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Author Topic: Future of CW  (Read 15132 times)

Posts: 55

« on: March 07, 2012, 08:32:14 PM »


I really enjoyed using CW many years ago. It was like an international language, you could talk to people in almost every country.

Today, there are little or no requirements to learn CW when obtaining a ham license.

I was wondering....

Was it the FCC that wanted to eliminate the CW requirements? Or was it the Hams that wanted to eliminate the CW requirements?

I feel that CW it is a very friendly and fun communication method, that uses very little bandwidth. With the new licensing requirements, do you think that CW will survive into the next generation of Hams?

Thank you for your input.....

Posts: 6748

« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2012, 09:06:13 PM »

My opinion is that the ARRL, the vendors and the "gimme" class of people we now have all worked hand in hand to eliminate the CW requirement.

The ARRL wanted more hams....there was a definite drop in numbers....the vendors want to sell equipment and the "gimme" crowd always wants something given to them without much effort.  This is my opinion why we now have the no-code requirement and the question pools instead of actually learning something about electronics.

This argument of CW being an "archaic" form of communication is so much male bovine effluent!  Sure, for those involved in commercial communications it is archaic....but for hams and their needs, CW is far from being archaic.

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 11

« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2012, 09:32:39 PM »

My goal was to get a T1 commercial license. One requirement is having one year of experience sending and receiving CW at a coastal station or a ship. The problem (as I was told) is there are no coastal stations anymore, and ships aren't using CW, having switched to more advanced methods of communicaitons.

The decline of CW isn't just endemic to the amateur service.

Posts: 429

« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2012, 10:19:16 PM »

do you think that CW will survive into the next generation of Hams?

If they want to be serious DXers or contesters it will.

Posts: 28

« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2012, 10:36:09 PM »

I learned the code at age 13 with a home brew buzzer and a home brew key made from pieces of tin.  Could not afford an oscillator, so we used a buzzer made of a big nail with copper wire wound around it and another piece of tin to make the buzzer all powered by a 6 volt dry cell battery.
After mastering the code, I got my Novice license out in a small West Texas town.  that was back in 1957.  Today, I am 68 years old and still work CW and have gone years at a time not being on the air not never using it, however, I have always been able to pick right up where I left off and never lost my ability to send or receive CW.  I feel that CW is a true talent and I will never let it disappear from my operating modes.  I agree with others who have stated that it may be the "Gimmie Crowd" and others who wanted to relax the rules and do away with CW for obtaining a license.  Look at what it has done to the HAM bands....foul language, bad operating habits, unfriendly operators, rude operators and an overall lack of pride in our Hobby.  Our whole nation is in a state of "Who Cares" and "I want it now and if you have it, then give me some of yours NOW".
It is such a shame to see our beloved hobby go so far downhill into the trash can.  BUT, those of us who still honor and take pride in our hobby can still keep it alive and talk to others and show them what all we can do with our hobby. 
I love CW and when I am on the air, I enjoy working at speeds around 27 WPM.  I often try to work with other operators who are slow and try to help them build their speed and confidence in the art of CW.  I do not think CW will ever go away......stop and think of it.....all the modern modes of communications are fast, effective and work.  But what happens when the satellites fall from  the sky?

Posts: 2808

« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2012, 12:29:48 AM »

I got 160 QSO's _with 100 watts and an attic dipole_ in the ARRL DX CW contest.

As long as CW continues to be a popular weak-signal, long-distance contest mode (and it's pretty good for that!), I'll keep using it. 

.        Charles

Posts: 115

« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2012, 02:48:14 AM »

I am surprised and happy to hear people are still learning the code, even though they do not have to in order to be licensed. Admittedly, I did not think people would voluntarily learn the code without being forced to. Glad to know I was wrong.

So far, it looks like there will be a future for CW.


Posts: 2100

« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2012, 04:31:07 AM »

    The rising number and vast majority of qrp operators use cw,it will not die out anytime soon.

Posts: 550


« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2012, 11:03:24 AM »

I am surprised and happy to hear people are still learning the code, even though they do not have to in order to be licensed. Admittedly, I did not think people would voluntarily learn the code without being forced to. Glad to know I was wrong.

So far, it looks like there will be a future for CW.


Well said, and ditto.
73 Scott W5ESE

Posts: 21764

« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2012, 11:10:22 AM »

CW's as popular today as it was 45 years ago when I was first licensed.

The ARRL may have had some influence, but the code requirement was abolished at the global level by the ITU.  Many countries dropped the requirement almost immediately after that, but the U.S. didn't -- we (FCC) were actually one of the "later" adopters in dropping the test requirement.


Posts: 4709

« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2012, 11:32:47 AM »

Was it the FCC that wanted to eliminate the CW requirements? Or was it the Hams that wanted to eliminate the CW requirements?


Since at least 1975, FCC had been seeking to reduce/eliminate the code tests. Most hams were against it, but the FCC persisted, reducing a little bit here and a little bit there until, in 2007, the last vestige was eliminated.

Some hams pushed for the reduction/elimination, others opposed it. Numbers are hard to gauge because there are no scientific surveys, and unscientific ones are completely unreliable.

The important thing is that once FCC was convinced that the code tests should go, nothing could change their mind.

Here's a list of significant events:

1975: FCC proposes nocodetest VHF/UHF-only "Communicator" license, but drops it in face of heavy opposition.
1978: FCC "waives" sending test, requiring only receiving.
1983: FCC again proposes nocodetest VHF/UHF-only license, but drops it in face of heavy opposition.
1990: FCC creates "medical waivers" of 13 and 20 wpm code tests. Says 5 wpm cannot be waivered because of ITU treaty.
1991: FCC drops code test for Technician. Code-tested Technicians have some HF, noncodetested have none.
2000: FCC restructures licensing, reducing code test to 5 wpm only (among many other changes). Says only reason 5 wpm test was kept is because of ITU treaty.
2003: ITU treaty changed so that code test is optional.
2003-2004: No less than 18 proposals filed with FCC to keep/eliminate code tests.
2007: FCC drops all code testing.

Yet the mode is still popular. The ultimate irony may be that, without the testing, code becomes more popular than ever.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Posts: 505

« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2012, 01:24:07 PM »

I figure the code requirement kept a fair few folk who'd have enjoyed ham radio (and been able to pass the law and science parts of the tests, and who could have become competent voice operators) out of ham radio in the past. Now that it's no longer a requirement it's only being learned and used by folks who want to use it, who'll enjoy using it, but there are plenty of them...

Posts: 509

« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2012, 04:25:16 PM »

I am in total agreement to what everyone has said ...

I am NOT a DX'r or contester, just love the CW mode...

My friends and I got our Novice tickets in the middle 60s; and still enjoy it today (being cell phones, computers, & the different modes of operations)...We learned the code in our teenage years, ON OUR OWN and enjoyed it !!! 

CW still fascinates us, today

KC8Y, Ken

Posts: 352

« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2012, 06:00:38 AM »

There is a genuine prejudice in the technical world against those who do not know.  People who know (whether it is code or Ohm's Law, or operating procedures or anything technical) tend to be offended by those who do not.  It's almost like they feel that somehow they have achieve a certain greatness and the unknowing don't deserve to be helped into the community.  I work every day with many engineers and the attitude pervades most technical communities.  We need to stop and appreciate those who helped us and try to help those who are not yet "in the know".

I thought that total removal of CW requirements was a bad idea.  After all CW is the most basic form of communication.  Put the information on the radio wave by simply turning it on and off.  But the CW bands are busier than ever with folks trying CW for the first time.  I was wrong about keeping CW from those who needed to learn it.  Let's encourage all of the new coders and QRS once in a while.

My 2 cents.  73, JP, K8AG


Posts: 875

« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2012, 02:25:19 PM »

CW was eliminated as a requirement for merchant ships in 1999, being replaced by new technologies such as GMDSS equipment.
Ships radio officers could also be replaced by GMDSS equipment, with the level of redundancy dependent on the type of vessel and its area of operation.
Basically, commercial ships use redundant Satellite/HF/VHF setups with a big "Help me" button pressed by the bridge officer in times of distress.

This spelled the end of both shipboard CW and their associated coast stations.
There are still some of these coast stations about, but they are declining rapidly and being sold off.
Since the reason for CW in the Amateur service was founded in its use commercially and its importance for safety of life at sea, it was reasonable to mandate that hams, who monitor radio frequencies have the skills necessary to receive CW.
This stems back to the Titanic when hams were monitoring the distress communications for example.

However, with the demise of CW commercially (and even militarily), the need for hams to compulsorily have this skill diminished.
Thus, over time many regulatory authorities dropped the CW requirement, but this does not mean that CW will die in ham radio.
We are in the happy situation that we can choose to use CW, not be forced to use it in a job.
So we do it for the love of learning a skill, both new and old, and something that the average person will not have in their skill set.

CW is above all a language, and when your proficiency goes beyond a certain point, becomes like driving a vehicle, where you do it unconsciously, just listening to it as if it were being spoken.
That is CW nirvana, and is a goal worth achieving.
CW seems to be like the oft quoted Mark Twain comment when advised of his reported death - "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated".

GL es 73s
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 02:33:01 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
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