eHam Forums => Youth => Topic started by: KJ4AZX on March 23, 2008, 12:44:20 PM

Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: KJ4AZX on March 23, 2008, 12:44:20 PM

 I am learning morse code and I would like to know how different people learn it. Post here how you learned morse code! Right now I am learning by listening to it on my MP3 player.


Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: K8GU on March 24, 2008, 05:46:17 PM
I started with a computer program called Super Morse that has long since disappeared.  Initially, the best way to learn Morse code is to have something (software or recordings) to drill you on the characters; but, after you've mastered most of the characters, getting on the air will do more for you than anything else.  The most important thing is to relax, have fun, and remember that everyone you contact was at your skill level at one time, even if they're too old or proud to remember!

Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: K8KAS on March 26, 2008, 09:13:36 AM
Study time is how you learn it. I taught code at the Army Radio school(Ft Knox) in 1966 and 67. It makes me mad when I hear all the big cry babys moan about learning code. We turned young radio op's out in two and three weeks at 15 word per min by the 100's. I can only remember 3 or 4 cases out of 500 or so that could not hack it. What it takes is time listining to code, an hour or better per day, two hours if you can, do this every day and not once a month. You will surprise your self how fast you learn. And if you don't study and learn to your training levels I will put you on extra duty and you will stay up until midnight and come in on the weekends to copy code, plus drop you for 30 push up's when I catch you not copying the code or if I just feel like it, ha you will learn it, yes thats how the Army taught it in two weeks...Cry Baby's.

Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: N3CJN on March 27, 2008, 12:38:00 PM

   There may not be one best way to learn Morse code, but there are some common traps that can slow down the learning process.  If you avoid these traps, you should pick it up faster than many of your fellow hams:

(1).  Not devoting (enough) time to listening to Morse code.

     Seems obvious that it will take time and effort to learn, but I swear that some people think - or at least hope - that they can listen to a recording once or twice and that will suffice.  Sorry.  That doesn't work unless you are a certified Morse Code prodigy.

(2).  Listening to the same recording many, many times.

    Your brain remembers more than you realize.  After hearing it just a few times, your mind already anticipates what is coming next. Fresh code forces your brain to concentrate more to catch what is being sent.  So, replace your MP3s often with new sample of code.

   One suggestion is to get the Koch trainer software from  It has various options that will allow you to generate a range of different training sessions.

(3).  Only listening to speeds you can already copy.

    This one is a killer.  It has slowed the progress of many a ham trying to improve their code copying ability.  If you only listen to slow code, you may get better at copying it, but it will take forever to learn to copy fast code.  It may be human nature to favor speeds you can copy with ease versus challenging yourself to copy at speeds where you only catch every word or so, but the more you listen to significantly faster code, the more it will "slow down" in your brain.  

   My suggestion for this one is to record W1AW's code practice sessions when they run from faster to slower.  As you try to copy the faster speeds, you will miss a lot, but when they reduce the speed, it will seem much slower.  Then they reduce it again and it starts to seem really slow...

(4).   Always copying individual characters.

   What's a ham to do?  We all start out learning individual characters.  When you need to copy specific info, like an address or part numbers, and the like you MUST copy each character.  But we talk in words.  We hear in words.  Your Morse skills really start to take off when you learn the sounds of common WORDS instead of having to spell each one out.

   G4FON's software will generate common words.  Make some recordings of those, and listen to them on your MP3 player.  Hear the rhythm of words like "and", "the", "rig", "up", "my".  Can you pick them out of W1AW practice session??

(5).  Key shyness

   Someone back before I first became a ham in the 1970's decided that it was enough just to learn to copy the code.  Sending ability would follow naturally.  Right.  Not for me, it didn't.  Using a straight Morse key is a separate skill.  Using Iambic paddles and keyer, still another.  (These are also skills that get rusty, by the way.)  So, pluck up the courage and - maybe with an elmer looking over your shoulder - make some real CW contacts.  The best way to improve your ability with a foreign language is to use it.  Nothing makes you better at Morse code than using it to communicate.  What did the other person say?  Is it my turn?  What am I going to say? How long should I pause between words?  Did I mangle that last word?...  

   Remember your first time on a bicycle?  Bet it didn't go totally smoothly.  Until you've done it awhile, your CW QSOs may be a little wobbly.  Be persistant.

   Hams who keep postponing using Morse code never really master it.  Use it, enjoy it.  Challenge yourself to improve.

(6).  The head copy hurdle

   You know what?  It's hard to focus on copying what you hear and write at the same time.  It's liberating to be able to copy the code of a QSO in your head while not writing any of it down.  No splitting your attention to two tasks at once!  As you get better at Morse code, try listening to other folks' CW QSOs without writing it down.  See how much you get/how much you miss.  Didn't do so well?  Try tuning in a slower QSO and copying that in your head.

   When I was starting out, I listened to W1AW code practices a lot.  During the sessions when they go from slow to fast, I'd listen to the slowest speeds and force myself to write down the characters two or three characters AFTER they were sent.  Eventually, I switched from printing to cursive writing for this. (Cursive is faster than printing, so this comes in handy during fast QSOs).  Then, I'd  try to copy one full word behind what was being sent.  What different techniques can you devise to maximize your Morse code practice sessions?

   You have some advantages in your quest to master Morse.  Since you posted to this forum, I assume you are still young.  That's a big plus when learning languages - and when learning Morse code.  And you've already started to work on learning it.  That tells me you are self motivated and want to learn it. Now, all you have to do is to keep at it.  Don't be afraid to use what you are learning.  Keep it fun, keep it fresh and interesting.  You'll amaze the old fogeys with just how fast you master CW.

73 es GL

Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: KI4JQB on March 28, 2008, 06:08:03 PM
Like N3CJN mentioned, I used Koch G4FON. I worked on it for about two months and passed my Element 1 test quite easily. I recommend it. Here is the link to the reviews page.

Take care, Stephanie.

73, John

Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: K8AC on March 29, 2008, 04:43:58 PM
After learning the code in Boy Scouts, I learned to copy by listening to the ARRL code practice sessions.  They're still on the air and you can start copying at the slowest speed and then move up as they increase the speed until you can't copy any longer.  You also get some experience listening to a real signal on the air and dealing with interference and atmospheric noise.  

Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: W4KVW on March 30, 2008, 08:09:17 AM
I used CODE QUICK & learned it in 8 evenings at 2 hours per evening.Passed the test with straight copy. If it worked for me it MUST be GOOD & I "HATE" code!I have NOT used it since I upgraded since it gives me a BAD headache.SSB is the mode for me. }:>)


Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: KE6AEE on April 06, 2008, 03:11:06 PM
A few years ago I learned Code at 5 wpm to get my general. looking back now I regret not learning at least 13 wpm right off of the bat.  Recently I wanted to increase my speed and IM at about 14 with a goal of at least 16 wpm.  from my experience it is just as easy to learn at higher speeds.  Start at least at 13 wpm and save yourself some time.  I use "JUST LEARN MORSE CODE".  I or a friend just set the speed and type a bunch of text then listen.  Might not work for everybody but it works for me.


Title: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: KC9MAV on May 26, 2008, 03:25:20 PM
G4FON Software.

Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: N0NUF on June 25, 2013, 09:09:02 PM
Hi Steph.

Learn all your characters at 20-25 until they become innate, meaning you dont think about them anymore. listen to the words, do NOT learn to count the elements. Words and letters must must be reflexive so when you hear them you immediately know what they are. Now, is time for words. Make some lists of common words and make MP3 files using ebook2cw (free on net) Now create these word lists in like MS Excel. Then copy the first column to the next 2 columns. This will give you 3 words of each so you don't have to keep rewinding. Copy all words in Excel and open notepad and paste them in there. Then Save and close all word lists, Now you are ready to use ebook2cw. open ebook2cwGUI program and look it over. And set the top 2 left settings to your word speed. 20, 25, etc. Now choose SINE wave below, and check the block and adjust the tone you want to use same tone. and not set your time. When this is all done, click the save button at bottom and then click create. COntrats! You have just converted your first test file into CW. This can even be done on entire story books at a time.  I have 15 cw words files each has been transcribed from text to CW at the 25, 30, and 35 WPM ranges. This way when one is too slow, you can use an identical file that goes faster, and /or drop back down if needed.

Ih your have any questions drop me an email. Google for my call = n0nuf = on the internet or QRZ.COM.

Configure ebook2cw for 4 sec word spacing, no chapters, and for your choice of 20, 25, 30, 35, etc. Name the artist, and name the title. 4 sec word space gives the beginner a way to start listening to words and stop worrying about spaces. And when you're at 70-80% copy, jump on to the next faster MPD and work some more. Do all of this an hour or 2 each day faithfully and in 1-2 weeks you will be on air copying with some of the mid-speed to high-speed ops.

Take care and GL!
Scott - N0NUf

Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: W4HTH on June 26, 2013, 06:00:26 AM
I picked it up in only one week using . go to games scroll down to morse code machine. tried a lot of the others, this was the easiest one to pick up.

Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: N3HFS on July 08, 2013, 06:34:34 AM
I'm curious to know how's she's fared over the past five years.

Has anyone got her in their CW logs?   ???

Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: N9LCD on July 14, 2013, 07:40:48 AM

Find somebody who will work with you, LISTEN to you, PERSONALIZE the learning experience.

There's too much of "I learned code this way, so you got to learn it the same way".

I don't know how many ways I tried learning code but I never could find somebody to work with me and help me over the hump from individual characters at 36 WPM to groups.


Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: K2OWK on July 14, 2013, 09:22:11 PM
Choose one of the code sites on the computer. Most have adjustable speeds. Memorize the code characters. Then copy the code. Do not try to copy all the letters this can be frustrating for a beginner, and while trying to hear a letter you missed, you will miss a whole bunch more. Copy all the letters you hear and understand . As you learn to copy without error at one speed rise the speed to the next level.

Don't forget to get a code key of your choice. Using a code practice oscillator practice sending code, this will familiarize you with code rhythm and proper sending technique, which is as important as copying.

When you can copy reasonably well start transmitting and receiving code on your ham radio. Nothing increases your speed, both transmitting and receiving, by having a conversation with a fellow ham.



Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: K1CJS on July 16, 2013, 05:15:26 AM
Aw, come on.  A FIVE YEAR old thread?

Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: KJ6TSX on July 29, 2015, 08:09:04 PM
May be a 5 year old thread but it helped me ;D

Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: KD8ZM on December 02, 2017, 12:56:09 PM
Someone needs to program a Nintendo game called "CW Hero"
That would solve the youth cw issue  (if it is an issue ).

Title: RE: Best way to learn Morse Code
Post by: VK5EEE on December 08, 2017, 10:04:19 PM
Aw, come on.  A FIVE YEAR old thread?
No, a TEN year old thread!