Traditionally, Morse code has been taught by struggling through the code characters at a slow speed and (slowly) progressing towards higher speeds.
Koch's method, on the other hand, states that you should start learning at the desired speed - but you start with only two characters. Each session is five minutes long, and whenever you get 90% or more correct, you add another character.
Just Learn Morse Code utilizes Koch's method for teaching Morse code.
Farnsworth timing, reduces the speed of Morse code by increasing spacing between the characters. Using Farnsworth timing, characters are sent at higher speeds, while extra spacing is inserted between characters and words to slow the transmission. The advantage of this is that you get used to recognizing characters at a higher speed, and thus it will be easier to increase the speed later on.
Using Farnsworth timing is optional in Just Learn Morse Code.
The ARRL uses Farnsworth timing for transmissions, practice and test tapes up to 18 WPM (90 CPM).
Farnsworth timing was invented by Donald R. Farnsworth (W6TTB) in the late 1950s.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT CW N6FVY
The goal of the CW journey is to learn to “head copy”, send CW well, and above all, have fun.
1. Remove any and all written forms of the Morse code from your practice location or radio shack. Morse code is an audible language not a written language. Do not refer to charts or written notes listing dots and dashes. These written forms of CW will cause you to develop a mental look up table. This look up table once developed is extremely hard to break and will slow your forward progress. Listen to CW starting with a few characters and adding as you learn. There are many resources on the web. Morse Code World is excellent. Do not use any type of CW decoder. Your best and most accurate decoder is between your ears.
2. Throw away the pencil. Writing down what you hear, then reading what you wrote removes the element of an audible language. Your mechanical ability to write legibly will vastly slow your head copy speed. In a QSO, the only thing you will need to write down is the other stations call sign or maybe name and signal report. Remember when we meet people at a party, we usually remember their name and carry on an unwritten conversation.
3. Listen at a character speed of at least 22 -25 words per minute. Space the characters to a copy-able speed for your ability. (Farnsworth method). Many first start at a spacing of 4 - 6 WPM. The faster character speed allows you to hear the sound of the character and not the dots and dashes. The spacing allows you think time.
4. If you don’t recognize the sound you hear as a character, let it go. Don’t mentally reproduce the sound in your head to catch the character. This will cause your forward copy to derail. You will learn the sounds as your CW journey continues. Be patient. This also applies to word copy. If you miss a word, drop it. Go on.
5. Do not count dots and dashes. Especially numbers. Each character and number has its own unique sound. Hear the sound. If you develop the counting of elements, it becomes a difficult habit to break.
6. Sending is just as important as your copy. Historically telegraphers could be identified by their transmission called their (fist). Practice sending by duplicating the sound and spacing of machine sent CW. A paddle and electronic keyer will create the character component spacing, but you will need to generate the character and word spacing. This takes practice. Record your sending and listen to the recording the following day. Evaluate yourself. Remember your sending ability is your signature. Make it legible.
7. Make your practice time enjoyable. Work at CW for about an hour daily. Break this time up into shorter segments if necessary. Maybe 15-20 minutes. If you feel yourself getting frustrated with the process, take a break. Don’t let yourself become your worse enemy. But also push yourself. If you are copying comfortably, increase your copy speed. Challenge yourself to move forward.
Don’t worry about making mistakes or the ups and downs that go along with any journey. We are all along the same road and continue to learn along the way. Learning CW is not a contest. Everyone learns at a different pace, but we all learn. Some of us may have a handicap to our game. Hearing, shaky hands, age, along with maybe some learning disabilities. You can still effectively learn CW and use it successfully.
SKCC, Join group, a good way to start and get into CW. http://www.skccgroup.com
So you want to Learn Morse Code, Good Morse code reference page. https://www.qsl.net/n1irz/finley.morse.html
CWops, Three classes offered a year to get CW students proficient with CW. Highly recommended. https://cwops.org
More Code World, https://morsecode.world/international/trainer/trainer.html
Morse Code Ninja, Great site. Many many YouTube videos. https://morsecode.ninja/
CW Player, A good Windows training software app. A lot of fun to play with. http://f6dqm.free.fr/soft/cwplayer/en/cwplayer.htm
Long Island CW Club, Online CW Classes, links to other sites. https://longislandcwclub.org/
HamRadioQrp, Code practice and videos related to Morse code. https://www.youtube.com/c/HamRadioQRP
Lockdown Morse, This site came up as a COVID 19 get away. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lockdown+morse
Old US Navy training film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uadDqm0pObY
Up dated sending by a German trained sailor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6ggckXtZjs
Old US Navy training film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmg1MlstxWM
Ask Dave 13: The CW Renaissance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_oXTSQ4AGk
Ham Radio - Learning Morse code, three things to avoid for better sending. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sqiyJi6YM8
Speed Vs. Proficiency, Morse code Ninja. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BlhhBK1CBw
On air code practice W1AW. http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-operating-schedule
Just for Fun Glam ham radio (TicTok). https://www.tiktok.com/@glamhamradio?lang=en
CW podcasts. https://www.ditdit.fm
Contribution by Corrine
I'm just reaching out to let everyone at Wednesday Training know your collection of CW/Morse Code resources were a big help to my daughter Corrine and a 'Famous Inventors and Inventions' project she's working on for her technology class.
All About the Telegraph and Deciphering Morse Code Text
Even though the telegraph may not be used much anymore, it was a tremendous development in communication when it was invented and for many years after. An optical telegraph invented in the late 1700s required a line of sight between the people communicating, but the electric telegraph is what most people think of when they hear the words “telegraph.” The electric telegraph was the culmination of the efforts of numerous inventors that were finally brought together in the 1840s. With this technology, electrical signals could be sent from one location to another, where they would be translated into messages. This changed the entire nation, as messages could now be sent and received almost instantly. There was a decreased need for written letters, although these were and are still a major form of communication. Telegrams could be costly to send, so they were generally reserved for more urgent matters; letters were still used for the majority of communication.
ElectromagnetWilliam Sturgeon invented the electromagnet in 1825. Sturgeon used the electromagnet to lift heavier weights than previously possible, but his invention would also be used in many communication advancements.
The Emergence of Telegraph SystemsIn 1830, Joseph Henry was able to use an electromagnet to ring a bell more than a mile away by sending an electric current over a wire. William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone used similar electromagnetism concepts to create an early telegraph, which they patented in 1837. But it was Samuel Morse who invented the commercially viable telegraph system that we know today.Samuel Morse was a New York University professor in 1835 when he successfully produced a message on a strip of paper using electromagnets and pulses of electricity. A year later, he developed his idea to include a system of dots and dashes. A few years later, Congress agreed to pay Samuel Morse $30,000 to create a 40-mile-long telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington; once legislators saw how much easier the telegraph could make communication with their constituents, more lines were added. Morse was also an artist who was known for his ability to capture the essence of people’s personalities through his delicately created portraits.
“What Hath God Wrought?”The first-ever telegraph message sent on an official line was “What hath God wrought?” The message was chosen by Annie Ellsworth, who was the daughter of a friend of Morse’s. She chose this line from Numbers 23, and it was recorded onto a paper tape as dots and dashes that were later translated by an operator.
The Telegraph SpreadsSmall telegraph companies began to spring up throughout the United States, as Samuel Morse and other investors used private funds to run lines to Philadelphia and New York. In 1851, Western Union was founded, and railroads began to dispatch trains using telegraphs. However, 1861 was an even more historically important year for the telegraph: This is when Western Union completed the first-ever transcontinental telegraph line, which ran mainly alongside railroad tracks. Morse code messages were originally printed on paper tape, but this system evolved into an auditory process in which operators transcribed the messages, listening to the pauses and sounds and taking down messages at 40 to 50 words a minute. In 1900, an automated system that converted Morse code to text was invented, and in 1914, automatic transmission technology was developed.Multiplexing, developed in 1913 by Western Union, allowed four messages to be sent in each direction at the same time. In 1936, this number increased to 36 transmissions per direction. In 1938, Western Union created the first facsimile device, somewhat similar to the fax machines of today. The next major telecommunication advance was the creation of the telex network, which came about in 1959. This technology allowed subscribers to communicate directly with each other, which drastically improved communication capabilities nationwide.
Telephone Rivals the TelegraphThe telephone was invented in 1877, and by 1879, the telegraph and telephone were being operated as two separate services. Ultimately, the telephone would become the more common form of communication, but without the telegraph, we would not have much of the communication technology that we use today.
Morse Code Basics
- Learn Morse Code: Trace this chart as you listen to decipher Morse code.
- International Morse Code Basics: Learn the basics of International Morse code.
- Morse Code Alphabet: See the Morse code alphabet here and begin learning how to translate Morse code.
- Morse Code and Phonetic Alphabet: Learn the various phonetic alphabets and the accompanying Morse code letters.
- International Morse Code: Read about the history of Morse code and see a chart of the letter codes here.
- Morse Code Facts for Kids: For children interested in Morse code, this page is a great resource.
- History of Morse Code: Delve into the history of Morse code and see if you can solve the puzzle at the end.
- Why Was Morse Code Invented? Learn how the meaning of SOS as an emergency call came from Morse code.
- Morse Code: Invention, History, and Systems: Watch a video of a telegraph operator in action and read all about the history of Morse code’s development here.
- The Brief History and Importance of Morse Code: Learn how Morse code is used today and how to send an SOS.
- Morse Code Translator: Type a message in Morse code or in regular text to get a translation.
- Maritime Morse Is Tapped Out: Dive into history and read an article from 1998 discussing the change from Morse code to satellite communications as the mode for international maritime distress calls.
- Why the Navy Sees a Future in Morse Code: Learn how the U.S. Navy is combining Morse code, lamplight communication, and texting into a new and improved system of water-based communication between ships.
Host, N6FVY, My Adventures with CW
Morse Code, one of the greatest adventures and struggles of my life. I think it all started in Boy Scouts with the competitions of Camporees against other troops. There were a couple of us, George and I who took on the challenge of memorizing the code to use for semaphore and light in order to gain the extra points. The agonizing process required learning that familiar table of dots and dashes that Samuel Morse first developed in 1837 with international revisions to what we now know, and use today as the International Morse Code, in 1851.
Long story short, we beat the other troops. George and I went on to set up a signal light from the Tujunga to Sunland communities where we flashed simple light messages occasionally to each other.
Junior High and High School I found myself interested in ham radio and of course the entry level Novice license required that five word a minute code test. But guess what, I knew those dots and dashes. I needed to get some practicing listing and not watching blinking lights. My studies began. I built a practice oscillator and bought a cheap key. I found you could buy a 33 1/3 rpm record with Morse code tracks to slowly and painfully play simple letters and words at 5 WPM. At this speed I learned as many did, to count the dots and dashes of the characters especially the numbers. I developed the mental look-up table that unfortunately resides in my head to this day. My dad would take me to a weekly code practice group in Glendale where several of us want-a-be novice operators would listen to the slow. Dooooots and dassssshhhhes. Slow enough to look up in my mental look up table.
The big day came. I was excused from school and took the bus to downtown LA and found the FCC building. There sat the examiner, non smiling, in his suit. The 605s was completed and the code test began. You had to get 60 seconds of correct copy in five minutes. Piece of cake. I referred to my lookup table locked in my head several times, but at 5 WPM it works. I passed the code test, the rest was easy. WB6TLZ 1961.
Fast forward a few years, Novice license lapsed, graduated 1963 HS, community college and I had a strained relationship, and Vietnam was escalating. I figured the Navy was the place to be. The recruiter said I could be a Radioman. First day at boot camp came a battery of tests to determine placement aptitude. One of the tests given was to determine your ability to learn and receive Morse code. I searched and found the lookup table still in my head. But it was only good for 5 WPM. All I needed. Perfect copy. The placement officer asked if I wanted to be a Communications Technician, CT? I asked if that was like a radioman. He said, sort of. Ok then, sign me up. CT’s come in several flavors. I chose CTM (maintenance). I got to repair the equipment used by the other CT branches, Linguists, Crypto, Technical, Operators. It also gave me the opportunity to sit and copy the the five letter Morse code group schedules to relieve some of the other operators while at sea. In port I did indulge and get my Tech license and onto my General.
My greatest stumbling block and struggle has always been the the ability to effectively increase my code speed and hang with the operators that make head copy look so easy. The operators who listen and Morse Code as language that is understood with the same ease and grace as our common spoken language. I attribute it in part to initial method of learning. The lookup table still resides in my head. If I miss a character or QRM causes a loss of several characters, the lookup table appears and the interruption begins. What was that I heard? Now I’m really behind and lost. We did not learn language by a lookup table of sounds. We learned the sounds. Morse Code is a collection of sounds not dots and dashes. When you send code with a key you send a sound. Not a collection of dots and dashes. Much as playing a musical instrument. You play sounds. The listener does not convert those sounds to notes. Consider Morse Code music and the key the musical instrument. Use your ears to learn the code and not your eyes. Listen to the characters at a speed of 22 to 25 WPM in order to not count dots and dashes and mentally sub-vocalize the lookup table. Use the Farnsworth and Koch method and don’t rely on charts of dots and dashes.
The question arises, why use a communication mode from a hundred and fifty years ago that is no longer required for licensing? It’s very effective and efficient. You can make needed DX contacts easier. Many repeater ID’s are in CW. You will find it used in music and movies. For your resume it is a second language. It’s tradition. Just last night in two separate TV programs references to Morse code were used.