On the Elecraft mailing list a couple of months ago, there was a thread about commenting on the NPRM that proposes to eliminate the Morse Code requirement. I opined that it was a done deal no matter how many commented that it should remain, and that instead of wasting time on the NPRM, we should start working on recruiting and training more CW ops. Steve, AA4AK replied:
I agree that in all likelihood the FCC will drop the CW requirement for all classes, and Western Civilization will not collapse as a consequence. However, I think it is useful to file comments, in the unlikely case that the FCC just might listen.
Nevertheless, as several people including you have mentioned, the real issue for us CW jocks is peopling the bands and encouraging non-CW hams to take up the mode.
I see several specific steps that could help:
- The idea that Wayne brought up half in jest, of having an award for lots of CW contacts might be useful. I wonder if maybe some respected institution like QCWA might sponsor such an activity. In fact, I may bounce it off some of my friends in QCWA.
- KX-1 owners (I’m not one now, but expect to be soon) could show off (i.e., actually demonstrate) their rigs in club meeting programs, hamfest forums, field days, SETs and so on. Nothing is quite as impressive as showing people that you can do effective communications with a rig you can fit into a shirt pocket.
- I think it would be especially useful to have KX-1 owners participate in organized emergency drills. Here in Maine, emergency communications is extremely popular. It occurs to me that having several KX-1s in a drill is a dramatic demonstration of “here’s how we do it when the repeater goes down.”
- I’ve been discussing with some colleagues of mine in the UNE Psych department a radical new strategy for teaching the code by harnessing the brain’s natural synesthetic abilities. If I get the kinks worked out, I may try it on some of the local club members who have expressed an interest in learning the code. If I get it right, it will make learning the code far easier than conventional strategies.
I like these ideas a lot, especially the one about using KX1s for emergency communications demonstrations. As for the CW awards, FISTS already has a bunch of them, but if Steve can get the QCWA to sponsor some more, all the better.
Another suggestion is to have “open shack nights.” Invite guys over to your shack and teach them some of the finer points of CW operation. Last night, three guys came over my shack, and we talked about keyers, paddles, iambic modes (and the Ultimatic mode), CW abbreviations, and all kinds of things. One of them even made his first CW contact!
This was very cool, and I expect it did a lot more to promote the use of CW than my comment on the NPRM will. It certainly was a lot more fun to do.
This morning, I received an e-mail from one of the guys who came over Sunday night. Here’s what he had to say:
Thanks for your hospitality on Sunday, it was fun to see the maestro in action. It was, to be honest, the first time I could see that CW might actually be fun, rather than a painful rite of passage to get the General. So…would you be able to give me some information on how I can get set up?
Showing guys how much fun CW can be will do way more to promote the use of CW than any amount of complaining about the elimination of the Morse Code test.