I woke up sometime in the night with a nagging notion that I was missing something. Before I went back to sleep, I realized that it was the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, always the second full weekend of the month. Long ago it was one of my favorite operating events but my interest has waned a bit as HF band conditions have tanked.
I’m not sure why I thought of it in the middle of the night, but I decided in the dark that I would spend enough time in the event to make at least ten contacts and went back to sleep.
And that’s what I did on Sunday morning. First contact was with EA3NO on 20 meters and after that I moved to 40 for the other nine contacts, most of which were new to my log. The Straight Key Century Club continues to grow rapidly and I frequently work call signs for the very first time.
Conditions weren’t particularly great on 40 meters but they weren’t all that far from normal. Propagation from 500-1500 miles were reasonable and I managed to work Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland using 100 watts and a wire with a straight key.
Ham radio QSO’s can often be pedestrian but even when exchanging only a signal report, name, QTH and SKCC number, the magic is in the mode.
It’s CW. The mode transforms the message into a place that blends past and future with a language practiced only by those who enjoy it. We all know how to talk with our voices or send emails and messages with a computer.
Morse transcends these and is only truly appreciated by those with a love for the mode, which is precisely why CW operators are so enthusiastic and unrealistic about it. There is no practical reason to learn or use Morse code in this day and age. The notion that CW is more effective than any other mode is simply untrue in the digital era.
Hams use Morse because they love it.
Whenever I use a digital mode I leave the sound off in the room. There’s little reason to listen to the harsh tones of digital radio. But when I use CW, I leave the sound turned up, even when I step put of the shack. I want to hear the signals that whisper from my speaker from wherever they’ve been carried by the aether.
CW is a love affair with a language. Millions of words have been crafted by those who want to convince you to try CW. But millions of words will never convince those who don’t get it while nothing more is required to convince those who already do.
I’m glad that I woke up in the middle of the night to remember something forgotten but never lost.