Morse Code Eliminated by FCC

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by AA7BQ, Dec 16, 2006.

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  1. AA7YQ

    AA7YQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Howdy all,

    I don't usually like to add my 2 cents as usually no one cares, but I just wanted to add some thoughts to the topic here.

    I for one am fairly saddened by the removal of the code requirement. Passing all the written exams was one thing, but passing the CW tests was an entirely different achievement. These accomplishments were some of the most valuable experiences of my youth, receiving my 5wpm Novice ticket in 1989 and eventually the 20 wpm Extra Class ticket in 1993 at the ripe age of 18. I was fascinated in all aspects of Amateur Radio at that age and it was the driving force which led me to go on to college and get a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I look back now and realize the most valuable lesson I learned from Ham Radio was how rewarding personal commitment to achieving a goal can be. Certainly many hours were spent reading and re-reading the theory part of the exams to grasp the concepts, but how hard is it to pass a multiple choice test, especially when you are given the pool of questions and the correct answers prior to the exam. The time commitment required to pass the written exams did not hold a candle to the commitment required to pass code portion.

    The only reason I bring this up is that I hope even with all these changes, we do not take this aspect away from todays youth. Ham radio has been a wonderful life lesson for me on acheiving goals; even today it continues to steer a lot of my life and career choices.

    Changes are inevitable so I guess we trim our sails and keep sailing. No sense looking behind us, lets look at the broad horizons ahead. CW is still here and is not dying out anytime soon. I think we need to challange ourselves as Hams, to provide those same life lessons to the youth entering this wonderful hobby, that we all learned. Todays youth growing up with cell phones, email, internet, robotic dogs, etc. are probably not going to be awestruck by a CW QSO. The world has become incredibly small in the last decade, so even DX contacts are not that fascinating to kids. Code requirements may be gone, but the life long lessons gained from learning code will never be gone. I think we should continue to emphasize the rewards of a CW QSO as we elmer young hams. Learning the code can open so many doors and is a great first step in being able to design, build, and operate simple homebrew equipment. Who knows where that could lead, maybe the RF equivalent of Einstein.

    Thanks to the web it has never been easier to obtain radio parts, schematics, and ideas. The lessons learned and personal rewards of building and operating any type of homebrew equipment is incredible. Maybe homebrewing will be the spark of interest for todays young hams, even if it is not CW equipment. Maybe the first QSO of todays youth will be on PSK-31 with a hombrew rig, that thrill and personal reward is still there even if the knowledge of Morse Code is not. We must make sure we nuture this, as this is what our hobby is all about at its core.

    It is imperative that us CW types not get a "more-worthy-than-thou" attitude if we want the purity of this hobby to continue. If our attitudes turn away would-be young Hams, what have we gained? It is important to fan the spark of interest of any young ham no matter what that might be, even if it is not CW. Some of the friendliest people in the world are Ham operators, overcoming political and geographical walls, even in the darkest of times. We need to keep this tradition alive and todays youth are the key. If we turn them away because of a division between code and no-code hams we completely defeat the purpose of our hobby.

    Well, there is my two cents, if not two dollars at this point. Anyhow the best of 73's to all who read this code or no-code!

    That being said,
    -.- . . .--. - .... . -.-. --- -.. . .- .-.. .. ...- . --..-- .... .. .... .. -...- --... ...-- . ... --. --- -.. -... .-.. . ... ... .-.-.-

    -.. . .- .- --... -.-- --.- ...-.- ...-.-
  2. AB1GA

    AB1GA Ham Member QRZ Page


    It may have been two cents worth, but it was welcome.

    I don't think you should be too discouraged by the dropping of the code requirement. In the early days CW was necessary to communicate at all, and later it was the cheapest way to put out a signal. That changed, but I don't think the magic of CW has been diminished by it. Consider that by dropping the code requirement the sense of fulfillment at learning CW will still be had by those who seek out that mode, without causing resentment among those who are forced by dated license requirements to learn something which is not only of no interest of them but which is not essential to their making a positive contribution to the hobby. Those operators who aren't captivated by CW can and will find their own magic and fulfillment in this hobby, and will add to it in their own way. This is a good thing, and all hams should encourage it.

    I also wouldn't underestimate the potential difficulty of a multiple choice exam, even with question pools. I can make a multiple choice question hard enough to bring tears to your eyes, and if my question pool is large enough you won't memorize it. I was first licensed in Germany as DB7MF, which was a no-code VHF/UHF license, but which shared the written test with the full privilege license class. When I returned to America I succumbed to the usual excuses of school, girls, and work until last summer, when I walked in unlicensed and walked out an extra. Not only did our Extra exam seem pretty easy, but I felt the earlier elements didn't cover some basic knowledge necessary to participate in what is still a technical hobby. I've seen Techs who had trouble with volts, amps, watts, and Ohm's Law, and I've seen Generals who didn't know how to cut a dipole. This situation is the fault of the existing amateur community; we need to insist as a group that the question pools be revised to ensure that those who take the test only pass if they know how to set up and operate their station competently. Not perfection, not state-of-the-art, just competent. The FCC expects us to maintain our skills as technicians and operators, and it structured the licenses to encourage us to do so; we owe it to them and to ourselves to deliver on our tradition.

    Our hobby is changing, but it only has to change on the fringes, not at it's core. Ham radio is an old-fashioned hobby, emerging at the beginning of the 19th century and carrying with it not just the small trappings like "OM" and "73", but an attitude of discovery, fraternity, dedication to the art of radio, mutual support, and service to country. These things needn't and shouldn't go stale because of a code test or a license class reshuffle; if they do, then ham radio not be ham radio any more, it will be a jungle in the ether. Pfui.

    Don't underestimate our youth. A cell phone is a phone, and phones didn't kill amateur radio after WWII, did they? And SSB didn't kill CW overnight either, did it? And the computer, the robot dog, and the rest are boxes which can be manipulated but not investigated, dismantled but not understood, "integrated" but not built. For many these toys suffice, but for a certain subset only ham radio will provide the Real Thing. Nobody is going to tell me that logging in a chat room with people from around is going to top the thrill of that first DX contact using a rig you built and an antenna you threw up in the trees yourself, and I think there are still kids like that out there somewhere, and they should be hams.

    I know they're out there, but I'm not sure yet how to reach them. I am an ARRL Life Member and I believe that a strong League is essential to keeping our spectrum and privileges from eroding, but I decry their emphasis on space, data, and numbers. Having kids talk to an astronaut over a VHF link on a schedule is like making the weekly call to the folks back home: it may be nice, but it's not exciting. And if the hobby maintains its traditions and innate appeal there will be enough hams. Maybe not as many as today, or as many as some would like, but enough to meet our obligations to our licensing authority and our community and enough to keep our hobby vibrant and maybe a little bit old-fashioned.
  3. AA7YQ

    AA7YQ Ham Member QRZ Page


    Thanks for the thoughts, very well put.

  4. KE7JRH

    KE7JRH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a bit new to ham radios still, but I'm being taught and I'm learning fast. I took my test for Tech about 3 months ago and am going down to take the General tomorrow in Pocatello, Idaho. I had planned to take the test and then follow up with taking the code but looks like things are working out in my favor, haha.. so let me get this straight. If I take the General and do not do the Morse Code test, I can just refuse to take it and sit on it and wait for the FCC to put the no morse code rule into effect and I'll be upgraded to General automatically in a few months? 73's to the FCC. WOW!!! Amazing!!
  5. W0UZR

    W0UZR Ham Member QRZ Page



    If you don't learn the code, there will be half of each band you won't be able to use, (the CW part of course) And you will be missing out on all kinds of DX by not being there.

    When ever a repeater IDs you won't be able to know what it says.....

    And FORGET about finding a becon to find out propagations are. They talk in CODE, (horrors !!)
  6. KI9G

    KI9G Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have searched and searched and searched and I just can't find it anywhere in part 97. The words "NO CODE TECH" or "NO CODE GENERAL" If you hate the loss of code so much then stay in that part of the band. Then you are assured not to have to talk to any of those nasty ham ops that passed the 'still intact' written test. Whew!!!
  7. KA9E

    KA9E Ham Member QRZ Page

    Anyone interested buying in an entire station? I'm sure NOW we can find some CBer to buy it. HEE HAW

    To W4HLK I dont know where you have been these past few years, the FCC and ARRL have been working on this for a long time now!!
  8. N0NCO

    N0NCO Ham Member QRZ Page


    You will not be automatically upgraded to General. You will have to go to a testing session with your paperwork, and pay a second testing fee to get it sent in. No big deal, though....


    Remember - just because someone doesn't take the code test, it doesn't mean they can't/won't learn it on their own. Furthermore, many of the Hams I know who did pass their 20 WPM, 13 WPM, or 5 WPM test would have a tough time translating a beacon ID, let alone have the skill to carry on a real CW QSO.

    In reality - the code test has nothing to do with understanding repeater IDs, using the CW sub-bands, identifying beacons, etc. Practice is how one develops those skills - not by simply passing a code test.

    Ditto for the written test. Passing the written tests has never been a reliable indicator of understanding the subject matter - not even in the old days, before multiple-guess & public question pools. Many Hams simply crammed for the test in the old days, just like many college students over the decades cram for their finals. The retention level of those who cram for exams is usually quite low - this has been proven many times.

    Again, it is the practicing of the theory, not the passing of tests that helps one develop a true understanding of most any subject. An example would be getting a drivers' license. We surely don't expect a newly-licensed driver to have the same level of understanding & skill as a well-seasoned professional driver. Yes - the new driver should have a thorough understanding of the rules & regs, but we surely don't expect them to have the driving skills of a seasoned driver. I could find many, many more examples, however I believe I've made my point.

    73, and have a great day!

    Joel - N0NCO
  9. W0UZR

    W0UZR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I didn't say taking the code test. I said not 'Learning Code' he won't be able to understand becons and repeaters.
  10. K4JF

    K4JF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You are exactly right. THAT is the kind of thing that we need to get across.

    Ham radio shouldn't be adversely affected by internet any more than it is affected by motorcycles. Two completely different things.
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