MORSE CODE Still Viable After 175 Years

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by W5BIB, May 23, 2019.

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  1. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  2. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Morse brought his technology with him to his employment with the Baltimore and Ohio railroad.
    So there you have the communication from Baltimore to D.C. with his partner Vail via wire strung along B&O right-of-way.
    Little published factoid concerning this.

    Learn Morse.
    Do CW.
    W5BIB likes this.
  3. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    CW is still alive and well. Operate it fairly regularly and very rarely talk to the same person.
  4. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    That will change with time Brian...
    Lots of friendships made over the past 7 yrs I've been on brass... Keep at it!
    N7BKV likes this.
  5. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Cheers to Mr. Morse and Mr. Vail and a few others along the way!

    Alive and well in the shack of W7UUU

    KE5OFJ, N7BKV, N8AFT and 1 other person like this.
  6. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Funny that only in the last few years have we had access to digital modes that can get through noisy/low prop condx better than code.

    And they require a moderately high level of horsepower under the hood on a computer to use.

    Morse and International only require one working ear and a bit of training.


    Chuck VE7PJR/WB7PJR/IC (the "sine" for the Iowa City office of the Rock Island Line, where I was honourary wire chief)
    N7KO and N8AFT like this.
  7. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I know some people that would dispute this, but I'm bound by NDA to say nothing more.

    People have been doing RTTY for decades with electro-mechanical devices, and with personal computers that many people could afford to buy for grins and giggles for nearly as long.

    And RTTY requires only a bit of electronic knowledge and someone that knows how to use a computer keyboard, no ears required.

    The FCC used to have a Aircraft Radiotelegraph Endorsement. (There's a mention of it here under "Discontinued Licenses and Endorsements". -> ) RTTY got lighter, cheaper, and easier than a trained radio operator with one good ear a long time ago. Sea travel held out much longer on Morse code because they were not nearly as restricted by size, weight, and crew size and they stopped using CW in the 1990s.

    The one example given of modern Morse code use by radio in the article linked in the original post is of AM modulated ID transmissions for navigation beacons. CW use outside of Amateur radio is quite rare anymore precisely because of how better digital modes have performed over the decades.
  8. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    QSL the stark simplicity of transmitting / receiving Morse vs. modern and vulnerable computer generated comms.
    "Wire Chief" on the CRIP RR? What was a "Wire Chief"? Comm or signal department? CSX RR employed here...
  9. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I believe that you need to read up on the evolution of both aeronautical and maritime radio.

    RTTY never got into civilian air transport radio, but instead the air-ground radio procedures shifted from MF and HF Morse to VHF and HF AM in a few short years during the late 40s/early 50s.
    The onboard radio operator usually became combined with the navigator during the transition period.

    As the air transport industry was comparably young, it did not carry the weight of a Morse heritage as did commercial shipping, where the price/performance offered by 500 kHz Morse still was considered as sufficient even post-WW2.

    Ground-based point-to-point Morse circuits used for air traffic management and meteorological purposes were however substituted by RTTY at a quite early stage.

    Shipping was in a very different situation.
    The Titanic disaster had forced the industry into procedures that provided the most "bang for buck" in the shortest time.
    The ship-owners also were a very cost-conscious group, as compared to the airlines.

    Due to its price/performance, Morse could hold its own even in the merchant navies of industrialised countries well into the 1960s. Procedures mandated in 1914 still were used in 1964.

    However, the cost of Morse-trained personnel both on-board and on-shore started to worry the industry towards the 1970s.

    Starting in the Nordic merchant navies, exemption schemes were drawn up, where other bridge crew could take responsibility for the distress and safety radio operations using MF radiotelephony, and automatic radiotelex took over the "ship's business" communications.
    This became the precursor for the GMDSS.
    Soon the Morse exemption schemes were expanded, giving the countries applying them a cost advantage.

    This accelerated the introduction of the GMDSS and the onboard R/O quite soon became history in first-world shipping.

    When the final remnants of the 1914 SOLAS system finally were abandoned on February 1st 1999, only third-world shipping still used Morse on a more regular scale.

    Some coast stations remained open on 500 kHz for a year or two to serve "stragglers" that had not made the GMDSS transition in an orderly manner.

    Since amateur radio today mostly has relevance, if any, as a "living museum" and does not have to worry about any price/performance metrics, I find it quite appropriate to keep Morse as an exam requirement for real radio amateurs.

    Last edited: May 30, 2019
    W4AUT, W5BIB and N8AFT like this.
  10. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't see anything that you wrote that corrected any errors I made in what I wrote. I could have gone into more detail like you did but I didn't see the need.

    Just because Amateur radio is just a "living museum" where you are does not mean that is how it operates in the rest of the world. Also, even if Amateur radio is in fact a "living museum" now that does not mean we need to keep it that way. In broad terms there are two groups in Amateur radio, the "living museum" crowd and the modern communicators and experimenters. I'll emphasize in that I mean VERY broad terms. There is certainly an overlap between the two, and plenty that might not fit nicely in either.

    Maintaining a Morse code exam requirement for a license would discourage the kind of people looking to do modern communications. It would also encourage those that did get a license to keep looking back at Morse code instead of looking forward to something new. The only reason a Morse code test requirement would be "appropriate" is to box in Amateur radio as a living history museum. Why anyone would want to hobble Amateur radio like that escapes me.

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