Blackstone Valley (RI) CW Classes

Blackstone Valley ARCBob Beaudet, W1YRC, writes in the March 2022 issue of  Blackstone Valley ARC’s The Messenger:

The FCC, sometimes called the friendly candy company, dropped all Morse code proficiency testing from any of the Amateur radio exams administered after Feb. 23, 2007. Understandably, some rejoiced but some were disappointed because they wanted to learn code and use it on the air. At the time, some interpreted FCC’s action as ending all use of CW. Of course, that was never FCC’s intent.

Shortly after that date, there rose a small demand by some to learn CW after being licensed with a General or Extra class license. Responsible clubs that always try to provide service to their members and the community in which it resides, developed classes and taught Morse code to Extras and Generals who wanted to know and use the code. The classes also facilitated obtaining code practice material and keys.  Statistics taken from submitted logs indicated strangely that the use of CW increased by about 15% nationwide in the years following FCC’s dropping the code exam requirement. We’re not sure why.

BVARC organized its third CW class in January, 2022 and unlike past classes, BVARC’s instructor, Bob, W1YRC, selected those who were “high pots” or high potentials to fill the class. On Feb. 16th, the fourth weekly class session was held in Bob’s kitchen. The actual learning of the Morse alphabet and numerals, together with a few pro signs and punctuation was learned at home by each student after the initial session which set down the format and expectations. Bob explained that there is no possible way that he can learn the code for the students. It’s like learning basic verbs in French or Latin. There’s no possible way that the teacher can learn it for the students.

However, once the 26 letters, 10 numbers and about 10 pro signs and Q signals are learned. Bob worked on the students’ smoothness in sending code. To add interest to the classes, the second half of each session is used to “show and tell” related topics; code keys, oscillators, QRP radios, dummy loads, etc. In order to maintain the students’ energy and interest, fresh baked apple, blueberry and pumpkin pies are usually offered along with a variety of other good things. I apologize for the few added pounds that seem to make their way into the CW bag. All our students are very happy that they have added a valuable tool to their tool box, a tool that will help them add plenty of DX to their log.

Students in the latest class are: Joe Campbell, KC1OPD; Marc Caouette, W1MCX; Mickey Callahan, K1WMC; Mike Kenney, K1ETA; Byron Kinniburgh, K1CYQ; Patty Vilnit, W1AUT and Ray Vilnit, KC1HQB. All are now able to copy and send at least 10+ wpm. They need more practice to smooth out their rhythm and feel more comfortable at the key. At least half participated in the recent ARRL CW DX Contest.  If there is interest, another class will be formed and run through the program. Remember, accuracy transcends speed.