The process of sending CW

I feel comfortable when sending CW synchronizes with the tempo I am thinking. Too fast QRQ sounds like an acrobat to me. Flowing conversation on CW without stagnation is ideal to me. Stagnation occurs when sending CW is too fast or too slow keeping pace with thinking. There seems a certain tempo which makes me happy in conversation on CW even if it may vary according to the situation.

I wonder what is that synchrony, what regulates that speed in sending and what is the rate limiting factor. The process of sending CW seems to be complicated, even if not so much as that in receiving.

In my view, the process of sending CW could be subdivided into the following four proceses.

1; Thinking what I should send in the context of the conversation going on.

2; Translating it into English. Or materializing the thought into sentences. Keeping the keywords in mind.

3;  Converting the sentence/words into CW codes.

4; Voluntarily moving arm, hands and fingers to send the codes.

All processed, especially the process from 1 to 3, are dependent on the clear consciousness. If I am not conscious or awake enough feeling sleepy or taking to much alcohol, these processed are highly disturbed.

The process 2 goes on smoothly or sluggishly depending on the topics. I could translate pretty freely when talking about personal experiences or, of course, about medical issues. In case with such as economy, politics or religions, it requires me a wide and profound range of knowledge. I could be slow in expressing my idea. Or even the process 1 is slowed down as easily expected.

The process 3 proceeds without any impediment. Of course, it is not the case with beginners. This could be the rate limiting process for them. In my case, this process goes on without being conscious of it. I could not boast ot this because I have had career on this mode for half a century.

The process 4 has been discussed in the previous article. For th smooth movements, the relevant arm and hand should be free from unnecessary tension. The elbow and hand/finger joints should be in light flexion. It enables them move freely and instantaneously.

Consciousness is composed of multple layers at a moment and, in the time course, is essentially a dialogue in ourselves. Since most of these processes proceed in our consciousness, there could be feedbacks and resultant modifications as the process goes on. When we think of what to say, we look for some keywords for that.  In the process 3, we always ask ourselves if that expression is proper or not.  If it doesn't seem right for our intension, we get back to the process 1 and start modifying message.  All these reflect the multiple phases of our consciousness.

 The rate limiting process depends on consciousness level, inteleectual ability, CW knowledge or motion capability. Non native speakers without much knowledge of English must have the process 2 for the rate limiting process. The process 3, as already told, might limit the rate for beginners. When aging disturbs fine movements of arm/hand, the process 4 should be determine the rate. In my case, small capability of inntelligence may limit the rate at the process 1.

As for me, the process 1 and 2 are important to enjoy conversation on CW. If they work out well, I feel very comfortable at the conversation. It depends on, in another words, the topic and the other person whom I talk to. When the CW speed just fits the tempo of thinking, it brings forth a pleasure to me. In case of too fast sending, even if I could do that phycically, it sounds restless to myself and the content could be flippant. The flow of thinking is always disturbed in that case.

I admit  there could be enjoyment with QRQ, so fast as seemingly far out of human ability, for some people. I won't go that way but on my own. 


  1. On item number 4, you did not put in the toes of the left foot!

    Have a great day my friend I enjoy reading these frequent blogs, even those about ham radio!

    Bob Gates

  2. Shin,

    Yes CW takes a lot of practice. Amazing to me the operators who can perform #2 for different languages in to English especially for higher speeds.

    As far as #4 I think it is operator preference as to how you position your arm.

    Nice article

    161 Steve N6TT

  3. For #1-4 to be performed successfully, you first need someone at the other end to converse with.

    I have been home ten days and have had about three QSO's. Bands are dead here, except last weekend when they were miraculously alive with thousands of ops sending 5NN TU over and over again for some strange reason. Then total silence.

    Grumpy John

    1. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

      Bob, is it usual for you to send with left toe?

      Steve, I learned the posture for best keying from what I had been taught to play cello. It is a pretty good analogy. The "result" may prove superiority of a certain posture over the others. I won't care for what posture the other people taks if they could send accurate, constant and beautiful CW. That is the goal for us.

      John, you are quite right. 5NN TU QSOs are worse than silence to me. It makes me feel meaninglessness as well as emptiness. I will look for you again on 40m around 13Z. See you.


  4. Hello Shin --

    Enjoyed the analysis. For a person who has been accused to thinking too much, I never thought about CW this analytically before. You've given me something to think too much about again. :)

    I ended up on your blog as, after a few years being QRT, I tuned across a couple of FOC guys talking about having a nice conversation with you, but in that way that made me think that something had happened to JA1NUT (a callsign that I remember from my childhood). So, like you were a family member, I had to find out that you were okay and still with us. Glad to see that is so.

    Robin K4VU

    1. Robin,

      CW must be a spontaneous thing which you don't need thinking how to create the sentences on this mode. Don't be strained to think of this too much hi.

      Have any FOC guys spoken ill of me? It could be! I am still OK. Aged 63 years now. Have just retired this spring. Could never be so active as now in the past. Welcome back on the air. I could not recall of our QSO in the past but will look for you again.

      Thanks for visiting my blog as well as for leaving a comment. See you soon.


  5. Oh no, Shin. They were talking very fondly of you, but in that way that folks sometimes do when they hear that someone had passed. I tuned in during the middle of the conversation, so I missed a lot of the context. :)

    I've held several callsigns over the years (KA4DSF, N4CCT, NE4L, ZF2PM, V31RG, and a few more). First worked you back in 1979 I believe as KA4DSF on 15m. I don't have my logs to check, but 15m CW was my childhood hangout.

    Congratulations on your retirement, Shin. I am 48 and just moved back from Northern California. Hopefully, we'll be seeing each other on the air as soon as I start getting antennas in the air.

    Robin / K4VU