automatic letter and word spacing, and the ability to send
dah-di-dah-di, etc., when both levers are pressed (Iambic).
There is a difference between iambic A and B, but A
works for me. Many hams are going back to the non-iambic single lever type of paddle. Many new hams do not
use a key at all; the CW is sent from their computer from
the DB- 9 port or through a simple USB to DB- 9 converter.
The modern K1EL system bypasses everything, and uses a
nice USB port to send memories out on the air.
Every CW operator has their favorite key/keyer. There
is a large variety of keyer and keyer kits available (Figure
5). The cheapest high performance keyer is the PicoKeyer
ultra kit from HamGadgets ($29). The cheapest good dual
lever paddle is a used Bencher BY-1 found on eBay.
Additional techniques that allow CW to get through in
the face of poor conditions (atmospheric noise, fading, no
Internet, no satellite phone, flooding, earthquake, or
tsunami disaster) are use of slower speeds and repetition
(twice for each word).
There is a special time-saving language for CW which
predates texting abbreviations by about 90 years, and
actually many texting abbreviations have been derived
from this list. The abbreviations in the sidebar are just
Use of these abbreviations makes CW very enjoyable,
and at 20 to 25 words per minute, a conversation almost
as fast as human speech can be made (speech is typically
100 to 220 WPM, and more like 180 WPM for the
younger generation, who don’t enunciate their words).
Most hams copy by ear, and the younger generation
copies with FLdigi or Skimmer.
It is traditional to make notes of what is said by the
other station. Many hams repeat what has been said to
38 March 2017
AGN, ?: Repeat
BCNU: Be seeing you
CFM, QSL: I acknowledge accurate receipt
CUL: See you later
DE: From (from the French)
FB: Fine business (good)
FER: For (e is shorter on CW than o)
HI HI: Laughter (sounds like laughter)
K: Go ahead
KN: (run together) Go ahead the station specified only
GL: Good luck
N: No or 9 (as in 5NN, short for 599)
ND: Nothing doing
OM, OC, OD, OT: Old man, old chap, old dog, old timer
... any male human over the age of four. Old timer is
always a compliment.
QRP: Low power, output 5W or less
QRS: Slow down
QRT: I am going off the air
QRQ: Send faster
QRU: I have nothing for you, please go away. Often said
if the other ham is from another faction of ham radio.
QRZ?: Who is calling me?
QSY: Change frequency
QTH: My location is
RST: Readability, strength, tone (1-5, 1-9, 1-9)
T or O: Zero
T T: That
TU: Thank you
XYL: A married female
YL: Young lady ... a female human
WRK: Work (i.e., contact or converse with)
73: Best regards
88: Love and kisses
FIGURE 5. Stack of keyers.