Last year Itchen Valley club tried an experiment: we entered a team of 3 operators (self included) who are not skilled in CW at all. The idea was to see if we could contest without needing to aurally copy morse nor use a key or paddle – just use the computer to both decode and send. In fact, treat morse just as any other data mode. BERU, with its low QRM is ideal for this. Indeed, we all had so much fun working DX entities that our postage stamp garden antennas normally preclude that we entered again this year.

A big thank you to the organisers and all the DX ops who put on a station just for the event. And a particular thanks to those who put up with our hesitancy when trying to remember which button was programmed to resend our S/N, or for the occasional ‘Agn’ message when our decoding software failed to record the serial number (personally I tried to limit this and would listen to the next QSO to get more info).

Also apologies – our operating was strictly keyboard formulaic, so to all those ops who wished us ‘GM’ or bade us ’73’, apologies for not reciprocating.

I only made 75 contacts but the top 2 entries from our veteran CW operators were only twice that, so I think the experiment definitely proves there is some limited opportunity for casual CW contesting without needing personal CW skills.

Brian G0UKB

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