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The Weird Lurches of Learning Morse Language

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N7BKV, Dec 8, 2018.

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  1. N7BKV

    N7BKV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Love all 10 reasons you listed. I like #9 the best. But it got me thinking...

    Since CW is kind of retro, fundamental, and enduring all at the same time, are spark gap transmitters legal?

    Can we go one step further and start a new (old) trend?
  2. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    A quick search found this -

    Part 97 : Sec. 97.307 Emission standards
    (a) No amateur station transmission shall occupy more bandwidth than necessary for the information rate and emission type being transmitted, in accordance with good amateur practice.

    (b) Emissions resulting from modulation must be confined to the band or segment available to the control operator. Emissions outside the necessary bandwidth must not cause splatter or keyclick interference to operations on adjacent frequencies.

    (c) All spurious emissions from a station transmitter must be reduced to the greatest extent practicable. If any spurious emission, including chassis or power line radiation, causes harmful interference to the reception of another radio station, the licensee of the interfering amateur station is required to take steps to eliminate the interference, in accordance with good engineering practice.

    My limited understanding of spark gap is that it was essentially a broadband emission of limited range, refined by the addition of capacitors and rotary gaps. See this link to a pdf file - How Spark Transmitters Work

    I think it is unlikely you could construct a spark-gap transmitter which would meet current emission standards.
    US7IGN likes this.
  3. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just get on the air and call CQ but make sure you are calling at a speed you can read.
    W5BIB likes this.
  4. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page


    I've experienced a few weird lurches in my time. :)
    N7BKV likes this.
  5. N7BKV

    N7BKV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was pretty sure of that. But got to musing....

    Can you imagine the QRM that would create if there was a Spark Gap contest????? :eek:
  6. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm trying to imagine what a spectrum or waterfall display would look like. I'm thinking it would look like failing motor brushes in a HVAC blower...except it wouldn't be localized. ;)
    N7BKV likes this.
  7. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I learned long ago that CW decoders do not work very well and always attributed it to differences in the senders mechanics.
    I don't think things have changed and therefore have never attempted to seriously employ a decoder. Not even for training purposes.
    I use my training applications and monitor W1AW CW for practice and improvement.
    N7BKV likes this.
  8. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    The "best" code reader I have had any experience with was produced in the 70's / 80's. It was the Morse-A-Word by Microcraft.
    It was a free standing decoder built in a metal enclosure with nixie type readout. The Morse would scroll across the nixies.
    I was using mine with an entry level receiver, HQ-100 and similar rigs. It actually worked quite well for what it was.
    More of a novelty than a practical station appliance, it was great 'eye candy' for those new to Morse code es visitors in the shack.
    Microcraft also produced a really good working RTTY Reader as well. I used that with a USAF retired 51J3. Worked FB.
    Either one required a stable signal which bk in the early 80's was easy except for the Russian Woodpecker QRM.
    There was commercial CW and RTTY to watch scroll by on mine.
    Google some pix of these.
  9. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    No! Spark gap transmissions were outlawed by Federal regulations in 1924, and have been illegal ever since (except, of course, for the dark days following the Zenith decision in 1926, when theoretically there were no regulations). Once the big radio boom hit in 1922 and lots of voters got radio receivers in their homes, spark's days were numbered.

    There is a myth that spark was banned in 1934 when the FCC was created, and you will read this on Wikipedia and other radio history websites; this misconception seems to have originated with the fact that the 1934 set of regulations the FCC adopted when it was first created did prohibit spark, which has led to the incorrect and flawed assumption that spark must have been legal before that. The careful historian never assumes that because he has found a law that outlaws something, that the thing must have been legal before that. Law doesn't work that way.

    See Clinton DeSoto's "Two Hundered Meters and Down" for more detail.

    (Even though spark gap transmissions are outlawed for routine use, many, many years of radio regulation all point to the fact that in a true emergency, nobody cares. So, since a spark signal can be heard with a conventional AM radio and CW cannot, EVERY ham should know how to make a "relay transmitter," and also how to use Morse code with "scripts." This is the most basic level of emergency do-it-yourself communication.)
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
  10. NG5O

    NG5O XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I won't disagree with any of's all probably true. I don't know what qualifies as an "old time op", but I've been doing Morse code for 58 years now. But nothing makes a successful argument for butchering Morse code by altering the spacing and injecting it with one's own personal affectations.

    Such operators either aren't capable of discerning the correct spacing or they're arrogant enough to deliberately "do it their way" because they think it's "cool", and they know there's no "code police" - they can get away with it. It's not "cool" at all - it demonstrates a poor attitude towards the art of sending code, and it complicates the communication process.

    The two bug ops you heard who appeared to be "communicating just fine with each other" might have been missing a lot of what was sent (you don't know) but didn't want to admit it - they may have been just trying to impress each other with their "performance art". Whatever the case, defending the practice is only putting perfume on a pig. It should be discouraged by any means available.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    WF7BSR, N8AFT, KG7WGX and 1 other person like this.

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