Beginner's Morse Code
Morse Code, also known as CW (continuous wave) has been around since the mid 1800's. The American Samuel Morse was a co-inventor of the morse code.
Firstly, I would like to say that I am no expert when it comes to morse code. I only have my own experiences to go by which I am fortunate to have had over the past 40 odd years since I obtained my Ham Radio licence back in 1970. Learning morse code for a lot of people seems to be an unachievable goal but with determination and persistence it can become a reality for you.
Each number and letter of the alphabet is represented by a series of dots and dashes which can be thought of as dits and dahs. There are many ways to send morse code via Ham Radio. From straight keys to computer keyboards. Most people learn to send morse using a straight key. The lever is moved up and down using the thumb and the next two fingers. Dits and dahs are generated manually when the key is connected to an oscillator. The mechanical 'Bug' (shown) sends dits and dahs by pushing the handle in a sideways fashion. Because of spring tension a stream of dits can be sent automatically and dahs manually. With practise, by manipulating the lever both to the right and left the correct sequence of code is able to be sent. This is called a semi automatic key (only the dits are automatic). The beauty of the bug is that less effort is required and very rhythmical morse code can be sent because the length of the dahs can be altered to produce the rhythm. Code sent by a bug can sound distinctive and after a time you can recognize the operator using a bug by their style of sending the code.
Straight key Vibroplex Bug
Electronic keyers (oscillators) produce near perfect wave forms of dits and dahs. The 'paddle' or key is plugged into the electronic keyer and manipulated sideways to regulate them. When in the rest position no code is sent but when pushed to the right and left, a stream of dits and dahs respectively is sent. This is a fully automatic keyer. The skill is in manipulating the paddle to produce the series of dits and dahs to correspond with the text you want to send. Practise will enable you to control the paddle. Higher speeds can be achieved by using an electronic keyer.
Morse code can also be sent via Ham Radio by using a computer keyboard to type your message. When receiving morse code, it can be decoded and displayed on your computer screen using suitable software such as MixW.
An electronic keyer Computer generated CW
The Internet can provide you with many resources to help you with learning morse code. The website Dxzone/morse code has many sites devoted to doing just that. Various methods are available to help you learn the code. eg. LCWO.net. To practise sending CW you will need a morse code (audio) oscillator and a hand key which can be obtained from a Ham Radio retailer such as MFJ. You can build your own oscillator if you prefer. The ARRL handbook has suitable circuits.
As well as using suitable software available on the Internet, practise copying morse code by listening to your Ham radio. The lower portions of the HF bands are where you will find Amateurs chatting to each other using this mode of communication. Of course, most stations will be sending too fast for you to copy. 80 metres of a night time is a good place to practise receiving. There are morse code nets where Hams send CW slowly so that beginners can improve their copying skills. The Ham Radio association in your country will be able to help you with information about these CW nets. The ARRL's headquarters station W1AW also transmits morse sessions at regular schedules.
In looking back, I think that nowadays I would learn morse code in shorter periods of time and fairly often rather than go all out to learn the code. I think it took me about six months to reach a point where I was reasonably proficient. I found as time went on, there were moments where for no apparent reason my code speed seemed to suddenly increase but it was the accumulation of the work done that enabled the sudden increases of speed to eventually occur.
But everyone is different. You will have to find what works for you but the underlying principle still applies and that is 'practice makes for improvement.'
Rate this page at DXZone.com
Feel free to rate this page.