Thursday, June 23, 2011

Morse Code - Come Over to the Dark Side

It’s outdated, it isn't that easy to learn, it can be a real pain! 
But if you perceiver Morse code can be a real reward that I guarantee will give you hours of fun. It's the mode that can get through the static, the QRM, the QRN and other interference. Its the mode that will get you across the world with 5 watts of power, you'll never master it because your always learning it, but it's the mode that does become the most fun to use!

I think it took me about 6 months before I could say I was actually proficient at CW, which means I could understand and reply to a conversation of perhaps 12 words per minute. Like all learners I struggled, god knows how many pencils I broke in frustration, but I had an excellent teacher who had the patience of a saint and just told me to keep going, practise each night, don't give up. Each operator is different, some will pick it up easily, others will really struggle; it is after all learning another language. 

But once you have mastered CW it is a great form of communication and I find it fascinating, simply because I am having a conversation with someone in a completely different language that a lot of people don’t understand. It’s a bit like someone speaking Gaelic or Welsh, it’s actually a rare form of communication and one that should be treasured. Also in radio terms when other forms of communication are unable to get through Morse code can be a good last resort.

Some operators use paddle keys others use straight, some fast some slow and some can be mind bogglingly bad and others can make the code sound like a wonderful tune. The bad ones will make you shake your head in disbelief (the majority of the bad are simply because they are sending too fast)! But when when you hear someone sending good morse it is music to you ears and will make you smile!

The two keys I use most often are the Kent and the Czech paddle key

So to anyone learning the fine art of Morse Code I would simply say, practise and practise and more practise. Oh and practise, once you have a basic knowledge of about 5 words per minute get on the air and force yourself to do as many QSO's as you can every day, no matter what. Honestly it's the best way to speed up and nothing to worry about, there are CW experts out there who will reply to you and most importantly go at your speed.
You will make mistakes, it doesn't matter, it happens, so what? It's your hobby, enjoy it and just continue on.

Recently an old timer I know with 40 years CW experience said to me "when starting out, if you do 3 to 5 QSO's every day for a minimum of 1 month I guarantee you will be at around 12 wpm by the end that month and wandering what all the fuss was about"! Do you know I think he's right, (I didn't and it cost me 6 months of hard work!)
And one more thing.............Practise!

No comments:

Post a Comment