Morse Code

Morse code became an optional element in amateur radio in 2003 and the UK and many countries have removed Morse code from their licence requirements.

Morse code  

Morse code became an optional element in amateur radio in 2003 and the UK and many countries have removed Morse code from their licence requirements.

But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t relevant on today’s crowded and noisy bands.

If you listen to the bottom end of most of the HF bands such as 40m or 20m it is far from dead and CW is being used by increasing numbers of amateurs. The reason is simple. Morse code gets through when SSB fails.

Amateurs around the world work distant countries every day using CW a 100 watts of power or less and basic wire antennas, when single side band signals from those same countries are virtually inaudible. A CW signal can have between a 10dB – 20dB advantage over an SSB one.

An SSB signal usually occupies 2.5 KHz. An FM signal approximately 10 KHz but a CW QSO can take place in a bandwidth of about 300 Hz. So because you are listening to a single tone in a narrow bandwidth your brain can filter out QRM and noise from nearby electrical wiring, domestic TV sets, power line transmission and other nearby electrical equipment.

Here are some reasons for learning CW.

It is easier to work contest stations and DXpeditions using CW and they of course are listening and want to work you.

If you are interested in gaining awards the DXCC award is easier using CW, you could probably work 25 – 30 countries around Europe in a weekend.

Repeaters identify themselves with Morse code so you will be able to find out which one you are listening too

Beacons use Morse to identify themselves so you can determine the MUF and if a band is open by listening to the beacon section on that band.

CW transmitters are straightforward to build, don’t under estimate the fun and satisfaction that comes from contacts on a piece of equipment that you have made.

Using simple wire antennas, low power and CW you will make more contacts than any other mode. Even within a Foundation licence power limit your 10 Watts will make plenty of DX contacts.

Learning CW

Rod G4ZUP teaches CW at the club on Friday evenings and on air on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings 18.00 – 1900 hours 432.300Mhz CW & talk back on SSB. An informal rag chew and practice between Graham 2E0IIT & Paul G0GMY at 16.00 hours Saturday afternoons. We use vertical polarised antennas pointed at the Chilerton Radio Mast. Please contact Graham 2E0IIT our secretary for more information.

How I re-learnt Morse Code

There are many ways of doing this. In my view the best is one to one training, or in a small group.

The secret is practice, try to learn the alphabet letters at 20-25 WPM so that you get used to the musical sound of each letter. Start with just 5 letters not necessarily ABCDE. Set the gap between the letters so that they are widely spaced write the letters on a piece of paper, once you are copying the letters with 90% accuracy add another 5 letters and so on, as you gain accuracy you will find you have time to think between the letters, that is not good so close the gap and carry on. The idea is to train your brain so that as you hear the sound, you write the letter down with no thinking involved. Go at your own pace don’t worry about others learning faster. If you practise once or twice a day for twenty minutes you will learn the alphabet quite quickly. In conjunction with Rod G4ZUPs tuition I used a free Morse training program called Just learn Morse Code available as a free download here :- 

Once you have the alphabet and numbers it is practice, practice, practice and Rods evening net has been of great help to me. I have recently been putting my new skill to the test and have worked the Falklands with Rods help setting up the sked and in the recent Oceania contest New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia using just 90 Watts and a long wire antenna. I am now hooked on CW and so pleased and grateful to Rod for teaching me.

Paul G0GMY

Contact us

Graham Coleman M5IIT

Club Secretary

07976 328016

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