Tag Archives: CW

Those were the days

I passed the Morse test and obtained my Class A licence in 1981 in order to operate meteor scatter on 2 metres using a high speed keyer, which sent code at 1000 lpm or equivalent to 200 words a minute. Like many others I used a cassette tape recorder with suitable pot to slow the tape down so that I could decipher what was being sent in response from the other end. We used to set up skeds on 20 metres (14 MHz) and that was the other reason I had to pass the Morse test; to be allowed to go on any frequency below 144 MHz in the first place. Incidentally my Yaesu FT221R handled 1000 lpm well without any mods.

We used to alternately transmit and receive in five minute periods and for that reason needed a very accurate clock. My then shack clock is pictured. It kept very precise time to the second once set against the pips on the BBC or the speaking clock on the telephone. This clock did a few years as the shack clock, and then thirty years as the kitchen clock (because that is what it is) and now as we have a new kitchen and new kitchen clock it is back as the shack clock. It has worked faithfully all these years and still keeps very good time. It is a very good example of older technology which just worked!

What helped me most to pass the Morse test in 1981? Well, I had my Datong Morse Tutor. I have never checked how accurate the speed calibration is, but it is supposed to be 6.5 to 37 wpm. I have no reason to doubt that, and it sounds about right, quite literally, as the Tutor still works well after at least 41 years.

I still have the FT221R but have not fired it up recently. On the subject of old technology from the Eighties my original FT290R works well but has needed repairs, and I like FT290Rs so much I have another two available for transverting, or operating on two metres in addition to my modern rigs.

But I just love the way the old clock and the Morse Tutor still work as they always did and I will be using the Tutor for practice as I return to active CW.