Welcome to the AARC Morse Code Training Program

 

The goal of this three-phase Morse code training program is to prepare you to operate a Morse code station during Field Day 

 

Phase 1 – Learn the 43 Morse characters.

 

Morse code uses a standardized sequence of short and long elements to represent the letters, numerals, punctuation and special characters of a given message. The short and long elements can be formed by sounds and transmitted by on-off keying.  The basic building block of every Morse character are the sound elements commonly called “dits” and “dahs”.  They are not little dots and dashes because dots and dashes have no sound.  Morse code is simply a combination of the sounds dit and dah. 

 

With the exception of the letters E (Dit) and T (Dah), all letters, numerals, punctuation and procedure signs (Prosigns) consist of two or more dits or dahs or a combination of both. 

 

A few words about punctuation and procedure signs:

 

    Puncutation - The combination of dits and dahs for punctuation characters (comma {MIM}, question mark{IMI}, period {AAA}and the slant bar{TF or XE})  are longer than any other characters.  When copying them we normal replace the Morse characters with the usual punctuation symbols.  However, if you copy them as as MIM or IMI, etc., place a horizontal line over the MIM or IMI to indicate these letters were sent as one continuous character.

 

    Procdure signs - AR, BT and SK are send as continuous characters similar to the punctuation characters. When copied as a procedure sign, we put a horizontal line above the AR, BT and SK to indicate that the are procedure signs.  AR can be replced with "+", BT with "=" and SK with "*".  AR indicates the end of a message.  BT is used to separate the text from the other components of a message (e.g., Preamble or postamble).  SK indicates end of communication (You are going off the air).

 

Memorization and practice is the only way to learn the Morse characters.  To assist you, we are offering two methods of learning the 43 Morse code characters.  Method 1 is the preferred method because it allows you to practice copying and sending words sooner.  However, Method 2 allows you to concentrate on any individual problem characters.

 

      · Method 1 – The ARRL method – You will learn all 43 characters in 7 groups of 5-7 characters. 

 

      · Method 2 – The K7QO method – You will learn all 43 characters one character at a time starting with A and progressing through Z followed by numerals, etc. 

 

So how does this program work?  It’s pretty simple and all of the responsibility for learning the Morse code characters rests on your shoulders. Please know that we’re all counting on you and Western civilization hangs in the balance.  The key is practice, practice, practice. 

 

Step 1 - You can click on the code files and listen to them on-line via your computer or you can download the files to your computer (Right click and “Save Target As”) and listen to them using your computer or you can upload them to an MP3 player (All of the code files are formatted as mp3).  Using an MP3 player with headsets is probably better because it gives you a lot of mobility and doesn’t tie you to your computer.  It also prevents you from possibly annoying your family members although I can’t see how hearing Morse code could be annoying.

 

Step 2 – If you use Method 1, listen to a preselected group of 5-7 characters for 20-30 minutes preferably twice a day and never after 8:00pm (Your brain needs to unwind).  Do this every day for a week before moving on to the next group.  We will provide some drills for you with answer keys to gauge your progress.  As you listen to the characters write them down and say the character (Didah – Alpha; Dit – Echo; Dahdit – November; etc.)

 

If you use Method 2, listen to 5-7 characters, starting with A, for 20-30 minutes preferably twice a day and never after 8:00pm (Your brain still needs to unwind).  Do this every day for a week before moving on to the next group.  We will provide some drills for you with answer keys to gauge your progress.  As you listen to the characters write them down and say the character (Didah – Alpha; Dit – Echo; Dahdit – November; etc.)

 

Step 3 – Toward the end of the week or when you feel ready, notify the mentor and he/she will send you a small mp3 file.  Listen to the file and copy the characters. E-mail your copy to the mentor (codementor@w3vpr.org) and he/she will provide feedback.

 

Step 4 – Repeat this process every week until you have worked your way through all 43 characters.  This will take about 7 weeks. 

 

Since the goal is to get you ready for Field Day, we will also focus on call signs (The biggest problem area when we had code testing) and the Field Day exchange.  You will have drills and answer keys.  You will also have “exams” sent to you by your mentors.  You’ll copy the call signs and Field Day exchanges and send your copy to your mentor for evaluation.

 

This program will use the Farnsworth method of teaching Morse.  Using the Farnsworth method, the Morse is composed of higher speed characters sent with longer than standard spacing between them. Each character will be sent at 15 wpm but groups of characters will be sent at 5 wpm. 

 

Using this method allows the mind to get used to hearing the characters at a relatively fast speed while having plenty of time to think about them.  All the great code schools of the past used Farnsworth teaching.

 

Every Saturday we will meet at the clubhouse and have a review of the previous weeks’ characters and introduce you to the new characters.

 

Phase 2 – Learning to transmit Morse characters.  Operating a Morse code station during Field Day will require you to also transmit Morse code.  During this phase you will learn to send Morse code.  All of this training will occur at the AARC clubhouse.  You will have the opportunity to learn to send code with a straight key

and/or Iambic paddles.  You will also learn about Morse code keyers.  Beginning in the second week we will introduce you to sending Morse code.

 

Phase 3 - Increasing your copying speed.  To help you increase your copying speed beyond 5 WPM, we have created a page containing drills that start at 6 WPM and go up to 12 WPM.  After you have mastered a higher speed (90-95% accuracy) move up to the next speed.  When you're ready to go beyon 12 WPM click on the link to the archived ARRL code practice files. 

 

By the time you complete this program you will be ready to operate one of the three Morse code stations during Field Day.  All you have to do is set a goal for yourself regarding the number of contacts you want to make using your new communications skill.  By the way, you won’t be operating by yourself.  There will be an experienced operator sitting beside you to help you make those contacts.

 

If at any time you have questions, please contact:  codementor@w3vpr.org

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