was so close to ground that there were some very strange interactions going on. The antenna was on a ground mounted 5ft Rohn tripod, with a 5ft Radio Shack Mast, Rotor & 4ft PVC mast attaching to the antenna. 2M and 440 were exhibiting good SWR but I was having a heck of a time with 6M. 6M would however tune.
Presently, I have moved the antenna a top a ~25ft Rohn 25G tower. As currently configured I have a 1.1swr for 144.2 and a 1.8swr for 432.1. 50.125 is currently showing a swr of 8.3, Rs=8 and Xs=17. Just this last weekend I added a 10' section to the tower increasing it to 25ft. I believe before I had done this that my swr was < 2.0 on 6M and on 2M,440 it was >1.5 but <3.0. I am coming to the conclusion that this antenna is very sensitive to it's height above ground.
For now, I plan to leave it as is, (I don't climb), and use the internal tuner of the TS-570S to make up the difference. Which it does just fine. By summers end I hope to add another two sections to the tower and a hazer. At that point in time I will try to adjust the antenna or make a matching circuit.
As an aside, the 570 will now tune the beam for 10M.
2001 October 09 ******
Beam is now at ~50ft. It is performing well.
Frequency and corresponding SWR as measured with MFJ antenna analyzer.
I could not get my Kenwood TS-570SG to force feed the X-Beam on 28.337.
It did match it on 29.6. The rig will also not make the match on 40 Meters.
Obviously it won't make the match on 80 or 160 either.
2003 April 03 ******
It is VERY important that the arms be of a significantly larger diameter than the tails. More info on specifics can be found at LB's (W4RNL) page below.Here are some additional web resources for your perusal.
The LDG RT-11 from LDG Electronics seems to be the best value.
For mounting a whip antenna, split ball mount behind the drivers side of the cab, on the cab. Watch the height of this location. In the US, max legal height is 13ft 6in for most places.
My experience with springs is that they are more trouble than they are worth. (I’ve tried lots of ’em.)
Definitely go with a quick disconnect for the antenna mount. Not all QD’s are created equal. I like the one’s I’ve been buying from wb0w.
Also, not all split balls are created equal. You will want something like one of the Hustler heavy duty models. You can get ’em with either UHF or terminal connections on the back side of the ball. Another nice feature of these is that the plastic insulator has a crown of sorts on it, that helps to keep the mount from rotating.
An alternate mounting location and much stronger, would be to get a sheet of metal, cut it off into a triangle and mount it near the corner of the bed. This mounting location would be sturdy enough to support the biggest of antennas.
In any mounting location, make sure you have a good ground. I use a dremel tool with grinding bit to get to bare metal.
Screw driver will work great and be expensive, but you won’t need the tuner.
You could use a CB whip as an ultimate compromise vertical.
If you get a set of “hamstick” type antennas with QD connectors you can use each one +/- 1 band. Use 15M on 17M and 12M w/tuner.
Or you could home brew a vertical solution for ~$35. My HB antenna lets me do 2/6M or any band 10M-30M while mobile. I can do 80M stationary with the addition of a ~40’ wire. I am working on a solution for 40M mobile.
Btw, I hope you had the RF filter installed in the fuel pump.
If you couldn’t tell, I love mobiling.
Also, if you give it some advance thought you could configure
things so that you could easily transition it all to a back pack
with battery, counterpoise wires, spare coax, etc.
Here is where the LDG Z11 and whips with QD connectors have an advantage.
73 DE Bryan, k0emt
Yahoo groups are a thing of the past. Look for a groups.io group or a FaceBook group.
Also, we’ve gone from the 817, to the 817ND, and now the 818.
W4RT has long since gone out of business and the filters and compressors are no longer available.
Crystal filters are pretty much impossible to obtain for CW.
SOTABeams sells a digital filter that someone with advanced building/soldering skills can add into the rig. They also have an external version.
SOTABeams also sells an external speach compressor that is plugged inline with the microphone.
The 817 series has finals that are sensitive to high SWR and leaving batteries in them on the shelf. I recall reading something about how the finals stage was still getting power to it even when turned off (soft switch).
Check your output. Odds are that you will at some point in time join the blown finals club. Luckily, the 818 finals board works throughout the 817 series and is available from Yaesu. Fortunately, it is not an overly expensive part.
Just skip on the internal batteries. If you insist, know that not all AA NiMh are the same. Look for those with a capacity over 2400mAh. The 817 series is a power pig and won’t last very long on 1500mAh batteries.
Check the 3D printing sites. There are some options for getting a 3S 18650 internal battery set up. WindCamp also sells some options on eBay
Print, make, or buy a Yaesu DC connector to Anderson Power Pole adapter that secures to the back of the radio.
I personally acquired a Bioenno 3Ah battery and charger.
Visit PortableZero products. They have battery cases that include a nice one for the 3Ah Bioenno. It also mates well with the 817 series. PortableZero also makes a bracket/bail combo that protects the front of the 817 series. The bail feature nicely positions the display and controls for field ops.
I typically used this with a wire antenna and tuner. Otherwise, a commercial buddistick.
I built and use an Elecraft T1 with the 817. Add the control cable for some automated band switching. Not an inexpensive setup, but compact and very functional.
Check out PCBHobby and their HardRock 50 for a kit to build a 160m-6m 50-60w amplifier. There are options for an internal tuner and QSK operation. The 817 can be interfaced to the HR50 for band switching.
OLD and mostly obsolete information
You should join and research in the ft817 yahoo group.
(NOT to be confused with the ft-817 group.) READ THE FAQ!
Also, check out www.w4rt.com
A CW filter is a must. You may want to consider the dual filter from w4rt. The w4rt is the only one giving you both a narrow ssb and narrow cw filter.
Do a google search on w3ff and buddipole for both commercial and home brew versions of this portable multi-band dipole.
DON’T buy an ATX antenna. Probably better off to avoid the maldol whips as well. The miracle whip sucks. If buying a commercial dummy load, check out the super antennas MP-1. Any of the HF antennas will need a good counterpoise. Elevating the wire is better too.
Consider a 7aH gel cell and some fused power-pole leads for when want to work more than an hour or so.
If you want a linear check out the Tokyo Hy-Power HL50 80M-6M. Order from the factory, they’ll adjust for 5w drive, 50-60W out.
For auto-tuner consider LDG Z11. For manual tuner ZM-2 or other.
FT-817 Commander is good free software for programming/control/digital modes.
Drop me a line with any questions.
72 de Bryan - k0emt
This is an index to pictures of the Ambico bag model V-4420ASST.
I use it for transporting my Yaesu FT-817 along with antennas and other accessories.
This bag is padded, has lots of zippered compartments and has a life-time warranty. I purchased it for less than $20 at Wal-Mart.
Since taking these pictures I have started using a Super Antennas 3/8"-24TPI mounting bracket. With this bracket on, the bag will NOT zip shut.
If you use the long whip and modified RS 11M back of set antenna, they can protrude from the same opening.
With everything that I stuff into the bag, including two extra sets of AA batteries, the bag weighs in at 10lbs.
I have switched to UG-174 coax for quite a bit of weight and bulk savings. However, I do prefer the RG-58 when doing VHF+ weak signal stuff.
Also, Sears, a US department store, was clearing out some 35mm camera bags. I picked up one for $3 that a 7Ah SLA snugly fits into.
I put a fused pig tail on it with Anderson Power Poles. In the little front pouch I put the 817 barrel connector and PP pig tail and some spare fuses.
I threw in a couple higher rated fuses in case it needs to be used on another rig.
Pictures of the bag and contents:
When you get SuperMorse installed on your computer, take the time to print out the manual, read it, and become familiar with the features of the software. However, while reading the manual, remember that you are not going to follow SuperMorse's own training regimen but rather are going to use Koch's much more effective method.
Keep in mind, however, that you will have good and bad days, and some characters may be more troublesome than others. Still, you should see steady progress as you add characters at regular intervals. Remember that as you learn each character by the Koch method, you are learning it at full speed.
When completing a session with SuperMorse, always exit the software using its menu commands. This will save all your settings and update your user file so you can better evaluate your progress. If you simply turn off the computer, your settings and user statistics will not be saved.
From SuperMorse's Build menu, you press the B key to have words sent to you. There are further choices to be made here, though. SuperMorse will send "regular" words, "ham" words or callsigns.
Start out with "regular" words. When you have made the transition from random groups and are copying the regular words at 90 percent or better, start doing some sessions using the "ham" words and callsigns. You may want to spend some extra time with callsigns prior to the final phase of your training.
That final phase is to have SuperMorse send you a sample amateur QSO, which is exactly the format of the amateur code test. This also is done from the Build menu. Simply press Q for QSO, and copy the QSO. When it's over, grade yourself, taking particular note to ensure you are copying the callsigns, names, QTHs, rigs, ages, and other facts on which you could be tested.
When you are consistently copying SuperMorse's QSOs accurately at the target speed, you're ready for the exam. When the exam comes, just relax and do what you're accustomed to doing -- copying correctly.
You don't want to start with E and T -- the two shortest characters will come at you so quickly you'll wonder if you ever will copy them!
Over the years, researchers have made lists ranking the Morse characters in order of their difficulty, based on errors in copy. Other researchers, however, have showed that the characters missed most in copy are those least used, and that the "difficult" ones are copied quite accurately when they receive as much attention in training as the others.
The Koch method seems to largely overcome this problem in that you spend the amount of time necessary to assimilate each character before adding another to your training sessions. Still, it appears useful to mix long, "hard" characters and short, frequently-used ones rather equally as you progress.
Based on this idea, here is a suggested sequence:
K M R S U A P T L O
W I . N J E F 0 Y ,
V G 5 / Q 9 Z H 3 8
B ? 4 2 7 C 1 D 6 X
<BT> <SK> <AR>
Most of what you've been told about learning Morse Code is wrong -- dead wrong. Amateur radio operators traditionally have used the slowest, most frustrating, most painful and least effective techniques possible for gaining code proficiency. It's no wonder that the 13- and 20-word-per-minute requirements for full HF access are considered a nearly insurmountable barrier by many hams.
You can overcome that barrier. You can do it in a reasonable amount of time and with a minimum of frustration and pain. In order to do so, you must approach code training from a different perspective and use different techniques from those common among amateurs for the past half century.
It will require work. You will have to commit yourself to at least one 15-30 minute training session every day until you reach your goal. You may succeed in a month or in several months; individuals differ greatly. Without this committment, however, you may as well not bother.
So what's new here? By using a code training method devised by a psychologist some 60 years ago, you will progress as quickly as you possibly can, with ample reinforcement and little frustration. By understanding this method and how it builds your code proficiency, you will know why you have to spend time practicing and you'll be able to make a reasonable prediction of how long the total effort will require.
We're going to start on your road to success by throwing some time-honored ham-radio traditions onto the trash heap where they belong. These are:
Now that you know what you're NOT going to do, let's start examining just how you can best gain code proficiency.
Go to the shack of a veteran CW operator, or visit the CW station at a club Field Day operation. Watch people copy and send code at 30 to 35 wpm. You'll notice they're pretty relaxed about it; they're not sweating each character as it comes out of the speaker and they're not racking their brains to "figure out" what's being sent. Code has become second nature to them.
That's the key to code proficiency. Copying code must be a thought-free process. When you hear a character, you should know, without thinking, what it is. It should be a REFLEX. In fact, copying above about 10 wpm can only be done by reflex. Above that speed, thought processes are too slow to succeed.
That's why slow code is a deadly trap, and why traditional amateur methods of code training are so painful and frustrating. Most hams are told to memorize all the characters, then start building their speed. When you do it this way, you build a "lookup table" in your brain, comparing each character you hear with those in the lookup table until you find a match. This process shuts down from overload at about 10 wpm. That's why people experience a "plateau" at 10 wpm, and don't see any progress for weeks or months.
Those who finally get over that "hump" and progress beyond 10 wpm do so because, through constant practice, they have begun to copy code by reflex instead of by thought. They are the lucky ones; this 10 wpm barrier is where many folks give up out of frustration.
Code training, then, should completely bypass the lookup-table phase and begin by building copying proficiency as a reflex. This was recognized in the 1930s by a German psychologist named Koch, who devised the most efficient method known for Morse training. It's his method, and how you can use it, that we're going to examine in detail.
Koch's method is a simple, direct way of building reflexes. However, it requires either a computer and Morse software or a personal trainer. That's why it was overlooked for so many years. Now that computers are commonplace, it should become the standard Morse training method. Here's how it works:
You start out by setting up your computer to send you Morse characters at 20 wpm and at an overall sending speed of at least 15 wpm. You then get out your paper and pencil and have the machine start sending -- but only two characters. That's right, for your first sessions, you'll only have two choices. Copy on paper for five minutes, then stop the machine and compare what you copied with what the machine sent. Count characters and calculate your percentage of correct copy.
If your score is 90 percent or better -- congratulations! You just learned your first two characters, and, importantly, you learned them at full speed. You'll never have to learn them over again. If you didn't make 90 percent, practice some more. As soon as you can copy the first two characters with 90 percent accuracy, add a third character to your practice. Your accuracy will drop as you work on assimilating the new character, but it will rise again to 90 percent or better. Then you add the fourth character, and so on.
This method does not allow you to build that lookup table in your brain. To copy at full speed, you MUST build the reflexes in order to achieve 90 percent accuracy. And that's what you're spending your time doing -- building reflexes. Think of it as a parallel to perfecting a tennis swing or mastering a gymnastic routine; you're practicing until you get it right. The Koch method of building code proficiency character-by-character is similar to standard methods of teaching touch typing, another skill that must be reflexive.
This is a very individual method of training -- you progress at your own best speed, and spend only the time required to gain each new character. This means that you will waste no time in reaching your goal.
How much time is required? That will depend on the individual. Koch himself, with hand-picked students, got a group to master 12 wpm code in a mere 13.5 hours. You probably won't match that, but that's much faster than any other method in the psychological literature. You can get an idea of how long it's going to take after you've mastered a few characters. Keep track of your training sessions (some software will do this for you) and calculate your hours-per-character rate (or characters-per-hour if you're really fast!). That, multiplied by the 43 characters in the amateur Morse test, will give a rough idea of how long it's going to take.
While the Koch method is the fastest method of Morse training, speed alone is not its principal advantage. Its principal advantage, and a major difference from other methods, is that it provides you with constant positive reinforcement. This begins with your realization, after mastering the first two characters, that you CAN copy code at 15 or 20 wpm, because you just did it. After that, each new character mastered is further proof of your progress. Contrast that to slowly trying to build speed up from 4 or 5 wpm, then hitting the plateau at 10 wpm and seeing no progress for a long time. With the Koch method, frustration is at a minimum.
Constant testing is necessary to ensure that you maximize the effectiveness of the Koch method. You must copy on paper, so you can grade yourself. Remember, if you score 90 percent accuracy or better, add another character. If you score any less than that, try again. By constantly testing yourself on continuous copying of at least five minutes, you know exactly how you're doing and exactly when you should add another character. This results in the fastest progress possible.
Naturally, with the Koch method, you'll be copying random groups of characters, rather than words, until you've mastered the entire character set. If your software allows, make these groups of random length, rather than a constant stream of five-character groups. This will ease the transition from random groups to actual words. Yes, there is a difference in the rhythm and "feel" of words and random groups. Once you've become accustomed to copying words, you should start copying sample QSOs, which are the format of the amateur tests. Pay special attention to callsigns, locations, and numerals; these are the types of things that can form questions on the test.
As you proceed toward your goal, remember that some days are just going to be better than others and some characters will take longer to assimilate than others. You know, however, that you can reach your goal because you've already mastered some characters and proven that copying at full speed is something you can do. Keep in mind that what you're doing is building reflexes, and that takes time. The amount of time you require has nothing to do with your intellegence; it's just how long it takes for characters to "sink in" and become part of your reflexes.
So there it is -- your path to passing the 13- or 20-wpm code test. After you've used this method, and start enjoying the wonderful world of HF radio, try a few CW QSOs. With Morse code developed as a reflex, you may just find that you really enjoy using it on the air. After all, you've gained proficiency without the frustrating ordeal that most hams have endured for decades. See you on the HF bands!
Finley, D.G., "Reducing the Barrier: Effective Morse code training," Radio Fun, May 1995, pp. 14-15.
O'Keeffee, V., "Learning Morse," QST, August 1972, pp. 58-62.
Peak, H., "Koch's Method of Learning Code Reception," Psychololgical Bulletin, XXXIX (1942), p. 495.
Taylor, D.W., "Learning Telegraphic Code," Psychological Bulletin, XL (1943), pp. 461-487.
Taylor, D.W., "The Learning of Radiotelegraphic Code," American Journal of Psychology, LVI (1943), pp. 319-353.
Instructions for implementing the Koch method with Super Morse V4.04 software.
I fell in love with radio in grade school, but was kept off the air for 30 years because I found traditional code training just too frustrating. During those decades, I tried several times to learn Morse, but every time gave up in frustration and disgust -- my progress was just too slow.
In 1991, I became one of the first 500 people to enter ham radio by way of the no-code Technician license. After becoming bored with repeaters and HTs, I decided to make one last attempt to master the code. Fortunately, I stumbled on information about Koch's method, and found that it was the only thing that would work for me. In 1993, after diligent work at my computer, I took my first code test and passed the 20 wpm exam on the first try.
I became very curious about why Koch's method had worked for me when all else had failed. That sent me to libraries to read the now-aging psychological literature about Morse training. I soon realized that the Koch method achieves its speed through directness; if you want to copy reflexively at 15 or 20 wpm, then just start building those reflexes from the start. I also realized that it provides much more positive feedback than any other method, so you can keep your motivation and a "can-do" attitude throughout your training.
This was knowledge I wanted to share with others, so I began giving lectures to amateur groups on the topic. I quickly found that, after my lectures, "old-timers" would come up and tell me that my ideas on the need for reflexes were absolutely right. Many said that the Koch method sounded similar to the intense code training they had received in military schools.
Probably the only reason Koch's method didn't become standard back in 1936 when he first published it was that the average individual had no way of implementing it. The personal computer has changed that, and the time has come for the Koch method to replace all others. I hope that the speed and positive-reinforcement aspects of the Koch method can cut down the code barrier to a much less formidable size.
Sometime during 1993, those who have not passed at least a 13-wpm code test became the majority of radio amateurs in the United States. While the debate over the code requirement continues to rage, I hope that use of the Koch method can help many more people overcome the barrier and enjoy full HF privileges right now, instead of several years from now when the requirement may be lifted.
I cannot overemphasize my dislike -- even hatred -- for 5 wpm code. As I've outlined above, it is highly counterproductive to gaining proficiency at higher speeds. In order to go from 5 to 13 wpm, you have to start over again, even though you may not realize that while you're doing it. The worst aspect is that many people pass a 5-wpm test, then never go beyond that. They are trapped in the ghetto of the Novice/Tech HF bands. Why waste your time learning a skill (slow code) that has no relevance to real (13+ wpm) code proficiency? Why limit your HF operating to the most unattractive parts of the amateur bands?
Finally, as I was using the Koch method and building my code skills, I intended to forget the code as soon as I passed the test. My 30 years of frustration had built up a bitterness about CW. However, about two weeks after getting my first HF rig on the air, I looked at my straight key and decided to try a CW QSO "just so I can say I did it." Guess what? I enjoyed it. My second CW QSO was with a DX station, and I was hooked. With the encouragement of a CW Elmer, I continued to enjoy the bottom parts of the bands, and now my microphone isn't even plugged into the rig!
If the Koch method could overcome three decades of bitterness and turn me into an enthusiastic CW operator, I think it's certainly worth a try on your part. Have a go at it. Maybe I'll find you on the CW bands and we can have a ragchew.
Best of luck, and 73.
Dave Finley, N1IRZ
* This article is copyrighted by the author. Permission is hereby granted to transmit and distribute it by electronic means and to store it on electronic bulletin board systems, and for individuals to download and print copies for noncommercial, personal use, provided that the article is transmitted, stored and printed unaltered and in whole, including this notice. For any other use, written permission from the author must be obtained.
Items to be verbalized are in italics.
Calling the Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club 2-Meter Net,
Calling the Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club 2-Meter Net,
this is ___________________ net control.
This net meets every Wednesday night at 8 PM Local Time on the Jefferson City Repeater.
ALL stations are welcome and encouraged to check into this net.
You do not have to be a member of the Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club to join us.
The repeater is transmitting on 147 Megahertz with a negative offset.
A morse code P is transmitted for the courtesy beep when the 127.3 PL Tone is actived.
Stations with EMERGENCY or PRIORITY traffic call now.
MMARC meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7PM.
The meetings are held at the Central United Church of Christ,
118 W. Ashley St. (corner of W. Ashley and Washington Streets).
The next meeting will be _______________________________
VE exams are available following each meeting.
If you wish to take a VE exam, please contact either
Tim Raymer (KA0OUV, 573 635-0634) or Tom Hammond (N0SS, 573 893-2813).
Stations with formal NTS traffic please call now with your name and call sign.
See if there are any stations that can handle the traffic, and/or list it during the net.
Short time and mobile stations please call now with your name and call sign,
and please listen before you call to help avoid doubles.
If you have traffic for a short time station, please call now.
Short time stations, thank you for checking in. You may now secure your station from the net.
You may choose to announce this later in the net. For example during a lull in check-in's.
The club also meets each Saturday morning at 8am for breakfast
in the basement meeting room at Mel's Country Cafe - 2421 Industrial Drive.
Come by and enjoy some great food and good fellowship with us!
Talk-in for both the meeting and breakfast at Mel's is on this repeater.
Any station wishing to check in please call now with your name and call sign,
and please listen before you call to help avoid doubles.
Any station wishing to re-check in please call now with your name and call sign,
and please listen before you call to help avoid doubles.
You are encouraged to check in to the Mid-MO 2M MCW NET on 146.865 Mhz,
negative offset, PL 127.3.
tonight at 8:30PM (or immediately following this net if it runs past 8:30PM.)
The primary intent of this CW net is to increase code proficiency.
Stations often coordinate on this repeater.
This is __________ net control for the Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club 2-Meter Net.
This is the final call for check-ins and re-checks to the net.
You do not need to be a member of the club to check in to the net. Please call now.
Thank you to all stations that checked in tonight
This is ________ net control for the Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club 2-Meter Net
closing the net at _______ local time.
The repeater is now available for regular use, _________ .
Tally the # of net check-ins. Remember to count yourself.
You will report the # of check-ins at the next meeting of the MMARC.
If you aren't able to attend the meeting, please email the info to one of the club officers.
President: _________________ or Secretary: ____________________
See my GitHub repos for several current projects:
Unfortunately, I believe these projects are probably no longer viable.
This program is a java interface to the data at
dxSpot is Copyright 2000 Bryan Nehl -- k0emt.
jar xf dxSpot.jar
or for a more powerful command line style interface:
prompt$> java -cp . com.dbbear.dxspot.dxSpot
java -jar dxSpot.jar
Note that this approach switches to -cp and full class name to run
java -cp dxSpot.jar com.dbbear.dxspot.CommandFrame sample.config
java com.dbbear.dxspot.CommandFrame sample.config
The class and accompanying files are being distributed
under the terms of the GNU LGPL with the stipulation that this author
(K0EMT) is to receive a free copy of any commercial software that utilizes this library.
QRZInfo Class Properties:
The developer must remember to set the .DBPath of the class
to the location of the QRZ callbkc.dat directory.
As of May 2001, no further development on this interface is planned.
If you would like to add the following features:
I would be happy to integrate them into the library and give you credit.
73 -- k0emt