What Inspired You Or Lit Your Fire To Learn Morse Code?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N8AFT, May 30, 2019.

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  1. K6BSU

    K6BSU Ham Member QRZ Page

    USAF Radio Op school. Keesler AFB, June 1952 to March 1953.
    8 hours a day, with much of that copying Morse.

    I must have done OK, because I got promoted at the end of the course. Passed 25 WPM.
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  2. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I first became interested in amateur radio when I read about it in books. "All About Radio And Television" had a short bit. Then I found a copy of the ARRL Handbook, (1949 edition!) and I was hooked.

    So I set about getting an Amateur Radio station set up. First order of business was obviously a short-wave receiver, so I built a pretty crude 2 tube regenerative receiver from the remains of an NRI correspondence course, and found the strong local AMers on 75 meters. That was 1966 or so, when I was 12 years old.

    Bill, W3DUQ, was the strongest and most dependable; his signal was how I judged whether my efforts to improve receiver and antenna were working.

    I wanted to get on the air with those guys, but doing so required a license of at least General class. So I set about getting a Novice, which was the easiest. Doing so required learning Morse Code, some theory and regulations, so I did. I was too dumb to realize it was "hard", so I just did it, listening to other hams on 80 CW and picking out letters, then words, then entire QSOs. I also had a J-37 straight key and a home-made CW practice oscillator. By the summer of 1967 I knew enough to pass the Novice license, so I did, taking the tests at the home of K3NYT.

    The Novice license of those days only allowed CW operation, so that's what I did. A rig capable of voice modes was too complex and expensive anyway - as a 13 year old whose parents considered radio to be a waste of time, there wasn't much money gear. So I just did CW, and by the time I was 14 (1968), I had an Advanced.

    Along the way, I got to operate voice modes at other hams' stations, and on Field Day. Got pretty good at it, too.

    But then, gradually, something happened. As I got better at CW I forgot all about voice operation. The equipment for 'phone was expensive for the results you got, anyway.

    Because of "incentive licensing", I had decided early on that I'd get an Extra as soon as possible. In those days you needed 2 years' experience as a General, Conditional or Advanced to even try for Extra, so I just kept working on code and theory, and got the Extra at 16 when the 2 year wait was up.

    There was a period in the late 1970s when I was in a living situation that made HF completely impractical, so I built an HW-2036 and used it on 2 meter FM, mostly mobile. When I bought my first house, I was right back on HF CW again.

    Decades later, I finally did get on 75 AM (late 1990s, using vintage gear - NC-173 receiver, Viking 2/122VFO). Finally worked W3DUQ, after all those years. Sadly, Bill is now gone - I only regret that I never met him in person. We shared the same birthday - he was exactly 10 years older than me.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    KA2CZU likes this.
  3. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Earlier in this thread, someone mentioned that "you had to get 125 characters in a row to pass". Sorry, but that's just plain wrong. (Some folks remember a past that never was).

    The old standard was "1 minute of correct, legible, consecutive characters" to pass the code receiving tests. Which meant 25 characters for 5 wpm, 65 characters for 13 wpm, and 100 characters for 20 wpm. The code test was 5 minutes long, so one needed only get 20% right to pass (if they were all sequential).

    On top of that, numbers and punctuation counted as two characters each.

    Later on (1980 or so), FCC added fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice code tests.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  4. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    What inspired me to learn Morse code? The FCC! They wouldn’t give me a license until I did.

    What inspired me to return to CW after a 25+ years of phone and digital? The DX! I took and passed my “no code” Extra test for one reason only: to be able to operate on the lower 25 kHz of each band where all the DX seems to be.
    M6GYU likes this.
  5. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wanted to join the Royal Navy since I was ten year old or so. So I signed up as a Radio Operator - can't quite remember why but that job sounded better than being a cook, gunner or working in the engine rooms. It worked too. Got to go places others haven't been (much) such as Tristan Dah Cuna, Farquah islands in the Indian ocean, places I can't even remember their names. Indian Ocean, Malacca straights, Middle east, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, South America, India, Malaya, Singapore and so on - I've lost count. I even got to compete in the annual NATO Naval Communications Competition As did w5BIB another poster on here.

    Being taught morse in the RN was a doddle, compared to some of the lengths and troubles I hear from the hams who had to teach themselves go through.
    WW2PT and W5BIB like this.
  6. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had envy for you mil guys who got the 6 weeks of Morse training when I first started learning code.
    M6GYU likes this.
  7. AD0B

    AD0B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Honestly backed into ham radio. Was in the amateur radio club in hs because I like the technical side. Remember going on a fox hunt in the advisors vw microbus.

    Later in the military I signed up for electronic maintenance. Trained for a year and a half in Massachusetts 90% of the company was training to be "ditty boppers" (their term not mine). For my entire service we looked down on the operators as being a relatively less complex activity. Tuning a radio, adjusting the bfo and listening and typing on a mill.

    Jumping ahead 50 years I took the tests to become a ham and still didn't know the code. I should have paid attention. I know the letters and can id some words but am slow, too slow. My interests are still on the technical side.

    Still am impressed at how there is a huge area of technical ignorance among some hams both who don't do code and among those that do. How else could could there be a market for spst or dpdt switches (keys) that cost up to 500 dollars.

    There are plenty of hams who can run rings around me but still there are hams who have done it for 50 years and and would never ever take the cover off any piece of ham equipment. Would never design any circuit or even wire a jack.

    I remember a ham and next door neighbor when I was in grade school. Don was K9YHO King 9 yellow hoot owl. Alas not a mentor but do remember his call.
    M6GYU likes this.
  8. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dave I'm one of those. I'm EX RN - although i enjoyed learning how communication equipment worked in very simple terms (block diagrams and explanations), I had and still have absolutely no real interest in designing equipment, circuits or fiddling with the innards. I have a UK Foundation Licence only which doesn't require much in the way of technical knowledge. I look at the syllabus for the Intermediate licence and my eyes glaze over and my thoughts go to other things when it mentions measuring the value of resistors in series, parallel, diodes and so on . (but I can and do solder up plugs, wires and making up the odd aerial)
    But....thats one of the joys of being a ham. Everyone can get out of it what they enjoy doing best. I just like being on the morse key! I do admire those in our club who can open a radio and identify which bits do what, and then make alterations and add bits to equipment to improve its performance. For now I'll just stick to the dusting.

    (oh, and I don't own a key thats shiny or costing more than £25 second hand either)
    73 +
    W5BIB likes this.
  9. AD0B

    AD0B Ham Member QRZ Page

    I hear you David,
    Send me code at 10wpm and you had better be ready to send it 3x.

    So many different ways to participate in the hobby. Definitely some code operation is the toughest part here.

    I stepped into code, not to do the easy stuff but the difficult.
    N8AFT and M6GYU like this.
  10. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, You're brave enough to try and to do it best as you can!
    Most folks walk away from a challenge. Takes too much effort to learn something new.
    Mastering code is not as easy to some as it is to others. I struggled but got it, got by, gettin better.

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