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Rules to Learning and Using CW

•No dots and dashes spoken or written only dit’s and dah’s

•DON’T waste time looking on the Internet  for



        Just get on with it. There is no quick fix. Just practice!!!!

•Do Not try to send CW at this stage. You cannot send CW until you know what it should sound like. Sending at this point will lead to bad habits which are hard to shake at a later date.

If you use software to practice always set character speed to 14 wpm or higher, and lower the word speed to give you more time to copy each character. (See link below)

  Morse is like music. Each letter and later as you improve each word will have a sound. When your favourite song comes on the radio after only 3 or 4 notes of the intro you say “ I love this song”. With practice Morse  will become the same. If you use low character speed you will hear di and dah and not the tune of the character being sent.

If you miss a character mark your note pad with an underscore and be           ready for the next character.   i.e   G4Y_O   do not repeat it in your head           or you will miss the next and the next……

Resist the urge to write down  dit’s and dah’s or “ dot dot dash” on your           pad. You need to learn to recognize the sound of the letters.           Repeating  dot’s and dash in your head or noting it on your pad will slow           you down. You need to learn hear a sound and it’s a character with no           stage in between.


You will rarely get 100% copy on air. There will be strong signals and noise that will mask the odd character.  The trick is to miss 1 and not 3,4 or 5 worrying about the 1 you miss. A dash on your pad for a missed character, is a good habit at this point. is the place to find the best practice aid on the net.

Koch Method CW Trainer. Starts with two letters and adds more as you progress.

Remember higher character speed and low word speed to start!!

Listen to CW “On Air” and try to pick out characters you have learnt so far. As you progress you will copy more and recognize common phrases CQ, de, 73, RST etc……

Practice is the key! But if you start to get tired stop and come back to it later…..

Frequent short practice periods are best.

Learning Morse Code is not hard, it’s time consuming. Think about what you are trying to do, the new skills and the elements involved.

First you need to LISTEN. That my sound simple but you are listening to a new sound you brain has to recognize.

Then your brain has to covert the sound into a letter or phrase as you get better.

At first you will write this down but with experience on air you will read in your head and take notes. Name, QTH  etc,

So how to start to learn Morse Code .learn 2 or 3 letters at a time. The first 3 will seem so hard, but just remember you are learning a new language. So with the first 3 letters you are learning all of the new skills at once. You learn to listen,  hear the rhythm or tune of the letter being sent and recognize it as a letter. Once you can do this you will find that learning the next 3 letters easier because you are only learning new letters you are on your way with the other skills.

Some thoughts on learning Morse Code


0 dah-dah-dah-dah-dah

1 di-dah-dah-dah-dah

2 di-di-dah-dah-dah

3 di-di-di-dah-dah

4 di-di-di-di-dah

5 di-di-di-di-dit

6 dah-di-di-di-dit

7 dah-dah-di-di-dit

8 dah-dah-dah-di-dit

9 dah-dah-dah-dah-dit

N dah-dit

O dah-dah-dah

P di-dah-dah-dit

Q dah-dah-di-dah

R di-dah-dit

S di-di-dit

T dah

U di-di-dah

V di-di-di-dah

W di-dah-dah

X dah-di-di-dah

Y dah-di-dah-dah

Z dah-dah-di-dit

A di-dah

B dah-di-di-dit

C dah-di-dah-dit

D dah-di-dit

E dit

F di-di-dah-dit

G dah-dah-dit

H di-di-di-dit

I di-dit

J di-dah-dah-dah

K dah-di-dah

L di-dah-di-dit

M dah-dah

AR                  di-dah-di-dah-dit

BK                  dah-di-di-di-dah-di-dah

KN                  dah-di-dah-dah-dit

SK or VA         di-di-di-dah-di-dah

Slash ("/")       dah-di-di-dah-dit

?                    di-di-dah-dah-di-dit

=                   dah-di-di-di-dah

Some procedural characters that you will come across  on air.

NOTE the two letters are sent as one continuous character with no space.

I love CW as an operating mode. It can be a very rewarding way to operate Amateur Radio. To sit at the radio and tune into a station and start tapping the key and have a nice long chat is the the best feeling of achievement you can get. Just you the radio and the operator on the other end.

If you need any help or any questions I can be contacted though our contacts page.

If there is any interest I will do another article about  using CW on air and how a QSO is structured.

If you get hooked there are many groups to be found that run various events on air that you can join in.

FISTS   Is one that I can recommend many on air events and awards to gain.