Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Code Bashers ...... Can't stand 'em!

The Morse Code requirement as it pertains to obtaining an Amateur Radio license disappears on Friday. As an avid user and proponent of Morse Code and Amateur Radio, this saddens me. Personally, I feel like the FCC has ripped the heart and soul of the Service from its rightful place. To me, the Morse Code and CW are more than a mode of operation; they are a tradition. A tradition that keeps us close to our past and our roots. CW and the code ARE Amateur Radio. They are part and parcel of what separates us from the other radio services. But, time marches on and "progress" is made. The FCC has determined that the Morse Code requirement is an "undue burden" to the advancement of the Service. So that's it. The changes have been made and there's nothing I can do about it.

What ticks me off and yanks my chain, are the people who are celebrating this as the "death" of Morse Code and CW. Take for instance the letter that appears in the March 2007 issue of QST. This letter is written by a gentleman from New Mexico who holds a degree; a Doctor of Pharmacy. In the letter, he writes:

"Personally, I applaud the FCC's action regarding the elimination of the code requirement. For all the wondrous attributes of CW, a relative minority of hams utilize this (antiquated) mode of operation."

He goes on to say further in the letter after extolling and bragging of his educational background,

"I have been licensed as a "no code" Tech for 16 years. I just purchased a new HF rig; and you can bet by February I will have upgraded to General (perhaps even Extra). This change has rekindled my interest in ham radio. I have always been interested in the theory. The code requirement served as an unnecessary barrier to expanding my interest and involvement in Amateur Radio. Proficiency with Morse code does little to support the very reason for amateur operation to exist."

Very good, Doctor! I have several problems with these excerpts from your letter.

1) Prove to me that the number of Hams in the United States who use and enjoy Morse Code and CW are a minority. Please show me your statistical analysis. And could you please tell me what your definition of a "minority" is. 49 percent? 40 percent? 30 percent?
20 percent? 10 percent?

2) If you're going to come off as an expert on the subject; and you're going to try and "wow" me with your logical argument; then please stop using pejorative terms such as "antiquated". It's trite.

3) Unless you take a code exam, you are NOT going to upgrade your license to General or (perhaps even!) Extra. Until February 23rd, you still need to take Element 1 to qualify for those license classes. Get your facts straight ..... again.

4) No one has ever stated that proficiency in Morse Code has anything to do with the reason that Amateur Radio exists.

6) The gentleman states that he holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. A little searching on the internet has revealed that this learned man had to study and master these subjects:

Principles of Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
General Pathology

and a whole lot more. The bottom line is that this gentleman is obviously quite intelligent and smart. He's dedicated and he knows his craft.

And you expect me to believe that he couldn't pass a 5 WPM code test? That it was a "barrier"?

Please ....... I may have been born at night; but it wasn't last night.

If you don't like code, then just say it. "I don't like code and I don't want to use CW". Be honest with yourself. Trying to come off that the Amateur Radio Service is going to be lightyears better because a licensing requirement is disappearing doesn't pass the smell test, as far as I'm concerned.

Morse Code and CW as a mode in the Amateur Radio Service will survive and perhaps even flourish. The reports of its death are an exaggeration. (Thank you, Mark Twain.) But please folks, don't try to insult my intelligence with vapid arguments and suppositions.

73 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Anonymous3:46 PM

    Larry: Just because someone has many degrees behind his name and has attended and graduated from "Big" Universities, does not make him "intelligent" in all fields. He just proved that in his comments in QST. It never ceases to amaze me that folks with limited education, or very little education, can master the art of radio and master the code and become a FCC licenced radio amateur. Think of all the young people over the years and even today who have accomplished this feat as grade school youngsters.
    I have been licensed for 51 years now and remember when the ARRL pushed "incentive licensing" on the amateur community. The stated purpose was to bring to the ranks more "technically proficient" amateurs. That didn't work and now the league is pushing the "no code" license program. Hoping, that it will build the ranks of amateurs who could not or would not even try to master the code. Time will tell! But, we sure don't need anymore "appliance operators" like the good "Doctor" from New Mexico. CW LIVES!!!
    Ned, W8VFM

  2. Anonymous4:41 PM

    "And you expect me to believe that he couldn't pass a 5 WPM code test? That it was a "barrier"?

    Please ....... I may have been born at night; but it wasn't last night."

    Ha! Good one, Larry.