The following content has been collected by Nadine MM0WNW and I’m posting on her behalf.
During an excellent CW Discussion Evening at the start of December 2021, it became clear that there is a range of ways WARC members use Morse code (some inspirational stories were shared). It’s clear that there are a lot of different learning styles, so it’s useful to be aware of different approaches to learning the code and improving proficiency. Following the meeting, several individuals have made suggestions – so here’s a beginning list of recommended resources.
Suggestions from Tim G4YTD
He says: There are loads of online resources available including pile up simulators, QSB and QRN simulators, and of course live on air practice.
Some Recommended Resources:
Joining FISTS – CW Society
The club produces practice CDs containing MP3 code at various speeds, I bought these to give a little back to the club, not sure how much use they were as I could remember quite a lot of the text on subsequent “listens”.
ZL1AN – Teach – Windows program
Scroll down the page to find the download link
This can teach letters, numbers and punctuation, and when proficient use the load practice text function to have access to 990 5 min Morse-newspaper articles. Good fun and has helped me a lot. I set a task of two lessons per day for a year. At the end of each lesson the CW article is shown on screen to check against. Speed and spacing are variable by the user, allowing the student to go as fast or slow as you please.
This is a fun hardware project (Easy to build) that can send random characters, numbers and punctuation.
Depending on mode, the user then sends the character back on the box which if sent correctly will display it, if you get the timing wrong, it shows a series of “e” and “T” characters.
The club who designed it releases software updates occasionally. It can also be used as a practice oscillator and will display the characters sent to it. For classroom use a low power tx is built in to allow real QSOs between multiple users (in the same room). Don’t try to take it on an aircraft though, it looks quite suspect!
Suggestions from Frank GM3JKS
First Class CW Operators’ Club – has an excellent page – with links to the following online resources, plus other helpful information. Three of these resources are listed below, but there is much more information on the page https://g4foc.org/Improving-Your-CW
Morse Trainer by Ray, G4FON (FOC 1874)
This free Windows software uses the Koch method, teaching CW two letters at a time sent at the speed that you want to achieve, e.g. 15 wpm. When those two are mastered others are added. As you improve your skill you can add QRM, QSB and QRN. You can also adjust the character speed and the spacing between the characters.
Ray gave the presentation “Improving your Morse Code skills from 5NN TU to effortless casual rag-chewing” at the 2018 RSGB convention.
Learn CW On-Line by Fabian, DJ1YFK (FOC 1796)
This free course, using the Koch method, lives in “the cloud.” It includes teaching and practice at various speeds using text and code groups. There’s even QTC practice for the WAE contest.
Pileup Practice by Chuck, NO5W (FOC 1944)
Chuck has been providing the software used for the Kansas City DX Club’s pileup competition at the Dayton hamfest for about the past ten years. He’s put several years worth of his competition archives on his website. They’re great practice for digging calls out of the mob.
From Karl N2KZ (a Morse tutor with experience from the US perspective)
Clubs: FISTS (Karl agrees with Tim about the usefulness of this club)
CWCOM – (TRY IT! TRY IT !! TRY IT!!) A wonderful way to learn Morse – Windows only (note from the editor: can run on Mac or Linux using Wine). Use an Australian server to send Morse (with your computer’s down-arrow key and more!) and see your code fist produce characters on-line. Talk to others in Morse from all over the world with just your computer! (Everything you do is accompanied by on-screen text to encourage you and to build your self-esteem!)
Free download: https://morsepower.blogspot.com/2016/08/cwcom-program-to-communicate-using.html
The MFJ Morse Code Tutor – hold in your hand an endless source of code to listen to.
The Morse Bible (Third Edition – 241 pages)
William Pierpont’s leviathan and authoritative tomb regarding all things Morse (free download)
Highly recommended: RSGB book on learning Morse
Highly sought after: RSGB early edition Morse book authored by the legendary Margaret Mills
Plus Karl’s unbridled tribute to Margaret Mills (see newsletter, start at page 5)
A few additions from Oli MM0YOS
Regarding the CWCOM software Karl mentioned. I built an adapter based on the description on the website, to connect my real paddle to the computer and use it with the application – that worked very well and I recommend it for a more natural feel and better learning/practice effect.
I also recommend https://lcwo.net/, mentioned above by Frank as Learn CW On-Line by Fabian, DJ1YFK – easy to access since it runs in the browser, and works very well.
Once more in addition to a suggestion by Karl, I found an MFJ-414 DELUXE CLASSROOM MORSE CODE TUTOR for sale on Facebook. I actually don’t recall how much it cost me, but these devices are very versatile and good fun to play with.
Finally, I mentioned the Facebook group “Slow CW UK” on the night of the Zoom discussion – with over 600 members you can easily find others for practice CW conversations.