Monday evening before dinner I went downstairs and turned on the radio equipment. Since I have been impressed lately with 20 meters and the fact that I have not worked this band for about six months that's where I headed. I slowly turned the big tuning knob until I caught the familiar CQ CQ call in Morse Code at 14.054 MHz. The signal was clear and easy to copy. It sounded like a regional station close to me maybe 500 miles or so.
But this evening I am on 20 meters not my normal hangouts on 40 meters. Soon to my surprise I copied the prefix of the calling station "IK" Holy cow he's in Italy! I quickly enabled semi QSK, switching the rig off the side tone putting the transmitter on line and answered the call. IK4WKU, Marco is located near Modena, about 50 Kilometers up the road from Bologna in northern Italy. When I first returned the call my rig power was set at 50 watts. Marco's signal report back to me was 559. On the next over I increased my power to 100 watts and then Marco reported that I was now 589.
Now that I am comfortable with using the code I like to play with the radio controls during contacts. It's nice to get confirmation in real time from the other op that the adjustments performed are functioning as they should.
For the next fifteen minutes we exchanged information. There was a steady slow QSB, or an up and down undulating of the signal strength but I never lost more than a character of Marco's transmission so I was able to put down 100% copy onto my paper. Another skill I've noticed that has been slowly improving is my ability to go back and fill in the blanks crossword puzzle style. CW sure teaches one to multi-task. Marco's set up was a Kenwood TS930 and a Mosley Yagi beam antenna up 22 meters. He was also running 100 watts, Nice!
The icing on the cake of which I am very proud was I was able to send perfect code without a single error back to Marco in Italy. That rarely happens so it makes this contact stand out as one of the best in the log. Most all of my DX contacts have been made using the the digital soundcard modes but now that I am much more confident using Morse Code these "across the pond" contacts using radio's original mode are really special and great fun.