Listening quiet and empty band...

Some time before our sunset, I always sit before the radio and call CQ on 40m. Sipping a glass of cold lager. I am doing that routine for several times. The band could not be more quiet than on the beach in ebb tide in the afternoon. It is the time when it could have been open world wide. RBN stations from NA and SA uploaded reports for my signal not very bad. But no one calls me at all. In some 15 minutes, I am going to switch off the radio. There could be some very rare hams like Ellen W1YL or Glen NN6T popping up this time in a day. They are really exceptional hams getting on the band at this time in a day. I know it is midnight in the US and most of them are asleep around this time. But, as I repeatedly told, there used to be old timers who could not fall asleep or got up unusually early over there. They often came up and did with me for a while until they feel sleepy again. They are all gone.

For many times, I have mentioned in this blog on the decline of CW operators who enjoyed ordinary QSOs so far as I could hear here. I won't complain of that but would describe it as it is. Some people have tried to relieve me saying there could be some more especially in the US etc or the others even proposed me sked for a QSO. I won't need a sked any more. It is a fact that CW operators are drastically being reduced in number. I would say only that fact as I do here. We may be living the era when CW is slowly but steadily fading out from the communication world and is becoming only a historical being at present. I won't complain of that at all but just would accept it as it is. I have spent a brilliant age of CW communication in '60s or '80s when there were a lot of CW operators with proficiency and capability in operation. Even if they were chasing DX or battiling in contests, they were invariably great ragchwers. I can count such operators as vivid memories. However, most of them have gone away, either silent keyed or got inactive. It is how time has passed. No use complaining of that.

I have also repeated discussing on the cause of this decline of CW activities. Someone says there are less elmers on the bands. I agree those skillful operators, mostly ex R/O, used to be elmers for beginners of CW operators. I also would like to be like some of such excellent operators. Those elmers were kind enough to do with such beginners as me in '60s. As I told above, they have deceased or have quit radio by now. 

No code license or prevalence of the internet may explain this as well. The latter has an unexpected impact on communication. No one could expect in the age CW was the main way of communication in the world that the internet could change the world as it is. No concept of real DX at present. We may talk to anyone anywhere in the world through the internet or the satellite phone. CW seems to be destined to be a tool of game such as contesting. It's not bad. But it is not what CW used to be.

What I would say is that if there is something that accelerated the decline of CW, it is that few people have been aware of what attracted us in this mode of communication. It was taken for granted that CW attracted us. But nowadays, the internet could take it over with very simple and less costly set up. We could get connected with anyone in the world freely through the internet. CW communication requires them to train it for a long period. Young people may ask us how come we should make efforts to communicate others in the world in this mode. Tiring and laborious for them. I wonder if we could explain what pleasure we could have when accomplished the training of this mode. Prior to that, have we been conscious of what pleasure we have had on this mode? I have questioned about this problem for some times in this blog or even in the FOC reflector. But there were very few interested in it. I understand that they have had no clue or no method to investigate on this issue. 

It might be too late. All I could do is to enjoy this very last moment of CW communication with much enthusiasm. I could not be more thankful to this mode than ever for I could live this age when CW is diminishing from our sight.

The glass of beer is almost finished. I would listen the band for a while and then go to kitchen to prepare evening meal.


  1. In my humble opinion, CW ragchewers' set up is mostly modest. Also to keep huge set up is hard for eldery hams. In consequence they keep modest set up and can ragchew only with local stations. In fact, there are still certain amount of activities in JA hams who ragchew with JA stations by Japanese Morsecode. I guess it's similar in other countries.

    1. Thanks for the comment. It is good you are still hopeful for the future of CW. Keep it up and advocate CW. Unfortunately, from my experience for the past almost 40 plus years, I had to conclude what I had written in this post. It may become more visible in a few years. I hope my prospect won't turn out to be right. But it is not likely.

  2. I concur that CW is a dying mode. It requires a skill. For someone to become proficient in a skill they need to practice that skill. And, they will learn what they practice. Regular conversations in CW will teach the skill most completely. With the exception of some punctuation marks, a conversation brings in all aspects of the mode. Contesting and Dxing only teach a minor portion. Old time operators, before computers and code readers had the true skill. Even the contesters and DXers had to copy proficiently. Not so, today. Too many crutches available for the casual CW operator.

    The Skill is dying because it is not being practiced by the next generation.

    1. Don,

      Too many crutches :) You are possibly right. And I am afraid fewer are interested in others. There are too many two way monologues in CW QSOs nowadays. My motto used to be "Tell me your story". Now "Tell me your story and listen to mine as well".


  3. Hi Shin: Thanks for the FB QSO and asking about my wife's cello playing on our QSO today (Jan 19, around 0600 UTC). My call is KK6ZHK. I have been practicing CW for about a year now and thoroughly enjoy it. I find I can work a lot more DX since the band congestion is so much less, even when compared to FT8. Will look for you on 40M, same time, same frequency and have a longer dialogue. Tonight the band was not holding up very well on my end so ended it early so as not to lose you. 73's!