Morse Code for the Radio Amateur


January 2020 represents the 50th anniversary of my first successful Novice CW contact in 1970, while a Junior in high school. Hi. My name is Larry, callsign WB7C.

I recently worked another ham who was doing Morse code five decades ago, and sent a single "character" with special meaning and stopped sending. He knew to wait for me. I glanced at my transceiver and noted the model number, then resumed sending to tell him what I am running in my station.

If one really wants to use Morse code on the CW bands, there are many very useful procedural signs (like the example above) that the CW operator should know. I promise, this Morse code teaching site will cover these.

Lesson Plan

I will teach Morse code from scratch for those who are starting out at ground zero. At the same time, hams using the code on CW can pick up what is missing.

Please download the PDF handouts that I put together when I started teaching code on the air, running a Morse code class net on our local club repeater.

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Lesson menu

  1. Learn the fastest way to print clearly! Download Print the Alphabet and Figures 2020 (PDF) New release Then visit: Lesson 1: Learn the fastest way to print
  2. It's a language of sound! Two PDF handouts to download: 1) Morse Alphabet cheat sheet (Rev 1) PDF 2) Morse Code Alphabet Mnemonics help sheet PDF Now please visit: Lesson 2: A Language Of SOUND!!
  3. Timing counts! It is possible, with practice and concentrating on timing perfection to receive complements on your hand-sent code. "I thought you were using a keyboard!" Please turn to: LESSON 3 ~ Timing Counts.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice! Practice the Morse code and gain some confidence in your new language of sound and timing. Please visit the lesson page: Lesson 4: Morse Code Practice Guidelines
  5. Q signals Please download Q-Signals (PDF). Q-signals are 3-letters starting with Q that carry the same meaning in every language, and therefore help break the language barrier. Let's go to Lesson 5: Amateur Radio Q Signals.
  6. Minimum Character Set The minimum character set for good CW operation is outlined in this chapter. It includes audio samples.
  7. Operating Procedure provides a good starting point, from which you can differ after you have some experience. I begin with a strict regimen, also from which you may differ, once you have put some miles on your key and made many contacts. A strict regimen is very helpful when you are still gaining confidence in your knowledge of Morse code.
  8. U.S. Navy Video: Technique of sending Morse code by hand using a straight key, with a coin on his wrist! It addresses a proper technique drilled into our World War II Veterans back in 1944. It is as good today as it was over 75 years ago.
  9. Morse code audiophiles (or should I say “audio files?”) Currently 47 files there!

Next page: Lesson 1: Learning the Fastest Way to Print