Re-Learning Morse Code

Back when I first got licensed (Canadian Basic) you only had privileges on bands above 30 MHz. If you wanted to get on HF you had to learn and pass a Morse Code test. There were actually two tests, one at 5 wpm and a one at 12 wpm. I was able to successfully pass the 5 wpm test, and if I recall correctly it allowed access to some HF bands but not all. Unfortunately I never did master the 12 wpm test. I have now decided that it’s high time to get back into it and re-learn Morse Code.

One might wonder why I would do such a thing in this day and age. First off, it’s becoming somewhat of a lost art. Most of the younger hams that I know have zero interest in Morse Code / CW and the older guys are slowly and surely becoming silent keys. I like the thought of taking the hobby back to it’s roots. Have you ever listened to the lower edge of any band when it seems dead? If not, you should take a trip down. You’ll be surprised at what you can hear on CW when phone seems to be completely silent. That is the second, and main, reason why I want to re-learn code.

In my search for tools to help me re-learn Morse Code, I stumbled upon a piece of software called Just Learn Morse Code by  LB3KB. The latest version is 1.23 and was released back in 2006. However, it still works very well. I am currently running it on two different Windows 10 machines without issue. It uses both Koch’s method and Farnsworth timing to teach and it is very flexible. You can choose random characters (your choice of how many), you can load text files to practice from, it will teach you basic words, and you can also have it spit out Q codes and common abbreviations used in real QSOs.

Another great feature of this program is that you can show the output in real time or you can hide it so that you don’t cheat. You can also type the characters as they are being sent so and the program will score you on what you copied. Of course, you can also adjust the WPM speed and character speed if you so wish.

I am not affiliated with LB3KB or have anything to do with the software, other than being a user. I just wanted to say thanks for the great application. I’ve included some screenshots below to give you a peek at what the software looks like. I will post again later on once I make some more progress. I am currently copying fairly well, albeit at very low speeds, but I hope that should improve with lots more practice.

The splash screen

Just Learn Morse Code

The basic interface. Output at the top. Input (your copy) at the bottom. Click the characters on the right and see what happens.

Just Learn Morse Code

Example of the session results

Just Learn Morse Code

The menu where you can configure the source of the code the program will send.

Just Learn Morse Code

Best 73s for now!

2 Comments on “Re-Learning Morse Code

  1. hi,
    took my 12 wpm test in 86 then life took over.
    Tested myself (2016) and found my Morse to be almost non existent.
    Now here is the problem, finding relearning a real problem. Going from letters to numbers say in a callsign is my stumbling block. Good luck with your relearning.
    73 de G0GCA

    • Hi Mike,

      I had found myself in basically the same situation. I did my 5 WPM back in 1997 or 1998 so I could get HF access here in Canada. I never really used it and lost it all. When I started again this year, I had to re-learn everything.

      I’ve been using an app on my Android phone lately called Morse Machine. I haven’t written anything up on it but it’s really good. It shows a grid of all the numbers, symbols, and letters. It starts off with two or three letters and slowly ads more characters as you learn the previous ones.

      It seems to be working. I’m not very fast yet but I’m getting there. If I’m on my game, I can get up to 10 – 12 WPM.

      73 for now!

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