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Why Learn the Code?

Gisle J Bjoerneseth (LA5EKA) on March 17, 2003
View comments about this article!

Why learn the Code ?

The answer is quite simple. A while ago I realized that Morse code is the heart and soul of amateur radio. There are plenty of discussions on how obsolete/inefficient/difficult Morse code is, and quite soon it will not be required by the ITU to learn Morse code to gain access to the HF bands. For me, all this is irrelevant. Why? Well, I was earlier a "no code tech". Got my tech license so that I could play with radios and whatever. I soon got quite bored, however, by old geezers on the repeaters, the odd satellite QSO now and then, and some packet radio experiments every blue moon. I then started with FM ATV experiments, trying to whip up some local activity, but still no thrill.

One day however, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a multimode 70cm rig. After working the repeaters on FM with it, I wanted to try out the "multimode" capabilities. I found out there was some kind of "test" going on every once in a while on 70cm. I didn't know what a test was, or what they were testing, but I joined using SSB, and soon found out about the monthly 70cm NAC tests (Nordic Activity Contest). It was fun for a while, but kind of "cool but no cigar". I heard a lot of Morse code on these 70cm tests, and to me it was all gibberish.

After a while I got my hands on a multimode 2m rig, and could now participate in the 144MHz NAC tests as well. On 144MHz the activity was tenfold of that on 70cm -- more stations to work, and more fun. Both these rigs had a jack on the rear panel for connecting a Morse code key. I started playing with the thought that perhaps I too could connect something to that hole in the back and get more test points and QSOs by hammering on a key? I found SSB contacts really hard sometimes, when band conditions were bad, but still I could in fact hear them, but not well enough for a contact. And aurora was quite impossible on 2m SSB.

Perhaps if I could... The CW ops seemed to work them perhaps I could... I decided to "look into" the matter. I searched the Internet for software and clues on how people usually learned the code. I read a lot of articles on how and why, don't and why not etc... So all in all I found quite a bit of info, and thought I had what I needed. However, I had a nagging feeling that something was wrong, so I did nothing. It wasn't until I read about the Koch experiments I understood what was it was. By reading the Koch paper, all the pieces fell into place.

Six weeks later I was using Morse code efficiently in the 144MHz and 432Mhz NAC tests. Working aurora late nights, enjoying the casual CW QSO with some station in Denmark or far east Sweden when conditions were adequate. Since I only had to take a Morse code test to get an A license, of course I did it. LA5EKA emerged from LC4PAT the 8th of June 2000. I was working both SSB and Morse code day and night. With new HF privileges there was a world of opportunities out there. There seemed to be no end to the excitement. I realized that I was having great fun, and that this was what amateur radio was about.

Now, almost three years after I started learning the code, I'm still as excited as ever when working HF. Though now I mainly do CW. In 2002 I had 95% CW, 0.3% PSK and 4.7% SSB. There is something magic about the Morse code. It's much easier to use than SSB, by far. Even when conditions are good, I think. No mumbling, no language problems, no constant phonetic repeating of LIMA ALPHA FIVE ECHO KILO ALPA to an operator with no ears, no ZOO like pileups, no need for kilowatt amplifiers etc...

If I hadn't started out learning the code and using it, I would still be sitting there, listening to the repeaters, whining about my technician privileges, talking down the CW ops etc... But as I said, I've gotten in touch with the heart and soul of amateur radio, and I am enjoying every minute of it. I feel sorry for all the "radio amateurs to be" in the future, feeling that they don't have to learn the code. Some of them will realize what they are missing, and learn it, but I fear that most will not.

Ok, now a comment to you digital mode people, writhing with frustration about my opinions of the "obsolete" Morse code. I'm sorry guys, but I find no challenge whatsoever in typing on a keyboard, and using a computer to decode the incoming data. It's ok for casual ragchewing I guess, and every once in a while it can be fun. I work daily with computers, and have plenty of people I can chat with using IRC and the like on the Internet. There's no more challenge in that than running PSK from my shack at home. It works fine, and is efficient in many ways, but alas, very boring. I find it a bit like flying on a commercial plane from one place to another; you're just sitting there, not actually flying the thing. Not much to brag about is it? And at last, I can communicate with others by banging two sticks together, blinking a lamp, blowing a whistle, or even using smoke signals. Can you do that with your computers?

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Why Learn the Code?  
by W4BQF on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Congrats Gisle. But be careful as you may have been bitten by a lifetime 'bug'! I'm glad to hear newer hams who 'try it all' and then find the joys and pleasures of operating CW. I've been at it just a little longer than you, and I have tried almost all of the modes available to us, but after an initial fascination, I ALWAYS come right back to CW operation. The very neat thing about our hobby is the vast amount of things you can do in it, and I urge you to continue to try them all. But now that you've been bitten by the CW bug, I bet you too, will find it your preferable method of operation.

53 years as a CW lover!
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by KA4KOE on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Can I have a hallejuah!!!! AMEN!!!

Besides, people crowd around and ask what is the vibrating gadget you're sending morse with at Field Day.

Why Learn the Code?  
by WB2TLQ on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, congratulations Gisle!

I just wanted to pop in with a few quick comments. I also started amateur radio as a no-code Tech, and am now an "extra-lite", that is a 5wpm HF license. I used to be an "anti-coder" but have changed my thinking.

Like you I now see CW as a vibrant active mode, not quite the heart and soul of amateur radio, but extremely useful. And yes, as the only human copiable digital mode it has advantages that PSK and its cousins can never match -- at least until computers and radios become the size of wristwatches.

I am also glad that you found CW voluntarily :) As things stand now, not learning (or being able to learn) CW is its own punishment. In the good old days people got extra frequency privledges by learning CW -- and they still do! A no-coder such as myself is effectively barred from half the HF spectrum. And judging from the packet spots, missing some pretty rare Dx countries as well.

So kudos to you for learning a new skill and opening new modes of operation! However, I still don't think that CW should be an entry requirement to amatuer radio or HF. When people voluntarily come to see the value in something like you have the effect is much stronger than when one is "forced" to learn something. Also, the mention of Morse Code among the general public (which is afterall where new hams come from) conjures up an image of a turn of the century (i.e.19th century, not 21st) railway station, not a modern communications set up.

So I say, let them in -- soon enough they will discover CW just as you did. And if they don't, c'est la vie, that's just more room for you and your friends on that part of the bands!


Bill, WB2TLQ
Wausau, WI
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by WA4DOU on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Could we have a round of applause for Gisle please?
Why Learn the Code?  
by WB2WIK on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, and I agree with you.

CW won't be replaced anytime soon. Much as Echolink, IRLP and other internet-based comms backbones won't replace HF DXing, and much as the automobile hasn't replaced bicycles (or horses), no new digital mode, regardless of efficiency or ease of use, will replace CW.

I'm pretty certain CW will be with us 100 years from now.


RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by APPLET on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Great Article!

I personally, am not proficient in CW (only about 5 -10 wpm). I have nothing against CW or CW operators.I recognize CW to be one of the operating modes in amateur radio just as SSB or any other type of mode.
I do however, enjoy listening to "foreign" voices, even if there is a language barrier. I enjoy listening to all kinds of different languages you hear on the HF frequencies. I think SSB voice has a more "personal" aspect to a QSO than CW.

RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by KD6JLS on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
"and much as the automobile hasn't replaced bicycles (or horses), no new digital mode, regardless of efficiency or ease of use, will replace CW."

Of course, at least the states aren't silly enough to require a horseback riding exam to get a driver's license. That would make about as much sense as continuing to require a CW test.

I'm all for people volluntarilly chosing to learn CW, but the need to mandate it went out shortly after the need to learn horseback riding.
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by KD7KGX on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
In most states, you can't drive a tractor-trailer or other large vehicle without an advanced driver's license.

Think of the no-code Tech license as the basic drivers license... and when you want to drive something really neat like a motorcycle or large RV or truck then you need to get the more advanced license. The same is true with ham radio... when you want to operate on the really neat bands, you need to learn a little more.

CW is the heart and soul of ham radio!
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by WB2WIK on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
...and then, think of one of the major worldwide HF-DX contests as the Indy 500. Only for the best of the best operators in the world, as only the best can compete. And all of them, even the ones entering the Phone contests, know CW and use it.

Does CW knowledge and proficiency make some hams better people? Of course not. Does it help make them better operators? Absolutely, it's indisputable.

Why Learn the Code?  
by K0RGR on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I don't have any statistics to back it up, but I suspect that the dropout rate for those who learn the code is miniscule compared to that for no-coders.

Today, Johnny goes to the trouble to either actually learn the material or memorize some 500-odd questions, and passes a written exam. Then, in order to save money, he starts out with an HT. He either finds that he can't hit the local repeaters with his rubber ducky, or if he does, he finds himself talking to the same small group all the time. Echolink, satellites, weak signal stuff, and even just a better antenna and rig for FM can certainly help relieve the boredom, but there is no substitute for HF in the evening. That's where you will find the other half of the ham population.

The rewards for learning the code greatly outweigh the time you'll invest. Even if you never become really proficient with a key, you'll at least have access to the voice and digital modes on HF - where you'll be able to find QSO's at all hours of the day and night - only rarely working the same people, unless you want to.

International Treaties aren't looking too good right now, but I suspect ITU will remove the International Morse requirement this year. When that happens, I hope we will see a new no-code entry license with very limited HF priveleges - with the current 5 WPM requirement retained for General priveleges.

Why Learn the Code?  
by KA2LIM on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Glad you found the key to enjoyment in this hobby. Remember; "WITHOUT CW IT'S JUST CB" .

Why Learn the Code?  
by KB0LUR on March 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
"No mumbling, no language problems, no constant phonetic repeating of LIMA ALPHA FIVE ECHO KILO ALPA to an operator with no ears, no ZOO like pileups, no need for kilowatt amplifiers etc..."

...and it's difficult to be rude conversing in Morse. A great equalizer.
Why Learn the Code?  
by KC0IOX on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I am a "newer" ham, having just been licensed 2 1/2 years. After I got bored with repeaters, and did phone on HF, I got interested in CW. I like it because it's fun. Also, you can have some great QSOs on lower power if RF interferance is an issue. Also, folks seem genuine, and very friendly. I pretty much run all CW now, except for checking into the section traffic nets, or an occasional ragchew with my Dad. I also like the fact that a minimal station and antenna will still net you great QSOs, and the fact that it's not "plug and play," meaning that there is a certain amount of effort required to copy a hard to understand fist, or someone going a little faster than the comfort zone. I like to use paddles, a straight key, my 1955 Vibroplex Presentation, and I also have a keyboard keyer. As a matter of fact, I have them all hooked up so that I can use any of them at any time, depending on the circumstances. I guess I got bit by the CW bug, but I'm not complaining. By the way, this is in no way a slam toward the other modes. I've done them all, including digital, and all have merit. CW is not for everyone, and that's cool with me. However, my favorite mode by far is CW for the reasons mentioned. 73 to all!
Why Learn the Code?  
by KB1HVS on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Here we go again. Code vs No Code.YAWN.
Why Learn the Code?  
by KB9YUR on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have to agree with the previous posting. It seems
that every few months (or is it every few weeks
now), this same subject comes up. Let's give it
a rest.

Why Learn the Code?  
by WA0ZZG on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Regardless how you feel about Morse, the fact remains,
it's still a requirement. Live with it!
There are always pros and cons about it. Remember,
this is a hobby. You can decide how much you will
be involved with it, after you pass the exam.
For many, the 5wpm exam will keep them from advancing
to a higher license class. If you plan on NEVER
using CW again, after the test, you can use a
different approach to the exam. Most CW study guides
assume you want to use it on the air and actually
prepare you for that, not the exam. To pass the
CW exam and NEVER use it again, do this:
1. Turn the radio off.
2. Visually, memorize the CW alphabet and numbers.
It should take about two weeks with casual effort.
You are to SEE dots and dashes, not hear them.
Speed is not a concern.
3. You're ready for the test. Get plenty of rest
the night before. Take the test in the morning.
4. During the code test, write down dots and dashes
only. Focus on doing nothing else.
5. After the sending is done, not before, translate
the dots and dashes into letters and readable
text. No need to rush. Use this to complete the
multiple choice exam. Hand in all the paper.
This method is not politically correct but was
acceptable to the VE's I've talked to. In the
future, if you change your mind, and want to use
CW, you will have to start all over. This will not
prepare you for on-air use of CW. CW ops will fume
that you used such a method. Others need only know
that you passed the test, not how. Don't complain
about the CW requirement or let it hold you from
advancement. Pass it!
BTW..I can now do about 18WPM and really enjoy it.
Go figure.

Why Learn the Code?  
by W3DCG on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
i love this article!

Thank You for writing it.

Oh- gotta go! My favourite Fed Ex guy is here with my new Kent paddle!
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by KB1JPB on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Regarding WA0ZZG's assertion that it's o.k. to copy down dots and dashes on the U.S. Code exam--that's not the case everywhere. I just took the test a week ago, and at least here in Boston, MA, the VEs are clear that that practice is not allowed. I think that's a common policy now.


RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by NOTEVENATECH on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Planning on taking the Tech exam this weekend and getting a 2m HT soon thereafter. I've never even heard CW other than KOCH software. How fast is the typical QSO. It seems 5wpm would take forever but 30wpm is as fast as I can type with a compter keyboard.

What speed should I learn at, how fast are you?

RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by WB2WIK on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

Good luck on the test!

You're right, a QSO at 5 wpm does seem to take "forever," although most of us who enjoy CW and use it daily will admit we were right there, once. As a 5 wpm Novice, my first several contacts took about 15-30 minutes each, and very little information was exchanged. It was fun, anyway.

A couple of months later at 13 wpm, each contact was still 15-30 minutes, but we chatted.

A couple of months later at 30 wpm, each contact was still 15-30 minutes, but we had interesting conversations. I remember being in CW contact with a Russian station during the Moscow Olympics, and him telling me it was too bad the American team wasn't participating -- which was big news to me, since Americans hadn't been told that, yet! I almost fell out of my chair. Ham radio can certainly be enlightening.

Now, my average contact is at 30-40 wpm, but I can copy considerably faster...about 70 wpm steadily. My coordination is not good enough for me to send that fast for long, but I can keep up at about 50 or 55, in sending with a paddle.

Regarding your typing speed:

1. 30 wpm is very slow. If you took a touch typing class (as given in secretarial school), you'd be going much faster. I took such a course in 8th grade, graduated typing about 40 and now type 120 wpm -- and have for most of my life (I'm 51 years old now).

2. Despite that, it really doesn't matter, since there's absolutely no reason to write anything down when you're using CW. So, there's no reason to type anything, either. Learn to send with a hand key, and then a paddle and electronic keyer. It's far less complicated than learning how to type properly, since there are only two motions involved: Pushing a paddle to the left, then pushing it to the right. Once you get used to it, it's very easy. But, like all good things, it takes practice. Nobody became an expert overnight.

"You can't teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar."

RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by VE3WBE on March 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This to me is not a code vs no-code debate. I am finally getting into amateur radio as I am now only working part time. Learning the code and actually using it on the air is a challenge-and that is not a bad thing. Using code also has you thinking "radio" as kits and home brew are possible. Probably the hidden advantage of using code is that you get to meet some fine(and patient) people on the air who take great pains to help a newcomer. Thanks to all who have taken time to help and good luck to those who are starting to learn code. It is well worth it.
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by K3ESE on March 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
CW is the heart and soul of ham radio! Thanks for this wonderful article about CW.

I've returned to the hobby after years of inactivity, and now I'm very active, all in QRP CW. When I talk about the hobby to others, one thing I feel inadequate to express is why CW is such incredible fun. We can talk about how efficient it is, which is nice, but some other digital modes are as good or better. We can also mention that, if one knows the code, they are able to communicate in a variety of situations with the lowest-tech gear imaginable...but, fortunately, most of us aren't going to get trapped in a dead sub anytime soon.

The part that one needs to experience to know is the fun of talking to others in code...which, I think, requires at least 15-20 wpm (ymmv). To me, talking over a radio is unnatural! This article was a refreshing oasis of appreciation for the fabulous code! for those who write that this is about code v no-code, the meaning of this discussion has, sadly, bypassed them.
Why Learn the Code?  
by AA5TB on March 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
You've seen the light. Congratulations!

Steve - AA5TB
Why Learn the Code?  
by F5SGI on March 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I could have written this article myself.
I agree 200%. If all CW enthusiasts, all over the world...
CW forever !
73 de Jean-Marc, F5SGI
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by KB7INO on March 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Another good reason for CW is that in many countries, hams cannot afford the radios that we have.

These Hams home brew there own equipment with whatever they can find... which leads to CW only radios.

One of my radios is a OHR Sprint... for those of you that are unaware of this radio, it is a 40 meter Radio with a DC reciever... in some countries, given what people can afford, that would be a *dream* radio.

CW is fun!
For people like me (not everybody) fun is proportion to wavelength and inversly proportional to BW... hence HF-CW is a lot of fun... at least for me.
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by W5HTW on March 21, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Before I became a ham, perhaps when I was around 11 years old or so, I heard CW often. Radio mystery shows, news showes (all on the radio!) and even Walter Winchell (not sure I have his name spelled right.) There was a romanticism we saw in the black and white movies on Saturday morning about a sinking ship and the radio operator pounding out an SOS. Or a war operation in which the radios were using CW.

I didn't know code, of course. It was just beeps. But it had that taste of the dramatic. I remember listening on a big floor model Philco or Crosley to the ship code in the late 40s and early 50s, and actually trying to make marks on paper to coincide with the dots and dashes I was hearing, so I could look them up in my Scout handbook and see what was being said. That was, it goes without saying, a total failure. I am sure I got none of it right and certainly nothing made sense to me. How could people do this, I wondered.

When I became a ham, when I was 16, it didn't matter than I was doing 3 WPM on the radio. What mattered was I was now a part of that fascination with those romantic and dramatic beeps I had been hearing. They were MINE! I knew what they were! Wow!

Years later, sitting at a bank of four R388s, in Net Control Position, I thought, maybe some kid is hearing this CW, this code, and is being both curious and inspired. Like me, maybe he will find it exciting enough that he wants to be a part of it. Now I was "the signal in the air at night from some strange place" and just maybe someone was listening to me, not knowing what I was saying, but hearing that 'beeping in the night.'

Maybe the requirement for Morse testing will go away. I think it will, and either late this year or early next. But that will not prohibit we who enjoy it from using it, and it will not remove the memories of those black and white movies, and the code being sent over the open ocean in the dark of night.

How do you explain the fun of code? As I just did. It is a link to the past, to the history of radio, and in some form or other, it has been heard in movies, on TV, or in radio shows, for over 75 years, in highly dramatic situations. Sometimes it isn't even real Morse, but a Hollywood facsimilie. Still, if you hear it on the radio or TV, don't your ears jump?!!

I wanted to be a part of that stuff. And darn it, I am, and have been for 47 years. The mystique is still there, fast or slow.

Why Learn the Code?  
by WA2JJH on March 22, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
CW is the most power efficiant mode. One can copy code
with a 3db S/N.

If you want to learn how rigs work, CW rigs are easy
to build. I BUILT the TUNA_TIN 2 back in 1977.
All parts were at radio shack. Total cost about $10!
The TUNA TX used the popular 2N2222 transistors.
I put in 2N3866's for more power output. I learned how to modify the TUNA 2 for the 2N3866's. So not only did
I have a 1 watt CW HF TX, I picked up a little transmitter theory. All this for $10 in parts!

I did put in a MOSFET amp and got 7watts out.
I also put in an AM modulator.I am kicking my self in the butt, that I thru the TUNA-2 out!I bought a Kenwood TS-520. So my redesigned TUNA-2 was lost.I made my own PC board.

A direct conversion receiver came later.A few transistors and I.C.'s Cost about $20!

So if you want to build a rig from your junk box, CW will be the first mode. You could add in a double balanced modulator for SSB.

I always had less than good antenna's. I made Japan
with 100 watts CW. I racked up 30 states in two months.
Again CW! I used the EICO DRIFTY 753.

CW was used by POW's to communicate. CW can be sent with a flashlight, mirror, or Diode Laser! Your average
$10 laser is 670nm. Range is about 1/4 mile. A 5mw green laser has a range of 3 miles

99.4% of the World does not know CW! Only Hams,all military,and boyscouts use CW!

If you want DX with only 100W and no beam, CW rules! 1 watt of CW can get DX too!

So CW is not around because of History. It is around because it is a good Mode.

73 de MIKE

Why Learn the Code?  
by LA2TD on March 23, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hei Gisle!

Takk for hyggelig artikkel om CW fra en som har praktisert CW i 56 år - og fortsatt gjoer det!
Artig at du har fått så mange responser - fortsatt lykke til.
73 de Odd LA2TD
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by KB0NLY on March 25, 2003 Mail this to a friend!



This is getting to the point that it's not worth reading anything on Eham. Just when i think something might be interesting to read it turns out to be a bashing of no-code hams, and then a huge return argument by the no-code hams. Enough crap about CW on Eham for crying out loud. Lets see some good info again, antenna building, radio design, radio repair, or heck even automotive repair or DIY home remodeling. Anything but the same old CW debate.


Scott, KB0NLY

RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by AC3P on March 25, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know about others, but at all the test sessions that I either conducted or helped with, we have never accepted the practice of writing down dots and dashes and then allowing the applicant to translate them into letters.

The requirement is to be able to copy code directly to written characters.

In fact we once stopped a code test because a candidate tried to write the dots and dashes rather than the characters. We resumed the test with another version. That fellow passed anyway.

Believe me. If anyone is ever called before the FCC for a re-exam (It does happen), the FCC examiner will fail someone who is writing down dots and dashes.

That said, when I first was learning code I did use homemade flashcards with the letters on one side and dots and dashes on the other to memorize. using that along with some code practice with an oscillator did the trick in about 4 weeks.

I would recommend practicing sending with copying. It reinforces character recognition.


Why Learn the Code?  
by WA2JJH on March 25, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Writting down dots and dashes @ 5WPM....HMMMMM

That is grey letter law. I know when I took my 20 WPM at the FCC NYC Field office, people did do it.
The test was just changed to comprehension. (an actual QSO). As long as you were able to answer the multiple choice test with a grade of 80% or better, you passed.

The FCC examiner's never looked at your sratch pad you copied the code on. They just graded the multiple choice test. I think if you can do a simulated QSO, and get 80% correct @ 13-20WPM, you should pass.

As for 5 WPM, you do make an excellent point. I know for me my FCC CW given 13WPM test I failed 3X. It was random letters and numbers.I did write down some dots and dashes here and there, As soon as the test went to simulated QSO, I passed with a 98% grade.When I took my 20WPM at the FCC simulated QSO multiple choice
passed on the first try.

How about this controversial idea. Pass 5 WPM random letters and numbers, or take 13 WPM multilpe choice comprehension(simulated QSO).On simulated QSO, you can use some Dots and dashes on your scrap paper. You must pass with a 75% grade.

My big mistake in learning CW was learning how to transmit CW first. I could send 15 WPM, but only copy
5WPM. I did pass 5 WPM random letters and numbers on the first try.I was able to send 15WPM before I passed my novice 5 WPM. This made it more difficult. I should have learned to read CW first. I found that by oncentrating on sending CW, slowed down my progress to receive CW.

This is why I cannot copy 20WPM in my head. Must write down the letters and numbers.Have a friend that copies 35WPM in his head. One does not translate individual letters and numbers, but will put together full words at that speed. I never been able to do that.
I think learning how to transmit CW first was what did me in.

Copying code in your head, is a skill. One cannot not have a CW QSO faster than 20WPM, If you have to write down the QSO on paper.

In conclusion, if your a Ham that wants to learn the code, learrn to receive first. I guess many are waiting for code to be dropped. Some say wait a year.
One will be able to get a code free EXTRA.

What ever side of the GREAT CW DEVIDE you are on, you will feel good knowing some code.
RE: Why Learn the Code?  
by GORGO on April 23, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
No code. thanks!
Why Learn the Code?  
by RADIOWEENIE on April 27, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Why learn the Code? Indeed, why not?
Why Learn the Code?  
by WB8ROL on April 28, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I see nothing to gain by lambasting any one particular mode to promote the one you like. I also see NO reason why anyone would want to learn CW other than it might sound like fun to them. It isn't all that relevant or pertinent any more to most ham opertation, however.

I am 53 years old and I have been proficient in CW since I was 12 years old and got my first ham license at age 13. I used CW for many many years -- but I seldom use CW any more because the thrill is gone. It's rather boring to me now.

However, I am very excited about PSK31 digital mode and do about 95% of my hamming on it now.

Just goes to show that we all have our own distinct likes and dislikes ... :-)

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