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Last night, 9/11, was our initial meeting for Level 1 CW Academy class. All five students and the instructor showed up so that was the good sign. There was some concern earlier in the day about the possible need to evacuate for our instructor, K2SX Dennis, as he is a resident of Pawleys Island, SC. Fortunately for him, and us, at the time of class he was only experiencing 30 to 40 mph wind gusts and the authorities had not felt the need to evacuate his area. Because the class was held on Skype we were able to hear some of the gusts in the background as we completed our lesson.
I am trying to recall if I told you in another post that I was attending CW Academy and where my fellow students hailed from so pardon me if I have. My class consists of Gerald from Canada, Craig and Tim from opposite ends of North Carolina, Joel from northern Indiana, and myself. We started out with a new round of introductions as Gerald had not been on our earlier meet and greet call to test out Skype last month. After introductions Dennis asked us to try and flip the camera around and show what our gear was that we would be using to participate in the course.
There were two or three Elecraft KX3's, which of course made me drool, and each of those students were using the KXPD3 paddles that are on option with that rig. There was also an Icom IC-706 paired with Bencher BY-2 paddles, a Yaesu FT-857D (running off a deep marine cycle battery), and my FT-991A with Bencher BY-1 paddles. You do not need anything nearly as elaborate as any of these rigs to participate in the class. If you have a key, keyer, computer for Skype, and something that will put out a sidetone then you are set.
The course follows the Morse Trainer on scphillips.com. Morse Trainer is a program that was developed specifically for the CW Academy courses. You can find it here. The typical course involves meeting twice per week covering two lessons during that time. The meeting nights are determined by the instructor after polling the students to find the two nights during the week that work for everyone. My class is on Mondays and Thursdays and runs approximately one hour, beginning at 1930 EDT or 2330 UTC.
The first class centered on the letters T E A and N. Dennis started by sending the letters in random order and asked us to raise our hands when we were able to copy. He likes to call on the last person to raise their hand or the last person who is unable to copy. After a few minutes of this he asked us to send the four letters in random order as well and our fellow students had to copy. We moved on to sending short snippets of two to three words using the letters for the lesson. This pretty much ended the session.
I think the biggest struggle for many of us was copying some of the sending of the others. Spacing seemed to be the most prominent problem we were having during sending which caused us problems copying at different points throughout the lesson.
I hope to write a little review of every session as long as it does not interfere with my studying for the next lesson. If all goes well I will see you in a few days.