My CW journey

Learning and mastering Morse code can be a challenging yet highly rewarding experience. My journey began when I felt the need to step away from the usual Single Sideband (SSB) and FT4/8 operations that had become my routine. My curiosity was piqued by the intriguing beeps echoing from the lower parts of the band.

At first, I attempted to teach myself CW (Continuous Wave, the transmission mode for Morse code), exploring different learning tools like LCWO and MorseMania on iOS. Despite these resources, my solo efforts were met with limited success. It was then that I discovered CWOps, CW Academy, a tuition-free initiative led by generous volunteers aimed at anyone with an interest in learning CW.

Classes were held twice a week, with each session lasting an hour over a span of two months. October 2022 marked the start of my formal education in CW, alongside a small group of 3-4 students. We delved into the alphabets, numerals, and a selection of common symbols and special characters prevalent in radio communications. The beginner course concluded at the end of November, by which time we had honed our ability to send code adequately and comprehend Morse at a moderated pace, with extra spacing to assist our auditory processing.

The enjoyment and progress I experienced galvanized my desire to delve deeper. Upon completing the beginner level, I proceeded to the Fundamentals class in January 2023. This intermediate stage aimed to instill Instant Character Recognition (ICR), as we practiced reducing the spacing between characters to more closely resemble actual operating conditions. The interactive format of the class allowed for personalized attention, as we were often divided into smaller groups where we would practice interpreting strings of text or callsigns transmitted by our instructor. Additionally, the class introduced us to the fundamentals of contesting and emphasized the importance of getting on-air practice.

Upon wrapping up the fundamentals course, I eagerly engaged in slower-paced contests, further immersing myself in the world of CW. My next milestone was the intermediate course which commenced in May. The level of rigor increased substantially as we focused on perfecting our ICR and aimed for error-free transmission. The challenging exercises pushed us out of our comfort zones, often requiring us to send and copy random strings of text or complete sentences at progressively higher speeds.

The CWOps weekly CWT contests became a regular part of my routine, providing a thrilling platform to test my burgeoning skills. By the end of this class, not only had I improved my contesting speed, but I had also accomplished a major personal goal set earlier in the year – becoming a member of the CWOps club.

Since completing the intermediate course, the pursuit of excellence in CW has been a continual journey for me. In just the initial months of this follow-up year, I have amassed over 3200 CW QSOs (radio contacts), a testament to my dedication to this mode of communication. CW has evolved from a mere interest to a passionate pursuit, driving me to attain ever-greater proficiency and speeds. Whether it’s participating in contests, chasing new bandwidths, or simply enjoying the rhythmic dance of dits and dahs across the airwaves, Morse code has thoroughly enriched my amateur radio experience.