Monday, June 16, 2008

The CQ100 Experience

After all the discussion last week about CQ100, I thought that it would perhaps be interesting to try it, in order to hopefully, have a more informed view!

Signup was simple and I was easily able to download and install the CQ100 transceiver (client program) on my Vista laptop. I wasn't able to use it, though, until I'd uploaded an image of my licence for verification. The purpose of this is to ensure that only licenced amateurs use the system. It took around 24 hours for the verification process to complete.

Yesterday evening, I tried logging in to the transceiver and it accepted my password, showing that the licence verification had completed. The 'transceiver' defaulted to 14.200 and I could hear an American station calling CQ there. 14.200 has been designated as an SSB calling frequency, and I think, 14.058 as a CW calling frequency. Using the 'spectrum scope' it's easy to see where there is activity. I decided that I would try a CW contact, for something different.

I tuned to 14.025 and called CQ at around 25wpm. To my surprise, SM6DPT called me. It was nice to chat to Sture from Gothenburg. It turned out that he'd not been active for a number of years, having moved to a city flat and not had the option to do anything other than use an indoor antenna. Sture said he'd found CQ100 a week or two ago and was enjoying reinvigorating his CW skills ( I should add that he was no slouch on the key at all, so he has nothing to worry about!).

It felt bizarre not to have to exchange reports. After all, everyone is 599. And then there was no need to talk about what transceiver and antenna we were using. What else is there to talk about? Lots, of course. We chatted for about 20 minutes on the key.

So, an enjoyable experience, and I took it as a positive that someone who had not been on the air for some years had had their interest rekindled by CQ100. I did try to emphasize on-air activity as that's vital for the future of our hobby. As Dave, G4BUO points out rightly, if 'the powers that be' decide we don't need our HF spectrum because we're all using the internet, then we'll only have ourselves to blame. Perhaps CQ100 might be a good place to practise CW - and the fact that Morse is being used on the system (which seems slightly bizarre to me) is good for the future of the mode, of course.

Will I extend my use of CQ100 beyond the trial period? I'm not sure, but I'm glad I tried the system which worked well and certainly had some 'novelty' value. I can see why those who struggle to put up antennas would find CQ100 fun to use.

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