Why a CW Club?

27 Sep

I will try to cautiously approach this subject as I recently read some comments in the blog-o-sphere asking this about this subject.  Specifically, for what purpose does a CW Club exist? Elitism? To add more contests? What then?

Certainly the prospect of more contests is disarming to a large portion of the community of Hams. However, these are more activity events than additional contests. I think the question of contests or activity events misses the meat of the query. It isn’t about contesting or elitist activity, however,  it is about at least three things IMHO. Firstly, one must think of Morse Preservation as it is certainly a technology in search of a problem. The question is, is it worth preserving? Modern society discards technology very quickly. Think about all of those cathode scientists of 60 years or so ago trying to squeeze more operational hours from a hollow ware vacuum tube. They are dinosaurs today. There are a million technologies just like that and a lot more recent ones as well. No I think something else is at play here. Something non technical. With Morse we must think of it in the past tense. At least commercially. But it affords an individual a quality that say a piano player can garner practicing the craft singly or in a group. For those of us that leaned towards technology or science early in life, the prospect of working and playing ofttimes took the path of milliseconds, microseconds and TTL Logic families or perhaps chemistry or bio sciences, and neglected what I call the softer side of life. Hard science took over if I am any example, leaving music, plays and cultural items at bay. CW or Morse, at least for me, fulfills that gap. So, that then, is the second piece of why I suppose the craft continues to persist. It is a craft, like playing a musical instrument, that at once lets our hard science bit play at that part of the hobby, while  simultaneously satisfying the craving of that bit of our personalities that wants to work at the craft or artwork piece by piece until it works for us.

I suppose there is a third possibility that captures at least my spark of enthusiasm. Mastery. At once applicable to most endeavors, Morse mastery, as in Golf or sport in general or learning to play an instrument, escapes most individuals until a time arrives when sufficient hours have been invested to claim mastery of the task.  As in all the aforementioned pursuits, mastery comes to some and alludes most. That is the fun of it for me. It is at once technical, musical, physical and appeals to ones passive or listening senses.

So then why a club based on this pastime. To Preserve and provide a place to meet and practice for part and parcel to all Morse activity (for all but the most proficient), is practice. To bring a little beauty into a technical world? I think so. To put Mastery into your personal equation and allow an individual the opportunity to play on the playground in which to work at the craft. It is all of these things and more. Just as a piccolo player can get satisfaction from playing an individual concerto in his living room, that same piccolo player gets a different kind of pleasure from taking his instrument to a concert hall and playing with an orchestra.  So I get a lot of satisfaction from my daily endeavors with a key and using it to chat with others. It satisfies some craving in my personality-that craving that might otherwise might be done with flute or oboe. It just fits my personal equation. And it seems to fit many others as Morse continues on, at least for now.

I spoke of Morse Preservation. Although antiquated, it does in fact provide some limited advantages over more conventional means of communicating, however that advantage grows smaller each intervening year. The main thrust of the advance of technology is to remove labor from any process. As this trend continues human participation becomes ever more redundant. I just hope that in the future we can find something to occupy our time. Perhaps we can all entertain ourselves by blogging about the “Good Old Days”!

Just a short personal note. I have been trying to master this craft for five or six years now. I am just as dissatisfied with my performance today as I was on the the day I began. I almost certainly will never be a “Morse Man” in the conventional sense of the words, but I do so much enjoy its foibles and frustrations. Together with the technical pieces like power, propagation, antennas all added to my limited attempts at the “Art” of Morse, I am perpetually presented with a set of variables that I fully expect will keep me entertained for life.

Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG


Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Radio, Stuff


3 responses to “Why a CW Club?

  1. Paul PC4T

    September 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Chas, what is it anyway that people like to join clubs. It is very archetypical I think. Me, I don’t like clubs at all. I canceled my membership of VERON. Dutch Radio Club. So no QSL cards any more via the bureau. As you said, CW is not my natural being. I do like it, but I like new technologies too. More and more I began with digital modes and leave CW more often. Why doing all the trouble to be heard with CW, RTTY and SSB when with digital modes I will be heard with less more power and I do can make more successful QSO’s. Have fun with whatever you doing… 73 Paul

  2. John Davies

    October 27, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Hi Chas,

    I found your blog via Shin’s link and I must say this piece is very well written and thought out. CW does need to be preserved in any way we can, and although I am not a great participant in clubs, I joined CW Ops as a life member purely because they seem to be serious about not only preserving the art, but mentoring newcomers as well. I am not sure how successful this will be, but ” to travel hopefully is better than to arrive”.

    For me it is a struggle because 9V is always in a propagation black hole, with openings to the States few and far between. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of ops I regularly chat to. I spend a lot of time just listening, especially to JA1NUT, trying to improve my QRQ copying speed. I find that when I call CQ and the bands are open, I get mini-pileups after someone spots me, and it degenerates into 5NN TU exchanges, which don’t interest me in the slightest. I don’t understand the appeal of DXCC, contests, or radio as a ‘sport’, but simply want to improve my skills at real communication.

    As you say, the quest for Mastery is the main thing. It keeps me going when I sometimes get depressed thinking of all the money I have put into the hobby, only to have a few people to talk to !

    I like your analogy with musicianship. Shin-san is lucky with his musical skills. I have a lifelong interest in baroque keyboard works ( Bach, Byrd, the Couperins, Rameau et al) but purely as a listener. At least with Morse I have a chance to participate whereas in music it is too late for me to start learning harpsichord, for example.

    Keep up the good work on your blog


    John 9 V 1 V V

    • w5pg

      October 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      John; thank you for the kind remarks. I have to admit that I was disappointed when your blog (Sealing Wax?) went away but quite understand. However, that said I did enjoy your postings on radio life from your neck of the woods and especially those about marine radio. More importantly, for those of us that only played a peripheral role in this era of communications, it is doubly valuable to be able to experience through others eyes, that part which we missed. I do hope you can find some time to post again!

      As far as pileups, I truly lament the bits about DXing that tend to chase a good conversation away. In a lot of ways DXCC impedes more than it helps. The art of conversation is under asault form all directions.

      Best and Thanks! Chas W5PG.


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