Tips to learn Morse code quickly

Learning Morse code for CW communications can feel like an impossible task. But once you jump in and give it a go, you'll find it's not quite as difficult as it would first appear. All you'll need is an Android mobile device and maybe some headphones to get going with this.

About ten or twenty minutes a day is needed, so you'll probably be able to fit it in your day without too much effort.

 

There are two skills to learn

The first thing to point out is that there are two things to learn:

  1. How to write in Morse code (easier)
  2. ...and how to listen to it  (harder)

 

You can become competent at both skills reality quickly. Once the basics have sunk in, you can develop listening and writing speed over time.

Learn to Type in Morse code using Google Morse learn

Google provides an excellent Morse code trainer: Morse Learn. It's so easy to learn when using this Google training method. Google presents the Morse as simple images making learning much easier. You'll need to install Google's Morse code keyboard, this is easy to do as long as you follow the instructions to the letter:

  • You can get it for free from here: https://morse.withgoogle.com/learn/

You will be amazed how quickly you will pick this up. Before long you'll be using the Morse code keyboard for all your text messages on your phone.


Learn to Listen to Morse code using Morse Mania

This fantastic little app sends you Morse code over your phones audio, you have to hit the correct letter to move on to the next. The better you get, the higher level you progress to. Easy and fun:

This app is so convenient. You can use it almost anywhere: Work, walking the dog, on a bus. It's just great.


The x-factor

Once you're able to recognize and tap out some Morse letters. It's a great idea to train your brain to see the letters immediately from the sound of the Morse code rather than having to think about it. To develop this skill I recommend the following exercise:

 

Recite letters in Morse code by saying 'Di' or 'Dah':

 

1) Say 'Alpha' followed by 'Di-Dah'

2) Say 'Bravo' followed by 'Dah-Di-Di-Di'

3) Say 'Charley' followed by 'Dah-Di-Dah-Di', etc.

 

This will help you brain learn the Morse patterns, and will help increase speed and reduce thinking effort.

The 30 day Morse code program

Here is the routine I followed the learn Morse code, it worked for me:

  • Week #1: One session of Morse Mania per day for one week. I learned some letters, but not all
  • Week #2: One session of the Google Morse training each day.
  • Week #3 & 4: Morse mania (at 15wpm), each day for two weeks. Typing random sentences on my phone each day for two weeks

After thirty days, I could write anything in Morse code, I could decode messages slowly, with big gaps between the letters. But not fast enough for that first contact just yet:

  • Month #2: Once I'd learned how to type in Morse code, I focused on Morse Mania, pushing the speed up to 20wpm
  • I worked through the X factor exercise whenever the opportunity arose

Putting it all together with CW trainer

After sixty days, I was beginning to see the letters when listening to the De's and Dah's. It was now time to really start to decode entire sentences. For this I used: Morse Trainer

 

Get it here: http://www.wolphi.com/ham-radio-apps/morse-trainer/    

The app cost cost: $3 USD, but it's worth it.

 

This great app fires real DX messages at you. It can also play random call signs, individual letters, it can even play eBooks to you in Morse code.

With the use of a note pad you can really practice your Morse skills before going live with this smart little app.


Going live!

 Month #3: Make or buy a Morse code key and maybe a Morse decoder. Practice your Call sign, Q codes and DX routines etc.

Then practice with a friend or dive right in and try making a contact for real!

Learning Morse code is good fun, addictive and a offers a real feeling of achievement at every stage of learning. I recommend giving it a go, I am sure you will surprise yourself and enjoy the experience.

Morse key types...for when your ready

There are two types of Morse keys available:

Straight key

This key is basically a simple switch. You have to control the 'length of press' to get either a 'Dit' or a 'Dah', so more skill is required to operate it.

Connections

Only two connections are required: Key and 0V, making this a very simple setup.

Advantages

 

The straight key is harder to master than the paddle key. However, one advantage is that this key is very simple and can be used with very simple radios like a Pixie for example. It is also provides the traditional experience. If you master this, then you're a pro!

Paddle or Iambic key

These key often have one or two paddles. The operator pushes left for a 'Dit' and pushes right for a 'Dah'.

Connections

An electronic keyer is required for this type of key, many radios have this built in. 

Three connections: Dit, Dah and 0V.

Advantages

This is the easiest key to use because the 'Dit's and 'Dah's length are controlled by electronic keyer. Cannot be plugged directly into a simple radio like a Pixie, will need some more electronics to produce the 'Dit's and 'Dah's. I have one of these and I love it!