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1463Re: [dxatlas] My eham review - Skimmer was a game changer for me

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  • Jeff Blaine AC0C
    Jul 17, 2009

      The fact is CW as a communication method is a dying art. So the more guys that can find enjoyment in this mode, the better it is for the hobby. Regardless of what method brings you to the mode - the fact you have found it fun is really what radio is all about.

      I feel the debate around skimmer is nonsense. As you point out, there were plenty of other game changers before skimmer - and I'm sure there will be after as well.

      Contest scores depend on the honesty and integrity of the individual. But then again, our use of the band space properly is also self policed. The ham community in the most part can handle this kind of self-discipline just fine, thank you...

      Welcome to a fantstic and most rewarding part of ham radio. I hope to catch you on the bottom of the band some time...


      From: Zack
      Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2009 11:29 AM
      To: dxatlas_group@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [dxatlas] My eham review - Skimmer was a game changer for me

      For years I tried off and on to relearn the code but I never kept up with it. Spent most of my time In the past few years on PSK and most recently on JT64A.

      Earlier this year I decided to give Skimmer a try with my Flex-5000A. Because soundcard modes integrate so well (no interface is needed) with my rig I found that I was getting 75-95% good copy with CW. Using the waterfall in Skimmer and the panadapter in my 5000A are killer apps. Also, my rig has a built in CW program that lets you set up preprogrammed memory keys and also lets you type via the PC keyboard.

      Making radio VISUAL changes everything. And it was not long before I was spending 100% of my time on CW.

      I was amazed how well it would copy even with fairly weak signals. If the copy was well below 75% I could usually figure out what the other guy was sending anyway. Once the trial period expired I bought a license for it because I could not do without it.

      The fastest copy I have seen it decode was around 40+ WPM, not that I see much on the bands faster than that.

      Skimmer is used by me in contests but I only use it to increase my DXCC, VUCC and WAS count. BTW I never submit any scores because it is against the rules and I am mainly a DX'er anyway.

      Lately I have been doing a lot of CW on 6M as there has been a lot of eskip. It is fascinating to see how quickly signals will appear and just as quickly fade. And I can see 12khz all at once so lots of times I get to make the contact before most others would even tune across the DX.

      Now I know a lot of CW purists would like to yell at me for using Skimmer, saying it is somehow "cheating". Is it cheating if you copy CW by ear and use a word processing program to transcribe the copy? How about using an iambic keyer or a dedicated CW keyboard? If my radio only uses transistors is that cheating. After all real radios glow in the dark don't they? Does that mean I need to get a spark transmitter instead?

      Skimmer is just a tool that makes my hobby easier. Just like how my Flex-5000A is easier to use than Drake twins.

      I admire those who can TX 50 wpm per minute with a straight key and copy everything in their head. However, I am not one of those people. On the other hand I am now actually spending a lot more time on the radio since I discovered Skimmer. I find operating CW with it is more interesting than PSK.


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