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Head Copy No BFO


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Last week we spent a few days in Maine. My XYL had already gone to bed and I just sat in a sunroom looking out over the ocean under a full moon. There was a Grundig portable radio there that covered AM, FM and several short wave bands. So I decided to play with it. While tuning around 80 meters I came across W1AW, which is, relatively speaking, just down the road a little. It was transmitting a bulletin. However, the radio had no BFO so there was no tone - just a pattern of hissing which formed the letters. So I just sat there watching the ocean and listening to the code but not making any conscious effort to head copy. But to my surprise, I found that I was understanding a propagation report. Just picking up enough words to make some kind of sense. One particularly interesting phenomenon was that at the end of a longer word, in the middle of which I had lost all sense of what letters I had already heard, I suddenly recognized what the word was. Not good for coded groups, but enough to make sense of the transmission.

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What a cool experience Lind. There is something magical about sensing phrases and words. On a different track, slightly, we’re going to try and do something similar at the Cross Potomac BBQ. As I write here I have not added the event yet, but the idea is to have a ‘table knock’ cw contest. I’ve always been fascinated by code generated on a pipe with a wrench, a wall or desk with a knock. It takes a different head space to recognize the dashes.

On a related matter, but without known answer, I wonder if they ever sent a Morse message from the moon? Did NASA have any beacons on board the lunar landers? Or visually with a mirror heliograph? Imagine reading a morse flasher from 400,000 Km 😎

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