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Boot Camp 2017 - Report

posted 25 Oct 2017, 05:42 by G4ZUL Essex CW Club

Essex CW Club (ECWARC) held their CW Boot Camp at Witham in Essex on October 21st, and people travelled from all over Southern England to attend.  It was kindly sponsored by Martin Lynch & Sons, who donated two PK-4 Electronic Keyers.

Experience has shown that just undertaking Morse all day is too tiring for this kind of event so the program included a variety of activities to enable attendees to enjoy their day better and to get more out of it.

During the introductory speech, a prize was offered for the candidate who had travelled the furthest.  This turned out to be John/M6KET, who had travelled all the way from Redditch.  He was presented with one of the PK-4 keyers.

Three different CW speed groups were organised, slow, medium and fast.  During the next 90 minutes every attendee was assessed for both sending and receiving.  Each was critiqued on formation of characters, spacing and sending style.  For receiving, speed was gradually increased and many found that this technique helped them to receive at faster speeds.

After coffee the next item was a group session introducing Morse keys.  This included demonstrations on pump and bug keys and a tutorial on how to set them up.  Then a comprehensive talk with slides was given entitled “The Paddle Key” which answered many questions about the different types of key including the touch key, squeeze keying, Iambic A and B, the role of the keyer and good techniques.

At mid-day a second Morse assessment and practice session started with the same speed groupings and ran until lunch at 1300.  ECWARC had also provided hot soup and sausage rolls, so all delegates were well fed.

After lunch a slide-show talk was given on the design and build of a low-cost device to measure the Morse speed of a paddle key, followed by several short talks on various ham software and contesting techniques.

Afternoon coffee was followed by a combined group receiving session in which the speed was gradually increased.  The trick was to stay with it to as high a speed as possible.

With the day drawing to a close, a wrap up speech was given during which the second PK-4 was presented.  One of the seats in use had a sticker concealed underneath it.  The lucky occupant was the winner, who turned out to be Nigel/M0ICH.

Two attendees had their own epiphanies during the day.  Mick/M0GWD achieved his first-ever on-air CW QSO, and Nigel/M0ICH logged only his second HF CW QSO.  They were both delighted.

Every attendee said how much they enjoyed the day and how much they got out of it personally.  The event was voted an outstanding success, and the ECWARC team feel they achieved their goal: to preserve and widen the use of CW operating, and to help raise operating standards.