Was Eliminating Morse Code Requirement Bad Idea?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN4ICU, May 2, 2018.

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  1. KZ4KX

    KZ4KX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have read through these 18 pages and have learned I am not alone. Been called a no code tech and now at Extra I am no more. I have been studying the KOCH method and The Ham Whisperer and have made a few contacts on cw. Even had one to ask if I was sending via keyboard. No, a Bencher from eBay. I think it was more the radio having a keyer speed than my skills.
    I became interested in digital soon after going to hf. It seems I was always at the bottom of the pile up being barefoot. But I am the only op in the local group interested in learning cw. I think a study partner would help.
    My problem now is the noise level on 40 and 80 m at night is so high it's hard to copy most signals. I am hoping that by the time this noise has let up by spring maybe my speed will go up.
    WA7WJR and WN1MB like this.
  2. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Only my opinion as a newish ham.

    If code would have been a requirement I probably would not have gotten into the hobby. Now that I am in the hobby CW is my preferred mode. I like the challenge and the learning process it has provided.

    So.... go figure..... ;)
    N0NC, WA7WJR and AG6QR like this.
  3. K5UNX

    K5UNX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am similar to you . . . . I got into the hobby because code was not required. Now that I am in the hobby, I am working on learning it. Ham Radio as a hobby has so many facets to it.
    WA7WJR, KG5THG and W5WTH like this.
  4. KI7RS

    KI7RS Ham Member QRZ Page

    WA7WJR likes this.
  5. KB3FEI

    KB3FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm still a slower coder and would like a study partner/code buddy. I'm in Delaware. My noise level seems lowest on 40 right after dark until 8pm; on 80 after 10pm. If you would like to set up a sked or try some contacts for learning, and if you have useable noise levels, contact me at my callsign at Gmail dot com. de kb3fei, dale
  6. N0NB

    N0NB Subscriber QRZ Page

    When the elimination of the Morse Exam for the Technician was floated in the late '80s, I thought it was too soon after Novice Enhancement was enacted in 1987. One of the magazines even published a letter I sent to that effect. By the time the decision was made into the rule change in early 1991 I was on board with it. Yes, I "evolved" in my thinking.

    Through the '90s I passed the 20 WPM exam for my Extra, joined the local VE team, and learned first-hand of the effect of the medical waivers. As the FCC reserved for itself the permission to inquire about a waiver (VEs were prohibited from doing so), there was no practical restriction on anyone wanting to upgrade to General or beyond. All it took was to get the doc to sign the back of the Form 610 and that was that. I wholeheartedly supported Restructuring in 2000 simply due to the dropping the code exam to 5 WPM meant the elimination of the waivers.

    Dropping the Morse exams entirely in 2007 left me with some mixed emotions. I really think that the FCC's decision to not bolster the written exams at the same time was a failure in follow through. But, if we lived in a perfect world there would be nothing to talk about!

    The observation that the Morse exams resulted in potential hams listening to the bands and getting some amount of practical exposure to the procedures, jargon, and fraternity of amateur radio resonates with me as I did exactly that for a few years. There is value in that sort of prior exposure, IMO, but I don't see any practical way to mandate that sort of exposure. In my case I listened for a long time and during that period I never "got on" as a third party. Did that whet my appetite or result in my taking longer to become active. I'll never know as I can't peer over into that parallel universe where I did it differently. ;)

    As I sit here after having observed major changes to the US licensing/exam structure, I think that the elimination of the Morse exams without a commensurate increase in the scope and coverage of the remaining written exams has left us a bit poorer. Some of that is due to the changes in societal attitudes as well. Regardless, Morse is still a popular means of communication amongst hams which I find heartwarming.

    N0NC and KA0HCP like this.
  7. WN1MB

    WN1MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well said.

    I was teen when first licensed in 1969 as a Novice and have both terrible and fond memories learning Morse code.

    The terrible memories were associated with utilizing the wrong methods (plural!) on my journey to learning the code. These were on and off spurts of effort that spanned 2 or 3 years. As I sit hear typing this, I just closed my eyes and visualized the chart of letters with corresponding dots and dashes that I had tacked on the back of my bedroom door. That system sure didn't work! heh. And neither did other "systems." It was a long and very disappointing 2 or 3 years. As I've stated elsewhere on these forums, I was convinced I was constitutionally incapable of learning Morse code.

    Thank goodness for the AM guys on 75 meters I listened to with my SWL receiver who, unbeknownst to them, kept the dream alive.

    The fond memories are from when I started learning the proper way, for me, at least, to learn Morse: by sound and only sound. It was suggested to me by a friend who learned code in the Air Force - the slight variation of the good, old, military brainwashing method. He said to follow his instructions and after a week of only about a half hour a day, I'd be able to pass the code test.

    Basically it involved sitting in the basement with a harsh sounding "doorbell" buzzer and cheap Radio Shack hand key. Night one, 4 dissimilar sounding letters and a number or two. Something like that. Send a letter, say the letter out loud, repeat ... for 5 full minutes.

    Trust me on this: after two minutes, I thought it was some kind of sick torture, but Ted was so adamant about the success of this system and my desire to get my ticket, I stuck with it. After the requisite full five minutes of that first letter, it was time to move to another letter or number from the night's list. The last five minutes involved randomly reviewing all those letters and number(s).

    Then do the same thing with 4 new letters and one or two new numbers the following night. For the last five minutes of that session, a random review of the night's new characters and the previous night's.

    You get the idea.

    The greatest thing was after this week of self-imposed torture, was tuning in to QSOs in the Novice sub-bands, and actually being able to decipher those mysterious dot and dash combinations! Only a week prior, it was "impossible." I was finally able to sit in and eavesdrop on QSOs in progress! "Just reading the mail."

    Not long thereafter, I took my code test, and then the written.

    The desire was there. The mystery of what was hiding amongst those dits and dahs was alluring. My antenna snared the signals, the feedline forced 'em into the receiver, the receiver converted the RF to AF, and the speaker spat out the audio. And with my freshly brainwashed grey matter, that last link of signal processing finally worked!

    I, too, learned pro-signs and procedures long before having ticket in hand.

    These weren't only terrible and good memories - they were GREAT memories, too. And I feel the modern day, entry level licensees are the poorer in this no code licensing.

    I'd be remiss to not tip my hat to the modern day, "no code" hams who have embarked upon learning Morse and getting on the air with it. Way to go! I had to learn Morse to get my ticket. You're learning Morse without that government dangled carrot. Again, way to go!
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    K6MAA, W5BIB, N5XH and 3 others like this.
  8. W1BR

    W1BR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Requiring a 5 WPM code exam for Extra Class CW sub-band privileges would have been reasonable... but the horse is out of the barn at this point. Now we are arguing about one license for all and making the tests easier.
  9. N0NB

    N0NB Subscriber QRZ Page

    Really? Is there a proposal before the FCC for eliminating all but one license class? I'm also not aware of any proposal to "make the exams easier" nor am I aware of any proposal to make them more comprehensive. It appears that other than a proposal to expand HF privileges for Technicians, the status quo is the rule of the day.
  10. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I hated CW simply BECAUSE I had to pass a 20wpm exam to get my Extra. After passing the exam, I never wanted to do CW again. That was nearly 25 years ago.

    Fast forward to last year....I decided it was time to make peace with CW as sort of a bucket list thing. It turns out that when it's no longer required that I learn CW, I actually enjoy it. I rarely hook up a mic anymore. So, take that for what it's worth, although I met the requirement back then, it completely turned me off to the mode because I saw it as an impediment. Today, it's only fun for me because this time I am doing it by choice. There is a large uptick in young CW operators lately. It's become one of the few ways old timers can share the hobby with the newer generation of hams.

    Make a man send CW and he sends for a day.
    Teach a man to send CW and he sends for a lifetime.

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