| HINTS, TIPS AND
TECHNIQUES FOR LEARNING MORSE CODE (CW)
Presented by Bill, WJ5O, VE
These tips, tricks,
hints and techniques for learning and receiving Morse code will
get you off to a better CW learning session and help you when
copying code on the Ham bands.
They are shared
Bill, WJ5O of Corpus Christi, Tx.
Bill's tips are worth
their weight in gold. Follow his instructions below and
certain that you will get better results when using Morse code
on the air!
I followed similar tips and techniques years ago to
pass my CW exam when Morse code was a requirement....THEY
These notes are from my experience's of administering the
CW examination as a member of a VE team...... even before the FCC
turned it over to the Amateur community in mid- eighties. --- all
NOVICE Class 5 WPM examinations were administered by a General Class
or higher prior to that.
Get the code "under Your
belt". Learn it just for the fun of it!
A little background!
It is a
relative simple matter for anyone to broadcast a message using voice
and the English language. The only requirement is that
individual sending the message should speak into a
microphone connected to a transmitter. At the receiving end,
the procedure is just as simple, the individual desiring to
understand the transmitted message needs only to tune a
receiver to the broadcasting station and listen to the spoken
words as they are reproduced by the receiver.
transmission of messages by code however, requires a special skill
on the part of both the sender and the
CODE TRANSMISSION IF VOICE TRANSMISSION IS SO MUCH
1. Radio communication by
code requires less elaborate, less costly and less
bulky equipment than does voice radio
2. Code transmission will penetrate
radio and atmospheric interference more readily than will phone
transmission. Code transmission will usually be intelligently
received under conditions that render voice transmission and
reception impossible. The spoken word with it's inflections,
intonation and a tremendous variety of sounds is infinitely more
complex than is the single piercing note of a radio telegraph
3. The radio telegraph code constitutes an invaluable
method of sending "secret" messages or security information
with a greater amount of safety.
4. A transmitted code signal
requires much less frequency space than does a radio telephone
signal. Approximately 6 KHZ for an AM signal and 15 KHZ for the
wideband FM signal. The typical CW signal is 1.5 KHZ.
Amateur radio operators use "Q" signals which have common meaning in
languages other than English. This permits the exchange of
basic information in CW between operators regardless of their
speaking ability. (Editor note: These five reasons above can be
to the ARRL from many years ago and passed down over
time. I am certain that others can find more reasons to use
The Morse code is made up of letters as is most
spoken languages. The code letters consist of sounds of short
and long duration which are called DOTS & DASHES, (sounded
like DITS & DAHS). These sounds are usually high pitched tones
of about 500 to 800 Hertz or approximately the sound of a high
C on a piano. The long sound (DAH) is three times as long in
duration as the short sound (DIT). Each letter of the alphabet,
each number and each punctuation mark is composed of a
different combination of these long and short
Since Morse code consists of sound combinations it is
very similar to music. A person listening to the National
Anthem hears only the melody and not the individual notes of
the music. Morse code is quickly mastered by listening for the
"melody" of the letter sound rather than counting the
individual dits and dahs. (Editors
note....learn code by sound, do not count
the dits and dahs.....sound = character!) REPEAT....LEARN EACH
CHARACTER BY SOUND!
The following tips, tricks
and information below was originally designed to aid you in
preparing for the previous Morse code exam but still remain as
extremly valuable methods of learning Morse code! They are based on
preparing for the exam as was required by the FCC. These methods can
be readily applied to actual on the air conversations between
Amateur radio stations using Morse code and will be very valuable to
you when using Morse code on the air."I believe
one of the most rewarding facets of Ham Radio
NUMBER NUMBERS NUMBERS ... KNOW THE NUMBERS It's
difficult to have ten questions about a five minute QSO without four
or five of them requiring numbers. (Call Signs, RST, Antenna Height,
number of tubes, power, age, years a ham....etc)
have a CALL Sign with a DAH DIT DIT DAH DIT ( / ) ...
are required to have all 26 letters, zero thru 9 numbers,
least 4 punctuation marks including the slant bar & procedural
SK. Learn the common configurations for CALLSIGNS like 1x2, 1x3,
& 2x3 ... That way there will be no surprises
if something like WN7OPQ/6
exam was a typical QSO that would last for a little over five
Before the exam there would be a one minute warm-up
to insure that everyone can hear the message. You would be given a
paper to copy both the practice warm-up minute and the QSO . The
QSO would start with a
series of six "V"s and end with the
procedural sign SK.
A passing score was achieved by
answering 7 out of the ten questions
correctly or 25 characters
in a row. (Not counting the V's or Warm up)...
punctuation marks counted 2 and letters counted 1.
is the Call of the receiving station?
What is the location of the
What is the Call of the Transmitting
What is the location of the transmitting
What was the name of the receiving operator?
was the RST report given by the transmitting operator?
the radio being used by the transmitting operator?
What did the
transmitting operator say His power output was?
What type of
antenna did the transmitting operator utilize?
What was the
height of the antenna?
What was the weather described as?
long had the transmitting operator been a Ham?
What was the
reason given for ending the contact?
ADDITIONAL HELP: Learn the
names of as many type of radios as possible...especially the more
common ones like KENWOOD, ICOM, YAESU, TEN-TEC, SWAN, NATIONAL,
HALLICRAFTERS, SBE & HEATHKIT.
Learn the names of the
common antenna configurations..... like DIPOLE,
WINDOM, ZEP, BAZOOKA, YAGI, BEAM, INVERTED VEE, LONGWIRE &
THAT WAY IF YOU COPY A PORTION OF THE RADIO NAME
ANTENNA TYPE IT WILL BE EASIER TO FILL IN THE
Callsigns (If you miss part at first, they will also
be in the closing)..
The first call given is the RECEIVING
operator followed by DE .. and
then the Call of the
Names of the operators (receiving
operator usually near the first of message)
.... Expect short
names like JOE, JIM, JACK, BILL rarely a SAMANTHA or CLEMENTINE but
often a MARY, JILL, BETH
When you hear UR RST or SIGs is/are
--- know there will be three
numbers coming next. Most
likely the first will be a 5 and the last a 9
(know what RST is
....and that the first number is never over 5).... remember, it's
possible to get a RST report like .... 599
W/QSB (with fading).. ....QSB....QRM .....
QRN are the only ones I have ever seen on a 5 WPM
If you miss a Character----FORGET IT (for now)
-- mark your copy
with a "-" or just a space where the letter
should be. These "holes"
can be filled in later.... see
QTH - look for City & State. Sometimes just
the CITY or the STATE is sent.
When you hear weather or WX
it's usually a two word description following.
WARM......... COLD and FREEZING .....DAMP and RAINY)
followed by "TEMPERATURE IS _ _DEGREES"
Type of radio (rig)
--sometimes descriptive like OLD TUBE or QRP but
most often the
name of a manufacturer.... KENWOOD, ICOM or YAESU
NATIONAL, HALLICRAFTERS, SBE, HOMEBREW
& HEATHKIT). ...
be familiar with names of Rig types.
Antenna used. Know
the names of several configurations. DIPOLE, DELTA
LOOP, WINDOM, ZEP, BAZOOKA, YAGI, BEAM, INVERTED VEE,
LONGWIRE & RHOMBIC.
By knowing the configuration names of the
antennas it helps to fill in the "holes" in Your
Comment like "BEEN A HAM 30 YEARS" or "AM IN 12TH
Listen for why ?? QRT........ "I MUST QRT FOR
WORK".... "QRT FOR BED"
for Callsigns. They can be confusing at
Scan your copy - fill in the" holes" of the letters
missed. (GROC_R) most likely GROCER (EN_INEER) likely ENGINEER
.... GET THE IDEA?.... This filling in of the "holes" helps in
getting better copy. A copy of CHICA-O and later adding the G, tells
you the station is in Chicago.
See if QTH corresponds to the
callsigns (KL7XXX should be Alaska--WH6XXX in Hawaii &
etc).... KNOW the Call sign
Look at the "doubtful" ones. Are any a
"toss-up" between 2 responses? Like is it a four or a six? If
it's in a Callsign ..... see if you got Florida for a
location ... Florida is in 4 land.
Look for "tell-tell"
letters in your copy--if a couple of letters
match to what
you have knowledge of , MARK IT. (DI_O__ is likely DIPOLE.... even
if the copy is just D_____ and it's about an antenna it's probably
DIPOLE if the copy is just _a___ and it's about a radio it's
If there is one "I have no idea" it's worth a
guess. If it's a callsign,
Count the numbers You have
If You are missing a ZERO or any other number, put it
in the Callsign that doesn't have a number in Your copy.
an Op says His age is 78, it's likely He's not a go-go dancer. If an
says STUDENT don't expect a number over 20 for age.
a last resort----- EDUCATED GUESS......you can always have the
station re-send that part you did not understand.
All of this is NO substitute for
CW skill and lots of practice however, but it's a sure
thing to help overcome the on the air apprehension when
you are learning and to secure better communication using CW.
Good luck! YOU CAN DO
I would like to know if this information helped
Send Me a message......... email@example.com
is being able to
help others...... and the more widespread the continued use of CW,
... the more Hams can benefit"......73....Bill,
See Bill's 10 Meter
Beacon Information page.......loaded!
On 19 July
2005 the FCC released Notice of Proposed
Rule Making and Order
(NPRM), .... It was acted upon
February 23, 2007 eliminating the Morse code
The Morse requirement WILL BE NO LONGER REQUIRED IN THE U.S
EFFECTIVE February 23, 2007 for any Amateur Radio
Even with the
requirement eliminated by the FCC.....
Morse code will NEVER
be outdated. It will always be a very
reliable method of getting
a message delivered when all else
It has been around for about
100 years and can be used very effectively......
LET IT'S USE DIE!