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first contact

I have been a licensed amateur radio operator (ham) for quite a few years, and am currently a General Class ticket holder.

Like many hams that got into the hobby as a “no-code tech”, I have had multiple starts and stops at learning CW (morse code). I would engage using apps, websites, etc. and go after it full speed, only to fizzle out after a few short weeks or days.

About March of this year, I vowed that this time I would do it.

I cannot say that I’ve “learned it”, as most that are proficient have spent decades honing their skills, but I can say that I have finally accomplished two major goals:

  1. Learn the alphabet, numbers, common punctuation, common prosigns
  2. Made my first CW contact!

Memorial Day morning I spent about 5 minutes calling CQ (announcing to any station to respond and make a contact) when I suddenly heard coming in through CW “KD0HBU this is K9NUD. KD0HBU this is K9NUD”.

Yes! I’ve gotten someone to respond!

Oh no! I’ve gotten someone to respond!

My palms started to sweat. The anxiety of making a mistake kicked in. Adding to the stress was the fact that the signal was fading in and out. In fact when he first responded, I couldn’t hear all the letters of his callsign and it wasn’t until he repeated it that I was able to hear all the right dits and dahs to put it together.

Unfortunately the fading didn’t improve and the contact wasn’t long at all. That is probably for the better since I probably was incoherent on my end of the QSO.

Immediately afterward he looked me up on QRZ and sent me an email indicating that he was happy to make the contact and how unfortunate it was that the signal conditions weren’t better. After informing him that he was my first contact, he graciously offered to setup some time to formally establish another contact, do things nice and slow for my comfort level, and help improve my skills.

This is one of the things that I love about this hobby – there are wonderful people out there willing to help and mentor all along the way.

Thanks K9NUD!

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