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Author Topic: How did you old heads learn morse?  (Read 2793 times)
KC6ZBE
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Posts: 47




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« on: April 03, 2009, 01:29:38 PM »

Was just wondering how some of you guys learned CW back in the day..

When I was 11 years old, I sat down during the summer and had 2 code tapes made by Gordon West and just learned it.

Im sure tapes and whatnot werent available in the old days so Im just curious how you learned it

Dave
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N2EY
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Posts: 3894




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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2009, 02:20:55 PM »

Well, I'm only 54, but been a ham since I was 13.

First I built myself a code practice oscillator from junk parts. Key was a WW2 surplus J-37. Sent to myself until I knew the alphabet and numbers. But I could only send!

So I built a 2 tube regenerative receiver out of junk parts and listened to hams on 80 CW. I'd listen and write down what I thought they were sending. Eventually what I wrote down actually began to make sense. That homebrew regen wasn't very stable; needed one hand on the tuning and the other on the pencil.

Once I knew enough Morse to pass the Novice 5 wpm test I got the license and built a transmitter (more junk parts) while waiting for FCC to process. Once I got the license (Oct 14, 1967), I was on the air at every opportunity, working other hams in order to build up my speed and pass the 13 wpm for General. Also listened to W1AW code practice.

When I got the Advanced (bypassed General) I added contesting and traffic handling to my operation.

Went from no license to Extra in 3 years, and would have done it faster except that in those days you needed at least 2 years as a General or Advanced before they'd even let you try the Extra.

---

Not having much money for radio meant I didn't have a rig capable of voice operation for the first 9 years I was a ham.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N3DF
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Posts: 252




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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2009, 04:11:22 PM »

Jim,

What was your score in the '68 Novice Roundup?

Neil N3DF
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Neil N3DF
N3DF
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Posts: 252




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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2009, 04:13:26 PM »

I used code records and then on the air QSOs as a Novice.  Code records have been around since before WWII.

Neil N3DF
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Neil N3DF
N2EY
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Posts: 3894




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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2009, 06:17:25 PM »

I wasn't in the 1968 Novice Roundup.

Due to budget limitations, I didn't join ARRL until early '68 (my first QST was Feb 1968). I didn't know what Novice Roundup was until it was over!

My first contest using my own call was the 1968 November CW SS. By then I was an Advanced.

(I'd done Field Day, of course, but with a club).


73 de Jim, N2EY
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AD7WN
Member

Posts: 113




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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2009, 07:26:44 PM »

Well, I'm only 76 so not sure if I'm old enough to qualify to answer.

When I started learning the code, I wasn't even a ham and wasn't interested in ham radio.  I was in the army and I was given a code aptitude test.  It wasn't a test to see how well I knew the code, it was rather a test to find out if I was trainable in learning to copy code to a given speed.

I guess I passed the test.  Anyway, right after basic training I was sent to a school at Ft. Devens for an intensive 6-month course designed to get our code speed up to 25 wpm, copying coded groups on a mill.  It consisted of sitting in front of a mill for upwards of 8 hours a day, practicing at progressively higher speeds.  I was one of hundreds in the class.

At the end of 6 months, nearly every one of us had met the code copy requirements.  We were then sent to various points on the globe to ply our craft for a couple of years.

By the time my hitch was up, I'd decided that I really liked rapid-fire qsk CW communications.  I liked it so much that I took the general class license exam and got my first call, W7BLH.  The 13 wpm code requirement was a non-issue.  The theory part of the exam was something that anybody that studied the license manual could pass.

That was the start of 54 years of ham radio fun.

73 de John/AD7WN
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20611




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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2009, 06:10:40 PM »

I'm 57 and been licensed since age 13.

We didn't use tapes, programs or anything like that.

I found a friend (David, who became WB2WND) who was interested in ham radio and we learned the code together by walking to school sending code with  our voices.  We pledged we'd never use regular language, only code, to converse as we walked 30 minutes to school, and 30 minutes back from school.  We did it vocally, like "Dadidadit dadadiddah..." kind of stuff, and we vocalized car license plates, road signs, anything we could see and turn into code.

After a few weeks, we were both doing about 10 wpm, but hadn't actually used any "keys" yet, so we bought some keys from Lafayette Radio for $0.99 each and built a little oscillator to send back and forth, so we'd know how to send.

We took the Novice 5 wpm test together a few weeks later and it was a slam-dunk for both of us.

That was in 8th grade.  How time flies!

We also took our General tests together in 1966 at the FCC field office in NYC, and easily passed that as well.  The "code while walking" practice really works.

WB2WIK/6
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12890




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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2009, 06:51:37 PM »

Ameco 78RPM code records. The problem was that after a while you had the record memorized almost to the point of being able to write down the text BEFORE it was sent.

Later on in Navy Aviation code class they sent code with one of those punched paper tape readers (same thing the FCC used for testing in the Detroit field office). The problem there was that as the tapes got well worn, the code became "jerky".
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W5ESE
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Posts: 550


WWW

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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2009, 08:41:15 PM »

I used a combination of  approaches:

o a Novice Class that met once per week with code sent on a
code practice oscillator. (The practice groups were from ARRL's
book 'Learning the Radiotelegraph Code').

o cassette tapes from Ameco Morse Code Course

o my dad was a WW2 Navy Radioman, who sent practice to me from
the ARRL book. He still remembered the code in 1975, after not
touching it since 1945.

o on a shortwave radio, listening to the repeating 'wheel'
transmissions sent by the Maritime beacons ( VVV VVV VVV VVV
DE WCC WCC WCC ... etc ...)

o listening to the activity in the Novice bands on the air.

o practicing sending using a straight key and a code practice
oscillator

73
Scott
W5ESE
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2527




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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2009, 12:28:09 AM »

In addition to W1AW, we used 8 track tapes.
73
Bob
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2813




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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2009, 08:58:25 AM »

Fortunately, most of us OTs learned code without ever hearing of anybody named "Koch".

Or "Farnsworth".

We just learned it.  I had an assistant scoutmaster who taught a bunch of us using buzzers and lights.  We got very good with either mode.  I could copy flashing light as well as any of the Signalmen on my ship, and I was a Radioman.

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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KR4EY
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Posts: 29




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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2009, 10:41:04 AM »

I use to use on of those ameco 78RPM code records when I first started learning code in the 80s. That makes me feel old.
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K8AC
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Posts: 1477




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« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2009, 05:11:33 AM »

Learned the basic code in the Boy Scouts.  Built up speed by listening to W1AW code practice every night it was on.  Always listened as the practice speeds progressed beyond where I could copy.  Gradually picked up letters and then words at the higher speed and just kept doing that until I was well past 20 wpm.
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NI0C
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Posts: 2408




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« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2009, 06:49:02 PM »

I got started with the Ameco records (the ones I used in 1959 were LP 33-1/3 rpm).  After memorizing all the characters and passing my 5 wpm Novice exam, I got on the air and made contacts, and listened to W1AW code practice.  

After less than 4 months as a Novice, I passed the General Class exam and chased DX, worked the traffic nets, and did some high speed ragchewing, all on CW.  The Connecticut Wireless Association used to broadcast high speed code practice (40 to 65 wpm) twice a week-- this was very helpful for honing one's speed.  

Learning Morse is like learning any other language-- you're never really finished learning it.

73,
Chuck  NI0C        
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WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 20611




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« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2009, 08:21:38 PM »

>RE: How did you old heads learn morse?  Reply  
by W7ETA on April 5, 2009  Mail this to a friend!  
In addition to W1AW, we used 8 track tapes.
73
Bob<

::The 8-track tape player in my '62 Valiant used to only play  Beach Boys songs (in '68-69) ...LOL.

That's an old memory...

WB2WIK/6  
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