Harry G3ATH

When I happened to see the ham population density map in the US, I was surprised the hams are distributed mainly in the mid to eastern part of the US. Of course, California is a densely populated area in the West Coast. But the relative population is accumulated in the first two parts. It may reflect the population density itself.

When we look for English speaking hams on the air in order to train and enjoy conversation on CW, we should work with either Western Europe or the above mentioned parts in the US. They are exactly in the areas where the signal should go over the north pole. As you may know, the polar path is tough for a small set up station. The long path to the Western Europe is exceptionally good in fall. It's opening is only for a limited time in fall. It is still an exception in terms of the path suitable for ragchewing.

So the newcomers who intend to brush up comversational CW in Japan should overcome the difficulty of the path to those areas as well as of the language barrier.

In my beginners days, I have had quite some old timers in VK/ZL as well as such as 9V land, who kindly did with me with much patience.One of such old timers was Harry G3ATH. He was a great bug user with beautiful CW. Though my memory might be idealized as the others might be, his CW, beautifully fluent, is still in my mind. It was when I had studied a bit of English at school and had obtained a bit of command of CW that he kindly talked to me often. Those QSOs with him have motivated me to enjoy such conversational QSO throughout my life.

Later, when I became a member of FOC in 1988, I accidentally knew he had been a member many years ago, possibly immediately after the WWII. Some G member got in touch with him and let me know he had retired and had done well in a countryside in UK. I wrote a letter to him. He was pleased to hear from me. We have set a schedule on 20m. He was using a tiny 2element beam then, so that the condition was not very favorable to us. It was difficult for me to copy all messages  he sent to me. But I could understand he was excited to work with me again after a quarter century absence. We have tried further schedule for a few times. They ended in failure. And in several years from that event, I heard from a friend of mine in G land that he had passed away.

Without his kind patience, I won't bave been a conversational CW lover. i was lucky to have had such an elmer in young days. Unfortunately, there are less ragchewers in south north path areas from Japan nowadays. Such as John9V1VV is an exception. We should be courteous and thankful to him as always hi. 


  1. Shin

    9V1MT is still remembered by some of the old-timers in the local radio club, but even they are passing on as time goes by.He was befor my time in Singapore.

    There was a discussion on the FOC reflector recently about activity levels. Some in USA East Coast said we should prove 200 contacts a year, but these stations who proposed the idea are big guns with towers and kW in a radio-quiet location, with perhaps 300 FOC members within a radius of 2000 miles.

    Last month I contacted 8 FOC members and only three of those were strong enough for a ragchew (one of them was you !). I was spending most evenings and some mornings at the radio. Wire antenna with a noisy environment restricts one a great deal, and the activity rules do not apply. Within 2000 mile radius I have less than twenty FOC members.

    I do hope FOC will not become another contesting type club where you hve to submit activity reports in order to remain a member. I would fail this test.


    1. John,

      I fully agree with you. An idea of the limit of the number of QSOs per a year to secure the members' activity is ridiculpous. As a club, it is necessary to motivate the members to be active on the air. But that idea would impose too much burden to the members in the other areas than West Europe and East Coast. Especially, in case of the member is running a small set up.

      I think roger G3SXW has done fairly good job for management of the club balancing between the contest and the conversation. i also feel, however, the club is headed to a contest or competetion oriented one at present. Contesting and the other ordinary QSOs used to be coexisting without conflict. But nowadays, I am afraid, they are excluding each other. Contesting dominates the bands once it is held. Now, the former is proliferating even on plain week days. It is a real crisis.

      Stay active, John. You are a ham who came from good old days on a time machine. Maybe, so am I. Our activity may encourage the other conversational QSO oriented hams to be on the air more.


  2. John/Shin I am a real new comer to FOC. As such, my comments must be taken with a grain of inexperience. But, I believe the Club is not looking to draw a line in the sand to specify activity, but is trying to discover a means to insure that every one of its members is regularly on the air. The club is limited to approximately 500 of some of the finest CW operators in the world. The club's goal is not to have members hang a shingle on the wall, a badge of accomplishment, but rather to have all of its members actively involved in the hobby. I believe they are struggling with how to accomplish such a task. Like Shin noted, I am also frustrated with the many contests that exist. If one were to evaluate contest popularity by the level of participation, one only has to listen to 40 meters on a contest weekend, versus and weekday evening. But, some of my feelings about contests is purely selfish in that the contest consumes everyone. But, likewise, I am also frustrated with DxPeditions that arrive on xx.023 Mhz, calling "up" and consuming 10 plus Khz of space with stations calling without listening. There is no answer to such things, no solutions nor any likelihood of change. Those of us that prefer to know our counterpart in a conversation will just have to continue to stay our course and deal with the challenges.

  3. Shin/Don
    Despite everything I am still optimistic. Okay it is a lonely vigil at times calling CQ or calling another FOC member spotted on on RBN when he can't hear you. If I get one good chat every few days it is a buzz. Two nights ago I was called by BX2ABT, Hans. I think he is from Holland originally. He was using a straight key at 12 wpm, seeking out SKCC members. He is very enthusiastic about raising his speeds and chatting, even though like me there are few ragchewers in the area. I recommended he call Shin on 7026 but he was reluctant, saying he had heard JA1NUT many times but was too afraid to call. I said Shin would slow down no problem. The point is, there are still a few people around who find the difficult conditions in Asia with poor antennas a challenge. That will keep me going. As you say Don, stay the course and deal with the challenges !
    And Shin I agree that FOC management in UK is very good. They seem to understand the problems faced by the small pistols and are very supportive.

    1. John/Don,

      Shin don stands for a very coloquial way of calling me, which I could not help smiling at it in John's post. If you have any chance to talk to a japanese, put "don" after her/his name. It sure sounds funny to her/him.

      I agree with both of you as for the most parts of the discussion. but exploring the issue in depth, I am afraid, ragchewing and contesting/dxing are exclusive each other. Those involved only in contesting/dxing are occupied with exchanging something symbolic. The contect of QSOs are meaningless to our lives. They take QSOs as they are. Some of them won't go further into the real enjoyment of CW.

      The real enjoyment of CW is composed of the way they do communicate on this mode and the content, rich and meaningful to each other's life. As I reapeatedly insist, CW is comparable to reading/writing, which is quite an intellectual process. I used quote a brain science study showing the activated brain area is the same in CW reception as in writing. I feel it is the key point why we enjoy CW so much. And we could share our lives with the others with regular QSOs for decades. Isn't it a fun for us to do so? We could be bonded in that way through QSOs on this mode.

      Those contesters and dxers won't care for such enjoyments at all. They just compete and have fun at the moment. I know it is a fun but it won't last long and won't have any meaning in our lives. Their activity inevitably exclude those oriented ragchewing on the bands.

      So I am kind of pessimistic for the future of CW. We should, however, remain optimistic for it. Or who takes over the future of real CW enjoyment?

      This is a discussion in depth. I still sometimes join pile ups, though it is getting fewer year by year, and sometimes shout in contests. My main interest is still the enjoyment CW gives to us.

      I may summerize this idea and publish it somewhere some day.

      OKay, that's enough regarding my boring discussion. Thanks for reading it.

      Pass my best regards to Hans. Telll him when I call CQ DX, it means I won't make so called rubber stamp whether it may be slow or fast.