[amsat-bb] AMSAT CW activity day

Kevin M n4ufo at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 24 12:01:14 UTC 2016

I just wanted to comment that I am very pleased about this recently announced change to the annual New Years event. I have two keys sitting on my desk... A beautiful J-38 straight key that is almost a collectors item with chromed posts and a Kent SP-1 that is finally a key that works for me after going through a number of other paddles. I use the Kent about 99.9 percent of the time... I've modified it slightly by using big sticky rubber feet on the finger piece to make the paddle wider, allowing my finger and thumb better spacing. The J-38 was a gift from a ham in appreciation for something I did that I would have done for anybody. He chose that gift in particular after me telling him how much I miss my Novice J-38 key that I had worlds of fun with as a kid. Especially when I monkey wired the parts for a Tuna Tin 2 onto a terminal strip mounted on one of the base posts. - So you might ask, "Kevin... if you have that wonderful straight key, why don't you pump the brass a little more?"
'I'd love to,' would be my answer. But in the early 2000s I developed a 'repetitive task' type injury... De Quervain Syndrome; think of it as carpal tunnel for the thumb. It meant a lot of pain and the wearing of a brace for 8-12 hours each day... fortunately, sticking to a regimen and avoiding further aggravation I was able to avoid surgery. But you know what that meant? No CW! I pretty much gave up on ham radio at the time... not JUST because of that, but also other life changes. - Now years later, after a cross country move and buying a house, my wife encouraged me to get back into the hobby. And after testing the waters, I found I WAS able to work CW again, but for sure, I had to be careful about what key and what hand position. Long story short, after receiving the gift of the J-38, an attempt to have a ragchew on 80m CW sent me running for my brace... not a good sign.
So my J-38 is relegated to being used for tuning and occasionally sending my callsign really, really slow on noisy low bands. I hate that, but I'm very proud of the key and still give it an honored place on my desk. As I said, I can normally use my SP-1 after modification to make my thumb position more compatible... provided no contesting or marathon sessions. (Gets me out of being drafted to the CW tent for the duration of FD!) I've often thought about participating in SKN and just being careful, but I know that once I got going, my exuberance would overcome my better judgement and I'd be digging out the brace and possibly sidelined for a time. (Oh, for those that are out there suggesting keyboard CW... I tried that. My typing is 25 WPM hunt and peck... a respectable speed for that style of typing, but full of errors. I can backspace on the computer, but that doesn't work so well on CW.)

If you don't hear me on next year, it will be because of family... as the holidays are a bit of a reclusive time around my house for enjoying each others company. But if there is a lull in the 'family togetherness' I'll be happy to show everyone how well I've adapted from my early days of 'slapper' fist on my Ten Tec single paddle around to finessing the very tight spacing on my Kent with it's subtle and satisfying clicks. (Hard core CW guys will appreciate that last thought.)
Inclusion is the backbone of our 'communicator's hobby'... thanks for being flexible with tradition and keeping it alive!

73, Kevin N4UFO
 ------------------------------------------------------------------"Control is the need of the fearful mind. Trust is the need of the courageous heart."

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