Now that the dulcet tones of 2006 CW Sweeps are behind us, is it not time to consider other possible options for continuing to move the ball forward for 2006? Contrary to popular belief, a hard core CW operator actually CAN operate their radio during the SSB half of Sweepstakes, using the device known as a microphone. It is not prohibited by law, ARRL contest rules, nor by the possibility of being “ruined” for CW. Now, I know that a CW op enjoys talking with their hands, but one weekend a year the human voice can also be used for the purposes of completing a QSO and passing the customary Sweepstakes exchange. Yes, it sounds drastic, but we are yet only half way to the goal.

With that blasphemous idea on the table, you might ask where exactly can a dedicated CW op actually FIND a microphone? Well, many of you may actually ALREADY HAVE a microphone and not even realize it. It may sometimes be found acting as a paperweight in certain ham shacks. A microphone is obviously a multi duty tool.

For those who may have made a recent new rig acquisition, many radios sold today come with a microphone packed right there IN THE BOX. These microphones are not optimized for contest situations, but they may be pressed into service when needed. If you did not in fact throw the microphone away when you unpacked the rig, it may still be at hand. (You did keep the Original Box didn't you? Everyone knows that the “Original Box” adds 50% of the value to a “slightly used” radio, making every 20 year old radio with burnt finals and deaf on 40 worth exactly the retail street price of 20 years ago.)

So, if you can get that Original Box out of the attic from beneath the pile of dusty old QST's, open her up and look into those other smaller boxes you should find inside. One of them probably has a microphone - still in its very own Original Box! You may have previously overlooked this item in the rush to plug the paddles and antennas into the rig when you first got it home.

Be aware that using the paddles and external keyer to inject CW into the radio via the microphone is generally frowned upon during the SSB half of the contest.

For further general reading on the microphone:

and SEE actual photographs of microphones themselves

Continue on to Part 2 - SSB Myth Busters, Chapter 2-Shunning