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10219 Warwick Blvd
Newport News, VA 23601

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Phone (757) 719-3172               Phone/Fax (757) 594-0733

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Radio Info/links



WT4RA....Smithfield Area











Morse Code Practice from W1AW  

US Amateur Band Chart



Tips For Learning Morse Code (CW)

From Chuck Adams, K7QO and Rod Dinkins, AC6V

  1. Start! Whether you use audio cassettes, CDs, computer software, or a partner to send and receive, you won't get anywhere until you get started.
  2. As a small child learns first to crawl, then to walk, and finally, to run, you, too, must learn in steps. Learning Morse code (CW) properly requires both self-study, and the help of someone sending CW to you.
  3. Learn each character as a sound. Morse code is a language of sounds. Never write dots and dashes.
  4. Repetition is the key to remembering anything, including Morse characters. Some folks master it in days, others in months. All who kept at it got it.
  5. The Farnsworth Method is recommended. With the Farnsworth Method, you learn each character at 15 words per minute with large spacing in between characters. This has been proven to be the best method for long-range development. Once the characters are learned, copying speed is easily increased by decreasing the spacing between each character.
  6. Practice, practice, practice. No matter if you learn quickly, or slowly, the key to learning is practice. With enough practice, just about anyone can learn Morse code. Sometimes, skipping a day or two of practice is helpful, and can get you back on track.
  7. You don't need to copy 100%. Being able to copy MOST of what is sent, usually results in a passing grade.
  8. The 5 words-per-minute CW examination is $14.00. If you fail it on the first try, practice some more and try it again. (If you don't feel comfortable trying, wait a little longer. Taking exams you're not prepared for, only results in frustration for you.)
  9. Take advantage of all available practice. Your local area may offer Morse code practice through a 2 Meter Repeater, which you can copy with a scanner. If you have a rig or short-wave receiver, you'll benefit from any CW you hear. Just listen and copy as many characters as you possibly can. Once again, practice will pay off. The more you listen, the more you'll be able to copy and understand. After a while, you'll be copying more characters than you are missing. While driving down the road, I would translate road signs to Morse code in my head - the faster the better.
  10. One of the best ways to practice, is to use the "Buddy System." Get a friend, spouse, relative, or anyone willing to share their time, to learn along with you. Enlist the aid of an experienced CW operator for answering questions, and making sure you don't develop any bad habits.


History Of Morse Code

Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) was a painter and founder of the National Academy of Design. In 1832, while on a ship returning from Europe, he conceived the basic idea of an electromagnetic telegraph. Experiments with various kinds of electrical instruments and codes resulted in a demonstration of a working telegraph set in 1836, and introduction of the circuit relay. This made transmission possible for any distance. With his creation of the American Morse code, the historic message, "What hath God wrought?" was successfully sent from Washington to Baltimore.

The Morse code used in those days differed greatly from that which is used today. Morse code originated on telegraph lines and the original users did not listen to tones but instead to the clicking sounds created by sounders. They used the American Morse code as opposed to today's International Morse. When sending dahs (Morse code is composed of dits or short key closures, and dahs or longer key closures) the user simply sent two close-together dits. This was created by using a conventional code key.

With the advent of radio communications the international Morse became more widespread. Users of the international Morse created dahs with a longer key closure, instead of two close-spaced dits. In order to increase transmission speed on early landline circuits and later on radio circuits, semi-automatic "bug" keys were invented in 1902 and were widely adopted. Bug keys used a vibrating pendulum to create dits and the user still manually creates the dahs.

In more recent times, the user can employ keyers that electronically create dits and dahs. Iambic keyers have a memory so that the user can operate a mechanical "paddle" quicker than the keying rate of the keyer. This makes for very comfortable and nearly effortless keying.

Today experienced operators copy received text without the need to write as they receive, and when transmitting, can easily converse at 20 to 30 words per minute. Morse code will always remain a viable means of providing highly reliable communications during difficult communications conditions.

In Conclusion...

If you have any questions, additions or comments regarding this Web page, please email your messages to the person listed below. All comments and corrective criticism are appreciated and acknowledged.

Norm Fusaro, W3IZ
ARRL Affiliated Club/Mentor Program Manager
[860] 594-0230
Fax: 860-594-0259



E-mail to hiltonsport@aol.com