Monday, December 12, 2016

The SKCC is a rewarding group

AA4OO achieved SKCC Tribune x4 status

The SKCC (Straight Key Century Club) is a fast-growing and well run group dedicated to supporting and promoting mechanical key, CW operators.  Mechanical CW keys are pretty much anything other than a paddle and electronic keyer. 

When making SKCC contacts you can use a straight key, a side-swiper (cootie key) or a bug to count towards your contacts.  If a medical condition prevents you from effectively using a mechanical key special wavers are allowed for using paddles with a keyer.




I joined the SKCC group in August of 2015 shortly after I got on the air with my budding Morse Code skills.  The group offers monthly and special contests especially suited for new CW operators due to the more laid-back speed of the code being sent by mechanical key operators. You can continue to obtain points contacting other operators at any time, not just during the contests. The SKCC group appeals to seasoned operators as well due to all the special categories of awards that can be obtained and the good natured comradarie among the operators.


AA4OO's Tribune x4 certificate

The SKCC does not collect any dues but donations are welcome as well as volunteering to serve in different roles.


Tongue in cheek awards

After finishing this past weekend sprint (WES) I'd accumulated enough additional contacts since obtaining my initial Tribune status to progress to Tribune X4 (every additional 50 unique operators is a x1).  The SKCC has a well written logging application that is both a logging program and award application processor.  It can parse ADIF files from other logging programs to help you keep track of your unique SKCC contacts over time.

When you submit an award application and are approved, you get a fun and silly email like the following:

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Gather 'round and pay heed to the news of this day!Let there be revelry & celebration for yet another Centurion has advanced to the Tribune Tx4 level of SKCC achievement !!!
Rich Carpenter, AA4OO, SKCC# 14276T, has achieved the coveted 2nd generation SKCC member achievement known far and wide as the Tribune Tx4 award.
The Tribune Tx4 award is earned by SKCC Centurions who work 200 other Centurions, Tribunes, or Senators.
Rich's log & application were submitted to the Tribune Administrator. The Tribune award Analysis Team performed an exhaustive review of the submitted documentation. The process confirmed that all of the 200 required contacts had indeed been made with established SKCC Centurions, Tribunes or Senators subsequent to Rich's Tribune date.
Having submitted a log and sworn statement, both of which have survived the intense tests used by the Tribune administrator, Rich Carpenter, AA4OO, is duly proclaimed to be SKCC Tribune Tx4.
This SKCC member shall, from this day forward, proclaim to all that their SKCC Number ends with T. He shall enjoy all the honor and privilege that appertains thereto and all shall accord him the esteem and respect appropriate to their achievements.
Tribune Xn Operators are permitted to use the Xn designator as they see fit whenever discussing their Tribune status.
The Master Tribune List has been duly scribed where all SKCC Members may reflect upon and pay tribute to this momentous achievement.
Congratulations to: Rich Carpenter, AA4OO, SKCC# 14276T, Tribune Tx4
Duly approved, recorded, and published.
I set forth my hand and key on 12-Dec-2016
Phil Barsky, K3EW
SKCC 10605T
SKCC Tribune Administrator


Sign up and contribute 

If you're not already an SKCC member and you enjoy using a mechanical key sign up and get in the mechanical CW fun.

The regular monthly sprints occur on the second weekend of each month and are called the WES (weekend sprint).  The suggested CW watering holes are near the following frequencies: 1.820, 3.530 , 3.550, 7.055 , 7.120, 10.120, 14.050, 14.114 , 18.080, 21.050, 21.114, 24.910, 28.050, 28.114, 50.090, 144.07.

The typical exchange during a WES is as follows:

Calling:  CQ WES DE [CALL]  K
Send: DE [CALL]
Exchange:  UR [RST]x2 [STATE]x2 [NAME]x2 [SKCC NR]x2 BK
If you want to chat a little or throw in a good morning, afternoon or a TNX and GL (thanks and good luck), no one is going to mind.  These are not high pressure contests.

Long ragchews are encouraged

Outside of the WES I've had many long ragchews with other SKCC members.  They always seem to be in the mood to shoot the breeze with you and talk about their stations and different keys as well as their grandkids and local going-ons.  Long ragchews are encouraged so much that there's a special Marathon award for those operators that have participated in 100 QSOs lasting 60 minutes or longer with other SKCC members.  That's about as far from normal contesting as I've found.  

Contesting not required

I am far from a contester and I don't participate in every WES, in fact I'm pretty hit or miss.  I think I probably accumulate more SKCC contacts through casual operating during nights and weekends than directly in a WES but if you want to rack up the contacts the sprints are the place to do it.

Not specific to QRP

The SKCC is not limited to QRP operators but they have special award classifications for QRP SKCC contacts.  I haven't applied for any of those because I don't keep precise enough records of when I'm solely operating QRP or if I bumped up my power to maintain a QSO but you'll certainly work a lot of QRP stations who are SKCC members.  A simple homebuilt QRP radio operated with a mechanical key can be a satisfying part of the hobby.

If you're new to CW or you've been sending code for 50 years I think you'll enjoy the group. 


That's all for now...

So lower your power and raise your expectations... using that mechanical key

72/73
Richard, AA4OO

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