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

New Mentor

I would like to give a warm welcome to Brian Hall GW0EDC who has volunteered to give up some of his busy time to help out with our Mentoring Scheme in North Wales & Cheshire. Brian is an Ex Royal Navy. man and boy and been a Morse lover for 53 years, former senior examiner for the RSGB. He has been successful in teaching Morse to both groups and individuals.

The Morse Crusade is actively seeking new Mentors who are willing to give up a little of their time to help learners in their area, If you would like to add your name to the Morse Mentors Directory then please contact me. If we can help one learner become a good Morse Operator then we are happy because the Morse Crusade is achieving its aims.

Morse Tests

RSGB Morse CertificateAll my plans for the Morse Crusade  being at the National Hamfest have had to be cancelled as my son has decided to get married in Gretna Green on the 28th of September and we have to travel up on the 27th.

As part of the National Hamfest Management Team I am getting things organised for the Morse Tests and have enlisted the help of Martin Farmer G6BD from RAF Waddington ARC to stand in for me. Peter M0EJL and James G0EUN from Lincoln Short Wave Club will be there as usual.

The Morse assessments are friendly and informal, on demand and best of all FREE! so why not have a go and get a nice certificate to hang up on your shack wall.

Smartphone + Morse App Review

Having just got rid of my Vodafone Brick and moved to the new technology of the Smartphone,(to me it is!) my first task was to find an android app that would be suitable for learning Morse and also be useful in Morse tests to save me lugging my laptop about at the National Hamfest.

On my search for a decent app for my Smartphone  similar to “Just Learn Morse Code” and Ray G4FON’s “Koch Trainer” I came across “Morse Trainer for Android” by Wolphi W8DA. I have to admit that I gave it the full thumbs up as it was exactly what I was looking for and now I can get rid of the laptop and just carry my key, oscillator and smartphone to tests.

Below is the developers own description of this marvelous Morse App

Published on 2 Nov 2012

Learn or improve Morse code with Morse Trainer.If you are a ham radio (amateur radio) operator or just want to learn Morse code. With a lot of settings it is very comfortable to adjust Morse Trainer to your current level.

The following settings are available:

  • - Frequency (200 – 2200Hz
  • - Waveform (sine / triangle)
  • - Fading (to reduce click at the end of a dot or dash)
  • - Speed (2Wpm – 52Wpm)
  • - Spacing (spacing between dots or dashes)
  • - Dot-Dash Ratio (length ratio of dashes compared to dots)
  • - Letter Spacing (Space between letters)
  • - Word Spacing (Space between words)
  • Five different learning modes are available in Morse Trainer
  • - Random groups of five mode: Morse Trainer will play groups of five randomly selected letter, numbers or special characters. Those characters can be individually selected. If you want to learn just “s”,”i” and “e” just select the 3 letters and Morse Trainer will create groups of 5 with those 3 letters.
  • - Real ham radio callsign mode: Morse Trainer will randomly play real amateur radio callsign from a database of 5000 callsigns which appeared in Contests over the last couple of years.
  • - QSO text mode: Morse Trainer will play randomly play QSO text. The database consists of 300 different qso texts.
  • - Most common English words mode: Morse Trainer will play randomly the 500 most used English words.
  • - Own text mode: Enter your own text and Morse Trainer will play it over and over again.
  • - Ebook mode: Text files can be loaded from SD card

Morse Trainer is priced less than the cost of a fancy coffee and it is a great app to learn and improve you CW speed away from your amateur radio station or your PC.

 

Update on Sheffield ARC Presentation

Peter Day G3PHOPeter Day G3PHO SARC Secretary trying out the keys I took to Sheffield

The Crusade presentation at Sheffield ARC was very successful and I would like to thank the officers and  members of the club for their excellent hospitality. I hope that my talk has prompted some the members to take up CW and wish them all the best on their journey onto the Morse bands.

Copying Skills

My New Years resolution was to be more proactive with the Morse Crusade and to try and revamp the website. I am keeping true to my resolution and have just published a new article “Putting Pen to Paper” which covers all the common faults that can happen when writing down Morse. Other articles are going to be revamped and new ones written so keep your eye on the blog to see what is happening. If anyone thinks about something they would like to see on the website then please contact me.

The French Connection

The Morse Crusade seems to have become popular in France and after I received this email from Alain F5RUJ I decided to make the Morse Crusade also La Croisade Morse.

“HI! Morse Crusade is a very interesting idea. Google’s word by word French translation is sometimes funny but alas, sometimes incomprehensible! Could I help in translating at least the first presentation page? VY 73 de Alain F5RUJ”

I would like to personally thank Alain as he has agreed to translate all the important pages into French. I have managed to make the site dual language (eventually) and you can click on the French Flag to access the French translation which is limited to the home page at the moment but pages will be added to the French section when I receive the translations from Alain

 

 

How to Mentor a Morse Student

If someone asks you to help them with their Morse and you accept then you automatically become a Morse Mentor for that person and they become the student. Morse teachers and Morse tutors are now outdated because the availability of good training software and students can train at home on their own computer. A Morse Mentor GUIDES a student through the learning process and if it is done properly then they have a VERY HAPPY good Morse Operator at the end of the process. Continue reading

Sheffield & District ARC Hosts “Morse Crusade” Presentation

Morse Crusade Presentation

Ian G4XFC, Founder of the Morse Crusade is personally giving a presentation on “Cracking the Code, the Secret of Learning Morse Code the Easy Way”

This event is open to everyone and it is being held on the Monday the 11th of February 2013 Doors open at 7pm and the presentation will start at 8pm at the South Yorkshire Transport Sports & Social Club, Greenhill Main Rd, Sheffield, S8 7RH The Venue has spacious seating for 50 people with Bar and Toilets and excellent parking facilities outside. There will be a charge at the door of £2 (£1 for members) and to help with seating arrangements, non club members please contact Peter G3PHO beforehand. You can visit Sheffield Amateur Radio Club website to find out more about the club.

The presentation is designed to be suitable for beginners in Morse to Morse Instructors and everything in between and is very comprehensive, it also includes tackling problems that can be encountered during the learning process. Part of the presentation will also cover the topic of how to set up Morse Training in your own Club.

Finding the venue: You can’t miss it, as it’s at a large roundabout at the northern end of the A61 dual carriageway that runs north from Chesterfield to the Meadowhead/Norton area of Sheffield.Sheffield & District ARC which can be found here will be monitoring the local UHF repeater if anyone gets lost.