Mentoring ATC Cadets

Air Training CorpsI hopefully am taking on the post (lots of checks and paperwork) of Radio Officer at 2292 Squadron ATC at Market Rasen and the C.O. informed me that he would like his Cadets to learn Morse code so I have decided to take on this task. Catching them young is good because, unlike me struggling to keep my brain cells working at my age, they have plenty of spare ones. Click on the ATC badge to go the 2292 Sqdn Facebook page.

There was a look of disappointment when I said I did not teach Morse code, (YOU CAN’T TEACH IT!) but with today’s computers and Andriod Phones, you can easily learn  Morse code by yourself with the proper support.

No one can teach you Morse code, you have to learn by yourself but I am able to offer over 50 years experience with Morse and help you through the ups and downs of your journey learning this musical language.

70 and Still Tapping

I must apologise for the site being down and also for the lack of updates, but for the last two years I have been having health and family problems and slowly getting back to normal.

Though I am now a full-time carer for my XYL which takes up a lot of my time, I am still willing to help anyone with their journey into learning Morse code.

I am still available for club talks though I am limiting it to Lincolnshire at the moment due to my present circumstances so please contact me for more information.

The National Hamfest 2018 is a good place to meet up with myself and Martin Farmer G6BD and we will both be taking the On Demand RSGB Morse Tests as usual and as we are both very experienced military Morse operators and Registered RSGB Morse Assessors we tend to treat the Morse Tests as an assessment of your proficiency and willing to spend some time with you. We are both very friendly and don’t bite, so come along and book a test from us and get some good advice at the same and best of all it is FREE.

Ian G4XFC

 

Is Quicker Better?

Learn International Morse code in one week using visual aids, then astound your friends with your newly acquired skills. After about two years of trying to get your Morse speed above 9 words per minute and after trying the multitude of different ways of learning Morse available (usually bad advice) you ask me for help.

At least 90% of the people that contact me for help have gone down the route of Slow Morse and have peaked at about 9 words per minute and then struggled to make any headway after that. Because you have chosen to use visual aids to learn Morse you have immediately given yourself a handicap as Morse is a language and you have to listen to the sound, not try and visualise it in your head.

Although I successfully mentor students through E-mail, the main aim of the Morse Crusade is to educate Morse teachers/mentors in that any time type of visual aid actually handicaps the student and using slow Morse does not help anyone in becoming a Morse operator. To substantiate my claims I include two references for from books on how to learn Morse code.

Extract from David Finlay N1IRZ’s Book “So You Want to Learn Morse Code”:
“Most of what you’ve been told about learning Morse code is wrong, Amateur radio operators traditionally have used the slowest, most frustrating, most painful and least effective techniques possible for gaining code proficiency.”

Extract from Bill Pierpont’s book “The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy”:
“Any kind of printed dots and dashes or any other such pictorial impressions will only impede the student’s progress when he is beginning to learn the code. All such methods violate good pedagogy, because they do not teach the code as actual sound patterns, as it will be heard and used.”

National Hamfest 2015

The National Hamfest is creeping closer this year and as usual I have been busy with the organisation of it. This year I am having a break and not having a stand for the Morse Crusade but I am going to enjoy the Hamfest for the first time as a Punter. I will be there Friday for certain and possibly on Saturday if anyone would like to meet up with me, I will be monitering 145.500 so please feel free to give me a call.

Would I Learn Morse Now?

I have a lot of admiration to those undertaking the challenge of learning Morse today as there is no specific reason for learning apart from being able to communicate long distances with low power.
Celebrating 50 years of using Morse this year, I ask myself one question. Would I undertake learning Morse if I was not professionally trained? My answer always is “I don’t know”.
When I was a 13 year old, I had dreams of becoming a Ships Radio Officer which never happened and aged 15 I bought my first Morse Key from the local electrical shop. Did I learn Morse? No! It was not until 1965 when I had turned 18 and joined the RAF that I was professionally taught Morse.
Having a good Morse aptitude I did not find it difficult to learn and after 10 months was up to 18wpm and passed out as a Leading Aircraftsman. Subsequent training and exams over the next 3 years brought my speed up to 30+wpm.
Spending years of being first a Morse Examiner and now a Morse Assessor for the RSGB, also mentoring people learning Morse, I know about the grief, frustration and dedication involved in learning the language which I never had.
It is very enjoyable using Morse on the bands and I get a lot of pleasure from it, I always encourage people to learn the language as it is a unique experience having a CW QSO. Would I undertake learning Morse if I was not professionally trained? My answer still is “I don’t know”, this is why a have a lot of admiration for those undertaking the challenge and I am willing to spend time helping them get the same enjoyment from Morse as I have.

Don’t Look at Morse Code

I think that one of the most common methods which is widely promoted on web sites, is to look and learn the characters visualy before listening to Morse Code. On a lot of Morse Code learning sites there is a chart with dots and dashes that you can memorise and this is the worst possible thing that you can do. You are learning the Morse Code LANGUAGE visually which does not work.and will only cause you problems in the future. LISTEN TO MORSE CODE, don’t read dots and dashes.

Last year at the National Hamfest, I was testing a candidate at 12wpm and they struggled as they were trying to visually imagine the character. I told them if they were trying to visualise the character in their head then it would be a waste of time taking the test. Using your ears works, using your eyes only adds another brain process and you will be lucky if you get beyone 10wpm.

Achieving the Reflex Action

When a student approaches me and excitedly tells me that some characters are just popping into his head without thinking and the Morse has slowed down in his head has achieved instant recognition on some of the characters and can only go forward more quickly now.

I talk about the reflex action, but for someone starting to learn Morse it is difficult to understand what it actually is. Only by continual reinforcement of the characters you have learned, can you achieve instant recognition and it does not happen overnight. The reflex action can’t be given a time when it will happen as it is unpredictable and is reliant on the aptitude of the student but I can promise you it will happen and when it does you will suddenly be surprised everything is easier.

Morse Presentation

To encourage the learning of Morse code, I am willing to visit clubs within a radius of 60 miles of Market Rasen in Lincolnshire to give my presentation “Cracking the Code, the easy way of learning Morse” which has proved to be a success. The only restriction I have is that I must have my travelling costs covered. Please contact me for more information.

I am working on a portable presentation on the same subject that does not need my presence, so that the presentation can be viewed without my personal appearance.

General Thoughts

When I started the Morse Crusade in 2011, I was told it would never work and have proved this wrong by the amount of people I have helped in the few years it has been running. I tend to be a bit lax now in posting on this web site, but this does not reflect the work I am doing with the people who contact me by email as they always get a reply as soon as I get their email.

The Facebook page certainly needs to be more active as I have to admit that I don’t post on it very often due to the lack of people on it. I have now revamped it and invite everyone to join and post on it to be able to share your Morse experiences with others.

I have been asked to have a stand at the National Hamfest again this year, but find it difficult to man because of my other Hamfest commitments with the Morse tests and also I am the Outside Trade Manager. I felt very guilty last year as I asked Carl M0SER to help me with the stand, and he had to man the stand by himself most of the two days. This year I wondered if anyone would like to give an hour of their time at the stand talking about Morse. Anyone interested please contact me.

On another tact, I am intrigued by the amount of interest on recent posts on Fists about reinvigorating 2 meters CW which has got me thinking of buying a beam for the first time in my amateur career and going active again on 144.050 as the last time I worked CW on 2 meters was 1983 with a vertical on the chimney. Because I live in a very rural village (4 miles to the nearest shop). I would need a good beam to make any reasonable contacts due to the amount of CW ops in my location.

Morse – Language or Code?

A lot of people think of Morse as a Code, a series of dots and dashes that you need to translate into characters, but think about it. We use our ears to listen to Morse and a good Morse operator takes the message in their head without thinking about it. Could we not relate Morse to a foreign language?

If we look at languages that we can’t understand for example French, it can be classed as a code because we do not understand it. If we learn French and can understand it, then it becomes a language. A radio operator who has learned Morse treats it like a language because he has learned it and can understand it, a bystander who does no know Morse will treat it as a code because he can’t understand it.

If you learn Morse as a Code, then it will remain a Code and you will have difficulty understanding it at any speed. If you learn Morse as a language you will excel and enjoy using your new language.

Happy New Year

In less than 1 hour it will be 2014 and looking forward to the new year, starting with a talk I am doing about learning Morse, in February at RAF Waddington ARC, Lincoln to which everyone is welcome.

I finally got the pictures that was taken at the National Hamfest 2013 which I have added to the post and again thank Carl M0SER for supporting me as I could not have done it without him and also Martin G6BD for helping out with the Morse Tests. (I should actually say taking the Morse Tests with the help of Peter M0EJL)

Setting up the Morse Crusade Stand

Setting up the Morse Crusade Stand

It was a pleasure to meet the Fists Team at the National Hamfest and I hope they come back again in 2014

A call to look out for is the latest email student for the Morse Crusade HB9IIS Michel who has dusted off his paddle and getting back into CW. Good luck in 2014 and keep using the key.

If you need help with Morse, just contact me as it is free and painless and lets make 2014 a good CW year.

Happy New Year Everyone and Keep Pounding

Ian G4XFC

Adding New Characters to G4FON Koch Trainer

This is a result of a question that I was asked on how to add a new character to G4FON’s Koch Trainer. It is quite simple and self explanatory, just click on the highlighted buttons on the  program.

Koch Morse Trainer PictureIf you are using “Just Learn Morse Code”, it comes with a comprehensive character set. To include new characters into your training section, just click on “Tools”, “Options” and just tick the characters you want to include.

National Hamfest 2013 Update

Carl M0SER Manning the Stand

Carl M0SER Manning the Stand

The first thing I have got to say is THANK YOU CARL. Carl M0SER gave up two days of his time to help man the Morse Crusade stand, and although I said help, with my other commitments at the National Hamfest Carl done most of the work on the stand.

My Selection of Morse Keys

We had a lot of interest and I had brought my selection of Morse keys for the visitors to play with, we had some serious conversation about Morse including one visitor setting up my  Marconi 365A to the same standard that he used on his own 365A as a Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy including thin piece of paper between the back contacts to dampen the clicks.

Carl brought added interest to the stand when he set up his Elecraft KX3 and small magnetic loop and started working CW stations from inside the main entrance of the George Stephenson Hall.

Leave it to the Professionals

Morse training in amateur radio has too many experts and not enough professionals, I am continually finding this out much to my displeasure and frustration. If you consider the amount of money it costs to train a professional Morse operator, they will have been taught using the quickest and best methods to get them up to standard as soon as possible.

In 1965 I was taught Morse in the RAF using the Farnsworth / Koch method, I did not use any visual aids, slow Morse or any other method and was doing 20wpm at the end of the course. I like to offer students the same excellent tuition that I had.

In the 1980’s it was deemed a good idea to bring the standards of the Aldus Signal Lamp to amateur radio with the introduction of the 5wpm Morse Test. Today I am still dealing with the fall-out that slow Morse has caused, being detrimental to the learning of good Morse and which can seriously prevent the student achieving a decent standard.

90% of websites promoting Morse can be detrimental but 10% are good so choose carefully before starting on your journey so you can enjoy it and not end up pulling your hair out.

Fast Morse

Morse SpeedometerSpeeds above 20wpm have not really been covered on the Morse Crusade and it is only a recent inquiry that made me think about it and you are getting into an area where writing down the Morse on paper starts to get difficult. So how do you increase your Morse speed if you can’t write it down?

Before you even consider fast Morse, you must have a “Reflex Action” with ALL CHARACTERS or you will struggle, to find out more about this read Nancy Kott’s article on “Instant Recognition”

Presuming that you have a “Reflex Action” with all characters you have a choice of which road you want to go down with your Morse, Hard Copy where you will have to learn to touch type to be able to copy the Morse and “Just Learn Morse Code” is a good program to use for this. (I was trained to touch type at 60wpm and copy Morse at 30wpm)

Most fast Morse operators on the amateur bands take the Morse in their head up to 40wpm and only write down relevant facts of the QSO. This is achieved by lots of practice without putting pen to paper.The secret of this is to listen to random commonly used words at the speed you want to achieve and you can listen to it in the background while doing other things as this still works. You will find that your Morse proficiency increases.and Instead of getting instant recognition with characters you are getting instant recognition with words.

There are two freeware program that can help you gain a higher proficiency, they have been designed for high speed Morse but you can just use them at the speed that you wish to achieve. RufzXP and Morse Runner.

Morse for Mac

Although I don’t have an Apple Mac, I had a query if I knew of any Morse Programs that run on the Mac System. I found “Morse Mania” which looks good, using the Koch Method but I have no way of reviewing this software and I hope that someone sends me a review that I can post on the Morse Crusade website.

Because I recently found an app for my Andriod Smartphone, I have now found an app for the iPhone which may be of use to Morse learners using the Koch Method “Ham Morse

For those with Mac’s, there is a list of amateur related software for the Mac on DX Zone