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Know Code or No Code??

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N6AJR, Jun 6, 2002.

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  1. N6AJR

    N6AJR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Know Code or No Code??

    Ok everyone here is your chance to settle the Code discussion once and for all. Lets go through and figure out the benefits and disadvantages inherent in the use of Mr. Sam Morse ‘s favorite brainchild. I hope this forum will give all a chance to vent and rant and finally get it out of your system. I have on my Flame –proof under ware and am ready for the onslaught.

    First the advantages of using code. First it does take some effort to learn and there for is a bit of an obstacle in the path of an Amateur’s progression through the ranks of Hamdom. Perhaps this separates those who would be Hams coming from the ranks of Citizens Band Radio who would be detrimental to the Amateur service. It certainly does take a bit of effort to acquire proficiency in the use of the code. Some folks see this as keeping the ranks of hams PURE as you must learn code. You can’t possibly be a real ham with out knowing the code. (Or so THEY say&#33[​IMG]

    It is probably the easiest way to generate a signal that can be transmitter. I have heard stories of those in hospitals without the ability to talk use code to “talk “ to folks. Also if you are having problems you can modulate almost any thing, a car horn, a broken mike, a doorbell to send code.

    It is an efficient use of bandwidth, using approximately 700 cycles of bandwidth, surpassed only by modes like PSK 31 and such. You can get a lot of CW signals in a small spectrum and this is better usage of band with allocation.

    CW has been around about as long as there has been ham radio, there fore to part with this tradition would be a cardinal sin. If you are a Ham, you must learn Code. Code is Ham. You can’t be a real Ham unless you can doe X WPM on Cw, Straight Key or with a Bug.

    Now for the other side of the coin. CW is just another mode of transmission. It is fairly efficient but is surpassed now days by several other modes (most are computer-generated type of signals) and some are 20 to 30 times as efficient with band with as compared to CW.

    You are not required to do Slow scan TV to get your ticket, Nor do you have to show a proficiency in the ability to speak as to be able to use SSB or FM or AM modes of transmission. Why don’t we change the requirement to the ability to do 20 WPM on SSB to qualify for Extra class? That would certainly get rid of some of those slow talking folks that populate 40 and 80- meters half of the day. Who care if they can send code at 50 WPM, they talk so slow they use up valuable spectrum and time in their inability to do 20 WPM voice.

    Some of the old timers will remember when SSB came out that they said it would never catch on, it was too unstable and too difficult to hear. It was better to use 6 kilocycles of bandwidth but have a signal with nice audio that folks could appreciate. Folks should be required to use AM, as it was a better mode than SSB. Ask an old timer about the AM vs. SSB wars that went on for quite a while, same as the Code –No Code is doing right now. Nothing ever changes but change it self.

    As far as using CW as a test of valor to be admitted to the ranks of ham, this makes about as much sense as saying QPR is a sissy sport. Only REAL Hams have Big Amplifiers. Take your pick. Some one will always be ready to tell you What ever they are, is the only way to do it.

    The Government has dropped the requirement for CW ability on ships at sea recently (so I am told) so no longer will we be able to call the radio op Sparks on the cruise ships, Perhaps sideband Sam's will have to do. They are flying planes with no pilots by remote control in the real Military these days to get the real time info they need to wage war, at no risk of life to a pilot. Does that mean they aren’t Real Soldiers? NO, it means they are taking advantage of change to do their jobs better. That’s, also what is happening to Ham Radio.

    So folks CW is going to be around forever. There are a lot of people who enjoy operating in the code portion of the band. You can build or buy a rig a lot cheaper if it is CW only, although most folks using CW also have pretty good rigs for all the other modes as well. CW is easier to generate, but technology today is moving at such a rapid rate that we can barely keep up with it. There will be more modes to come and some will stay and some will die off. If you enjoy using CW then by all means fell free to use it. If you can’t stand to send and receive code, then grab a microphone or a computer and have a ball. I haven’t even mentioned things like aprs and irlp, packet, maxtor, and all of those other modes. The Nice thing about Ham Radio is that you can do what you want, and have fun doing it.

    It makes no difference as to where the code plays in all of this. The FCC decides what is going to be used for the test for hams, either directly or indirectly, influenced by world law, the U.S. government, and us as hams. If you took a test that had you do 20 wpm and 50 questions to get your ticket, that is what was required then. If you took your test and was required 5 wpm and 50 questions, then that is what was required then. If some time in the future, code is dropped completely, those hams will have to take an X number of question test and do Y to pass for their ticket. We do what is required when we test. It ain’t up to us; it is up to the FCC as to what we have to do. SO there really is no Extra light, or no code wanna be tech or 5wpm general. I’m proud that you passed your test then as well as those who do the same today. Lets quit fighting about code and get on with having fun, promoting the hobby and helping out other folks.

    Ham radio is not about radios; it’s about people.

    tom N6AJR
  2. N8PDH

    N8PDH Ham Member QRZ Page

    As far as I am concerned, sadly code is a soon to be dead language. most of the goverments dont use it anymore neither do they use ancinet hebrew.
    there are more modern means of communications called satilite communication,Packet radio, internet communications and the cell phone industry just to name a few.
    Yes, I studied and passed my 20wpm and erned my Extra.but the technology has far surpassed the usefullness of the code.
    Sept 11th, proved to the worl that us hams are still needed and we can use any means possible (( CW)).
  3. N7CPC

    N7CPC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here we go again.............
  4. VE6DDT

    VE6DDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a fan of CW, in fact it is my preferred method.
    CW is outdated, true, but so too is the Model "T" as well as the muscle cars of the 60's and 70's. I'll give up my key, when they pry it from my cold dead hand, to paraphrase, someone. [​IMG]
  5. AC7RG

    AC7RG QRZ Member

    Time-tested, reliable means of communication that will be restored in times after nuclear engagement or when other modes no longer function.
  6. WB6FTI

    WB6FTI Guest

    This has been a difficult topic over the years, as has the AM vs SSB discussion and changes in testing requirements or band privileges. Personally, I'm grateful that my Novice ticket before 1987 "grandfathered" my code requirements for the foreseeable future.

    As nations confer about amateur radio, we can expect to see a "homogenization" of requirements and privileges. This, I think, is a good thing. Particularly, I like what I've heard about the new Foundation license in the UK (Correct me, Brits, if I'm wrong here.) To quote from a recent news source,
    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Current UK Class B licensees who have held that ticket for at least a year may obtain a Foundation license simply by taking the Morse assessment. There is no Morse speed requirement, and applicants are provided with a copy of the Morse alphabet and "coding" and "decoding" information sheets. [/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
    I think the US should follow suit, for all license classes, and let CW be a "mode of preference" rather than a gatekeeper.

    Yes, we still need a gatekeeper; but that's another topic!
  7. K7PIG

    K7PIG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Again with the Morse Code.
    My shorts have punched out holes with dits and dahs.
    U learn code or U don't learn the code.
    The Morse Code isn't going away at all, it shall be us for a very long time.
    The US Military is still using the code, the only code school for the Services is right here at Ft. Huachuca, Az.
    Dam the Morse Code, learn it or ask Mom for her wavier. When will this subject cease?
  8. N9KPN

    N9KPN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I do not want to ban code but I do not believe it should be a REQUIREMENT for amateur radio.  Let's compare some other "outdated" technologies and see if we need to keep them.

    Marker Generators.  How many people have a marker generator to tune their radios?  For those that do not know what they are, a marker generator is  a "mini" transmitter that put out a signal across the band on different frequencies.  These were known frequencies and you could tune your receiver to these known signals (marks) and calibrate your receiver dial.

    Fixed (rock bound) crystal radios.  I'd say 99.44% of us have some sort of radio that has adjustable VFOs.  In times past radios were fixed to one frequency with a plug in crystal.  Why not have rock steady signals on a single frequency?

    How about the vacuum state?  I'm talking about scraping silicon based radios and jumping way back to the days where a vacuumed out glass envelope was used.  Hey if we are ever attacked by a nuclear weapon and it produces an EM pulse, all our solid state rigs are going to be trashed.  We need to require that ham rigs WORK after such an attack.  We need to require that hams use vacuum tube radios and get rid of the solid state rigs.  Thus we could use Morse code and our radios would work in an "emergency" state of a nuclear attack.

    Computers have made their way into amateur shacks.  Why not require the only computers in the shack to be ones that use punch cards or punch tape to store the programs.  Forget hard drives, CD-Roms, and floppies; use paper memory.  These cannot be erased by a magnet.

    Onto mobile operations.  How about requiring driving students to demonstrate proficientcy in driving a team of horses first?  Cars break down and run out of gas.  A horse is reliable so why not use them instead?  Okay, maybe that is going too far.  But I'll bet a point and condensor ignition system would be a lot easier to fix than one of the more modern cars out there.  So why not get back to the cars of the late 60's and 70's (forget the mid 70's junk though).  These cars ran and ran.  Or even better; how about going back to the days when your station had to be at a fixed location?  You could not even take your radios to "field day" without getting special clearance from the FCC.

    Am I making my point?  There comes a time when some things must end.  The "know code" requirement is one such item.  Things like manditory fixed stations, FCC examiners, unknown tests, and rock bound transmitters are now part of history.  As technology improved the rules were relaxed.  Transmitters could have VFOs, stations were allowed to go mobile, and testing became part of the amateur radio community (instead of a government official).

    I keep reading the same old tired story of hospital victims using Morse code to communicate while in serious trouble.  There are 680,000 hams in the country right now.  Out of 276,000,000 people in the United States, do you think the odds are that high that you are going to find the one injured party that is able to tap out code.  Then find the one health care worker that just so happens to know Morse code.  Sorry, these odds are way too high.  And if Morse code is such an important skill, why not teach it in grade school?

    The cry to keep code as a requirement falls way short.  If  you count the number of Tech licenses (and assume no code for most) and you subtract this number from the entire ham pool this leaves less than half a million hams that new code at one time.  This is less than one fifth of one percent of the US population that knows code!  If I'm in distress I want as many people to know this as possible;  I want a microphone!  Do not prohibit code but drop the requirement.
  9. WD0CT

    WD0CT Ham Member QRZ Page

    [​IMG] n9kpn has me falling out of my chair with laughter. I've got to get a better seat belt for this thing!
    You are right on the money..

  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I have mixed feelings on the know code/no code arguement. Knowing code is a very special ability that some hams poses. Although far fetched, the movie Independence Day shows one reason why knowing code may be important. It is also a skill that should seperate the experts from the rest of us.

    However the bandwith allocations in HF give half of each band to CW. That does not leave much room for the other "bandwith hungry" modes of communication. I think that the British have the right idea with the class and test that they are using. We should adopt something similar for the General class and keep the Extra as it is. Nothing in HF is available to anyone who doesn not learn the code.

    For those who are wondering, yes I am only a technician but I am studying for my general ticket. The theory part is simple, but I am finding that learning the code to be quite difficult. I have all the letters memorized and can "pound the brass" with the best of them. Listening to it though is a very different story. I hope to soon be able to copy 5 wpm and take my test. After that I will never use it again. A hppy medium for the code/no code camps can be found, it's just a matter of where.

    73, Brian
  11. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I really think the points below sum things up nicely...


    1. CW is just another mode and should not be afforded any special priority over others. It is available to those who wish to use it. Morse proficiency should not be required for those who do not wish to use the mode.

    2. Manual radiotelegraphy communications has been superceded by more modern, reliable, accurate, faster and efficient means of communication.

    3. Requiring manual telegraphy proficiency is not compatible with the radio amateur's mandated objective of contributing to the advancement of the radio art.

    4. No evidence exists that Morse proficiency is an indicator of a desirable, motivated or better qualified operator.

    5. The Morse code requirement serves as an advancement barrier to many otherwise qualified individuals.

    6. The value of Morse code communications in the Amateur Service is primarily recreational in nature and manual telegraphy proficiency should no longer be a compulsory licensing requirement for any class of Amateur Radio license.

    Go to:
  12. KB1GYQ

    KB1GYQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The petunias were right "Oh no! Here we go again." Perhaps a bowl of petunias does know more about life then we do...
  13. N6AJR

    N6AJR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sorry Matt, the whole article is a tongue in cheek shot at the on going battle of the code.  You can post an article about what to cook on Field Day and some one will bring up the code/no code as important.  I am just trying to show folks that it is what it is and we don't have a lot of say over the use or lack of use of the code, as the official decission will be made for us.  You can do as you please, either use the code or don't ... It's your choice as a ham  ... and it is about people, people operate the radios, if you have no other station to talk to ( a people) then Ham radio doesn't make any sense.  73  tom N6AJR
  14. N6AJR

    N6AJR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    (and I still can't type HI hi)
  15. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's a moot point, folks -- it's already decided, and has been for some time. Next year, at World Radio Conference, Morse testing goes away. The FCC follows suit almost immediately. It's a done deal, just waiting for the meeting.

    So let's get on with radio-ing quit this nonsense! We can have fun on CW, Phone, data, whatever. Nobody is about to make CW illegal. I betcha after it is no longer required, people will still be debating this, and it's a bit like debating whether it is dark at night or not. It's dark, whatever your opinion might be.

    Let's "do radio." I'm not going to argue CW/no-cw anymore with anyone. I'm just going to have fun on the air. Might be on fone, might be on CW, but I'll be there. Mostly CW, but I even do a wee dab of RTTY.

    (By the way, someone said CW takes about 700 Hertz bandwidth. Huh? Typically it is said to be around 100 Hertz - cycles for us old folks - but there is some increase as speed increases, naturally. Though that would be really difficult to measure at CW speeds below about 100 WPM. A steady carrier, without keying, is about as narrow as your receiver filter will make it. Got a ten-Hertz filter? You'll still hear that CW carrier. The bandwidth of CW is receiver-dependent. A good panadapter will show a steady carrier as under 50 Hertz wide, and even that depends upon the selectivity of the panadapter. CW is UNmodulated carrier, folks - not modulated. It is defined as ON/OFF keying. The CW carrier - when ON - is exactly the same width as your PSK31 carrier when you are not "modulating" it. )

    Now all this is not to say we shouldn't be discussing the pros and cons of CW. It is just to say that such discussions aren't going to change anything at all, as the decisions are almost certainly already reached.

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