The AGCW is a german club of morse code enthousiasts, maybe the best CW club in the world, with lots of foreign members as well. They organize all kinds of small activities, related to CW off course, one of them being the “HandTasten Party” (HTP, straight key party). In this contest the only way to make a QSO is by using a straight key. So no bugs, no keyers, no computers, just the classic way. There are actually two HTP contests, one is on the 80m band every first Saturday of February, and the other on 40m every first Saturday of September. This year I participated in the 80m contest again, as a nice warming-up for the PACC contest.
Since this is a german contest, I took my german Joseph Junker “morsetaste” from the shelf, removed the dust with a small brush, and tuned it to provide just enough gap and pressure to obtain a nice dot-dash-ratio. My HEDZ antenna was already in place for the next weekend’s PACC contest, so I decided to join the QRP class. I reduced the output of my IC-730 to just below 5 watts and started calling “CQ HTP” and worked a couple of participating stations. This is not a simple “59” contest. You have to exchange the signal report, serial number, your class (A = 5W max, B = 50W max, C = 150W max), your name and your age. However, women don’t send their age, they send “XX” instead hi. Still, exchanging all this information takes a while with those low speed hand keys. Apart from that, it is so much fun to hear all these straight key signals, every operator has its own “handwriting”.
After 1,5 hours keying I had to stop, my hand was getting tired, and a nice smell arose from the kitchen. So I left the shack for a while and had a nice diner with my wife. After that, I joined the contest for another 45 minutes. I finished the contest with 22 QSO’s and 162 points down the log.
Well, this was about two months ago, and today I received the results of the contest. I’m happy to tell you I’m the best dutch participant in the A class! Ok, there were only two other PA stations… I got the 14th rank (out of 31 participants in that class), which is a nice result, especially since I almost never make QSO’s using my hand key, usually I prefer my paddle with keyer. By the way… I also happened to be the youngest participant in the QRP class… which makes me think: who will be QRV in CW when I’m 80 years old?
I definitely enjoyed this contest once again and want to thank the contest managers for this great CW activity. I hope to join more HTP’s in the next years. How about you?