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.

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.

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

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.


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

Copying Morse

This is something that I do in my head like a lot of experienced Morse operators but the subject of writing it down has reared it’s head a couple of times recently. It is very rare that I write anything down these days as most of my work is down on a keyboard, but the times I do pick up a pencil I would find it difficult to copy 20wpm. Continue reading

Copying Morse in Your Head

After a recent email from Bill W5WMB about his progress in learning Morse code and how he was starting to copy in his head, I realised that the subject of copying Morse code in your head needed a bit of coverage to avoid any misconception about it and not to try and do it too early in the learning process.

Most experienced CW operators copy most of the QSO in their head and only write down the relevant parts of the standard contact RST, Name and QTH. When you are skilled enough to do this, all of a sudden CW becomes even more enjoyable and suddenly you are talking to people using CW without really thinking about it. You should find it quite easy to follow a basic QSO without writing it all down as it is usually sent in a standard defined format.

Before you think about copying Morse Code on your head, you should be competent at copying  CW speeds at about 15 words per minute  with no problems. If you have to think about the Morse characters then you are going to find it very hard to try and read it i your head as you will have an even longer thinking time and remember that reading Morse code should be a reflex action to gain any sort of competence.

One of the hardest things to do is to find enough confidence to throw away your pencil but when you have done it, the Morse experience becomes even more pleasurable but don’t try it to early in the learning process.


Don’t Read Morse Listen to It

One of the biggest hazards of learning Morse is the Crib Sheet or Flash Card with the character and Morse equivalent written down for you to look at. You can learn Morse code with these aids, but you can’t use it and end up with the counting syndrome again which leads back to a previous post “Still Counting?“. Morse is a language and should be listened to. Continue reading

Message From Barry G3JGO

I was helped to learn Morse by G3GCU an ex Bomber Command RO
about 1952. I well remember him saying that slow, machine accurate
Morse is NOT the way, one has to learn letters at say 12-15 wpm from
day one, with big gaps to keep the WPM down to what you can handle.
Like the phrase “six teenagers” which gives three different meanings
if said too slowly, as the brain tries to interpret what it has
already got.

Regarding tried and tested methods, I once heard of someone who had
“always” taken the hot ashes out in a bucket. On day his son-in-law
bought him a polythene bucket !!!!! He blamed the son-in-law, not the

Barry  G3JGO

Thanks Barry the more messages and comments we get the better for the Crusade.

Morse Readers

I thought I might just write a little post on the subject of Morse Readers as although they are a good tool for Morse operators who can read at least 12wpm, because they can be used to practice your sending ability and the readability of the Morse you are sending, however as a learning tool for reading Morse they should never be used as it will cause problems with your you can’t receive Morse and look at the screen at the same time and also there is always some delay before the character is displayed on the screen which could throw your concentration.

Morse Aptitude

Your Morse Aptitude is your personal ability to learn Morse Code and some find it easier than others to learn. Most armed forces professional Morse operators would have taken a Morse aptitude test before they started learning, this is because the government did not want to spend lots of money training someone who was going to find it very difficult to learn. If you failed the aptitude test you were redirected to another occupation. Continue reading

Still Counting?

Are you one of the Morse operators still suffering from the 5wpm Morse Test and finding difficulty progressing forward with your Morse speeds? I have listened to many sad stories about this and you have my sympathy. But there could be hope at the end of the tunnel if you are willing to retrain and begin to learn Morse as a language. I would suggest you read “So You Would Like to Learn the Secret of Morse”  and start again from the beginning.

I would like to say at this point I have no experience of this situation and would be very pleased if anyone that has been in this situation and overcome it please comment on this post and give your advice.

So You Would Like to Learn the Secret of Morse

Morse is a Language and not a Code and should not be learned as such and my views are held by other operators World Wide. Learning Morse Code by dits and dahs will haunt you for a long time and if you are counting dits and dahs I would recommend that you stop immediately and read my post on “Redefining Slow Morse in Amateur Radio”.

Learning Morse is not easy and you must be dedicated and willing to put aside at least half an hour a day every day for practice. You will find that sometimes you will struggle and get mental blocks on some characters, but remember that you would not be on your own as most operators have gone through that at some time or other. We have all persevered through the hurdles it can throw at you and now enjoy the music of Morse. Continue reading

Why Morse?

As a child I was always intrigued with the sound of Morse Code though I could not understand it, and now as a Morse Operator I am mystified why people watch me and I know they don’t understand anything I am sending. When my club opened the Radio Museum at East Kirkby Airfield it was decided to only use SSB on the amateur station GB2CWP that was located within the museum. Visitors to the Radio Room just walked round looking at the exhibits and left showing no interest in our active station till one day we changed mode to CW and Morse filled the air. It seems we don’t need a flute like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, we just have the volume of the radio loud enough for the Morse to be heard outside the Radio Room and the visitors come flooding in and surround the operator. Why?

So what’s good about Morse Code and is it worth the pain of learning? Continue reading

Morse Grades?

In a recent email from fellow Crusader Matt VK2ACL who is working really hard at being able to read 25wpm comfortably which he considers to be “The Black Belt” of Morse operating. This got me thinking about relating Morse to Martial Arts Grades as my son Rob is a Martial Artist. (Profile Here) He started learning Kung Fu when he was 15 to protect himself as he was too scared to go to our local market town where he was being picked on. Through Determination, Self Sacrifice and Pain he is now well respected in his field and still learning.

How does this relate to Morse? To learn Morse properly you have to be very determined, sacrificing time for daily practice and to go through the pain and frustration of overcoming mental blocks. Having a quick grade of our Crusaders, Matt VK2ACL would be graded as a Brown Belt striving hard for his Black Belt, I would consider myself as Black Belt First Dan and John N5DWI would be graded as Black Belt Fifth Dan (visit John’s site) Continue reading