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Survey Question
Thanks for voting! Your vote has been included in the results below.

When learning Morse code, I found it...
  Posted: May 06, 2001   (1450 votes, 69 comments) by N2MG

Survey Results
easy. 16% (233)
challenging but fun. 47% (687)
tolerable. 17% (253)
painful. 15% (221)
Never learned it. 4% (55)

Survey Comments
I learned CW the wrong way, by sight. I sight memorized all the characters, while listening to the "Old Navy" code records as well. In 1975, finally got up to 5 wpm and got my Novice. For a year the shack was all CW. The best memories of Ham Radio, were tuning up the DX-60B, listening on a borrowed Hallicrafters SX-101 and just doing the best I could. The problem was and is, I have to visualize the sounds to a mental picture of the characters. This is a very slow process, and has been difficult for me to over come. WARNING: DO NOT LEARN THE CODE THIS WAY.....
But, like so many in the comments here, CW went by the wayside when the FT-101E, bought in Hong Kong, 1976, went on the air.
I now function as a VE for the American Airlines Amateur Radio Club here in Tulsa.
One of the gentleman who came and took the test is getting me back into the world of Dots and Dashes. I am looking forward to getting my speed back up and spending much more time on the lower end of the bands. And hopefully getting the sound picture, rather than the sight picture.

Posted by KD5KD on May 26, 2001

Learning CW
Depending on how you look at it, I guess my experience was easy. You see, I had no choice. Uncle Sam said he wanted me during the early fifties, back when Canada was not an option and following orders was a way of life. After basic training I found myself at the 13-week "Intermediate Speed Radio Operator" school at Fort Dix, NJ.

After learning the letters and symbols in a prescribed order, we proceeded to increase our receiving speed in steps up to 18 WPM. The practice tapes were actually somewhat faster. I had more trouble with sending than with receiving. After passing 18 WPM, I was still struggling to send at 13 WPM. Of course, that was with a straight key. I must have done all right, though; as one of the top five in the class, I was sent on to the 16-week "Field Radio Mechanic" school at Ft. Benning, GA.

After that, it was off to Germany, where I eventually got my first ham license as DL4OZ (taking an English-language version of the Bundespost exam). Finally, after returning to the U.S. and becoming a civilain again, I received my present W1IQW call.

My problem today is that we were taught to take CW using block letters, and as I get older my fingers are becoming too stiff to form those letters rapidly, so I receive mostly "in my head" and write (print) a few notes.

Posted by W1IQW on May 22, 2001

Learning CW
I made it even harder, I had to learn it twice. The first time was for my novice and general licenses. From then on through my advanced, I was a complete phone person. About 6 years ago, after moving to NC, I joined a VE team. The group wanted a complete Extra class VE Team so we could all do all the exams. Soooo...back to square one on CW. I got lots of encouragement from local hams who used CW regularly. After much work in every CW contest I could find, I finally passed the 20wpm test (on the second try). The piece of wallpaper that I'm most proud of is the CW DXCC that hangs in the shack. CW is a mode and I am finally using it for DXing.
73, Bill, W4WNT

Posted by W4WNT on May 21, 2001

I'm learning it right now...
Passed my tech. test 10 years ago and after a year or so let hamradio for what it was. Last year i picked it up again: a small room became available in our house as a shack and i got the K2 kit from Elecraft. Ten years ago i made some starts at learning cw but quit as many times. I count myself extremely lucky to have enrolled in -maybe- the last 2m fm cw-class led by Leen PD0MPL. We started in January and are nearing the 12/10 wpm mark now. The test is in December so there's plenty of time (so Leen keeps telling us -hi-). This test will be down to 5 wpm then, but our class will take the 12 wpm "old" style. One thing i would like to mention: MorseMail. MM is a way to send and receive cw messages through email or a server. It's a wonderfull programme by Harry AB7TB that allows me to practice with Ted KB9PRD. As Ted put's it: it's my dx rig !

Check it out on

73 Leo PE1OBG

Posted by PE1OBG on May 11, 2001

I spent a lot of time getting to 20WPM. Glad I did, as I prefer getting into CW DX pile ups over SSB.

Greatest thing about the low code tests, is (I presume) fewer people in the CW DX pile ups can copy the fast CW ops in the major DX operations, like 3b6rf.

Posted by RobertKoernerExAE7G on May 11, 2001

The Enjoyable Mode, CW
They say 'it's good to learn morse code when you're young' I don't know whether this is true or not, but for me I'm really glad to use it steadily up to 35 WPM (tx/rx). I learned CW at the age of 14. I was (and is) an active SWL. I was often listening to beacons and ham QSOs with CW.

For me the hard pard is to get a good copy of 10 WPM. After you got proficiency at this speed, it is not so hard to copy the higher speed.

When I reached the higher speed (around 25 WPM), most of my QSOs are with CW. It is very effective in contesting, and also rag chewing. I logged more stations with CW than SSB in contesting. In rag chewing with CW, I could have an enjoyable QSOs with my CW friends on the air using those abbrev. and jargons. Something you don't have in SSB! For me it's like comparing reading a novel and watching a movie.

I hope this mode will last forever, and many hams would learn it, so we all can share this enjoyable and exciting mode hams ever have.


Posted by YC7VCW on May 11, 2001

When learning Morse Code...
I learned in the Army (lo those many years 1953) at Ft. Jackson, those days, as a field radio operator you were trained using 5 character groups...letters and numbers, no words, as such.
For this reason, most who learned the code this way, were limited to copying it using a pencil (or mill if in the Navy). One couldn't learn it as a language which allows you to be able to copy some characters, or words, behind..
This limits you to a speed of not more than about 20-25 wpm (unless you were a really fast writer).
Wish I'd learned the other way...

Posted by KX4JR on May 10, 2001

Slow Learner
I probably set some kind of record for learning CW. Started in January, finally got my Novice license in September--FOUR YEARS LATER. Took a full year to learn/pass 13 WPM (I was stuck at 10 WPM for 7 months!) and I swore that I'd never operate CW again. WRONG! The station I could afford as a college student wasn't very effective on phone, but I could make contacts on CW. My speed gradually eased up to around 20 WPM and I finally sat for and passed the Extra, on my first attempt!
A funny thing happened. At and above 20 WPM CW seemed easier. I was copying in my head, not on paper. I was enjoying the reduced QRM associated with narrow bandwidth CW--compared with the chaos of SSB. I started doing contesting and DXing--I found I could be effective at both and have fun using 100W., wire antennas and CW. Speed kept creeping up--guess I copy about 40 WPM now.
Bottom line? CW's not an easy skill for some of us to learn and there may be plateaus along the way. Proficiency can take a long time to develop. But, if you stick with it--the skill will come. And, with that skill comes a lot of operating success, a lot of QSO's and a lot of QSL cards. I call it fun.

Posted by K3YD on May 10, 2001

Learned it the hard way!
I had started listening to shortwave radio (not the broadcasters, but everything else) when I was 10 yrs old. I always wondered what all the beeping sounds were and what was being said. When I was 26, I had got ahold of a chart with the dots and dashes represented graphically. I then proceeded to listen to the repeating marker signals from coastal CW stations and looking at the chart to decode the sounds and and interpret them into letters and numbers. WHAT A MISERABLE WAY TO LEARN CODE. KIDS, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! I was unaware that code practice tapes even existed. However, I learned the code this way and amassed a collection of QSL cards from the coastal CW stations. When I was 34, I eventually met a lady friend of my dad's that was married to a ham and proceeded to ask this newly discovered radio expert about how I would go about getting a ham license. When I was 35, I went and took the test. I couldn't keep from snickering and laughing to myself at the ease with which I could understand the 5wpm code test! Not long after, I went and took the 13wpm test and passed it, too. I didn't take the code test because I had to, I did it because I was truly interested in learning how to send and receive Morse code. Besides, I wanted to be able to send out some of those nifty QSL cards myself! Today, at 41 yrs. old, I still like using the code. Just don't try to learn it the way I did!

Posted by KN8AW on May 10, 2001

Easy for anyone
I only learned the code in order to qualify for a Novice license back in the mid-1960's, when I was a kid -- but I'm very glad I did learn it, and now it's my preferred mode of operation.

Learned by mouthing the dit-dah sounds with a buddy of mine who was also interested in becoming a Novice (and who became WN2WND). A is "didah." B is "dahdididit;" and so forth. I don't think we even owned keys or oscillators, and certainly didn't have study guides, records, tapes, software (or computers, for that matter!) or any other tools. Just a listing of what the characters were, and our voices.

Dedication, and about two weeks' worth of dit-dah'ing, and we had 5 wpm down flat. Took the tests, and passed easily.

Then, the truly fun and ultimately easy part began -- making contacts, using code. Holy cow. First QSO was a disaster, I probably missed everything the other guy sent except his call sign. The next QSO was better. The thousandth QSO on CW, which probably occurred only about a week later since I was totally fanatical at this point, was very easy, and my speed was now up to about 13 wpm. Yep, in one week. No studying, no tapes, no baloney, just making contacts.

And making contacts back then wasn't so easy for me, with very limited equipment and antennas, crystal control, about 25W output power (fine when you have real antennas, but I was pretty handicapped in the antenna department) and doing the "call CQ, then tune around for an answer" routine. Not a very popular routine today, but it was the norm back then.

Making contacts, that's the key. Using study guides, tapes, CD-ROMs, and all that is certainly more high-tech, but rarely gets the job done because it just isn't interesting. Which is more interesting, listening to the radio or playing an instrument and/or singing to make music? Listening to a ball game on the radio, or playing in one? Being a passenger, or driving the car? No comparison. DOING holds our interest. Listening or watching doesn't.

Since when making contacts on the air, it becomes important to actually understand what the other station is saying to us, improved code skills are a no-brainer if you actually USE the code, to make contacts. Doesn't matter if you only copy 1% of what the other station sends. The next time it will be 2%, and the next time 5% -- and before you know it, without thinking about it or doing any work, you're there, at 99% copy and a much higher speed.

Ta-da! It truly is a cinch.

73 from a CW lover...

Steve WB2WIK/6

Posted by WB2WIK on May 9, 2001

Learning/Maintaining the CW!
First off to those CW HATERS. CW is a language not a mode and is very mentally stimulating. I enjoy listening to CW while I create in my art studio.
When I was studying for my NOVICE license in the 1970s I used the AMECO CODE COURSE(The full size Albums). I practiced copying every day after school along with listening to CW on my multi-band receiver.
The same technique was used along with on the air contacts to achieve GENERAL CLASS
two years later. Another aspect of radio listening I discovered which helped maintain my CW speed to this day was copying Marine Shore Stations and SPY NUMBER STATIONS.
The latter I used to teach CW to my students in a General Class I was in charge of. I wanted them to have a taste of something different other than some boring QSOs.
For the EXTRA took some time with school and working. With the development of the MFJ MORSE TUTOR I could practice just about any where any time(driving to and from work or while reading a book and or listening to classical music). I passed the EXTRA and encourage others to push beyond the 5WPM and enjoy HF. CW ALL THE WAY.
Fred Lehman WD8MGO

Posted by WD8MGO on May 9, 2001

Easy when I was a kid...
I learned CW when I was about 13 or 14 years old, and got up to the UK test speed of 12 wpm in about a year of casual learning ( Dad made me do school work before Radio).

I passed the test and got on air in 1978 at age 17 and am pleased that I did it then, not now as I have seen many people struggle with CW once they have to contend with jobs, family etc.

Maybe this is why many of the OTs learned code so easily during their service days or was it the discipline ??

Larry G4GZG

Posted by G4GZG on May 9, 2001

Learning Morse
After being introduced to ham radio by a high school classmate, I was fascinated by his interpreting the sounds that emanated from his speaker. It took a while, but I scrounged up a straight key and a doorbell buzzer and began practicing by myself. My next step was to use earphones to monitor the A.C. note coming from a Lionel train transformer. Then I built a Heathkit AR-2 receiver which took me a year to make work. By that time, I could send pretty fast (5 WPM...or so), and I thought I was a "hot shot" until I visited a local ham who had a code practice oscillator. He had me send something to him, so I sent "CQ". He laughed and told me I had sent "N N M A", and clued me in on character and letter spacing. Eventually, I got it right. I listened to the Novice bands and tried to print what I heard, but I was never sure that what I copied made sense...everything ran together. I would print the copy then separate the words that I could recognize. Finally, in December of 1955, I was given my Novice exam by W1LRZ, a very competent CW operator in his own right. I passed and got my first license in January of 1956.
In those days, I couldn't afford much for equipment, and A.M. was out of the question; I couldn't afford a microphone, never mind a complete modulator, so I stayed on CW. After six months as a Novice, I began studying for my General Class ticket and bought an Army-surplus J-36 (Lionel) bug by mail-order from J.J. Glass Company in California. The bug cost me $6. plus shipping to my Maine QTH.
Now I could send a lot faster than I could receive, so progress was fast. Printing what I copied at 15 WPM was a chore, but possible.
I had no difficulty passing my exam (by an FCC examiner) that Fall.
I progressed further when I found that I couldn't print as fast as I could copy, so I took up handwriting instead of printing. The outcome wasn't as legible, but I could read what I wrote. I still hadn't learned to copy in my head. That came after a few more years, and I've been doing it ever since.
In summary, I didn't learn THE CODE overnight, it was a daunting challenge...but I persisted and tried to send the best CW I could. I still keep trying....47 years later!
It's a great mode.

Posted by N4CW on May 9, 2001

Code easy for teenager
I learned the code in one week solid and impressed the elmers by memorizing the code tape pattern and writing the letters down BEFORE the machine sent it. That was when my brain was young and had not been influenced by: STUDIES, WORK, WOMEN, LIQUOR, STATIC ON 160, WIDE OPEN EARPHONES, CONTESTS, ETC. Heck! I can't even hear anymore and my brain is fried. I doubt if I could learn the code now if it were changed to another format. Ham Radio will destroy A good brain. I am a living example.....But, I still love it!!!!!!!!

Posted by N4RJ on May 9, 2001

learning cw
I was one of the lucky ones. My dad, W9EIZ, taught me cw as I was learning to read and write, so it came naturally to me. I am eternally grateful! He has been gone many years, but his love of ham radio lives on. 73 bob de W9GE

Posted by W9GE on May 9, 2001

Learning CW
When I first tried to learn cw over 20 yrs ago, it was difficult, then after being disgusted,angry, and upset..I left it alone for a while, then after time passed, I picked up the tape recorder and had a different expierence .. think I looked at it different, it was not easy by no means, think I decided it wasn't going to stop me from getting my ham ticket, got to be fun actually, I worked many DX stations on CW during my novice years.
Brian / ka4zrf
p.s. - As holding my general ticket, and enjoy phone..plan to get back to CW also.

Posted by K4ARD on May 9, 2001

A MAJOR challenge, but worth it !!
When I was in 7th grade, I attempted to learn the morse code 3 times by myself and failed. Then a guy moved in across the street who had just returned from the Army. He was in the signal corps. He sent me code a few times and it became fun. It finally started to stick. I listened to the novice bands on 40 meters for a month or so and went and took my novice. I passed and never looked back. Today CW is 97% of my operating and I cruise along at about 40 WPM.

Posted by K3SUI on May 8, 2001

That's where the DX is!
I was SSB for a couple of years and I noticed that some DXpeditions didn't do SBB (DJ6SI for example), so it was try or no country. Now I am not the greatest, but I find it easier in a CW pileup than SSB. Actually prefer it, less work!
-73 Rick N4XMX (now getting honor roll after working the VK9C guys on cw!)

Posted by N4XMX on May 8, 2001

My Morse Experience
It took me about 3 months of on-and-off use of Morse Academy to learn morse code. I took the test and copied all but 1 prosign, and I got a 10/10 on the written exam. However, I am not that good at copying it on the air and I don't have General yet.

It surprises me that this discussion isn't bringing out the mean Extras who want to tell us how their fingers bled on the code practice oscillator! I guess this discussion is lucky...

-.- -... .---- . ...- --..

Posted by KB1EVZ on May 8, 2001

Learning the Code
It was very easy for me to learn at age 14, using a code record (an LP on vinyl).
The main way I increased my speed was by listening to QSO's, then participating
in them on the Novice bands. Listening to code practice by W1AW and W1NJM also helped.
Today, I hear people use 2m FM for code practice, and shake my head in
amazement at the waste of bandwidth! Nothing beats listening to real QSO's under real
conditions of QRM and QSB.
I still much prefer CW, especially for DX. For me it is easier than understanding the human
voice, especially interpreting accents! Many times I will recognize a familiar "fist" on the air
after hearing only a phrase or two.
I realize that not everyone thinks CW is easy or fun, and of course that's okay.
Diversity is what makes this such a great hobby!
73 de Chuck NI0C

Posted by NI0C on May 8, 2001

Not hard to learn ... if you use it!
Passed the nocode tech test in Nov 1991. At that time it was taking up to 13 weeks for the FCC to get a new ticket out, so I studied the code. By the time my ticket arrived in February, I went on the air with my new (to me!) TS-520SE as a tech with HF priveleges. In early March I passed the 13 wpm code and got my General ticket. In June, I passed Advanced and 20 wpm code test. I passed the Extra written in July or August, just to get access to the bottom of the HF bands.

Sometime in 1993 I bought my first microphone ... for 2 meter FM.
I can be found most days on 30 meters, often QRP, sometimes QRO (on 30 that's only 100 watts), but always using CW.

The one thing someone can count on when buying a rig from KD1JT ... the mike will be in like new condition ... grin!

Posted by KD1JT on May 8, 2001

Very Easy
I learned the code when I was about 13 years old. The first code I ever copied was on my parent's Philco radio that had shortwave bands on it. Of course it had no BFO, but that didn't keep me from "deciphering" the U.S. Navy's CW station NSS. The pattern was repetetive 24 hours a day, 365 days a year I guess. It was V V V V V V V V V NSS NSS NSS and of course this was just a thumping sound, with no tone. I guess it is not too strange that I learned to "polish" my code by using a Key on Board which was loaned to me. No oscillator/tone whatsoever. I made the tones either vocally or imagined them in my head as I formed the characters on the "silent key". To this day CW still accounts for 95% of my activity and has brought me countless hours of tremendous pleasure. I realize learning CW is more or less a challenge, depending on the individual....not unlike giving up smoking....for some it is easy and for some it is difficult...just depends. I would like to assure anyone reading this that is perhaps wondering learning the code is worth the effort, I ASSURE YOU IT IS. Best 73, Tony, W4FOA

Posted by W4FOA on May 8, 2001

A challenge to be sure
I just wanted to know what those guys on the air were saying. Then I got the crazy idea that maybe I could get on there too. Sure it was a challenge, but when you keep your eyes on the prize, the work you have to do to get the prize becomes pretty much irrelevant.

Posted by N8AUC on May 8, 2001

Learning CW
In Germany exam-speed was lowered to 5 wpm at a letter speed of about 10 wpm.
So I took the challenge after 10 years on VHF and UHF and I must admit that I
now have almost more CW-contacts in my log than SSB or PSK-contacts.
Im glad to have learned it.



Posted by DK9BDN on May 8, 2001

Code Quick RULEZ!
I'm willing to bet that everyone who answered "painful" or "never learned it" didn't use Code Quick.

Posted by AG4DG on May 8, 2001

Painful, but worth it.
I seem to remember it being one huge pain-in-the-keester to learn, and after my Novice ticket expired
and I went Tech, I swore I'd never touch a key again.


5 WPM was nothing compared to the frustration of busting
through this 23 WPM "wall" I'm pounding on.....

But CW has become my favourite mode. Rarely use fone except for the daily

Guess "painful, but worth it" does sum it up.



Posted by WB9OFG on May 8, 2001

CW Easy
Its been so long ago that I really don't rember if it was hard or not. At the time the only way to get into amateur radio and we had only 1 year to upgrade to Tech or General. I don't think that it was much more difficult to learn than DOS or Windows any version. I still don't do too well with puters. I do CW contesting and enjoy it but after 35+ years 35-40WPM contest exchanges and thousands of QSO's on CW I still make mistakes.
Rex K7QQ

Posted by K7QQ on May 8, 2001

learning the code
learning code was painful, but i wanted to upgrade. it took me
about six months of everyday practice to pass the 13 wpm
test. now, i operate code about 1/3 of the time and i do
enjoy it.

Posted by K8APL on May 8, 2001

Nothing in Grammar Schools can attribute.
There was nothing in my formal education that could attribute to learning morse code. The written exams for HAM involve reading, writing, and arithmatic. Unless you are a drummer in the marching band, where else can a significant correlation be made between "beeps" and "letters" in common human interaction? It's a challenge because the basis of learning has to be created from scratch. I enjoy it.

Posted by KB3CDF on May 8, 2001

No great secret...
I have no great secret to impart, but I found code challenging yet well-worth the effort in the long run. I haven't tried PSK31 or MFSK16 yet (maybe soon!), but I used code to work three new grid squares on six in the last two nights that simply couldn't hear me on SSB. I especially enjoy CW on the less "crowded" bands (e.g. 12, 17, 30, etc.). I'm not a DXer, and most of my contest activity is SSB, but I think operating code is a lot of fun. And my 9 y.o. daughter thinks it's COOL!

73, Jim N3AWS

Posted by N3AWS on May 8, 2001

It was some 25 years ago I learned it easy during 4-5 months.
Now cw is major mode I use in contests as well as every day activity.
CU on CW dear friends
de ES6DO

Posted by ES6DO on May 8, 2001

CW-not me...I thought
I thought I hated it...was the only a way to aquire voice
operation on 10mtr's.Went out and bought a tempo 2020
at a 'fest to listen to it(radio wont transmit :( ).
Practiced it with a homebrew straight key.Still didnt like it.
Then...a friend bought me a keyer/paddle from an SK sale,and
I finally could send decent characters....And since the paddles
arrived,I have tested twice (1st-my 5wpm test, 2nd-general test)
Now...since my only transmitting radio is on 2mtr..,I cant wait
for a band opening,auroura,or any cw out there! And I have to
say it's slim-pickins in NE indiana for CW on 2mtr! Still listen
with the 2020 on 20,40,and 75 and cant wait to get the hf rig fixed!
Anyone got any schematics for the tempo 2020???Help me fall
in love with cw...hihi...73's to all Dan

Posted by KB9JCW on May 8, 2001

CW - didn't mean to like it
While studying for my Tech ticket in 1999, my study guide described each band and what to expect on those bands. 10 meters sounded like a band I just "had" to have. One minor problem, had to pass the 5 WPM code for Tech Plus. Funny thing happened on my way to study code.....I liked it. Couldn't get enough of it. Passed my 13 WPM General just prior to the restructure in Feb. 2000. Now hold CW-WAS, FISTS Century, working on CW-QRP-WAS, and lots more. I hear alot about poor / rude operators on other bands, haven't met many rude ones on CW. lots of fun. To each their own....

de Terry, KG4EMM

Posted by KG4EMM on May 7, 2001

Learning code
Oh gee!
What a learning experience.
I have always been what most would call an "under achiever" to be polite. Failed at almost everthing I ever tried.
Then I started to learn code and I found a new thing to fail at.
At first, I was convinced I couldn't do it. Then I thought I might do it. Then one day, after trying to learn code at 5wpm, something went click. Golly! The code was everywhere! Letters sang themselves to me in morse code as I read street signs, billboards and license plates!
I was stoked so I went for 13wpm. Uh, wait a minute, it sounds different now. Whre did all the characters go? Jerry Zilliack to the rescue. Ah, I shoulda learned the code at 21 wpm, and spaced the letters apart for the proper speed. Hmmmm, did someone say Farnsworth?
Ok, thigs were better but after, two solid months I still couldn't do it. I hit the wall, with my fist repeatedly. Finally it came to me and I pased the 13 wpm test.
Having developed a taste for pain, I went for 21wpm. Gee, there was no where near the fuss going to 21 as there was going to 13. Oh well, it took two weeks to go from 13 to 21. Fine business!
What did learn from all of this?
Well, IF, and I say IF, I had only applied myself in high school with one half the effort I put into code I could have done anything! I wouldn't have hung out with the kids wering levi vests, pegged pants and riding motorcycles. I wouldn't have thought all the kids who got good grades were squares and fit only for punching out.
Gee, I could have had a career, been respected, and probally had a life where I didn't have to worry where the money to buy the next meal was comming from.
I could have accomplished something.
So now I can do 20+ wpm in morse code, I know I AM able to do "stuff" like regular people, and I walk a little taller.
I am SO glad I tried it.
I am equally glad that I didn't give up and whine about how hard it was, like I did with so many other aspects of my life.

Posted by W6EZ on May 7, 2001

cw, the music mode as i like to refer to it. i found it very easy, mostly because of my musical background, there are a lot of things that are the same, one compared to the other.

Posted by KM4CU on May 7, 2001

Learning Morse Code
It is easier done at a younger age than at above ##. I learned it one Summer (1961), got a Novice, moved to Conditional the next summer(1962). I can copy my call sign up to 13WPM. However the rules have now changed. 5WPM is the Law of the Land. No complaints, still can do 13 WPM. Things never change, only the comments about them. I do use CW in the Novice bands and always say "Good Upgrade" to those Temporary AG/AE callsigns I hear!

Posted by W4CNG on May 7, 2001

Been there.....
Did the 13 WPM,..Hated it. Don't use CW, Don't like CW, Don't care about CW.
I don't get what the hubbub about it's use is. I doubt if it will be around in 50 years.
There....I said it, I will now sit back and get pilloried by all the CW ops....I can take it....I am a phone op!

Posted by W6PMR on May 7, 2001


73 de WA6ES---a.k.a. RICK

Posted by WA6ES on May 7, 2001

5 wpm ok, never got to 13
A survey like this is bound to have a lot of "survivors bias", ie, most who ARE hams did pass their 5 wpm code. There won't be so many non-hams voting that the code was easy or fun.

For me, I got stuck at the 10 WPM plateau and never got further. I ended up hating the code and swore if I ever passed it, I'd never touch it again. If I'd had the proper daily study time and had known about Code Quick earlier, I expect that I probably would have passed it and maybe even gone on to pass 20 wpm. This opinion of mine is based on N7JY's experience with the package. He's my brother and had the same problem I did. However, he did have the necessary time (20 minute sessions, 3x/day). With Code Quick he passed his 20 wpm in "5 weeks and a day."

Thus the reason I am not "into" CW. However I will not interfere with anyone else's enjoyment of the mode; to each his own, and there's a lot of room in ham radio for everyone's interests.

Posted by AD7DB on May 7, 2001

morse code
I had the opportunity to learn code in the Boy Scouts in 1951 for a merit badge. We learned then by the dash-dot method using flashlight with a buzzer. I learned it well, it still is with me and will still mess me up in the middle of a CW transmission when I hear a "dash-dot" rather than the "dit-dahs" we learn today. So, it isn't that I don't like CW. I just can't unlearn what I have learned. Even after 50 years.73,

Posted by KL7IPV on May 7, 2001

CW- I Love it!
I just upgraded to Extra 2 weeks ago, and at the time I was somewhere around 7-10 wpm. As soon as I started up in the Extra subbands, my speed started coming up, and I'm already about 17 Wpm! The best way to get faster is to use it!
David AG4IK

Posted by AG4IK on May 7, 2001

Learning Morse
I found learning morse code very hard at first. When I got a general coverage receiver
and found a good code practice station W6QIE out of California at 8 pm every evening on 3.580 mhz. and started to get words and sentesces on the paper and what I was writing down was making sence. After that it was just a matter of time I was getting most of what was sent at 16 wpm I decided to take the exam at 10 wpm in Canada at that time, I passed and became VE7BGP in Sept. 1970. I still enjoy cw and helping others get there cw requirements met to get on HF. I suggest to those trying to get cw to practice every day for 15 or 20 minutes and you will sesceed DON'T MISS ANY DAYS!!! 73 Gerry

Posted by VE7BGP on May 7, 2001

I found it fun to learn but I now find it as much fun as hitting myself in the hand with an ice pick..

Posted by N1YLN on May 7, 2001

Love it!
I loved it--always have and always will!

Posted by K2UA on May 7, 2001

Morse Code
Obviously Way above the M.U.F. should
not need code for a license . Code (< 8 WPM)is still needed for any long distance skip .
No one should operate below M.U.F. w/o
a stiff test/License/code .

KC7CC Tom Scott .

Posted by KC7CC on May 7, 2001

Fun & Funny
In 1951,my cousin and I had these loud RS buzzers powered by a C-cell. We laid across my bed in the back room, learning code and saying all the nasty words a couple of 13 year-old's were just learning (but really didn't know what they meant). It didn't take but about five weeks for us to learn the code. But it took about two years to realize that my Dad (W4BVK-SK) was sitting in the living room hearing every dit we sent. He was a traffic op who could easily copy over 30 wpm!! Other than some very scary stare's, he never said a word!

Posted by W4BQF on May 7, 2001

I learned CW while in high school back in the late 60's, using
code tapes and listening on the air. It took me one month to
get to 18 wpm, and I loved it (and still do). My wife got her
ticket in her 30's and it was a major battle (tested 6 times to
pass 13 wpm). I haven't done any sort of a scientific study,
but I wonder if those with musical ablility find it easier to learn
the code.

Posted by W7XU on May 7, 2001

I'll start learning how to run a browser next . . .

Posted by KD5MAW on May 7, 2001

It grows on you . . .
I would have voted for "painful but rewarding" if that choice had been offered. Having just passed element 1 this weekend, my perspective on learning CW is still REAL fresh. This stuff drove me nuts until I started "getting it". Someone mentioned age as a factor and I think he's got something there. The 27 hrs of math I took in college as a young punk seemed trivial compared to learning the code as a "pre-geezer". I went into the test at 7 wpm error free copy and 10 wpm error free send. Walking away from that VE session with a CSCE in hand was indescribably satisfying. CW may indeed be outmoded, but then so are horses - and I don't see those critters disappearing anytime soon.

Posted by KD5MAW on May 7, 2001

It wasn't easy...

Learning CW sure wasn't easy for me, and I had to do it "the hard way", with tapes, CD's, and the like. Since I had no CW operating privileges on the HF bands, and no one to practice with on VHF or UHF, it was just learn via cassette tapes and CD's. I couldn't find a computer program that I liked (later I found Code Quick for my dad, and find it to be very cool, he's still struggling with it though.) When it quit becoming work for me, and then fun was when I started to make it fun. Whenever I was having problems learning, then later copying higher speed CW, I looked back to the early days of radio, and pretended that I had to copy the code, like copying CW messages that were very important. I made it fun, and historic, and then I started to enjoy it. I led me to Extra class after about three months in late '95 early '96. I've found it to be a great mode of communication too, and take pride in knowing CW. It really has enhanced Amateur Radio for me. 73 Clinton AB7RG/9

Posted by AB7RG on May 7, 2001

After 25 years as a Technician (5 WPM was required then), I decided to upgrade. I used the Code Quick tapes and Morse Academy. It took me about 6 weeks to get to 13 WPM, and I easily passed the test.

Inspired by my success, I decided to go for 20 WPM and Extra Class license. This was must more time consuming...about 2 more months. Apparently, I hit a "plateau" around 15 WPM.

I got 10 out of 10 on the exam, and my Extra ticket.

Shortly thereafter, restructuring came.

I don't regret learning the code. But I haven't had a CW QSO since I was a Novive over 25 years ago.


Posted by W2CBK on May 7, 2001

I was first interested in amateur radio in the early 70's but let the code scre me away. In 1995, the "bug" caught up with me and I discovered the "no-code" Technician ticket now existed. Before I could really get started I ran into Bill (WA8CDU) on the Internet. He "pushed" me towards a coded ticket. With a little help from him, I earned my Tecnician Plus eight days later. I upgraded to General and Advanced over the next 2 months. I was happy and had no plans to work on 20 WPM code. Bill would call every now and then and ask me to tune to 14005 and listen to the rare DX--he would remind me I could not transmit there. That's all it took and I earned my Extra ticket about a month later. For over 20 years I let the code keep me out of the hobby only to find I had no trouble learning it. The key was lots of on-air practice as a Technician Plus and later contesting built my speed into the 30's...

73 de Tom, K4NR

Posted by K4NR on May 7, 2001

Is Age A Factor?
I wonder when you guys learned code. At the age of 50, I found it really difficult. I'm willing to bet most of you who find code fun and easy learned it in the military, boy scouts or through school when you were young. Now look at the average age of new hams. That's why code is loosing popularity.

Posted by KG6AMW on May 7, 2001

I had no choice but to learn it, when I enlisted in the Coast Guard, I chose to be a Radioman, had to be able to copy 18 wpm to graduate school. Well, I got re-phased (set back) one month, because I ran into the "wall" at 18wpm. But I made it, and was assigned to a Communications Station in Virginia where I sat the 500 watch and worked amver messages, within 6 months there I had earned my speed key ticket. To be able to use a bug or paddles in the CG you had to have a speed key ticket, to get that, you had to be able to send and receive 25wpm with no more than 2 corrected errors. CW has been in my blood ever since and is my favorite way to communicate. It is a blast once you learn it, and it is still a challenge to maintain speed, and build speed. And the real plus is the friends you make in CW, CW ops are like a brotherhood. Anyone can pick up a mike and talk, but to be able to ragchew in CW, then you've done something. Another plus is helping those that have just learned the code to build their speeds up and learn the abbreviations and Q sigs, so that the CW brotherhood has a younger generation to keep it alive for years to come after us old timers are gone.

Posted by KC4IQF on May 7, 2001

What a Fun challenge
I didn't think I could ever learn that 'stupid' code thing. But once I started practicing 4 times a week, both with W1AW practice, and a ticker tape machine, it started to turn into fun. The challenge was that I didn't have any idea of where I'd stop, in learning the code ( speed wise). Well, that was over 30 years ago, and to this day, I have had only one mike for ham radio, and about 2 dozen keys.
a fun challenge.

Posted by K8JX on May 7, 2001

It was initially difficult, as learned it in Boy Scouts, with one wig-wag flag. Now thats the hard way. When went into the army, they gave a series of tests to see where they should stick you. Naturally I wasnt interested in code at that time, and did poorly on the test. Naturally also, they stuck me in a 6 month communications course, with a requirement to learn code with a minumum speed of 22 wpm. 4 hours a day on code, 4 hours typing until you passed 30 wpm. then you "earned" the right to set in code class 8 hours a day for the next 3 months, until they started adding antenna and other theory. Twelve of us had not "passed" the initial code qualification test and were told we had two weeks to pass 5 wpm. I asked what happened if we didnt. The response was "We have other jobs" :my question "which ones", their response :"pole lineman, security guard, or cook". My response - went in and passed 5 wpm in the next half hour. Graduated 2nd in a class of 125 with a final code speed of 45 wpm. "Encouragement" is wonderful.

Posted by N7DC on May 6, 2001

Sure it was a challenge...
It was a challenge, but that's part of what made it worthwhile. Having played with Morse somewhat with some old walkie talkies (didn't they ALL have Morse code printed on them?) and again in Boy Scouts, I finally took it seriously when I had someone who already knew it teaching it to me and the goal of having an amateur license.

Posted by N2MG on May 6, 2001

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