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CW Soundcard Software

Monus Brewer, Jr (KE4CQW) on December 4, 2003
View comments about this article!

Hello all,

Just wanted to thank everyone for the nice articles and ideas that I see here.

A friend of mine and I have been talking about learning CW and upgrading this winter to work more DX. But we both really have not had very good luck with teachers and some of the software. We have been looking at some the freeware this is out on the web.

We both have the same idea of using a keyboard and some software program to be able to send and receive CW. That way we can send anything we want to the other and have them be able to check what they copied against the text on the screen. That way we can practice with each other and not tie up someone with having time and a location for a class. We both get bored with tapes and the software programs get boring and really seem unattached and removed from the human touch.

If I can get some information about the best programs to use would be great. MFJ makes a system that does what we want but we don't have $150 each for the system. I have the Rascal cable system for my FT-100 / 817 and just need info on software to get started on my end. He will have to buy the cable but that's not a big deal.

Thanks for all your help, 73 Moe Brewer KE4CQW

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CW Soundcard Software  
by W3OQ on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I downloaded a CW program from the internet a couple of years ago - It is called UA9OSV CwGet V1.22 and works well with W1AW code practice - W3OQ
CW Soundcard Software  
by N3TTN on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Agree with W3OQ, CwGet works great, even under noisy conditions, and it is easy to set up and use. Well worth the $35 registration fee if you decide to keep it after the trial period. Hats off to UA9SOV for a great program.

73, N3TTN
CW Soundcard Software  
by AC4RD on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I use "Hamscope" software, mostly for RTTY, but I also usually fire it up when I'm working CW. It doesn't do a GREAT job of copying unless the signal is on the strong side and noise isn't bad, but it gives me a nice backup for those moments when I miss a few letters. I don't do much CW these days and having Hamscope as a backup is comforting. It seems to work pretty nicely for RTTY, too, and it's freeware, which I VERY much like. I'm using Buck's "Rascal" interface with it as well. (I use a different program for PSK31, mostly because I'm used to it, but Hamscope does PSK also.) That being said, I think I'll take the advice of the others and look at "GetCW" when I have a chance--that sounds very positive. GL 73! --Ken AC4RD
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by KB1IKD on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I too have low code skills, and as a result have looked into software CW decoding. I tried CWGet. It worked moderately well for me on very clean strong (loud) signals (better than 90 percent copy) like W1AW but was a poor performer with my equipment when conditions were noisy or signals average. In contrast, human "decoders" can copy code under very poor reception conditions. There is really no substitute for frequent code practice untill the skill is acquired.

I am mostly a PSK31 operator and tried the MixW CW mode decoder on signals during the recent weekend CW contest. I was pleasantly surprised with how well it was able to copy code. I have never tried to send code with software. MixW also features a logging program and decoders for most other digital modes. MixW is available over the internet free on a trial basis.

You will need a computer-sound card interface such as the MFJ 1275, Bux Rascal, or Rigblaster for digital operation. However, you may be able to try decoding CW with only a shielded audio patch cable connection between your sound card and rig headphone or ext. speaker jack.
CW Soundcard Software  
by WA3KYY on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I'll also support CWGet for copying the code. He also make a free companion program for sending called CWType. Since your goal is to actually learn CW to upgrade, don't let the software distract you from your goal.

Good luck and hope to QSO you on CW in the future.

CW Soundcard Software  
by N3XL on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have been using CWGet for about a year now. It's excellent for casual rag chews, when the signal strength is good. I found it to be a good way to get into CW quickly. The problem is that it doesn't hear the signals as well as your ears do. To enjoy weak signal work you'll just need to keep working on your proficiency in copying code. The good DX is very often too weak for CWGet to decipher. The skills you really need just take practice, practice, practice. There's really no shortcut, just effort and repetition.

I believe that the self-satisfaction of developing skills and watching yourself improve bit by bit is the real attraction of CW over all other modes. I'm confident that someday I will be able to hear and understand Morse Code transmissions just like I hear and understand someone speaking the English language. But, quite frankly, I don't expect to be at this level any time soon.
GL es 73,
CW Soundcard Software  
by N3XL on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
On re-reading your article, I must tell you that I am using N1MM logger for contesting and casual logging and sending CW. It uses a simple LPT computer/radio interface and I was able to easily make my own cable.I am currently in the process of getting the hang of using the small keyboard entry window for sending CW, but it works well for sending from the keyboard. I use a simple Radio Shack splitter to support a simultaneous key and LPT connections to my radio.

You can save your friend a few bucks , if he has a soldering iron. The cable is easy to build. I have extra left over parts I can provide at my cost. I have several left over transistors and resistors and enough left over parts for two complete kits. My local parts supplier doesn't like to sell just 1 or 2 transistors or resistors. My e-mail is ON4ZO has posted the construction directions on the web.

I have a few additional construction tips - from experience, if interested.

Hope this helps. 73, N3XL
CW Soundcard Software  
by K0RGR on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I've been playing with MIXw for CW and all of its other modes for a while now, and I am very impressed at how well it works. This program is pricey, but I think you get what you pay for, and support seems to be pretty good, particularly since its author is in the Ukraine. I will never use all the bells and whistles in this program, which is now also my logging and rig control program.

I don't think there will ever be a CW program that can read badly sent code as well as a human. Sometimes, I get a laugh from copying a station by ear and watching how the computer deciphers it. Usually, the computer is right - it displays things the way they were sent, with bad spacing, bad element lengths, etc..

Though I hate to admit it, 30+ years of working mostly digital modes has made it harder for me to decipher the cryptic abbreviations some brass pounders think improve their communications. Sometimes seeing it in print on the screen fills in a hole where I 'copied' the word in my head, but it didn't make sense.

But, I have made an effort to try using MIXw for real CW QSO's, and at least at reasonable speeds, it works well. You probably won't get 100% copy unless the conditions are great. I usually copy better in my head up to 30WPM than the computer does, but it sure is nice to have the machine to fill in if I miss something. I find that the machine sometimes does a better job of handling very short static bursts than I do, too.

No, you will not use a program like this for contesting, and it will not allow you to copy everybody - but I think for some 5 WPM guys wanting to try CW, this is a great way to do it. If you use the program to send at, say, 18WPM, most brass pounders will be able to copy you just fine. If they use some form of keyboard-driven code to send, most likely your program will copy them if the signals are good.

I'd like to suggest that we 'standardize' on the ARRL bulletin standards for speed, spacing, etc.. Most of these programs can do a fair job of adjusting to changing speeds, but they would work much better with a smaller range of speeds to handle. 18 WPM is fine for ragchewing, and not so fast that a person who learned his code with the 'Farnsworth' spacing will have trouble learning to copy at that speed - the characters are only slightly faster.

Hopefully, you will soon discover how great CW really is, and decide to spend some time building up your code speed, so you will no longer need the computer.
CW Soundcard Software  
by OBSERVER11 on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I personally like Hamscope, it does a fair job... my PK232MBX works better.

You are on a good path the LEARN Morse Code. I had a mental block that would not allow me to get past 6 or 7 WPM, but after I started playing with the PK232MBX, and reading code at 13, 18, 20 WPM, I found that I was hearing the WORDS and was reading the words without having to read the computer screen. I passed my 20WPM this way and now I operate CW most of the time
CW Soundcard Software  
by N3LJS on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Code Quick is the best. If you want to learn code fast and easy Code Quick is the answer. DOG did it for "D", CATCH it CATCH it for "C", did POP POP it, for "P". You never forget the letters......... a neat and fun way to learn code. Several ways you can buy the kit. I use the CD version, you can cut and paste text into the program. My neice use it for three days, and only miss her upgrade by one letter. Once you hear "D" in code it will sound like DOG did it. He tells little stories about each character. Good luck.


Z = ZAH ZAH did it --..
K = KANG a ROO -.-
L = a LIGHT is lit .-..
7 - SEV VEN bet on it --...
CW Soundcard Software  
by KE4CQW on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks all! We are both wanting to get away from using it as a crutch but for now it will give us some good training I think. I have tried several tapes and programs but I get to a point where it all runs blurred and so forth. Thanks for all the advice I hope to working you very shortly. 73 and again thanks for info and advice.
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by VA3EP on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

Regarding "codequick" and other memory trick techniques. I have no doubt that you can pass 5 wpm with memory tricks like that, but I would be very interested in knowing if there are people who have learned with it and then were able to go on up to 10, 15 or more wpm.

I learned and passed 5 wpm more than 10 years ago (wrongly for me, by repeating the elements in my head with my own "memory tricks"), and was never able to get much faster. I was inactive for a long time, and as I want to do some homebrew qrp wanted to get the code up again, but found I had to restart from scratch. I am listening to practice cds (that I make myself) in my car and on my stationary bike and am now up to 15 wpm and getting most characters when I concentrate (after about 11 months of practice). Hope to get up the nerve to eventually have a cw qso :-)

My point and question is this... with the speed that my brain works the best I can do at 15 wpm is just plain and simple recognize the character or not before the next one is right there (sound=>character), I do NOT have any time to translate in my head using some memory trick (sound=>picture=>words=>character).

Are there people out there who’s brains work so fast they can do that? Or do they have to “unlearn” the memory tricks and just do sound=>character to eventually get to 15 and higher?

Just curious.

CW Soundcard Software  
by K9ZF on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with everyone else.

I've compared several different software CW decoders, and CWGet is the best I've found. It's far from perfect, but as long as you are both using computers to send, and I'm assuming signal strengths will be strong, you shouldn't have any trouble.

Good luck,
Dan Evans K9ZF
444 Lynhurst St.
Scottsburg, IN 47170
K9ZF /R no budget Rover
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
QRP-l #1269
Central States VHF Society
IN-Ham list administrator
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by WB2WIK on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Technology is great, and I like to fool with it as much as anyone, but obviously using any software to send or receive code does little for code knowledge, and indeed the tricks used to remember individual letters and numbers (DOG did it*, etc) have been used since U.S. Army code training days pre-WW2 and are not new nor innovative at all.

However, as the Army found out, this is *not* the way to learn to copy code, as it is extremely limiting to go through a conversion process that requires thinking for each letter. Might was well write down the dits and dahs on a piece of paper and refer to that, it's almost as silly.

The only way I've ever been successful teaching code to students is to make sure none of them have any paper or pencils (or anything to write with), or computers, or anything else close at hand, and we start out having little "QSOs" in code right from the beginning, sending back and forth to each other, at speeds higher than any of them could possibly copy. When a student finally recognizes "the" as _ .... .
he feels like he just landed on the Moon; and before long, he recognizes many other words. And before too long after that, he's copying mundane and meaningless text, at about 20 wpm -- never at 5 wpm. I try not to ever let them even "hear" 5 wpm, it's too confusing, because when code's sent that slowly, it's difficult to discern an "a" from the letters "e" and "t" sent close together. At 20 wpm, there's no doubt whatever that an "a" is an "a," it doesn't sound similar to anything else.

(*Actually, in the Army it was "the L with it!" for L and other cute stuff...)

Never had a student yet who couldn't copy 20 wpm. But they learned it by interaction, sending back and forth to each other using keys and oscillators...not by "listening" to code, and surely not by writing it down.

RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by N3EHY on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
CW get is the 2nd best of about 8 decoders I have tried.The best is MRP. CW get allows for a splitter to the computer and speaker to function well, hear and see. Good audio volume and fair screen copy . MRP is so sensitive that I can only screen copy, cause when the volume is turned up to hear the soundcard is overpowered in this soft ware configuration and copy goes to zero. MRP is atleast 40% better on weak signals and bad fists than CW GET. I do use CW GET ,ore cause I can hear and see or take a phone call and still respond. Answer my wife and respond or operate two rigs at once and capture more dx that way. Very fine business either way.
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by KI4BDS on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I am using HTTP// the Koch method. Its random,fast and you can get a code oscillator and key and practice all you want. Karl KI4BDS
CW Soundcard Software  
by W4YA on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
A very good freeware CW program by G4FON is an excellent learning tool. My advice is to learn to copy CW, not send it. Sending CW with a key or keyboard does nothing to improve your speed or accuracy. CW GET is about the same as RTTY. Avoid it.
CW Soundcard Software  
by W0RY on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

I did not see any URL Links to HamScope so I will pass along that info.

Near the bottom of my web page, , you will find Links to HamScope and Soundcard hardware interfaces in both pre-built and kit form.

Have fun! 73, Bob
CW Soundcard Software  
by W8VOM on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hmmmmm,Keyboards and Decoders can and do become a crutch that is very very hard to break away from! I do not believe it is a good way to learn the code. If one starts using fully automated equipment they often stay with it the rest of their lives.The skill of Hand sent and Head copy Morse requires manual practice,there is just no easy way to learn Morse with full simply becomes a life long crutch. Without the Skill aspect of Morse,it's all just Beep Beep! My wife never learned the code but she is good to go at 50 wpm on the keyboard. I have the Skill she does not nor will she ever "know" the code.
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by W5UX on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Most tape recorders have two speeds. I have one that in addition to the two speeds has a variable play back speed. I can vary the play back speed by 20 percent up or 20 percent down. Record W1AW code practice. there are a lot of combinations there. As it is playing, you can raise the speed just out of your reach.
CW Soundcard Software  
by NU6T on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Try for the MRX CWCom morse code chat program. Sounds like what you are asking for.

CWCom is a morse code chat progam for Windows and NT operating systems. You can use CWCom to transmit and receive morse code and text messages over a LAN or across the internet! CWCom can translate morse code to text and text to morse code or flashing light, so you don't have to know morse code to use it. The program has a configurable morse libarary - you can define your own morse characters and the text associated with it. Up to 128 characters can be displayed for a single morse code symbol! CWCom can be configured to receive input from a morse key, using the joystick port, serial port or keyboard.

RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by WA7CC on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I recently acquired MRP and I agree that it does a better job of decoding CW than CWGET.

CW Soundcard Software  
by N9DG on December 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
VA3EP and WB2WIK make some very good points about not using memory tricks to learn characters and also the advantages of starting to learn code at 20+ WPM from the get go. In retrospect I now wish I had approached learning code that way myself rather than the build up my speed slowly approach.

However I do see a useful place for programs like CWGet and some of the others like it. They can be used as "referees" when you do your sending practice. Do this kind of practice by sending as fast as you possibly can and still be sending code that sounds good. These programs will help enforce the creation of good sounding code by not decoding sloppy/poor sending cleanly.

On the RX practice side of things they can help you with the copying words instead of letters directly from code you're listening to. This will only work if you are actively listening to the code as it is decoding, don't just sit back and only let the program do the decoding and then read it.

It is a little like learning a foreign language, you don't learn those by talking slow at first, you learn them by recognizing more and more of the words by immersing yourself in normal conversation, - not by sounds of individual letters and spelling.
CW Soundcard Software  
by N9ESH on December 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
CW is really not hard to learn. In fact, it’s as easy as learning your ABCs! It’s really no different! The best way I’ve found is the Koch Method. Sesame Street teaches pre-schoolers the alphabet in no time using the Koch Method. . G4FON has a great learning program. Give it a try.

Stay away from the “slow speed” learning methods or you will need to relearn CW all over again to get past 10 wpm. Learn it right the first time. You will be glad you did.
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by KE4MOB on December 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Get away from the memory tricks...they will slow you down. The best CW decoder in the world is located right between your ears!!!

Here's what I've found works. Download G4FON Koch CW trainer. Set it for common words, 20 WPM characters at 17 WPM spacing. Run two drills a day, 5 minutes each, without copying a single letter down on paper...just listen for spacing and cadence at first, then for individual letters and words later on. Do this for a month.

I did this, and after the end of the first month was really, really discouraged...I thought I could only solidly copy about 7 WPM. Until I realized what sounded to me to be 7 WPM was actually 12-14 WPM!! Talk about a suprise..what sounds slow to me now is well above 10 WPM.

A side benefit to this is that your sending will be crisper!!

My point is this: I have found that to learn code effectively you have to condition the brain to accept faster and faster uncopyable code speeds during training instead of learning one speed at 100% and then going faster.

Hope this helps!
CW Soundcard Software  
by KE6RAD on December 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hi. If you want to practice sending CW to your buddy
(or others!) over the internet, the most fun I've had is using MorseMail. Available free at

with the repeater at

With a simple key or paddle hooked up to your mouse
(you can use a keyboard, but it tends to be difficult to send good code), you can send cw messages (and listen) just like email.

You can slow down the receive to anything you like, so it's great for learning. And the delayed messaging, like email, makes scheduling not-a-problem.

CW Soundcard Software  
by WB8NUT on December 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have tried every CW send and receive software program out there - and not just the free programs that most compare. The best by far is MixW (multi-mode, not just CW) using the 1.45 decoding method. It copies fairly well when signals are not that strong - everybody copies pretty well with strong signals, but MixW does well with the not so strong and can even handle those ops that still send with their left foot. Hamscope was o.k., CW Get a real disappointment. Then there was that German program (not free and more expensive than MixW) which was horrible but I cannot remember the name right now.

I would also agree that the hardware decoder from Mighty Fine Junk is the worst I have seen. The best hardware decoder I ever evaluated came from Microcraft, but I'm not sure you can get them anymore.
CW Soundcard Software  
by NJ0E on December 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
don't be afraid to get on the air and enjoy some qso's,
just because you can't send and receive as fast as the
stations you hear on the air. in the "good old days",
the novice bands were full of newcomers working on
getting their proficiency up to the 13wpm level, as
well as many old timers who were delighted to have the
chance to welcome newcomers to the hobby and who
really enjoyed making cw contacts. now that the only
requirement is 5 wpm, the novice bands are largely
vacant, and most of the cw stations you hear on the
air are enthusiasts who have enjoyed cw for years. to
a newcomer, that could sound very intimidating, but i
would recommend that you just send cq at the speed
that you are comfortable sending and receiving, and i
*guarantee* that you will be answered by some hams
who will be delighted to have a qso with you at
whatever speed you are comfortable with. the most
fun cw practice is getting on the air and making
73, scott nj0e
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by OLDFART13 on December 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have helped a young ham find a good CW reader to help him calm down during CW QSOs and have found that CWget was the best that we have tried. I did not try MixW.

But using a CW decoder is a good idea to help new CW ops to ease the fear of CW QSOs and to help fill gaps of a QSO.
CW Soundcard Software  
by KD5QEF on December 6, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
CW_Get is an excellent program for decoding CW on HF. If you are intending on using computer software to learn the code might I suggest you download CW_Player written by Gabriel Rivat F6DQM at You can tell the program to quiz you and I would suggest that you use four letter groups so that you are quizzed randomly and repeatedly on those four characters until you have learned them. With less than seven groupings you can learn the alphabet at the speed you select. You can then make custom groupings until you have learned all the letters. This is how I learned the code in 2001, with CW_Player. I am now at about 20-22 wpm. The program will also test you on any combination of numbers and letters you choose, at the speed of your choice, with the spacing of your choice. It will also play text files. So, you can download a file of sample QSO's and have the program play it and try to copy them, in addition to on-the-air practice (W1AW) as well. Sample QSO text files ( and are here The advantage of CW_Player is that you can make your own schedule. Once you have learned the code, you can use RUFZ to improve on copying callsigns. RUFZ must be run in DOS mode (16-bit) and presumes you know how to load the DOS drivers for your sound card hardware. RUFZ is adaptive, depending on your responses, it speeds up (if you get them correct) or slows down (when you get them wrong). Good Luck es cu on HF CW!
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by CURMUDGEON on December 6, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not sure I understand why anyone should/would fear cw qso's. The advise NJ0E gave is 100% correct and on target.
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by KC8VWM on December 6, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

CW Get has been a favorite of mine for a while now. Even if you are very proficient at CW, it is sometimes easy to get distracted (wife, phone etc.)while copying CW messages. CW Get will continue recording the message on your screen despite these interruptions. It is also a good way to "verify" your reception skills if you don't have anyone else to practice CW with.

Often, I will listen to 40 meter CW and copy it with pencil and paper in hand. After receiving the entire CW message, you can simply refer to your computer monitor to check how accurate you copied the CW message.

Many other programs including "Get CW" and software for receiving RTTY, NAVTEX and HF-FAX using your soundcard and Amateur Radio can be downloaded here:


Charles - KC8VWM
RE: CW Soundcard Software  
by N6AJR on December 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
G4FON.CO.UK the best and its free
CW Soundcard Software  
by PA3BWK on December 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hello OM's

If you REALLY want to learn the code you should spend
30 min's to an hour EVERY day for a few months together with the 'Morsecat' program.

It's free, it really works great, it even can learn you to send the code!!

Learn Morse code in 18 lessons and practice sending and receiving.

Learning the code beats soundcards etc., where are they when you really need 'em? NOTHING beats your own ears!!

Best 73,

Wilko J. Hollemans PA3BWK

check also:

CW Soundcard Software  
by AA3K on December 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I am going to go a little off topic here and second G4FON's FREE CW training program. I am a fast code extra but have never really been comfortable with CW. I have been working with G4FON's software (on no particular schedule) and am finally really learning it. Many times I think I've completely messed up copying and when I go back and check, I find I did fine. Making copying reflexive is the way to go.

Earlier this year I picked up a used PK-232 which I finally tried out for copying CW and found it to do a very good job on high speed contest CW (35-40 WPM) probably computer sent. Noise did not seem to cause a problem to it. The only fiddling I had to do was with the front panel detection threshold and I finally reached a point, where it needed little if any tweaking between stations.

Mark N3GNW
CW Soundcard Software - MixW is the best!!  
by XE1UFO on December 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
There is really no substitute for learning the code properly, plus it is a lot of fun! I even work CW from the mobile! I recomend KB6MT´s code tapes very highly!

I have tried a large number of software programs for CW and the digital modes. CWGet was fair, but CW only. By FAR the best in my humble opion is MixW! One person said it was expensive. NOT SO! ..., considering how many modes it will work on well, PLUS the fact that it has the best ability to pull signals out of the mud. Nick (MixW´s author) is a wonderfull person. Check it out!
CW Soundcard Software  
by VA3NGS on December 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Try the free program - runs directly over the internet - at

you can select the character speed and the speed at which the letters are sent. You select groups of letters and it plays them in random groupings then you select the text and compare. quick, easy, free.
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