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HOWTO: Getting Started with CW
radio : by Tommy - October 18th 2011, 05:50PM
It's been a year since my post about Morse Code: Brief History, and I figure I might as well shed some light on how to get started operating with Morse Code. Since the Morse code requirement for ham radio was lifted in 2007, the number of amateurs getting their HF privileges has grown substantially, but with the "repeal" of code, entry level Technicians are granted privileges in certain portions of the bands. Most commonly, Technicians can operate SSB in the 10m band, but can also operate CW, or Morse Code, in 80m, 40m, 15m, and 10m. So, if you're a ham, you already have privileges to operate CW - you just need to learn where to start.

Learning the Code
For starters, you will need to learn Morse Code, one way or another. (duh.) While it may not be the universally agreed upon best way, I learned Morse Code through the Code Quick program. It really is an easy way to learn and quickly remember the code. There are countless gimmicks and "5 Minute Ab"-type programs that try to rush you through the learning process as fast as humanly possible, but few are ever successful. You just can't hurry the learning process. The downside of the CodeQuick method is not immediately known until you're trying to copy signals that are faster and faster. Once you hit about 10wpm, the CodeQuick lessons that you've used as a crutch finally become a hindrance and make copying code faster more difficult. The big plus is how quickly you'll learn the code in relatively enjoyable lessons compared to other methods.
Another alternative to learning the code is one of dozens of Koch method trainers. The Koch method, and most others, ram the code into your head seemingly through brute force.

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tags: ham radio cw morse code howto

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Morse Code: A Brief History
radio : by Tommy - October 18th 2010, 10:12PM
Most people know the important life-saving phrase Di-di-dit da-da-dah di-di-dit (SOS), but that's about it when it comes to Morse Code. Many people know that Morse Code was named after its inventor, Samuel Morse but not much more. Fewer people know that the use of Morse Code still persists (unless, of course, you know someone that uses it on a semi-regular basis!).

Morse Code is the oldest form of telecommunication still in use. It got its start when the legendary Samuel F. B. Morse, an artist by trade, began to experiment with methods to communicate via the relatively new field of electricity. Morse's system of communication was not the first form of telegraphy, nor was his invention the only electric telegraph. But he did invent a language of dits and dahs that, by way of a few revisions, remains in use to this day. (The history of the telegraph, interesting in its own right, is beyond the scope of this outline.)

Ham radio operators are perhaps the most notorious users of this antiquated form of communication, but not the only users. Navy signalmen use Morse Code when manning the Signal Lamp and aviators make use of the Code as a way of identifying directional beacons.

Morse Code has undergone few revisions since its inception. Morse's original code was a bit cumbersome, but the idea was there and several letters have remained unchanged. Morse originally planned the letters to leave imprints on a printed tape, but over time the code was learned by operators and the incoming signal was able to be decoded by ear rather than on paper. In order to speed up transmission, Morse gave the most frequently used letters the shortest signals. (E gets a single ‘dit’ and T gets a single ‘dah’) Identifying the most frequently used letters, Morse counted letters in a copy of the newspaper.

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tags: morse code ham radio cw

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