Wednesday, 16 May 2018

'CQ BR' - It's "Bug Roundup" Weekend!

Ever since earning my ticket as a teenager back in '63, almost all of my on-air activity has been focused on CW ... I've always loved it.

Back when I first got on the air there were very few amateurs using keyers. Most used bugs and the remainder used hand keys. It was very easy to tune across the band and identify any of the locals just by the sound of their fist ... like snowflakes, no two were the same. The same went for most stations that were very active. DX or otherwise, one could usually tell who it was, long before the call signs were sent.

So much has changed now with the almost exclusive use of electronic keyers and everyone pretty much sounds the same, which is rather unfortunate I think.

Once my interest in building vintage-style vacuum-tube transmitters evolved, my interest in bugs was reactivated and over the years I have purchased a few more.

I'll do everything I can to promote and encourage the use of CW and especially hand-generated CW. That's why I was excited, once again, to read a recent e-mail from W6SFM, posted to several lists that I read, announcing the Bug Roundup!

The Samuel F. Morse Amateur Radio Club, a Sacramento, California based CW enthusiast club wanted a special time to bring bug operators together on the air. 

In the same spirit as ARRL's Straight Key Night, participants are encouraged to make simple, conversational, “chewing-the-fat” QSOs using their bug type key. 

This is an opportunity to exercise, share and exhibit your personalized fist. This is NOT a contest. However, there is a very easy and quick registration form found at

Once you've optionally registered for the event simply Call "CQ BR" so folks know you are a Bug Roundup Participant. So lets grab that bug, clean those contacts, and let’er fly! We want to hear that “Banana Boat / Lake Erie Swing" or that commercial KPH/WCC quality fist.

Reserve the date! The event begins on Friday May 18th (00:00 UTC) and concludes Sunday May 20th (00:00 UTC)

That's 5:00 PM Friday evening until 5 PM Pacific Time Sunday (LOCAL)

For more information, to register your station, and to help assist in spotting, potentially increasing QSOs, an On-line chat window link can be found near the bottom of Bug Roundup home page located at 

We hope to hear you all on the air! 73,

Sounds like a fun event and I'll have a tough job deciding on which bug to use but it'll probably be the 'Original' this time out.

Please see if you can squeeze-in a few hours of nice old bug-generated CW as the present digital craze is taking a big bite out of conventional CW activity it seems. Hopefully this is only temporary!


Buzz goes to Europe said...

I plan to be on as much as time permits. Always fun,

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
I was making a BR QSO Saturday night at UBC when the XYL swanned into Hamsoc saying she'd lost her house keys. She had dropped me at UBC and drove home with groceries from Save-On. When she realized she was locked out, she lost her composure and couldn't make herself drive back to UBC to borrow my keys. Our neighbour took pity and offered to drive her back to UBC He and his XYL got a free station tour!

The keys were found in her pants pocket. Relieved, I went back to Hamsoc on Sunday to catch the end of BR. Bands not good, few QSOs. I did work a fellow who could not space his code. I'm trying to be polite and reply intelligently but I only copied half of what he sent on his bug. He was experienced, his bug was in adjustment. But he was just not readable.

Hey, anyone reading this who is new to code: the most vital skill in Morse sending is the spacing! Guys, space your words and letters better!

One ham gave me a nice kudo for clean sending. He was being nice. With a bug you need daily practice to get good. I'm a weekender.

Worked VE7CNF too, another Hamsoc alumnus. Didn't know he had a bug.

Hamsoc's Zephyr bug has vices. Worst is, no matter how carefully I adjust it, it sometimes adds a spurious "bip" at the end of a run of dots. Or perhaps it's my hand which has a mind of its own, like Dr. Strangelove's. But the bug also has a mind of its own. Maybe it's prejudiced because I'm a southpaw :-)

One last remark. It's fun to hear your own bug coming back at you from one of the web SDRs on line. For the 40m and 80m bands I found a KiwiSDR in SF that worked well. For 20m, the KiwiSDR in Lamont, Alberta was good. What is neat is how these web SDRs insert a delay of 1-2 seconds on the transmission. When you whip off a CQ you hear it repeated intact.

- Dan VE7DES

Steve McDonald said...

It's good to hear that you fellows were able to get on and enjoy your bugs! The KiwiSDRs are a wonderful resource. I often use them to 'A-B' test antennas in real time. Much better than using the RBN for this purpose.