Morse is History

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KQ6XA, Aug 28, 2003.

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  1. KQ6XA

    KQ6XA Ham Member QRZ Page

    We are at the crossroads of the great highways: Future and History.
    The time has come for the Amateur Radio Service in USA to graduate into the 21st century. Many countries have recently graduated, boldly taking the road into the future. Will USA meet the challenge at this junction? The future is vibrant with rapid advancements in communications systems that were beyond realization for mid-20th century hams. Steeped in the tradition of 19th-century-born pioneers, morse telegraphy once stood proudly etched in the stone of international law as a rite of passage.

    Tradition and Equality
    In America, as great as our system of government is, we still have found the need for change. Our laws and society have grown more civilized as they evolve into a more just equality for all people; away from domination of the minority by the majority. We once legally discriminated against anyone who was different, we disenfranchised anyone who was was not part of the status quo, and we marginalized minorities. In my lifetime, I have watched those barriers come crashing down. Now we are reaping the benefits of advancement, spurred on by some of the best and brightest among those that were once outcasts.

    Lost: 30% Of All Highly Qualified Operators
    As a musically talented youngster at the age of 8, morse code was easy and fun for me. Since then, I have helped 50 others to develop their own talent for morse. Some of them mastered it easily... but 15 intelligent, motivated people of those 50 did not have the talent for morse. The untalented included a Physicist, a Broadcast Engineer, an RF Design Engineer, a Founder of a high-tech instrumentation company, a high school science Teacher, an emergency radio Dispatcher, a Patent Attorney, and other individuals of high caliber. These people are not wimps when it comes to acquiring new knowledge. Most of them could pass the Extra written exam; all were intelligent and hard working. But they simply were not musically or audibly talented in beep deciphering. They knew exactly why they wanted to operate HF. After all, HF communications is a driving force at the core of Ham Radio. But Ham Radio turned them away. They are gone, we lost them. Is 30% important? Statistically speaking, 30% is a minority. Are we to continue to disenfranchise this untalented minority, especially when it includes some of the best and brightest?

    For many years, I have watched us lose too many of those highly qualified radio operators and radio experimenters as a result of the morse testing requirement barring them from HF. We legally discriminated against them for not having the talents of the status quo. Who knows, maybe we lost the person who would have invented a technology for amateur HF voice in a 500Hz bandwidth!

    Clinging to the Past?
    Although my code speed has diminished slightly over the years from a once contest-honed 45WPM, I still love operating CW with a straight key, a bug, or a keyer... QRP and QRO. Perhaps, after our older beep-beeping generations are gone, there will be fewer ops out there making the music of CW on the air. Does that make me sad? No. Time marches on, we accept change and embrace it. There was a day when the talent for sending morse was truly needed in radio. That day ended many many years ago. Now it is time to let CW stand on its own as a noble mode.

    Test Knowledge Not Talent
    Sending and receiving morse is the only  talent test that has ever been required for hams. If we are to continue to fall into the trap of testing for talent, why not test the operator's talent with keyboarding at 40WPM? Or perhaps the talent of rapidly tuning a mobile antenna for low SWR? These talents are much more appropriate to today's amateur radio and emergency services needs. Amateur radio examinations should focus upon testing the applicant's knowledge about amateur radio.


    Tough Written Test as a Filter?
    Some say that after the morse test is abolished soon, we should establish some other sort of magically difficult test to filter out undesirables from the amateur radio service... There is no legitimate test anyone has ever conceived that will filter undesirable people. Only the enertia of good operators continuing to provide peer support, and beaming as shining examples in the amateur community, can have that effect.


    Morse is History
    Morse is a wonderful part of radio's history. Let us honor it, with the respect it deserves, and no longer use it as a tool for oppression. [/b]

    Now it's time to push onward together and take the superhighway into the future.

    Bonnie KQ6XA
     
  2. N2YPH

    N2YPH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Excellent article.

    The one place I would disagree:

    "Tough Written Test as a Filter?
    Some say that after the morse test is abolished soon, we should establish some other sort of magically difficult test to filter out undesirables from the amateur radio service... There is no legitimate test anyone has ever conceived that will filter undesirable people. Only the enertia of good operators continuing to provide peer support, and beaming as shining examples in the amateur community, can have that effect."

    I don't think "filtering undesirable people" is the goal, the goal is rewarding those who "go the extra mile" with extra operating privileges.

    While I support the abandonment of Morse, I do realize that the difference between Tech and Extra will be virtually nil if Morse is eliminated with the current testing structure.

    Extra should be "extra tough" and have "extra rewards". I would love to see the Extra exam gain additional content relating to "bleeding edge" radio technologies.

    Also, "multiple guess" examinations should be eliminated. One's knowledge should be tested, not their ability for rote memorization. (In short, "multiple guess" should be abolished for the same reason that Morse should be abolished.) As it is now, one can simply memorize all questions from a question pool and come up with the answer. The exams need to be "toughened up" with open-ended questions that need the user to actually THINK instead of memorizing.
     
  3. AE6IP

    AE6IP Ham Member QRZ Page

    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Also, "multiple guess" examinations should be eliminated. One's knowledge should be tested, not their ability for rote memorization. [/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>

    My advisor when I was an undergraduate did a PhD in education. One of the topics of his research was whether or not multiple-guess tests were easier than essay tests. His conclusion, similar to that arrived at in many studies on testing, was that multiple-guess tests are not inherently easier than essay tests.

    Some of the material for elements 2-3 can only be learned by memorization, such as the tables of allowed frequencies, modes, and power. Most of it is best learned by learning to understand the underlying material.

    I believe that it is the availability of the exact question / answer pool that is an issue here, not merely that the tests are multiple-guess.

    I suppose it is possible to memorize the entire question pool, but I suspect it would be easier to learn the underlying material. This is especially true for the extra test, which is longer, and has a larger question pool, than either of the other elements.
     
  4. kd7nqb

    kd7nqb Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here is my 2 (or more) cents. I am a 17 year old No-Code Tech I would have no problem passing the general written test. The code is the hard part for me but I belive we need to keep the code test. I am actully upset that extra class now only is 5wpm this is an outrage. We need to keep some aspects of the history around in this hobby. I think that morse code is an important aspect of this wonderful hobby. Well thats my input
    -Kd7nqb-
     
  5. N8PU

    N8PU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I hope I am wrong; but I see a war of words comming again.  [​IMG]
     
  6. W8FAX

    W8FAX Ham Member QRZ Page

    DANG this code stuff sure makes good trollin' bait...............
     
  7. W8FAX

    W8FAX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ohhhh..........................WOW!!!!!!!!!
     
  8. W4AGN

    W4AGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    A lot of people want to be Pilots and Astronauts, but if
    the can't pass the test they don't get the call!!
     
  9. K3ESE

    K3ESE Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...could this be one of those "code vs. no-code" threads? Cool! We need more of these threads! I really think there's more to say about this topic...worlds more.

     Everyone should start one of these threads, every day. I bet we could have hundreds going at the same time! That way, we could see if there's any more variety in the way people say "I like code," or "I don't like code."

    After all, there's nothing else to do, is there?



    On a more serious note...the concept that an intelligent, motivated person being unable to pass the current 5 wpm test, the way it's administered, is a laugh riot! Those who can't do it are so resentful of being forced to do it, they can't get past their own resentment enough to get in the  pitiful few dot and dash combos that make up the code, IMHO.
     
  10. KC8TGU

    KC8TGU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Morse code should stay as a requirement for General and Extra class licenses. I am 13 years old and have my General license. I can copy code from 35 to 40 wpm, so I obviously have a talent for it. But that does not effect my strong opinion on whether it should be a requirement. True, techonology has advanced drastically. True, the need for morse code has waned to some degree. But eliminate it from the exam? CW still has enormous importance. In emergencies, when conditions are outrageous, morse code can be the only mode that will get through.
    Eliminating CW as a requirement will inevitably decrease the number of CW operators to such a ferocious paucity that in future times that CW is a requisite, the new generation will not know A from B!
    So many hams are not interested in CW at all, and I say, "Too bad. They have to know it to operate HF."

    If we lose the necessity for CW, than we lose the existence of it also.
    73, Charles kC8TGU God Bless.
     
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