I started trying to learn CW as far back as 2013, and I finally got brave enough to try a CW QSO in 2014. On April 6, 2014 I called CQ on 10m and had a 20 minute QSO with W5ZIT. It was my first and last CW QSO for another 2 years.
Fast forward to March 2016, and I finally got brave enough to try calling CQ using CW again. I made a successful QSO and discovered there were online clubs for CW. One of the clubs that I joined was the Straight Key Century Club. On March 31, 2016 I was given my number 15375. Things were good for a few months.
From March 31 to June 19, 2016 I made 70 QSOs with members of the SKCC organization, but I didn’t know there were awards. At the time I had 58 QSOs that qualified towards the Centurian award. After June 19, 2016 I quit CW because of noise on the band and kids that wouldn’t let me play. It took several more years and a few circumstances to get me back in action.
In the early 2021 year I had two good friends of mine (Eddie, KO4NLL and Billy, KO4NLK) take and pass their FCC examinations. Then they passed their General exams, and I was hooked on helping them set up stations and get on the air. I too started to get back on the air. I purchased an Icom IC-7300 just like my friends! In March 2021 (there’s something about March!) I started playing radio again by chasing FT8. During the 13 Colonies Special Event I also got brave enough to chase a few parks on CW. They were simple exchanges and nice enough to slow down for me. Then I wanted the TM13COL France Bonus station, and the only way to get it was CW. I started chasing more POTA on CW, and then one night on July 7, 2021 I had a 30 minute ragchew with Art, WB8CCR, and he asked a great question.
“I see you work a lot of FT8. How do you like and what do you like best about it?” I later emailed Art because I couldn’t send my answer at the speed I was going (slow), and I was starting to get ear fatigue, too. It really had me thinking. I used to enjoy CW. I was really good at it back in 2016, but I let a few hiccups get in the way. They were just excuses.
Then one day the FT8 program was shut down and never opened again! On July 22, 2021 I decided to take the plunge back into CW with SKCC. Head first. Full speed ahead (which wasn’t fast and very sloppy). So here’s how my run for Senator went:
QSOs are “Qualifying QSOs” for SKCC award purposes for this timeline
From July 2021 to 7 Aug 2021 I finished my first 100 QSOs for Centurian
10 Aug 2021 —> Tx1 +50 QSOs
21 Aug 2021 —> Tx2 +50 QSOs
8 Sep 2021 —> Tx3 +50 QSOs
14 Sep 2021 —> Tx4 +50 QSOs
24 Sept 2021 —> Tx5 +50 QSOs
4 Oct 2021 —> Tx6 +50 QSOs
11 Oct 2021 —> Tx7 +50 QSOs
18 Oct 2021 —> Tx8 +50 QSOs
5 Nov 2021 —> Senator! +200 QSOs
There are so many more awards to shoot for in the SKCC organization. Centurian, Tribune, and Senator are main awards, but there are ragchew awards, marathon awards, triple key awards (TKA), WAS, Prefix awards, and others. If you’re a veteran of CW or a newcomer, please consider the Straight Key Century Club, and Keep CW Alive!