January 20, 1997
Now why the hell am
I writing this ? I never liked CW, or to be
more precise, I was pretty much indifferent to it. Today, I am still
a big fan of it, but I must admit that its nice to know.
Over the years many have tried to study Morse code, many have failed.
Even I tried to study Morse a few years ago, but gave up
after a while. Today I can decode Morse at a rate of 17 Wpm. I am
writing this paper as a study guide for people that want to learn Morse
but find it challenging. This paper does not reflect in any way about
of Morse Code to the Amateur-Radio service nor does it reflect upon the
licensing requirements set by most governments. The only thing I want
achieve in this short article is to help other people to successfully
master this old art.
Get on with it, how do we do it ?
I think that the
first thing you should learn are the following two
I think that by
accepting these two statements you are ready to begin
your journey into the DI-DAH world.
The idea behind the first statement is that Morse code is a physical
skill, not an equation you have to memorize (this is probably why
engineers find it hard to study Morse Code). In order to master it you
have to do three things: practice,
practice again, and practice even
more. There is no humanly way to master a good skill without
practicing. So if you have no intention of putting time and effort into
it, don't even bother trying (seriously).
- Learning Morse takes time and effort.
- Each person has a
different comprehension level.
statement comes to make you aware of the fact that each of us
has a different learning curve. In practical terms, this means that
there is no right or wrong way to
learn Morse Code. If someone suggests a system and you are not making
progress, then the system may be wrong for you, but this does
you cannot learn Morse Code.
Here is my
list of suggestions that may help you:
- Study a couple of times a day. I
think that practicing a couple of times a day helps us by being
frequent enough to remember, but not too frequent to burn out.
- Make each study session about 20-30 minutes
long. Don't force
yourself to cram for two hours. Most people I know (including me) get
distracted after about 30 minutes, and if you force yourself to
the beeps will start sounding like machine guns. Lets face it, after a
while, your brain just shuts down. When that happens, it's time to
put the headphones down.
- Pay attention to what characters you are
having a hard time with,
and practice with just those characters until you feel confident. I
found out that I had a harder time with the four sign
characters, so I practiced them for a week, and then added them up with
everything else. Sometimes having a problem with just one character
could cause you to loose a couple more while receiving.
- Use headphones, it will make it easier to
hear the code. With
headphones you will not suffer from multipath distortion created by
the room you are in. This is greatly appreciated when you reach speeds
of above 12 Wpm.
- Use the Farnsworth method. This
means that you set the character
speed to the speed which you want to achieve and the letter spacing to
your current speed (which will be low at first). This way, when you get
better, you will only change the character spacing leaving the
characters length the same. When I studied for 13 Wpm, I set the
character speed to 18
Wpm and worked up to a character speed of 13 Wpm. Now that I am working
Extra class, I set the character speed to 20 Wpm and am working up to a
letter speed of 20 Wpm.
Now What ?
Now that you know
my secrets, its up to you to adapt whatever works for
you. I think that the most important thing to keep in mind is that you
need to find the system that works best for you. If some of the
suggestion don't work for you, drop them, and if you have some
techniques - use them.
I think that once you have established your own system, its not such a
big deal to get ahead. It will just take some time.
I did not discuss
the tools I used in this article because I don't
think or know enough about all the tools that are out there. Some of my
friends swear that using the computer is best, and some just love the
pre-recorded cassettes - but I have ended up
I bought Radio-Shack's cassettes (by Gordon West) and used them to
learn the basic characters. When I was done with them, I was ready
a 6 Wpm novice exam. At that stage, I started making my own cassettes
using Morse Tutor Gold, and a
small program I wrote. The program I
generates random fives of the characters I want, and I use MTG to play
it on the computer so I can record it onto a cassette.
Again, I do not suggest any vendor or media. Try a couple out and see
what works best for you.
I hope this short writeup helps you learn Morse Code!
If you have any comments I would be happy to hear
January 9, 2007: As of late last month, the FCC has eliminated Morse
Code as a requirement for General and Extra class licenses. Some are
happy, some are in mourning. One thing is for sure - our hobby is
evolving. Who knows what the future may hold for it?
Copyright 1996-2007 KiloXray.com
To contact me, send an email to webmaster (at) kiloxray (dot) com
Page last updated January 9, 2007
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