Tag Archives: Morse Code

CW on the pirate bands

SantaWireless-187x300Last night, I captured the pirate radio station Dit Dah Radio on 6,935 kHz (+/-) USB. I published the audio on my shortwave radio blog, The SWLing Post, where I post quite a lot of shortwave radio recordings.

I’m well aware that no law-abiding ham radio operator would ever broadcast as a pirate radio station. So this must be a non-ham, right? (OK, fess up!!!  Who was it???)

You’ll especially like their CW preamble (or, interval signal, I suppose) which they follow with The Capris’ 1960’s hit, Morse Code of LoveClick here to download, or listen in the embedded player below:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

 

Curiosity making tracks…with morse code?

Today, I watched a fascinating eleven-minute NASA animation depicting key events of NASA’s newest Mars rover, Curiosity, in action.

Does this pattern remind you of something? Yep, the letter “L”. The other tires produce a “J” and “P” on the Martian surface. (Photo: NASA/JPL)

As I watched, I noticed something very peculiar about the tires–right around mark 5:15, one can see a pattern imprinted on them. At first I thought nothing of it, assuming NASA scientists had pondered the perfect pattern for traction and also shedding any trapped rocks or debris.

But–as my curiosity was piqued– a little research on the rover tires revealed this article from TyrePress.com: “Curiosity’s tyres ‘tagging’ Mars” in which the pattern is explained:

Yesterday the Mars Curiosity rover successfully went into action on the surface of the red planet, and the vehicle’s tyre tracks have gained a measure of notoriety. It turns out that Curiosity is ‘tagging’ the surface of Mars as it drives about.

A series of notches included in the track tyre tread is not just a pretty pattern – the notches are in fact Morse Code and spell out the letters ‘JPL’, short for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Curiosity is now busy leaving the laboratory’s initials all over Mars[;] however [this] is not just wanton interplanetary vandalism – the dots and dashes are part of the rover’s visual odometry system, used to estimate changes in position over time.

Brilliant!  Not to mention, practical…NASA has just put morse code on the Mars surface!

Perhaps it proves that it’ll be very difficult to do away with morse code. At least, until NASA sends a sweeper or Zen garden raker-rover to Mars.

FITSAT-1 will write messages in the sky with CW

(Photo: Space.com)

At first, I thought this news item was sience fiction, then I realized, “no, it’s just the coolest thing ever.”

Thanks for sharing, Eric!

(Source: Space.com)

The robotic Japanese cargo vessel now en route to the International Space Station is loaded with food, clothes, equipment — and a set of tiny amateur radio satellites, including one that will write Morse code messages in the sky.

[…]One of the [satellites], FITSAT-1, will write messages in the night sky with Morse code, helping researchers test out optical communication techniques for satellites, researchers said.

[…]One of FITSAT-1’s experimental duties is to twinkle as an artificial star, said project leader Takushi Tanaka, an FIT professor of computer science and engineering. Tanaka’s research interests include artificial intelligence, language processing, logic programming and robot soccer, in addition to cubesats.

Tipping the scales at just under 3 pounds (1.33 kilograms), FITSAT-1 carries high power light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that will produce extremely bright flashes.

“These, we hope, will be observable by the unaided eye or with small binoculars,” Tanaka says on a FITSAT-1 website.

After its deployment from the orbiting lab, the cubesat’s high-output LEDs will blink in flash mode, generating a Morse code beacon signal.

Read the full article on Space.com.

Ohio QRPers take break from Field Day to smoke some texters

In the spirit of a segment from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno which aired in 2005, Marion County, Ohio, amateurs staged a face-off between CW operators and local texters to draw public attention to their 2009 Field Day event.

And it worked.

Mind you, neither CW op [my good friend and fellow RAT, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT) and Bill Finnegan (NR8I)] knew the event was taking place and thus, did not practice beforehand.

Read the full article here.

The perfect key to use when you’re in a pinch.

I think this homebrew key by Laurent Dumas (F8BBL) is simply amazing. It’s portable, easy to make from spare parts lying about the house and can serve you well if you’re in a pinch. (Sorry, I just can’t use this pun enough).

Admittedly,  I think there would be some serious operator fatigue if you tried to use this key in a contest. But for emergencies–it certainly fits the bill!

If you can’t see the embedded video below, simply click this link.

How to learn morse code (CW) for free!

QRPers know that the best mode to get the biggest bang out of the lowest amount of power is with morse code, (a.k.a. CW).

If you haven’t learned CW yet or are looking to improve your speed, you’re in for a treat. A new website by Fabian Kurz (DJ1YFK) called LCWO (Learn CW Online) has been launched. Features of this site include:

  • The ability to learn via web browser (no software to download)
  • The proven Koch method CW course
  • The site remembers who you are and your stats
  • Hey, it’s free!

Some thoughts and advice on CW

I had been intimidated by CW for a long time and only started learning it a year ago. I had forgotten almost all of the CW I had learned to pass the 5 WPM Novice Exam in 1997.

With the use of some old CW training tapes and a little time set aside each morning in my living room, I was able to re-learn the alphaphet and numbers in a couple of weeks. In fact, the moment I had learned all of the characters and numbers, I picked up the phone and called my friend, Mike Hansgen (AA8EB), and told him to meet me on the air in 5 minutes. It was tough–and I was way outside of my comfort zone–but I made it through the QSO and felt great.  Mike was probably working me at 3 words per minute–a speed that was, ironically, taking him outside of his comfort zone!

I found out that, once you know the characters, you can begin having QSOs immediately. Speed comes naturally with on-air practice. To help me along, Mike and my good friend Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), began having a daily CW sched with me. The results? In only a couple of months I was comfortable listening to CW at 15 WPM! And trust me, I’m not a quick learner.

The thing that held me back all of those years was the fear of getting on the air and not understanding the operator’s code on the other end. Do you feel that way too?  Keep reading…

I was lucky to have friends (or Elmers) that were willing to help me gain ground with code. Indeed, not only were they willing to work with me, but they were actually excited to be given the opportunity. Think this is rare? Think again!

FISTS – “When You’ve Worked a FIST, You’ve Worked a Friend”

The International Morse Preservation Society (FISTS) sponsers the amazing “code buddy” program.  FISTS will put you in touch with a ham radio operator, a “code buddy”, that will meet you on the air and work with you to learn/improve morse code.  You don’t even need to be a member of FISTS and it’s a totally free service driven by hams with a passion for teaching others CW. This will give you a venue not only to learn CW in a comfortable, on air, environment, but you’re also sure to make a friend in the process.

So what are you waiting for?

Take these three steps to learn morse code:

  1. Go to the LCWO website, create an account, and start learning CW online.
  2. The moment you know all of the characters, either call a friend and get on the air, or sign up for FISTS’ Code Buddy program.
  3. Practice and have fun–speed and comprehension wil come naturally