Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh my gosh!

Sending Morse Code over the airwaves is a passion of mine.  I guess I have made that obvious enough throughout the posts of this blog.  As I type this, I am sitting back, tuning through the 40 Meter CW portion of the band (yes, I do know that CW is allowed everywhere - but you know what I mean) just content to listen for a change.

There are some beautiful fists out there; and there are also some horrid ones.  I think there are several reasons for both - good and bad.

1) A good CW op will knows what their sending speed is and seldom pushes it too far past the boundaries of the envelope.  Yes, you have to push to improve; but if you push too far, your sending will suffer.  Hey, if you're comfortable at 5 or 10 WPM, there's no shame in that.  And if you're comfortable at 40 WPM, bully for you!  But if you're comfortable at 18 WPM, for example, why try sending at 25 WPM?  You're going to make more mistakes than is good form and it's going to sound terrible.

2) Spacing, spacing, spacing.  This is maybe the MOST important thing to pay attention to when sending Morse.  Spacing is everything !!!!  Noonewantstolistnetomorsecodethatissentlikethis. Itwilldriveyoucrazy.
A    t         t   h   e       s   a   m    e       t   o   k   e  n,      t   h   i   s         c   a   n      d   r  i   v   e       y   o   u  
n    u    t   s,       t   o   o  !  (And I don't mean slow sending - I mean sending with exaggerated pauses for spacing).

When you get behind that key, please try to send in a nice easy, conversational rhythm.  That's what makes for the best  QSOs.

3) When you make a mistake - admit it!  A series of about 5 dits ..... or even a ?  and then starting over again with the word you messed up on is a lot better than just glossing over it.  Sometimes trying to figure out what's being sent, whether or not a mistake was made can leave you scratching your head.

Try to do your best, keeping it neat and not sloppy; and you will earn the reputation for having a fine fist.  Care about what you're doing and take pride in it - that's how the Old Timers did it in days of yore.  These practices will only enrich your CW experience.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. Thanks very much for the great advice Larry. My problem is when receiving CW I am shy to ask for repeats as I feel I am being looked at as "what can this guy copy or what" I have had listened to some QSO's were as you said the letters just flow together. As I am writing things down for practice I find that one long confusing word is actually two separate words. As I figure that out the sender is now far ahead of me and then I am lost all together. In regards to sending my rule is only send as fast as you can receive. I, as most others can send much faster than receiving but be prepared for the code to come back at you just as fast as it was sent. Thanks again Larry for the great advice.

  2. Hello Larry,

    Ditto, Just like a good piece of music. Rhythm and Spacing, and the choice of words and abbreviations!

    I've come to realize anything much above 10 wpm, has more to do with the person on the other end, than your ability to copy.

    I worked a guy in South Bend, IN last night, who could send flawless CW at over 20 wpm. And I could understand every letter and every word clearly. A real master with a key! (my normal speed is around 15 wpm)

    I admire those who can send and copy fast code. (I'm not one of them yet) but (as you say) a good fist is a gift. More to those that listen than those who send.

    Great post!

  3. Larry, I wonder what your opinion is of "non-standard" dah lengths? I hear guys every now and then where they're sending a dah that is significantly longer than the norm. I have enough trouble copying "standard" code, but I really have issues with those folks. I'm curious what you think.

    As for me, I solve my sending issues by mostly sending via keyboard. Still working on improving my manual fist though ...


  4. Anonymous2:17 PM

    All good points Larry. The only point I'm not completely decided on is how to acknowledge a mistake in sending. I used to always send a series of dits after a mistake until a very experienced op told me just to leave a short space and resend the word. I thinking his feeling was that if you do it that way, the series of dits is unneccesary. Either way works for me, but I tend to do it the latter way now.

  5. Larry,

    You are _so_ right about spacing!

    I felt so moved on this particular issue I published on a little web site of mine something in similar vein. See

    Great Blog!


    Martin - G4FUI