Scanning through my blog, you will find several references to the SKCC club (Straight Key Century Club). I have been a member of this club for a few years now and I hold membership number 3800T. What drew me to this club was the fact that it was free and the other was the desire to hang out with a bunch of members who shared my passion for CW (Morse Code) and using a mechanical keying device. It was here that I was introduced to the Navy Flameproof key that I so much enjoy today. I have started to collect the different keys that were manufactured and I'm always watching eBay or private posting of ones for sale (ya got a rare one to sell, please let me know). I do own one other type of straight key, a J37 given to me by my friend Larry, N1TX. I have used this key on a few occasions, too.
SKCC was celebrating their 4th anniversary during the month of January, 2010. This involved operators from all US call districts and there also happened to be a European stations operating as well. This was a month long celebration with volunteer operators signing up to operate as K3Y. With operators from all US call districts, SKCC tracked those stations who obtained their ten region "sweep", working K3Y stations in all ten US districts. Possible endorsements for Hawaii and Alaska were available making it possible to get a twelve region sweep.Alaska only had three operators volunteer for K3Y shifts, with my station being one of them. I enjoy chasing K3Y districts but being a member, I wanted to give as many people a chance to add the Alaska endorsement to their certificate. With a full time job, my operating was confined to my days off assuming I did not have prior commitments. It was nothing but pure straight key fun with some of the small pile-ups I could generate when I called "CQ". A straight key pile-up is a bit different than your normal pile-up. A normal pile-up many of the stations sound the same with the exception of those who are slightly off frequency. With a straight key pile-up, each operator has their own "signature" way of sending Morse code which made a bit easier at times to pull one station of out the many. I would also listen for the QRP stations on a regular basis.
In a short time, I was able to work all US call districts including Alaska and Hawaii. I just started to put my QRP station together about half way through the month so I decided to attempt a twelve district sweep running 5 watts or less. My late start caused me to finish off the month without getting my QRP sweep missing the following districts; 1, 4, 5 and KH6. The band conditions toward the end of the month were far from helpful.
I very much enjoyed giving out K3Y/KL7 to those that needed it and I'm always tickled to hear and read the excitement of those getting their Alaskan endorsement. This was a huge event to coordinate and many people were behind the scenes to make it the success that it was. Due to the fun I had in the event, I was quick to donate some money to help with the K3Y event. I want to extend a BIG public thanks to all those SKCC members that made this event a huge success. A special thanks to Paul, NG7Z for handling our calendaring duties. Paul was extremely accommodating and understanding especially with my often short notices of available time slots.
I hope you had a chance to work K3Y during the month of January. All good things must come to and end and K3Y once again retires until next year. I only wish I had a bit more time to operate but I enjoyed the time that I did. I was responsible for adding 342 QSO's to the K3Y/KL7 logbook out of a total of 630 or so worked. I was joined by Alaskan operators Bob, WL7WH and Jim, AA6CW.
In closing, I gotta mention the QSL card design by Drew, AF2Z. I have to admit, I think this is one of the neatest designs I have seen in a long time! Drew did such an outstanding job designing this and it was by far my most favorite. I have yet to send off for the QSL card but I do have the coffee cup thanks mostly to Pete, W1PNS. In true ham radio spirit, Pete helped me work around a shipping issue.
If you are a ham radio operator and enjoy CW using a BUG, Cootie or Straight Key, I would encourage you to become a member. If you want to learn CW and maybe need a helping hand and some guidance, this is the club to join! SKCC has plenty of events on the calendar to participate in. I belong to several other organizations that I will feature in the near future but January was all about SKCC for me. It begins with Straight Key Night and continues until 2359z on the 31st of January. Thirty-one days of manual, key click'n fun!