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CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Learn It?

from Howard Bernstein, WB2UZE on March 28, 2019
View comments about this article!

CW: What's The Attraction In Today's High Tech World and How Does One Learn It?

Before I can answer the question why CW would be of interest to any ham in today’s high tech world, let’s spend some time first on how it all got started back in the day of the telegraph.

The telegraph was developed in the 1830s-1840s by Samuel Morse (1791-1872) and other inventors. It was a revolutionary long distance communication done by transmitting electrical signals over wires between stations. Morse invented a code (Morse Code) that assigned a set of dots and dashes to each letter of the English alphabet, which gave an understandable format to the electrical signals.

The first telegraph transmission in 1844 was between Washington DC and Baltimore and by 1866 an oceanic line had linked the USA and Europe. By the end of the 19th century telegraph communication became the backbone of our country. Yet with the invention of the telephone, telegraph lines became of less importance in the early part of the 20th century. However Morse Code (CW or continuous wave) continued to be used with newly developed radio transmitters of that era. Even with the advent of AM transmission and later SSB, CW was the preferred mode for ship to shore, commercial and military applications through the 1950s due to its effectiveness to get through in poor atmospheric conditions and with compromised equipment. With the coming of microwave, fax and satellites, CW use waned but maintained its major use amongst the amateur radio community.

So is there value in CW today or is it a lost art of the past? Let’s take look back to what it was like when I first got my license in 1965 when CW was still required by the FCC. The FCC required all entry level Novices to be able to copy 5 words per minute. Back then there were no computers, internet or software for learning CW so an aspiring Novice had to seek out a local ham to help with learning CW and theory. That local ham would also give the Novice exam and code test. There were no repeaters so most all hams were HF active and imparted these skills to their eager students. So there was a direct connection between aspiring Novices and established HF operators. Seeing the experienced operators handling CW at high speeds was fascinating and motivating. There was also something very engaging about hearing CW over what we now call Boat Anchor radios. When one tuned one of those vintage radio and saw the glow of tubes, it felt like real solid equipment which we developed admiration and respect for. For some older hams today, the need to own those very rigs is due to this same connection made years ago.

Once we became Novices, we were not allowed to have VFO privileges and we worked off crystals. This meant we were stuck with a handful of individual frequencies. Our first receivers were not the best and we had to learn to receive CW with drifting receivers, poor sensitivity and no selectivity, the very things we take for granted in modern radios. These challenges made us excellent listeners and with that our speeds and CW skills increased as we progressed in the hobby. Back then to get a General license 13 words per minute was required and 20 for the Extra. As we became more proficient to reach these required speeds we developed head copy and CW became a language and not a series of dots and dashes. This is why many of the older hams are still preferring CW to voice and digital as they have developed a strong connection to the CW mode. To me there is nothing more satisfying in the ham radio hobby than having a CW QSO at a rapid speed with the challenge of copying in poor conditions, making few sending mistakes.

So getting back to the original purpose of this article: why should we be interested in CW today? I can list a host of reasons as follows:

• CW can get out better when the ham has a compromised antenna or low power. CW is ideal for QRP and portable operations. With weak signals it’s harder to comprehend SSB than it is CW so CW has a clear advantage.
• CW can be copied easier in today’s poor atmospheric conditions
• Sometimes it’s nice to operate your radio and not have to physically talk
• CW bands are less crowded than the SSB portions so there is less competition to make a contact
• The challenge to send CW well is always there. We call that ‘having a good fist’
• CW is like a language and it’s no doubt good exercise for one’s cognitive health and hearing
• Knowing CW requires a good knowledge of operating techniques and protocols which will challenge the individual ham

So one might ask, why CW if we have FT8 or other digital modes which can also get out in poor conditions. The digital modes leave most of the skill to a computer where CW is 100% the skill of the operator. To me it is truly more rewarding to make a CW QSO than sit idly by a computer and have it done for you, yet this is for any ham a personal choice.

Since CW was eliminated from the FCC license requirements in 1991, exams have been issued by Voluntary Examiners. In many cases after the exam, there is no longer any connection between the examiner and the new licensee. Most new hams think that our hobby all revolves around an HT and repeaters. Some have no idea of the thrill of operating on the HF bands or the attraction of CW. Unfortunately a lot of these new hams become inactive as they are not engaged. And with this deficit of active hams, when it comes to contests like Field Day and other special events, the demand for CW operators far exceeds what is available today.

So what is there to do about this? I myself along with my friend Rich K2UPS decided to make a difference. In 2018 we established the Long Island CW Club (longislandcwclub.org). We teach CW via a video conference platform at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Students get actual QSO training also by video conference for honing technique and increasing skill. We have found the interest very high from the students and everyone is having a lot of fun. The retro-ness of CW is very appealing in today’s fast moving world and it’s nice to make a connection to the bands with art and skill. It does take some dedication to learn CW and this commitment, like learning any language is not for everyone. So how does one learn CW?

• Using a combination of what is called the Koch and Farnsworth method, we send the CW at 20 words per minute character speed but the spacing between letters is 5 words per minute. This will acclimate the student to higher speeds from the beginning and prevent the counting of the dots and dashes which will only slow the learning curve
• We teach 11 classes of 1 hour per week at various levels. For the beginners, the student is needing to practice 15-20 minutes daily using G4FON cw software and 4 letters and or numbers are taught per week.
• Sending skills are honed along the way
• QSO skills are taught live as soon as a student can send their call sign and 599. We feel it’s important to get students on the air quickly to help mitigate any fears and to see the value of their studies.

Like the learning of any language, I must admit there is a dropout rate as some students find out they don’t have the time or commitment. However for those who stick it out, they are rewarded by carrying on a skill and tradition that is most enjoyable and unique.

I hope after reading this article, hams that were considering to learn CW or had it on the ‘back burner’, will now spring into action. See you on the lower part of the HF bands!

Member Comments:
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CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by W8LGZ on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
One quick edit needed. You repeated the subject line and first two paragraphs. As for your article, I totally agree.

Jim, W8LGZ
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by AK4YH on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
There is actually more to it than that... CW allows the use of tiny radios like the Weber MTR and others, outputing up to 5W, which is plenty for this mode. Transceivers can be the size of a pack of cigarettes and draw as little as 20mA on receive! A set of eight AA cells can last seemingly forever. For portable operations, hiking, expeditions of all kinds, it doesn't get much better. You do not need a computer, which is an extra point of failure and needs to be fed, which means bigger batteries and the means to recharge them. A QRP CW rig is the most portable and efficient direct means of communication available today, period.

BTW never say "I'm learning CW." You can't learn CW for the same reason you can't learn to speak LSB... You're learning Morse code!

I have a video on learning the code:

https://youtu.be/YJixhiExOcs

Gil.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by K4PDM on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
It's hard for me to understand why anyone would even ask "why CW."
No one asks the archer why he uses a bow instead of a more modern firearm.
No one asks a sailboat owner why he doesn't use a motorboat.
No one asks a calligrapher why he doesn't type on a computer.
We enjoy it. It's fun. It's not for everyone, and I'm glad that hams are no longer forced to learn it.
I'm also glad that lots of newer hams are learning it!
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K4LSX on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Great reading and comments. One thing that was not mentioned, thankfully.

The concept heard now and then “I just can’t get the code” “not possible for me to learn it”. Nonsense.

In my 63 years in ham radio, including being a part of classes when everyone had to be a KN0WCODE ham, I never met a person that walked away from the hobby due to code difficulties, not one. Everyone did it because they were committed to it. Some folks progressed from 5 WPM to 13 WPM and even 20 WPM sooner than others for sure, but everyone did it when they made a decision to “do it”. I even saw young folks in the NAVY who were sent to Radio Op school to become Aircrew Radio Ops who didn’t know what Morse Code was, yet in a few weeks they could copy 20 WPM. Nothing other than commitment.

And by the way...I had learned the code as a Scout, the wrong way. I took my Novice Exam with a good buddy’s father as the examiner. I failed 5 WPM the first time. He sent me on my way and I went back a month later and passed - no problem. Within a year I passed my General 13 WPM exam with FCC examiner. Moving up from 5 WPM to 13 WPM was no big deal. Because I didn’t own a microphone!

Want to learn or improve your code easily? Put the microphone in the desk drawer for a few months and enjoy!

73
John
K4LSX
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by AB4KA on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well said.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by KU2US on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Very well said! BUT, I must respectfully add to the author's post on one point! That the CW bands are not as crowded as the SSB segments. In a way, when having a rag chew He is right! BUT, When was the last time one tried to get a rare DX on CW? Total mayhem. Working split is a must. In this situation, your radio skills are a must! And if you are lacking with radio skills? After some of these pile-ups, you will have aquired some-HiHi..I am not a Flash Gordon with CW, but when I bagged a DXpedition like XR0ZRC in a huge pile up with a compromise antenna (G5RV), it is more satisfying than any other mode. The sense of accomplishment is greater. I USED MY BRAIN!
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K1QQQ on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Most interesting.


I was away from the hobby for awhile and I return to find nothing but HT's and repeaters and nothing much else.

If CW never existed and it just sprung up in 2019 as a better mode to communicate under various situations what would the HT crowd do ? Jump off a cliff ? Their only tale to begin with is CW IS OBSOLETE.

Tech licenses have cw ability 10/15/40/80 ? Not a one will try it. I always had fun with worldwide communications, etc.

Otherwise there are all kinds of modes. Some people are interested in some and others not. It seems cw is the only one cursed at.

I have been guilty of talking down about the new Tech crowd but please please please excuse me again !!!! I do not know how hard the General test is now but with the General you might still only enjoy VHF/UHF but I would not be surprised that some time you will find straying elsewhere is another option.

The ARRL/FCC created the present license system and something is going to pop with 90% tech and everybody else not active. I think auctions of spectrum.

Among many concerns of recent is another. Most all amateurs non-Tech have gone inactive. Although radios are drifting towards no-fix-it and disposable does everybody like to toss it with any minor problem ? The repair people I have known have now left amateur radio and most not due to age. Not interested.

Bashing Tech ? I do not really mean to but again my thoughts are not vs. the individual person !!!!

The thread was about CW but who are the biggest cw haters ?
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by G8FXC on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I passed the theory exam when I was in my early teens (longer ago than I would care to admit), but had terrible difficulty getting up to speed with Morse. Eventually, I gave up on it and simply continued on a Class B licence which gave me all modes and full power on VHF and UHF bands.

Then the British licencing authority cancelled the requirement for a Morse test pass and my licence was upgraded to a full Class A licence giving me access to all bands and modes. I paid a visit to my local equipment store and purchased a 100W HF transceiver - plus a Morse key... I fired up my computer with a Koch morse training program and I'm proud to say that the first HF QSO in my logbook was on CW - admittedly very slow and short, but it was CW all the same.

I'm still pretty slow - about 15wpm at best and after a period of inactivity (like now), I struggle to manage 10wpm - but it is Morse and I get far more sense of achievement out of a short CW QSO with someone just round the corner than I ever do with a long SSB QSO to VK land!
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by WB2UZE on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

Thanks Jim and I am asking for that duplication to be deleted. Glad you are in agreement with me on the article point of view
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by WB2UZE on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

John I enjoyed reading your comments, thanks. I totally agree that if one is committed to learn CW, it will come. Its the same effort that is needed to learn a new language. Put in the time and one will be rewarded with a new skill
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by WB2UZE on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

ERROR IN THE ARTICLE POSTING:

Thanks again to Jim W8LGZ for pointing out errors in the first article posting. In fact there were 2 major paragraphs missing from the original post and now its been corrected and the full article is up. So for the gentlemen that made some positive comments even with part of the article missing, thank you again and please re-read the entire post as it is in better shape now and I will respond in kind.

Regards
Howard WB2UZE
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KJ7WT on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Very nice article! I started out as Tech in 1969 (basically the General theory exam with the 5 wpm novice CW test) because I wanted to talk to others on VHF. Well, that didn't happen for a number of years because of other problems. I eventually had a job where the company had a very nicely equipped ham station on top of a 3-story building (someone stole all the gear one day, I never heard if they caught the perp), and I ended up using CW on 10 an 15 m to communicate with hams around the USA and some DX. In 1983, I used a Radio Shack CW record (33 1/3 LP!) to get my CW up to 15wpm and took the General CW test. I passed, and was now a General! When I got back home, I fired up my old FT-101 and almost immediately made a SSB QSO on 20m, and I never used CW again. Nowadays, I have an Extra ticket, use FT-8 a lot, but miss having a real QSO, but the combination of band conditions, high QRN, and just plain lack of hearing others in the voice portions of the bands makes using SSB difficult. However - I was quite surprised to find that the lack of activity on the CW portion was also a surprise. During the times when I can typically operate, I rarely hear CW, and generally, it is MUCH higher speed than I can copy, much less send (I always used a straight key, I tried a paddle but my lack of coordination just would not work with it - same as piano playing problem, I suppose!), and so, although I have been occasionally working with dome PC programs to try and get my CW up from around 7wpm where it is now, I don't find much incentive to do so. That being said FT-8, despite it's ability to dig signals out of the noise, is not that much fun, except as a means of racking up award contacts.
I have great admiration for those who can work CW at speeds of 20+ wpm, and I hope that people will continue to use it for communication, just as I like the old tube-type "boat anchors". It's certainly nostalgic, but also it's the kind of operating that required some knowledge and skill on the part of the operator, and that is always a good thing.
Finally - my wife worked for our local school district, and I was asked occasionally to come in and do classes on various tech-related subjects. One class was studying old communication methods, and one section was on Morse code. I brought my MFJ practice oscillator in, and I was amazed at how excited the kids were to work with it. I would have them figure out their first name in Morse code (my XYL would walk them through the process) then they would send to me as I stood at the whiteboard and wrote down what they sent. The look of delight on their faces when they saw that they had successfully sent a Morse code message was priceless! Great stuff!
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by VE3WGO on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Band conditions aside, some evenings I hear sections of the CW subbands on 160, 80 and 40 are kind of crowded... not just chasing DX, but sometimes just having good QSOs. Even some evenings on the lower end of the old Novice segment at 7.1-7.125 there's a good amount of slow CW going on.

No doubt in my mind that CW is about as popular as it ever was.

There's just something fun about decoding the messages all by myself that never gets old... kind of like solving puzzles.

73, Ed
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by K8QV on March 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CW has the potential to be the most practical disaster communications mode, but only if there is a sufficient pool of operators who know code. I doubt that's the case these days. QRP CW takes virtually no equipment or power as compared with everything else out there. You can't make people want to use Morse any more than you can make people want to make oil paintings or weave baskets or make button hooks.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World Reply
by AA7LX on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well written !! I wish every student who is interested in getting into Ham Radio could read this article before buying a radio or a handheld. I was exposed to CW when I first wanted to be a Ham and started listening to it and practicing on a key and also listening to tapes. I passed the test given by VE's; and you can too! '73 AA7LX.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K0UA on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I dunno.. There are an awful lot of CW ops during any kind of contest on. At times it is wall to wall CW signals. I think there are a lot of folks who still know and can operate CW. It seems far from dead to me.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by KJ4DGE on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with the statement that if you WANT to learn something you will. Many ops today are into digital modes and CW is the original digital mode. That being said technology is moving so fast who is to say what type of radio communications will be the norm in another 20 years? CW will survive as long as there are people using it just like anything else. Some folks like and use it every day and some do not. Some of us like Broccoli and some of us don't. I can remember 20 years ago Echolink was seen as "not radio" yet it has integrated into many VHF and UHF links and is used on a daily basis. Whatever floats your boat is fine as long as the HAM credo of respecting others is still there.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by ZS1ZC on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
"No one asks the archer why he uses a bow instead of a more modern firearm.
No one asks a sailboat owner why he doesn't use a motorboat.
No one asks a calligrapher why he doesn't type on a computer."

Perfectly put. These are activities that need practice and commitment to the craft. Why learn to play the cello when you can use a synthesizer? The activity is an end in itself. CW provides a unique combination of technology and craft that appeals to many operators. Does it need any more reasons than that?
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by N1NGV on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Very good article indeed. The code had always kept me from getting my ham license so when the no code tech arrived I jumped right in.
Not having space for any kind of a decent antenna system was my main obstacle to getting on HF but I am indeed fortunate that there are several clubs very local to me that have nice HF setups.
I ended up going all the way to Extra so as to have access to more of the bands but every now and again I consider learning the code just for the heck of it.
One day I will take the bull by the horns and do this!! BTW, if you ever have the opportunity to visit W1AW and operate there, do it!! Joe is a great guy and very helpful to all!
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by AB3MO on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
According to the ARRL, a greater fraction of Hams are using CW today than back in the days of required Morse proficiency.
-
I'll lay it to the "un-required challenge!" 'The opportunity to use CW is there, I think that I'll give it a try.' For the same reason, I earned an Instrument Rating despite not needing one for the Private Pilot Certificate!
-
With a 55 year gap between the CONDITIONAL class that expired in 1962 to an EXTRA in 2011 (I'll be 80 in 2019), I'm not giving up. Computational technology has added so much more 'learning support' to Morse Code and many other skill areas.
-
Good fortune (and luck) to anyone proceeding forward!
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by G3SEA on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

Change is the only Constant and so it is with Ham Radio.
We should not disparage Techs as many will move on to
HF on various modes and yes even cw.
In this age of VOIP systems one can work around the World on that inexpensive HT while saving for that
first HF rig.
Many will find CW as a simple,fun and very effective mode if they pursue that learning curve.

G3SEA/KH6
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KH6KG on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Back in the day I was attempting to pass a test for a higher level GS level. In the paperwork under languages was Morse Code. I checked it as fluent. About a month later before the promotion weenies I was asked about my other languages - Russian, Spanish, Malayu, etc. One elderly chap asked me to send Morse with my fingers on the table, I did, asking him why he wanted to know. He replied on the same table top - just to see if you are really a CW operator. I passed the review and he later became a friend of long standing. He also was a ham and former embassy radio op. Anyway, I still use CW the majority of the time as I have for more than half a century.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by W2XS on March 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
It is amazing to see Howard's and Rich's students get over their fears of CW and become competent CW operators. As a CW operator myself, I am happy anytime that a new person becomes part of this wonderful section of the hobby. Long live Morse code! 73, John W2XS
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by NN2X on March 30, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Whether you for CW or not, many of us benefited from learning CW. The simple fact of learning to commit and having the discipline to accomplished a goal carries on to other aspects of the hobby

As I stated many times, Ham radio, provided a career, even indirectly found my wife, and yes great hobby.

We all know why the CW was dropped, it had all to do with the sales. The manufacturers lobbied congress / FCC to drop the CW requirement, thinking there would be more sales. Well, it might have worked for the short term, but not the long term

I consider CW like a language, if you apply for a job that requires a certain language you pass the test. CW is a language, and the FCC should had never dropped the requirement, Ham radio's language is CW

C U all on the bands..


(And yes, I use the digital modes, especially JS8CALL!)

DE NN2X, Tom
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by WB2UZE on March 30, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

Thank you to everyone who read my article and replied and I thought I would respond to some all in one shot:

To KJ7WT: Dave I think you would benefit from our classes. Also your demonstrating CW to the young is very inspiring. That is how many of us got started in radio years ago. Please keep that up.

To VE3WGO: Ed there is always some CW activity on the bands, some hours are more active than others and generally poor conditions are not helping

To AA7LX: Glad you enjoyed the article George

To K0UA: Agree Jim that the CW bands were so crowded this year during the CQWW contest that I heard a wall of CW on 20m past 14.100. I was very surprised that there was not even a spot to call CQ at times

To ZS1ZC: Your comment was nicely put John thanks and by the way I like your vintage rig photos on your QRZ page

To N1NGV: Agree about W1AW visits Kevin and the Long Island CW Club visited there last year and had good time

To AB3MO: Would be great if you would take classes at 80 years old with us Dave. I work cw ops sometimes in their 90s with excellent fists which is amazing

To W2XS: John great to have you as a member of the Long Island CW Club and thanks for the nice comments

TO NN2X: Tom I like what you wrote "ham radio langusge is CW"
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by KC7MF on March 31, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Fun fact. Morse did not invent Morse code. A dude named Alfred Lewis Vail did. Morse wanted a system where numbers indicated established phrases.

Vail got what he deserved though. He was paid $900.00 a year for his trouble and earned the eternal condemnation to the fires of...that is to say gratitude of all of the rest of us. He quit and moved to New Jersey which is the most appropriate place to do penance of which I know.

Second fun fact. Morse was a famous painter. Really famous. That is how he earned his living. He painted presidents, dignitaries, and himself. His ginormous painting of the gallery of the Louvre drew crowds when it was unveiled. His also ginormous painting of congress hangs in the Natural Gallery of Art. (One supposes in lieu of Morse himself.) He also introduced photography to the US. So I suppose we can give him a pass on the Morse Code thing. (Which, again, he did not invent though his name has been besmirched by it for generations.)
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N4OI on March 31, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CW is and has been ham radio from the get-go... Everything else is CB or texting... Just sayin'

73
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KB9CFH on March 31, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CwCom ( Cw Communicator ) Use this after you know morse code.

Morsecat2 --- Learning Morse Code and CRYPTO
Superaldis3 --- Morse Code by Light (computer to computer and self practice. Use audio recorder)
WinMorse2 --- TEXT to Morse Code Audio (Changes text files into morse code audio wave files which can be changed to MP3 files.) Works at various speeds.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by PA1ZP on March 31, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Hi

If you want to learn CW start very young.
My son started when he was 7 yrs old.
He new 5 WPM in 5 weeks practicing 4 times a week for 15 minutes.
After 2 month he was at 10 WPM and that was his limit as he wasn't able to write any faster, because he just learned to write at school.
After 3 month he new how to use the straight key and he passed his CW exam without any mistakes at the age of 8 ( he had to wait 5 month to the exam date.)
After 2 month he practiced recieving 3 times a week for 15 minutes and sending 3 times a week for 15 minutes.

After 3 month his handicap was his writing speed not his ability to recieve CW, at the age of 8 he was doing his first contest in CW.

73 Jos

 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by W5DXP on March 31, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Downside? Getting old and deaf with palsy.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N4KC on March 31, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

As many have noted, a good article, Howard. Thanks for writing. I wrote a very similar article for eHam a few years ago and included it in one of my ham radio books. See "10 Reasons to Learn Dahdidahdit Didahdah" at https://www.eham.net/articles/19366

And K4PDM hit the nail on the head. When playing golf, why not just walk over and drop the ball in the hole? Forget all that hacking and striking! Why fish when you can stop by the nearby grocery store and buy all the fish you want?

We do it for the fun and the challenge. That's one reason why, although I make plenty of contacts on FT-8 and that new-fangled SSB, I still love and use CW. And meet a net each week on...ready for it? AM!

Because it's fun! If you don't find it so, don't worry about it. Do whatever it is you wish to do.

As I boldly predicted when the Morse requirement disappeared from amateur radio licensing, CW is alive, well and thriving. And for some of us, just as much fun as ever.

73,

Don N4KC
www.donkeith.com
www.n4kc.com





 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KB2DHG on April 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
To me, CW is just a fun means of communication. Nostalgic sounds of days gone by BUT as antiquated as it may seem to some, it truly is still the most reliable means of communication especially when conditions are not in the best of shape. I also like to use CW when I am operating in the wee hours of the morning, I can put on my head phones an tap out code without disturbing any ones sleep.

I also believe that CW should be part of the Amateur Radio licensing exam again. If I was never forced to learn CW, I might have never given it a try and then never knew the joy of a CW QSO!
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K9MHZ on April 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
"...also believe that CW should be part of the Amateur Radio licensing exam again."

You had me until you wrote this. Oh well, that's why we live in America, I guess.

CW is fine, and it is fun like Don wrote. But it's not "magical," like some also describe operating tube gear, or anything on 6 meters.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KB6NU on April 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
A couple more way to learn the code include:

* lcwo.net. This website uses the Koch Method, the same method used by the G4FON CW Trainer.
* K7QO Code Course (k7qo.com). This is a set of .mp3 files put together by Chuck Adams, K7QO. It's completely different from the Koch Method, so if for some reason, the Koch Method doesn't work or doesn't appeal to you, try this one out.
* CWOps' CW Academy (https://cwops.org/cw-academy-2/). If you really want to get serious about CW, take this course.

Learning the code is just the beginning. When you get on the air--and getting on the air and making contacts is really the only way to get good at Morse Code--you'll want to know the protocol, as well as the Q signals and abbreviations. To help you learn those--and to help you have fun with Morse Code in general--check out my book, The CW Geek's Guide to Having Fun with Morse Code. It's available on Amazon or KB6NU.Com.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K6CRC on April 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Ham Radio, like most other hobbies, is shrinking. FT8 picked up the slack from dying ECOM part of the hobby. Just as Tech license picked up new Hams who had no desire to learn code.

Glad the OT'ers enjoy CW. But, returning the code requirement will turn the flat to down trend line for new hams to a cliff.

If code requirement is returned, don't hope to live too long and be a Ham. There will be few on the air to talk to.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N4OI on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

"[...] If code requirement is returned, don't hope to live too long and be a Ham. There will be few on the air to talk to."

You guys crack me up!

73
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KB9CFH on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
W3VPR for Morse Code training.
Use this and the ARRL code training for words to put into MORSECAT2 to mix things up and keep from memorizing the copy.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K3UIM on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
<Quote>You had me until you wrote this. Oh well, that's why we live in America, I guess.<end quote>
MHZ: You haven't enjoyed that magic mentioned earlier. Otherwise your answer would reflect the same love of CW that "ours" does. I cannot see the joy of speed boats, but it, too, has its following.
(Especially some of them running from Cuba to Miami.) LOL
Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by NY7Q on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I stated clearly in 1992 that computers mixed with ham radio would be the end of ham radio...so far it is working. CW has always been the base line of communications with ham radio.
CW TODAY, CW TOMORROW, CW FOREVER.
Show me how to understand a "ID" on ft-8 mode. You can't. nor can you on any digital signal.
CW can be used anywhere, anytime, any frequency because it is the baseline of this hobby.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K9MHZ on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
You lost me, Charlie. Oh well.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K3UIM on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
MHZ: It's like a treasure hunter that, after working like a fool for a long time, hitting pay dirt. The thrill of a job completed, (after much sweat, time and hope,) finally being done. At last he can start to take it a bit easier and just "chip away" at it instead of using his maximum effort. (The assayer's report, in the form of an FCC ticket!!) WOW!
Get it? I'm sure there's many out there that have experienced that same sense of satisfaction as I have. (Even the banana boat drivers that aren't caught. LOL)
Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K6CRC on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
'I stated clearly in 1992 that computers mixed with ham radio would be the end of ham radio...so far it is working. CW has always been the base line of communications with ham radio'

Actually, spark gap!
Anyone want to go back to that?
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K9MHZ on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Charlie, I think you’re being dramatic. Yes, I learned it for my ticket, and still use it some today. Again, it’s fine. Does it really matterif some of us aren’t CW Moonies?
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by AC7CW on April 2, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CW appeals to my minimalism. So does a regen rx, small transmitter with built-in paddle, solar power, backpack ops, etc..
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by VE3WGO on April 3, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CW is the most challenging mental exercise we can possibly encounter in all of ham radio. It requires us to know a second alphabet and vocabulary. Successfully sending and receiving it by hand is its own reward.

Voice is the only other mode that requires us to decode a signal with our brain, and since we learn it at an earlier age and use it more during our lifetime, it comes more easily to us than CW does.

All other modes use hardware and/or software to send and receive the message content, without requiring mental exercise.

So to sum up... the attraction of CW in today's world is due to the achievement of self-satisfaction we get when we use our mind in this unique way of communicating.

(It's also a lot of fun.)

73, Ed

 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K3UIM on April 3, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
MHZ: I'm impressed with your profile! Well done. You've explored ham radio as I imagine I would if I wasn't so XXXXX old. HI.

OK! Go ahead and resist all the pleasures of
moonieing! (sp?) See if I care. LOL

"Long live the 'Keys', the monkeys, donkeys, turkeys and the straight keys!

Charlie, K3UIM
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by K4JPN on April 3, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I have been a ham for 57 years, other then college and Air Force time, been continuously active. When I was a kid as KN1VKW all I could work was CW, later as K1VKW and K4JPN, I worked mainly QRP CW. My top speed is 25 wpm which I can have a good rag chew.

Now it seems there is very little CW activity other then contests, the NAQCC, SKCC, FISTS etc.

I get on the air in the evenings and find little or no CW on 80M, 40M or 20M, above that the bands are dead. I then switch to FT-8 and find US and DX stations hopping. The other night I worked a JA on 20M, yet could not hear or raise anyone on CW.

FT-8 is a fine mode, but it does not make for a real, get to know you QSO.

I am afraid CW is a dying art, that many of us old timers would enjoy sharing with new comers.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N3BXZ on April 3, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
K4JPN,

I am having an entirely different experience with CW. I have been active on CW since early November of 2018 (yep last November). I set a goal for myself of making at least 1 CW contact everyday. Except for Thanksgiving day, 2018 when I was out of town, I have made at least one CW contact everyday. Most days I get 4 or 5. And I am operating very casually, 5 or 10 minutes at a time when I have a free moment. I have run into times when contests are filling up the bands, but I still manage to get one or 2 quick QSOs. I just answer a contester.

BTW, I am taking in Howard's Headcopy CW class on Tuesday nights. I highly recommend it.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KY5U on April 3, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
My reason for using CW is simple. It just makes me feel good.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KD7RDZI2 on April 3, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
There are clear advantages in using CW and any ham should use it at least for DX hunting.
1) Today PC based CW decoders-typers allow everybody to have QSOs even at relatively high speed, say 30wpm.
2) You need less power than SSB to make contact. Unless you have a big amp, you will likely make more contacts in CW than SSB, and more DX.
3) It is more 'democratic' than SSB. SSB depends on the voice characteristics of the individual. Some people have not that clear voice or accent. Misunderstandings due to pronunciations are excluded in CW.
4) CW decoders can be corrected by human ears. This is a clear advantage compared to any other digital mode.
5) Correct me if I am wrong but some recent digital modes 'guess' the callsigns stored in a online database of users of that mode. That is in my view close to cheating in the sense the program could not entirely understand the callsign but using some rules or algorithm, searching into a database, it provides a likely callsign.
6) CW can be learned and improved over time. Brain is an advanced biological machine, it just may have less memory than a PC.
7) CW being understandable is far less boring than RTTY or FT8.
8) CW is CHEAP, SIMPLE, EFFECTIVE and VERY EFFICIENT! The NS-40 Class E Transmitter by the Four State QRP Group is a neat example of all of that.

 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K9MHZ on April 3, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
It's all good.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by K9CTB on April 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. For me, CW has become what I call a "necessary anachronism" - sure it's a contradiction in terms, but we do a lot of that today.

When licensing required knowledge of CW, there was an aspect of the licensing procedure which required a level of discipline from the candidate. Even if you had the ARRL "License Manual" or one of the other learning aids, the requirement to actually be able to send and receive CW was more "intrinsic" to the candidate mastering it required and his or her dedication.

Nowadays, with all the questions in the pool available on line, the only requirement for a license candidate is that he or she demonstrate the ability for factual recall. No other real discipline is required.

As for the necessity of CW knowledge in todays on-the-air environment, well, the condition of the bands tells you everything you need to know.

I remember my first use of a CW keyboard ... long before CW decoders were available. Worked - or tried to work - a W7 (I was an N4 call back then). Explained my gear and received a quick "I don't work machines - 73" .... that was my first taste of a newly divided hobby/service. Nowadays, when I work CW, it's me, my Brown Brothers key and headphones ... and about a 13WPM top speed - on a good day. For me, the awe I used to have for operators who could run 30 WPM are gone, since we can no longer tell who is running FLDigi and who is copying in their heads ... I miss that awe ... but change is neither good nor bad ... it's just change.

I'm nobody's CW Op, but I recognize how important discipline is to the learning process. Removing the requirement for discipline imho is not a good response to "change".

73 de K9CTB
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K4LSX on April 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
K9CTB...
Beautiful!
Thanks.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by WB2UZE on April 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

Thank you to all who took the time to reply to my article since my previous post and here again are some select comments:

To KB9CFH: Jim thanks for the tips on the APPS you use

To PA1ZP: Jos yes young minds are a lot clearer and open to learning. I learned CW when I was 13. Trick is to attract young people into the hobby

To VE3WGO; Thanks for the nice comments Ed

To N3BXZ: Tate always my pleasure to have you in the Long Island CW Club Head Copy for QSO class and you are doing great with your daily QSOs too

To K9CTB: Neil only some code readers are effective enough to handle 30wpm and I would say most regular CW ops are not relying on them. Nobody in the Long Island CW Club is encouraged to use them outside of contesting.



 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by WW6L on April 7, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
imaging modifying you very fine article and replacing learning CW with PIC programming.
Or how about satellite orbital mechanics?

All of these are part of being a HAM.
I don't like it when folks demand that proficiency is a condition of licensing.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by G8FXC on April 7, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
WW6L - I agree. While I am very fond of CW, I don't think that proficiency in CW should be a condition of getting a licence. In fact I don't think it is the responsibility of the licencing authority (FCC, Ofcom etc.) to enforce elitism in Amateur Radio. The purpose of the licencing process is to ensure that the operators of radios under an Amateur Radio licence have the knowledge necessary to be able to avoid causing interference to other users. In an ideal world, the RF spectrum would be an open access resource - I don't need a licence to turn on a light bulb, do I? Realistically speaking, the useful RF spectrum is a limited resource and we do need some mechanisms to protect it, but the FCC is not responsible for rewarding you if you work a bit harder than someone else at it.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by VE3WGO on April 7, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
(I think this is my 3rd comment on this topic)...

I noticed the irony of Extra Class Amateurs in the USA having an extra 25 kHz of CW spectrum privileges just for them at the bottom end of 80, 40, 20, and 15, but they don't even have to pass a CW test in order to get it.

Too bad the licencing CW test went away. CW QSOs in those Extra portions of the bands are pretty fast. Wouldn't it be nice having a CW test as a kind of honorary accomplishment to reach for? ... I suspect those ops are all over 20 wpm easily, and if they passed a CW test of some kind they would have something "Extra" to show for their skill. I think they would like that, if they got or upgraded to their Extra licence since the CW test disappeared in 2003.

The point of this is to give some kind of incentive to hams, because today's ham radio hobby is rapidly losing its "Mount Everest" challenges, and things are getting awfully easy with the onward march of digital technologies that are helping to make contacts less challenging than ever. Since Extra Class operating privileges involve portions of the CW subband, then CW testing would be a sensible and (for them) easy to pass test, don't you think? And it would have bragging rights!

Take away the challenges, and life gets dull.

73, Ed


ps, I know that Extras also get some more bits of voice spectrum on 80, 20 and 15 too, but this topic is about CW.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N4OI on April 7, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

Interesting to observe the charged terminology here, depending on the bias... for example:

It is a fact that CW is a mode and operating competency that has tangible value for communicating with compromised equipment and/or in poor conditions.

Yet, testing for CW is described as "elitism" above... LOL!

73
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KC5NGX on April 7, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
The main attraction to c.w. for me is it could be the only way a communications circuit path may be completed during times of adverse propagation conditions.


I enjoy chasing c.w. dx contacts, and would welcome a new amateur radio license class, or an appending endorsement to an existing license class that shows some sort of proficiency (5-40 w.p.m.) in the art of c.w. if an amateur operators so choose.

73,

KC5NGX
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by KB2FCV on April 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article!

I learned CW as a Novice in the late 80's and it's still my favorite mode today. You can make contacts on a radio with minimal components.. you can go on a hike, toss up a wire and make contacts with a radio that practically fits in your pocket. It's a great mode that gets through the noise. There are lots of kits out there for CW transceivers which promotes building radios. There is also a plethora of simple older tube cw gear that is fun to operate and easy to maintain.

Hopefully the article helps encourage people who may want to learn CW. It's still a worthwhile mode to learn.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by W4KVU on April 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
How Does One Learn It?
Same way you get to Carnegie Hall...
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by WB2UZE on April 9, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

I can see my article spawned a discussion on whether or not CW should again become part of the FCC license process but just wanted to say that particular point was not mentioned in my article.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K3UIM on April 12, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
UZE: When you love something, you gotta talk about it!! LOL
Charlie, K3UIM
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KD8ZM on April 14, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Howard, it was a thrill to recently work the LI CW Club station. I am a new (less than 2 years) CW op and am up to about 22 wpm when needed, although most of the time QSO in the 18-20 range. Learning CW takes some work to learn but using phone apps, it's not the insurmountable task that some think of it as.

I will say that CW is the only reason I've stayed with ham radio. If I want to, I can use a tiny MTR3b radio portable and work lots of stations using CW. I am not a dx guy but I recently worked Antarctica on 5 watts, could never have done that with SSB, needless to say.

I wish more people would take up CW.
Brady KD8ZM
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by WB2UZE on April 15, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

Very glad to hear about your CW achievement Brady and congratulations. I share your enthusiasm about CW and that mode too has kept me engaged in ham radio for 54 years.

Also nice your worked W2LCW which was during one of our recent QRP portable operations at a Long Island beach

 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by STRAIGHTKEY on April 16, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
>As for the necessity of CW knowledge in todays on-the-air environment, well, the condition of the bands tells you everything you need to know.

...until you discover FT8 and realize you didn't really know anything and can work stations with a lower signal to noise ratio than you could with CW.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by STRAIGHTKEY on April 16, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
>I can see my article spawned a discussion on whether or not CW should again become part of the FCC license process but just wanted to say that particular point was not mentioned in my article.

What CW discussion doesn't spawn debates about FCC licensing requirements? This is why so many new people don't try CW. It's not a matter of technology. It's because of zealots.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by VE3WGO on April 17, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I think my comments may have been misconstrued as enthusiasm for bringing back morse code skill for licence tests.

What I was thinking of was something different. I was thinking of a test that is one of proficiency for recognition rather than requirement for a licence, because these days there is no longer a licence class that rewards that. But as KC5NGX said, some form of endorsement for code skill might be a nice idea. He explained it better than I did.

But if some people are so mesmerized by the mere mention of a morse code skill test then I have to wonder how these same people can ever join a contest where contesting skill is tested and rewarded (or not), or DXCC where operating skill lets them achieve confirmed QSOs with 100+ countries, or WAS for 50 states or whatever else their skilled achievement is. In every case, superior skill and focused effort win a reward. It is what motivates humans.

I am not afraid to say what others appear to be so afraid of saying: Morse code proficiency deserves an award. If that is an award or licence class, then more power to those skilled in the art.

At my current rusty level of about 8 to 10 wpm, I am definitely *not* highly skilled in morse code, but I very much admire those hams who are! I respect their achievement and I even think they deserve special privileges for their efforts.

73, Ed
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N4KC on April 17, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

I have seen several people here wonder why there is no recognition for Morse code proficiency. Well, there is! And has been for at least fifty years. I still have my certificate for 35 WPM.

http://www.arrl.org/code-proficiency-certificate

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
www.facebook.com/donkeith


 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by STRAIGHTKEY on April 19, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
>I have seen several people here wonder why there is no recognition for Morse code proficiency. Well, there is! And has been for at least fifty years. I still have my certificate for 35 WPM.

I've wondered why there needs to be recognition, like some piece of paper you frame and put on the wall. Just getting on the air and operating at 35 WPM or whatever speed is recognition enough, and proof you can do it. That's the problem with amateur radio, and mainly CW today. Everyone is in some kind of appendage measuring contest. While CW ops are measuring theirs and making fun of everyone else's, everyone else is just out having fun with theirs. It turns a lot of people off to CW.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by N8AUC on April 19, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur Radio is a hobby first. It's supposed to be fun. And for me, CW is fun. Yes you have to work a bit to learn the code. But once you buckle down and get that done, it opens new doors for you.

If you like building gear, CW is for you. Simple CW gear is fairly easy to build.

If you like contesting, CW is for you. It's fun working a contest using CW.

If you like portable operating, CW is for you. Low power CW gear is small, light, and easy to carry.

If you like working DX, CW is for you. Morse code is an international language, regardless of what language you speak.

Just do it. It's a blast!

 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by NR1DX on April 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CW is just "high speed" texting! Imagine trying to text at 35 WPM for 5 minutes . Today's generation ought to find that MORE relevant 8^).... Add to that many of the texting "short cuts"( CUL, TNX. etc) have their roots into CW Op shorthand ...and some texting shortcuts have found their way into modern day CW QSO's as well , LMAO

.. Now what we need as CW opps are high speed "CW emoji's" ...Oh yeah we have already have those too! "dit dit dit dit - dit dit"... 8^)

Dave
NR1DX
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by AA4MB on April 23, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
It's a very interesting discussion. Here are some thoughts based upon what I've read:

I agree with K9MHZ - there is nothing 'magical' about CW (i.e., Morse proficiency) in and of itself. I would substitute the phrase, 'elegant in its simplicity.' That is CW to me. Additionally, it also has a musical, soothing effect when copied in my head. I love having a receiver within earshot on 40 m CW on an evening or a weekend afternoon while I'm doing something entirely unrelated to hamming. I can't explain it and I'm sure it does not hold that same attraction for some (many?).

I actually laughed out loud at the notion that people are turned off toward CW because of 'zealots.' I've heard a lot over the years, but I've never heard someone opine that they were damned if they'd try CW because of all the people trying to ram it down their throats. Unlike another respondent, I have - on a few occasions - known of folks that walked away from hamming because they claimed CW was 'impossible' or 'beyond' them. It's all in the attitude. Case in point: I had an uncle who was lousy at math and reading. BAD. He 'couldn't hack it' - but he wanted to be a fighter pilot. What do you think happened when he found that he needed proficiency in both of those skills to some degree in order to realize his dream? He mastered them. The problem with CW - and ham radio in general, nowadays - is that for most folks there is no 'magical' desire to communicate non-reliably via ionospheric propagation with other people. At the same time, there is no 'magic' of an autopatch bringing folks into 2 meters by the droves. Cellular technology has taken us so far down the road toward science fiction of 50 years ago to the point that any mouth breather who has a few bucks a month to spare is a user of such 'magic.'

I believe that someone else also mentioned that Techs won't try CW and that was a roadblock. Hell, nobody wants to try hamming *period* - because of the reasons I just stated. To the masses, there is no 'magic' in ham radio any longer - period. Too few CW ops to talk to? I guess whoever posted that hasn't tuned to the upper part of most HF bands, because there are frequently more CW stations than LSB stations on 40 meters audible at my location. Relatively speaking, there seems to be relatively little activity of ANY kind on HF, be it CW or otherwise. [I admit that it is hard for me to tell how many different signals are represented by the shrill, screeching noises emanated by JT8, JS8 or the digital mode du jour, so that's outside of my knowledge level at this point] As active as I am (at least 1-2 QSOs per day, in the evenings after work), there have been many nights I've had to fight to maintain a QSO due to propagation and RFI pollution. I traveled to my Mom's house way out in the sticks over the weekend, where I maintain a second station, mostly to marvel at what it is like to have an S0 to S1 noise level once again. Yes, that's another piece to the puzzle and that makes HF more of a challenge.

I'd never thought of the typing vs. calligraphy aspect of CW vs other modes, but I get that. In any case, I'd say CW is to other modes what calligraphy is to typing and printing to a laser printer. WAY more inefficient than some, but elegant in its simplicity in required hardware necessary for sending/receiving. It occurred to me as I was writing this that those using CW keyboards or paddles to send could easily have the same analogy applied to them by a good 'bug' fist - certainly the calligraphy of Morse.

Finally, I had forgotten about it completely until the 'computers mixed with ham radio will be the end of ham radio' argument ... but I remember my own anger when I was working in the computer industry and going to the first hamfests in which a ton of 'computer crap' (my term) started showing up. I was absolutely enraged that 'my' hamfests were beginning to be polluted by non-ham 'stuff' - and that it was such a waste of time trying to sort through it all. While I don't agree with the original comment, I wonder if other hams feel the same way about solar panels, call sign badges and electronic microscopes?

Yes, I wish for the ham radio of the 70s, 80s and 90s (my favorite vantage point decades) to return ... but it ain't gonna happen, so let's all take a deep breath and decide how we can keep what we have currently and how to prepare it to work best for the coming decades to come. I personally believe a greater threat are the thousands upon thousands of licensed amateur radio operators (i.e., ham radio 'licensees' ... because they arent' 'operators' in any stretch of the word when they don't even own a $39.95 Chinese HT) who are licensed and never, ever have keyed a microphone, thumped a key or typed anything into a digitally interfaced transceiver. I use the word 'threat' because at some point those of us who are left which practice the art will be lumped into the same category. What will happen? Who knows? One thing is certain in my mind: HF, VHF, JT8, CW, SSB ... it's *all* ham radio. Nobody is forcing anyone to use any mode and arguing amongst ourselves about the worth and value of one vs. the other is reducing any energy we have left to maintain the good of it all.

 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N4KC on April 23, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

AA4MB:

One of the most thoughtful and cogent posts I've seen in a while here on eHam! It's unfortunate few will see it since it's on an older thread and way down the list of far less thoughtful and cogent posts.

I actually think there is still "magic" in our hobby. Tons of it. Not the same magic for some as it was for us who came aboard half a century ago. Actually, some of that magic can still be found for some in propagating a signal off the ionosphere, though that may not be what yanks most cranks for younger folk. Seems even they would find something magical about talking with an astronaut in the ISS, working someone via a satellite, writing software to get the most from a QRP SDR, designing and testing micro-antennas, inventing a digital mode even more efficient than those of Joe Taylor, and so on.

Where does CW fit into all that? Just as some enjoy restoring and driving antique cars or collecting and listening to 78 RPM records, many of us can find our "magic" in things others consider passe. Often it is the simplicity of the subject that attracts us. Or simply the nostalgia. I agree with you, though, that it is those reasons and many more that make CW still relevant. For me, it is just plain fun. But I just finished up my weekly schedule...on AM!

I do disagree that the bands are not nearly as active. Consider that we have plenty more bands in use now than we once did. And many more modes to be experienced. I know 2-meter FM is not as active as it once was, but if everyone communicating on a local repeater right now was instead on 40 CW, the band would be full. And those on 60, 30, 17 and 12, too? Plus those using FT-8 right now? It would be far worse QRM-wise than during any of those contests folks like to curse!

Anyway, AA4MB, thank you for making some very good points. And see you on CW. And FT-8. And SSB. And FM.

And AM!

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com


 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by AA4MB on April 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
N4FC,

Don, thanks for your comments. One thing which I sometimes muse upon is the selectivity of today’s receivers vs. those of 30 years ago and before. And I wonder if that - combined with lousy propagation and things such as you mention (e.g., more available frequencies on which to ‘play’) does play a part in us hearing fewer signals as a whole. Food for thought, absolutely.

Its also occurred to me that ham radio may see a resurgence of interest in the coming years with more folks into the ‘steampunk’ sort of hobby lifestyle. I can almost imagine that some day a table with a 75-A4 and an Ameco AC-1 transmitter/Knight VFO might be found at a steampunk get together right next to a guy wearing welder’s goggles and a woman in a Victorian bustier. In fact, the two hobby lifestyles might be so close together that it makes me wonder if a whole segment of our hobby might be intertwined with theirs. I can easily see a ‘40 meter AM Steampunk Net’ some day. Along with the nostalgia aspect, I hope that we can continue to have hams at the forefront of developing new technologies and being the RF and data engineers of tomorrow.

I hope to see you on the air, Don. CW, probably. SSB - possibly. FM ... meh, doubtful. FT8 - nope. No interest for me personally but I’m glad to have so many that are fired up about it in the hobby.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by VE6XMX on April 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I love it because it takes me into meditative state, I feel blissful.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N4KC on April 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Matt/AA4MB,

I think you are onto something! I've always maintained that one way to increase interest in ham radio is to point out how well it combines with other interests and hobbies. Steampunk! Why not?

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
www.facebook.com/donkeith


 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by KE0Z on April 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
One big advantage is the simplicity of electronics required.

Our club hosts JOTA every year to which I bring a single tube breadboard Hartley oscillator transmitter. In a short amount of time, using simple analogies, the scouts begin to understand how those few clearly visible components function in harmony to make a working transmitter. Then a couple simple circuits later we have a direct conversion receiver with which they can hear the Hartley. Then I have them send their names to me in Morse.

It is fun to watch their eyes light up with understanding.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by WA4DOU on April 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Around 1969 or 1970, I acquired an International Crystals OX oscillator, PAX-1 Amplifier and a crystal on 7.040 mhz, packaged them in a small Bud box, and made quite a number of cw qso's at the 250 mw output level. Occasionally, I would turn off the PA and just let the oscillator run with the inactive PA still in line to the antenna. I have no idea how much rf made it into the antenna, but whatever it was, it was a fraction of the oscillators rated output of 40 mw. It was enough to make plenty of qso's out to 500-600 miles. That has historically been a big part of the "beauty of cw"!
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by K6WHP on April 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
This is an excellent article with the right sentiments. I have been a ham off and in since 1962 and licensed continuously as an Advanced Class since 1978. That required a 13 WPM code test which I scraped through by the skin of my teeth. From thence until 1995, I had barely touched a key let alone used CW. But, thinking it was time to upgrade to Extra Class, I once more entered the lists.

Surprisingly, I started right out at 15 WPM with amazingly solid copy -- and that was some of the old, wheezy ARRL over-the-air code practice. Gradually, my speed built up to 22 WPM and I got my extra. (Guess you never forget how to ride a bicycle.) While I have not dedicated my life to CW, I have not run away from it either. It is still my main fun when contesting -- especially FD.

The point of this is that attitude counts. CW and amateur radio have always been inextricably linked to me. It was more than tiresome hearing people complaining about how hard it was to get a ham ticket or upgrade because of Morse code. If they had put as much energy into learning the code as they did complaining, we would have had a nation of 20 WPM Extras.

Kudos to those who wrote here about their efforts to mentor, Elmer, and self-help each other to keep this art and skill alive. It is good to see this attitude and reverence coming back. While it isn't a raging bonfire, it's certainly a healthy flame that could be nurtured into one.

71/72 de k6whp

dit dit.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by KC3JV on May 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Guys if your good at CW enjoy it. I prefer PSK with my NUE=PSK device. It gets through better than CW according to an evaluation in QST. If you enjoy CW then use it just like people who enjoy AM Modulation. I could never learn to copy behind and had trouble using anything but a straight key. I passed the General but finally took the EXTRA Class when they changed the requirement to 13 WPM. Each to his/her own enjoyment of HAM Radio.

Mark, KC3JV
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by W4HH on May 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
What are this "FT8" and "PSK" of which people speak? This is a serious question.
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by G8FXC on May 9, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
"What are this "FT8" and "PSK" of which people speak? This is a serious question."

Hmmm, hard to believe that it is a serious question, but I'll bite anyway...

FT8 and PSK are two popular digital modes - in other words, you plug the mic and headphone ports of your rig up to a computer and allow it to drive the rig, transmitting and receiving a sequence of beeps and whistles that encode text. PSK has been around for a long time - it uses encoding methods which allow you to communicate over surprisingly long distances with surprisingly little power.

FT8 is the latest craze in digital modes - it uses some advanced encoding techniques coupled with a very restrictive QSO format to permit amazingly long distance communications with amazingly little power. With FT8, the computer pretty much takes control - the human operator does virtually nothing. You can tune the rig to a popular FT8 frequency, turn the computer on, go downstairs to watch TV with a beer and a bowl of chips, and go back to the shack an hour later to check on the computer and find out who you should be sending the QSL cards to. It's not for me, but a lot of people seem to like it.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by NEELIN on May 12, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Got my license at 61yrs old, finally, after thinking about it since a teenager ;) Working on learning Morse code. 25 years ago I logged hundreds of world-wide SWL-broadcasts, and now my goal is to CW the countries and areas that I previously listened in to SW news/information broadcasts. No interest in other modes at the moment.
 
CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does One Reply
by AB1UP on May 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
When I passed my novice test, my Dad for my birthday got me a Johnson Adventurer and a couple of crystals in the 80 meter band and one rock in the 40 meter band. I was shaky at best, but I managed to make a few QSO's and then received my first QSL cards...I was hooked. I began listening to the ARRL code practice sessions and eventually passed my General class in high school. Back then it was given at the Boston FCC office. Talk about stress, but I passed and became WA1HIR. When I dropped out of college, ham radio became a gateway into the computer industry. A local ham was playing with slow scan television and I built and debugged my converter at his shack. He was so impressed with my knowledge he got me a job at his work place, a computer manufacturer. Years later and a few job jumps and I was a lead engineer working in an artificial intelligence project. All because of a few hams and a hobby that has no limits.
AB1UP
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by N1NGV on May 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
AB1UP, what a great story!! My interest in electronics and Amateur radio was also my gateway into the computer industry. I must say that this article on CW has generated more great conversation and responses than most do. Hats off to the OP!!
 
RE: CW: What's The Attraction In Today's World and How Does Reply
by K3UIM on May 20, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
MB: "I actually think there is still "magic" in our hobby. Tons of it. Not the same magic for some as it was for us who came aboard half a century ago."
It's my feeling that the "magic" is still there, but, as you said, "not the same". We, of yester year, experienced a thrill of first building our transmitter or modifying a piece of military surplus to the frequency we desired, then building our own receiver, or modifying a piece of military gear (ARC-5), then matching them up with a trans-match and SWR meter, (all, incidentally from the great novice book, "Understanding Amateur Radio". The real thrill was a smokeless success. Hi.
Charlie, K3UIM
 
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