ARRL

Learning Morse Code

Introduction

For many of today’s hams there was no choice; obtaining a ham license required learning Morse code.  Five words a minute was the requirement for the entry level Novice license and also for the renewable, but VHF only, Technician ticket.  A General or Advanced class required 13 wpm and it was 20 wpm for an Extra.

In 1991 the code requirement was eliminated for the Technician class, in 2000 it was reduced to 5wpm for all classes that still required code and in 2007 the code requirement was eliminated entirely. 

Whatever your reason for learning Morse code now, we have some links on this page that will help you.

Learn Morse Code

  • Morse Code Tips & Guides

    Beginner's Guide to CW by Jack Wagoner, WB8FSV
    All of the basics, from learning the code and calling CQ, to holding a ragchew and taking part in CW nets.

    Tips for Learning Morse Code
    By Chuck Adams, K7QO & Rod Dinkins, AC6V SK


    Learning CW Using the Farnsworth Method
    An article by Jon Bloom, KE3Z from the April 1990 issue of QEX; describes the learning method in which characters are sent at a faster speed than the words.
     

    Learning the Code without a Pencil by Fred Wagner, KQ6Q
    An off-air method of learning the code with a partner.


    Helping Kids Discover Morse Code
    Resources and ideas for teaching kids Morse Code.

     

    Morse Code: Efficient or Over the Hill? 

    Why learn if you haven't, and how to copy faster if you have.

     

    Learning Morse Code Effectively

    Some advice from Bruce Prior, N7RR

     

     

  • Training Courses, Aides, and Apps

     

    ARRL CW Training CDs
    CW-related training CDs available right online through the ARRL.

    W1AW Code Practice Audio Files

    Archive mp3 files of W1AW code practice runs at speeds 5wpm-40wpm.
     

    W1AW Code Practice Schedule
    Times, frequencies, and speeds.

    CWops CW Academy
    The CWops club offers group code lessons online and tutors on-air.
     

    G4FONs Morse Training Program
    This free application uses the Koch method to teach CW. Letters are sent at the speed which you hope to achieve, but only two at a time. When you reach 90% proficiency with two letters, two more letters are added.
     

    K9OX's Multi-Platform Morse Training Program
    A free CW application for Windows, Mac, Linux, or DOS; sends semi-random letters and numbers at variable speeds.
     

    Learn CW Online
    You can learn and practice CW at various speeds and formats with words, letter groups, and call signs through the Koch method. Offers training for the unique QTC exchange used in the Worked All Europe contest.

    AA9PW's CW Practice
    You can practice CW at various speeds and formats or download .mp3 files.
     

    RufzXP Training Software
    Software designed for those who want to increase to ultra high speed levels; sends random calls that can top 200 words per minute!

     

    Just Learn Morse Code

    Software designed to make it easy to learn Morse code, as well as improve the skills of those who already know the code.The basic methods used to achieve this are Koch's method and Farnsworth timing.

     

    CWGet software

    A program to decode morse code (CW) via sound card to text. It can work as a narrow-band sound DSP-filter also. All you need is a receiver and computer with a sound card. A 30-Day Trial is available.]

     

    K6RAU Beginners Course

    This 12-lesson course is designed for beginners who don't know the difference between a dit and a dah. It teaches students to copy and write down letters, rather than copying in their heads.  It starts with identyifying the sound of dits and dahs and progresses to a five word per minute speed.

     

    CWOPS Academy

    There is no cost or obligation to participate in CWops CW Academy Classes and membership is not required. Enrollment is open to anyone with the desire to learn or improve their proficiency in Morse Code.

     

  • Morse Code Alphabet

    Rather than using dots and dashes, it is best to learn the Morse code alphabet by the way it sounds: dits and dahs. Here is the Morse code dit/dah alphabet.

     

    A di-DAH
    B DAH-di-di-dit
    C DAH-di-DAH-dit
    D DAH-di-dit
    E dit
    F di-di-DAH-dit
    G DAH-DAH-dit
    H di-di-di-dit
    I di- dit
    J di-DAH-DAH-DAH
    K DAH-di-DAH
    L di-DAH-di-dit
    M DAH-DAH
    N DAH-dit
    O DAH-DAH-DAH
    P di-DAH-DAH-dit
    Q DAH-DAH-di-DAH
    R di-DAH-dit
    S di-di-dit
    T DAH
    U di-di-DAH
    V di-di-di-DAH
    W di-DAH-DAH
    X DAH-di-di-DAH
    Y DAH-di-DAH-DAH
    Z DAH-DAH-di-dit

     


    Numbers

     1 di-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH
     2 di-di-DAH-DAH-DAH
     3 di-di-di-DAH-DAH
     4 di-di-di-di-DAH
     5 di-di-di-di-dit
     6 DAH-di-di-di-dit
     7 DAH-DAH-di-di-dit
     8 DAH-DAH-DAH-di-dit
     9 DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-dit
     0
    DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH

     


    Punctuation

    Dash (pause)
    DAH-di-di-di-DAH
    Period ( . )
    di-DAH-di-DAH-di-DAH
    Comma ( , )
    DAH-DAH-di-di-DAH-DAH
    Question ( ? ) di-di-DAH-DAH-di-dit
    Slant ( / )
    DAH-di-di-DAH-dit



    Special Characters

    Error di-di-di-di-di-di-di-dit
    Error (alternate) di-dit dit-dit
    Break (BK) DAH-di-di-di-DAH-di-DAH
    End-of-Message (AR) di-DAH-di-DAH-dit
    End-of-QSO (SK) di-di-di-DAH-di-DAH
    Please Wait (AS) di-DAH-di-di-dit

     

  • History of Morse Code

    Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) was a painter and founder of the National Academy of Design. In 1832, while on a ship returning from Europe, he conceived the basic idea of an electromagnetic telegraph. Experiments with various kinds of electrical instruments and codes resulted in a demonstration of a working telegraph set in 1836, and introduction of the circuit relay. This made transmission possible for any distance. With his creation of the American Morse code, the historic message, "What hath God wrought?" was sucessfully sent from Washington to Baltimore.
     

    The Morse code used in those days differed greatly from that which is used today. Morse code originated on telegraph lines and the original users did not listen to tones but instead to the clicking sounds created by sounders. They used the American Morse code as opposed to today's International Morse. When sending dahs (Morse code is composed of dits or short key closures, and dahs or longer key closures) the user simply sent two close-together dits. This was created by using a conventional code key.
     

    With the advent of radio communications, the international Morse became more widespread. Users of the international Morse created dahs with a longer key closure, instead of two close-spaced dits. In order to increase transmission speed on early landline circuits and later on radio circuits, semi-automatic "bug" keys were invented in 1902 and were widely adopted. Bug keys used a vibrating pendulum to create dits and the user still manually creates the dahs.
     

    In more recent times, the user can employ keyers that electronically create dits and dahs. Iambic keyers have a memory so that the user can operate a mechanical "paddle" quicker than the keying rate of the keyer. This makes for very comfortable and nearly effortless keying.
     

    Today experienced operators copy received text without the need to write as they receive, and when transmitting, can easily converse at 20 to 30 words per minute. Morse code will always remain a viable means of providing highly reliable communications during difficult communications conditions.

  • Build a Code Practice Oscillator

    Kids and adults alike enjoy building their own practice oscillator to begin the adventure with Morse code. Here are some suggestions:

     

     

  • NSA CryptoKids: America's Future Codemakers and Codebreakers

    The National Security Agency's website for kids which includes games, activities and other student resources about code.

    CryptoKids

  • ARRL Morse code oscillator kit

    A great “beginners” electronics kit! Ideal for ARRL members, Amateur Radio newcomers, clubs, instructors and teachers seeking a classroom kit-building experience.

     

    For more information and how it works view supplementary tutorial for ARRL's Morse Code Oscillator (in PDF format). Also available: Morse Code Key.

    Produced for ARRL by MFJ Enterprises.
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