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CW Practice on the Internet:

from Ted Wagner on February 19, 2003
Website: http://www.unitedstatesmilitarytelegraph.org/contents.html
View comments about this article!

CW on the Internet? You're kidding, right? No, I'm not. If you are a little rusty, you find HF a bit too crowded, you don't have HF equipment, you want to practice for your CW 5wpm test, or for any other host of reasons for using CW off the air, you can use CW over the internet!

There are several ways to accomplish this. I will mention two excellent methods for transmitting CW over the Internet. The first method is through a program called MorseMail. The MorseMail website can be found via this URL:

http://www.seanet.com/~harrypy/MorseMail/

MorseMail is simply a program that takes advantage of XML programming and allows you to record your CW via a bug, key or mouse. From this recorded CW you can copy and paste it into an email message or you can send it through to the MorseMail server or "repeater". Currently, the "repeater" method is used most often.

The repeater is a server program which records and stores the recorded messages sent via the MorseMail client programs. A recorded message would look like the following:

< MorseMail >
+168-56+56-56+168-56+56-168 +168-56+168-56+56-56+168-392+168-56 +56-56+168-56+56-168+168-56+168-56 +56-56+168-392+168-56+56-56+168-56 +56-168+168-56+168-56+56-56+168-392 +168-56+56-56+56-168+56-392+168-56 +56-56+168-168+168-56+168-56+168-56 +168-56+56-168+168-168+56-56+168-56 +56-168+56-56+168-56+168-392+168-56 +56-56+168-168+168-56+168-56+168-56 +168-56+56-168+168-168+56-56+168-56 +56-168+56-56+168-56+168-392+168-56 +56-56+168-168+168-56+168-56+168-56 +168-56+56-168+168-168+56-56+168-56 +56-168+56-56+168-56+168-392+168-56 +56-56+168-500
< /MorseMail >

[Note: You will need to drop the blank spaces between "MorseMail" and the < and > tags, at the beginning and end. The spaces had to be added in order for the text to show up in this article. HTML thing... -- ed.]

The numbers indicate tone and lack of tone. Basically, it's a time representation of your transmitted CW. You literally copy the code above including the < MorseMail > and < /MorseMail > tags and paste it into the MorseMail program and click play if someone sent this to you via email. If you were to do this on this message, you'd hear the following in CW:

cq cq cq de k9trw k9trw k9trw k

By default, however, you can connect to a MorseMail server and either "listen" for new CW transmissions or throw a call out there yourself. Through this method, there's no cutting and pasting needed.

The program allows you to connect a straight key or bug through the serial or USB ports of your computer. Harry Pyle, AB7TB is the brainchild of this wonderful program and has included information on how to connect your mouse to a key or bug.

This was my first exposure to CW over the Internet. For further detailed information on this program, please visit his website and give the program a try.

The second program, which allows you to send CW over the Internet, is a program called CW Communicator. This program can be reviewed and downloaded from the following website:

http://www.mrx.com.au/d_cwcom.htm

John Samin, VK1EME is the author and brainchild of this program.

http://www.mrx.com.au

This client program connects to an "ionosphere" server. The ionosphere server is a virtual representation of the radio airwaves. The program is setup so that you can connect to "channels". A channel can represent a frequency. For instance, if I wanted to connect to channel 7125 this would be a representation of 7.125 MHz on the 40-meter band.

By default, however, the program connects to channel 1000. This could be considered the gathering place for initial CW contacts via this program. Everyone connects to this channel when they initially connect to the ionosphere server unless they've changed the program's settings.

With CW Communicator, you can also connect a straight key or bug to your computer. Once the connection to your key is setup just right you're ready to go.

CW communicator is a good program to use if you are new to CW or need some practice. By default the translation option of this program is turned on. If you're CW timing is good, then the translation should work. Every time you key dit-dit-dit and if your timing is right, you should get an 'S'. If you get an 'I' and an 'E', then you either need to work on your timing or tweak the settings of the keyer in the program.

For those of you who know CW but perhaps don't use it, this will help you with your timing. If you have a straight key, this is excellent practice for getting on the air.

My purpose in writing this brief article wasn't to give an in-depth overview of these programs but to give you an option of how to use alternatives for communicating, practicing or learning CW over the Internet.

You technicians out there, there's no reason you can't learn and practice CW to upgrade your license to general class. There are MANY people out there who are willing to help you learn. I used MorseMail in the year 2000 to practice CW for my test. That practice helped me to pass my test. I hope these programs can also help you practice and learn CW as it has for me.

Member Comments:
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CW Practice on the Internet:  
by W7COM on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Looks wonderful. I'm a no-code myself and this is the type of thing I'm looking for. One question: is this an open standard? The reason I ask is that it seems only available for use on Microsoft operating systems. Is there a port for any of the Unix/BSD/Linux/MacOS systems?

Sometimes, running BSD, I feel like the guys building stations out of tube gear :)

-Joe W7COM
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by N8VCL on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
It's a cool little program. I have a little trouble keying with the mouse, but it's still a great way to use CW and thereby increase your proficiency!

73, DE N8VCL
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by N5XM on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
There are all kinds of ways to learn CW, you just need to find a method that you like. The most important thing is to work at it every day. Like learning a new language, if you don't use it you don't retain it. Sending is as important as copying, all things being equal. You'll be judged by your fist before you will be judged by your ear anyway. If you have a terrible fist, folks will be saying "best 73" before you can blink. CW is fantastic, but not something you can get instant gratification from starting at square zero. Whatever method you use, be persistent, and patient and you will succeed.
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by WA2JJH on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Seems like the BEST idea to learn or brush up on CW yet.
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by K6SDW on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Also, I'm sure everyone knows, ARRL website has available practice CW WAV files that can be downloaded and run from your PC....at work I'm stuck on the stinkin' phone 10 hours a week and not much action so I plug an earpiece to one ear and run the practice sessions while awaiting the phone that never rings!! Works very Kool indeed.....

73 all....k6sdw
 
RE: CW Practice on the Internet:  
by KA4KOE on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I disagree Mike. The best way to improve CW speed is to receive it under normal and ACTUAL band conditions, with QRN and QRM massaging that gray tissue under the tough shell of your noggin'! This may be weird, but when I was 16 and listening with my HW-8 before taking my novice test, the first word I copied in toto was "m i k e". No funnin. Strange but true.

P
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by W3DCG on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hey, whatever floats your boat, if Internet CW gets one going, cool!

Get that speed up, and then...
bathe planet Earth in Morse, I say!

Fledgling CW people, Rock On!

I just love it when the CW segments are so packed I have to flick on the 250 Hz InRad...
 
RE: CW Practice on the Internet:  
by K8ZO on February 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Just be sure that you "copy" with a paper and pencil. That is the way you will do it when you take the test. Long hand script is faster than printing. A mistake I have seen is the copy is done on the computer then when it comes time to do it with a pencil the speed goes away.

K8ZO
 
RE: CW Practice on the Internet:  
by W1AWB on February 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
If you care to look beyond the test, copying real ops under actual band conditions is definitely the way to go. I have an audio out on my Omni V and have a line to my soundcard. My goal is the 30-40 wpm area but any goal will work. I burned a couple CDs of prime time 40 meter CW to play in my car and it has been wonderful. Its one thing to copy absolutely perfect code with all the words spelled out, but lets face it, a lot of the words on the ARRL broadcasts you aren't going to use in casual QSOs. Especially the broadcasts concerned with the F.C.C. petitions. The real off the air CDs I use have all sorts of abbreviations you hear over and over again on the air along with a variety of idiosyncratic sending practices. (bad spacing, bug use etc.)Not to mention all the QRM, QRN and QSB you get. Of course you have to keep changing out the CDs as you learn the QSOs but blank CDs are cheap. This makes for a more seamless transition to operating at your goal speed on the air than working with computer programs or ARRL tapes though all of these methods work.
Andy W1AWB
 
Just do it - make a QSO  
by KF6IIU on February 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The hams in the novice subbands are the best - at least the ones that come back to our slow speed CQ's :-). Make contacts! The hardest part of operating CW is not sending and receiving the perfectly-formed code a computer puts out - it's copying a strange fist whose dots are nearly as long as his dashes, or somebody who just bought a paddle and is putting an extra dit in every third character. Operating at 5 to 10 wpm will teach patience, and lead up to the next two hard things about code - copying in your head, overcoming the "wall" we all hit at 8 to 13 wpm, and figuring out where to jump in when the big dogs are running a new country at 7000.01 khz and 30 wpm.

I just started making CW QSOS this new year, and it's hard work: the payoff, besides the patience and friendliness of CW practicioners, and occasionally gving a ham a new state or county, will be down the line when the bands above 10 mhz will be starved for sunspots for days at a time.
 
RE: Just do it - make a QSO  
by KA4KOE on February 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
AWB:

"Bug use" is hard to copy? The offenders haven't mastered the boogers apparently. Good bug CW is music!

P
 
RE: Just do it - make a QSO  
by W1AWB on February 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
to KA4KOE:
Did I say bugs were hard to copy? I don't think I did.
But if your primary experience is copying perfect code off your computer or from ARRL broadcasts and you go on 80 meters where the many bug ops reign you may be in for a rude awakening. And I meant absolutely no disrespect to all the bug ops out there, unless suggesting getting a little practice copying them is disrespectful. I would think they would appreciate it.
Sending well with a bug is an art form and a beautiful thing.
Andy W1AWB
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by WA2JJH on February 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
A good vibroplex ham can send great CW. As good as an electronic keyer. Yes you have to keep your BUG in good order. Make the adjustments just right. My bug skills were never that great so I use a Keyer.

It is yet another personal choice in Ham Radio.
I guess a Vibroplex is like driving a car with a stick shift, instead of Autotransmission. If mastered, It will blow the Auto out of the water.

I have a vintage Vibroplex. I do not go on the air with it because I got too used to an electronic Keyer.

I have no trouble copying a good BUG operator.
 
RE: CW Practice on the Internet:  
by W1AWB on February 21, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Ok. I'm gonna try this one more time. I ABSOLUTELY
did NOT mean to denigrate the skill, readability, integrity, ancestry or eating habits of the bug ops. All I was trying to say was that it has been beneficial to me while trying to up my copying speed to go to the bands (I prefer 40 and 80 meters for this) and get some real world experience copying real ops that may be difficult for me. I like to burn CDs for use in my car.
The fact is, I send out a CQ once in a while and if someone comes back to me I try my best to make the QSO work....regardless of how easy or difficult the other op is to copy. There are guys out there that are sharp with a bug or paddles or a straight key. And there are those that are hard to copy. Sometimes I am too. Big deal. I always try to make the QSO with no excuses.
Now...please...this was not meant to insult the paddle
ops, the straight key users, OTs, newcomers, Vibroplex fans or ANYBODY ELSE! I was just excited about stumbling onto something that helped me and I thought it might be useful to somebody else too.
Andy W1AWB

>CW Practice on the Internet: Reply
by WA2JJH on February 20, 2003
>A good vibroplex ham can send great CW. As good as an electronic keyer. Yes you have to keep your BUG in good order. Make the adjustments just right. My bug skills were never that great so I use a Keyer.

>It is yet another personal choice in Ham Radio.
I guess a Vibroplex is like driving a car with a stick shift, instead of Autotransmission. If mastered, It will blow the Auto out of the water.

>I have a vintage Vibroplex. I do not go on the air with it because I got too used to an electronic Keyer.

>I have no trouble copying a good BUG operator.

 
RE: CW Practice on the Internet:  
by KA4KOE on February 21, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Down boys, down!!! Mike don't pick on AWB, he's a good fella with a good heart!!

I have personally been on the receiving end of some absolutely atrocious CW, so much so it gave me a screaming headache. Fortunately, propogation would mysteriously drop out and the other guy couldn't hear me anymore. I just didn't have the heart to tell him the horrible truth.

Mike has heard my CW. Let me tell you honestly though, using a bug is like playing the piano, you must do it regularly. Heck, I've been using one for 23 years, and I still make mistakes. If I'm tired, forget it. The little dits and dahs don't make letter and numbers in my brain after that.

:)

CW FOREVER! DOWN WITH VOICE!!! I again restate my previous statement in another topic that all hams should have their vocal cords removed, and just whistle morse to communicate with the spouse and tribe.

Philip
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by WA2JJH on February 22, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
OK Philip I was not attacking AWB at all. Us CW folk got to stick together. You read some of the other articals, and you see people wanting a NO-CODE GENERAL TICKET! What ever means anybody uses to keep CW alive and kicking is good. Be it internet, or My sooj to be dreaded 10 watt IR laser driven YAG 535nM(green laser)
CW transmitter/scalpel/directed energy weapon.

Philip what are your eating habits? Also should I decide to use my Green Yag laser to remove my vocal chords, How is anybody going to hear my ultra perfect
HI-FI SSB RF SPEECH PROCESSOR in action?

73 and laugh's MIKE
 
RE: CW Practice on the Internet:  
by W3DCG on February 22, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
"IR laser driven YAG 535nM(green laser)
CW transmitter/scalpel/directed energy weapon"

Hhhhhmmmmmn... Sounds like a Light Saber.

CW Forever,
The Jedi Live.
 
RE: CW Practice on the Internet:  
by VE3WMB on February 22, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have actually found that MorseMail can be used in another way, to record and playback your own sending. There is a limit to how long of a message you can record, but it is still helpful to be able to record and play back. Hint, if you can't copy your own sending you shouldn't be subjecting others to it!


Michael VE3WMB
 
CW Practice on the Internet:  
by W8FAX on February 25, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Besides.....think of all the money you will save....don't need a rig....a ticket....an antenna...QSL cards...etc etc. GREAT way to get into ham radio. Whatever you do, DON"T get on the air and practice.............Al/W8FAX
 
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