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ARRL Straight Key Night: A Time to Celebrate the Beginnings of Amateur Radio


From the very beginnings of Amateur Radio, there was Morse code. To celebrate and remember this heritage, the ARRL sponsors Straight Key Night each year on New Year’s Eve. Straight Key Night is a special time to break out that old straight key or bug, maybe use some vintage gear and make some QSOs that call back to a simpler time. No fast exchanges, no sequential serial numbers --just get on the air and send CW for the fun and joy of it.

“I earned my Novice license back in 1982, when the only mode available to Novices was CW,” recalled ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X. “My first key was an old Radio Shack special. I think I paid $8 for it. I got it home, stained a piece of wood, etched my call into it and screwed that key to a plank. I made hundreds of QSOs with it, including my first DX (with a ham in New Zealand), my entry in the 1984 Novice Roundup and lots of time on 40 meters CW in the evenings working toward earning my WAS award – I have s many good memories. I still have that old key. It’s seen better days, of course, but I break it out for every Straight Key Night that I can. I still use CW almost daily, but most of it is with an iambic paddle or contest logging program. Going back to a straight key takes me back to my Novice days and my Heathkit HW-101 set up on a workbench in the basement. You just can’t buy that feeling for any amount of money.”

ARRL Straight Key Night runs from 0000 through 2359 UTC on Sunday, January 1, 2012 (in the US, SKN begins on New Year’s Eve). Please e-mail your summary of stations worked, along with your stories, high-resolution photos and your vote for “Best Fist” and “Most Memorable QSO” or send in your paper logs to: Straight Key Night, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. All logs must be submitted no later than 0000 Wednesday, February 1, 2012.



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