It’s the end of January so about now I’m guessing many a New Years resolution to “finally learn to use Morse code” has come and gone. I know, learning a new language isn’t easy and I’m not here to taunt you about it.
I can’t even help you as I’m not really the instructor type.
Truth be told, I don’t remember exactly how I learned the code but it was most likely via a 33rpm LP record because I had one around here for the longest time and I seem to recall ordering it from the ARRL in another century.
I can tell you that the moment my Novice license arrived (WD9GCT) I was on the air the same afternoon and made the first of many contacts that day.
Looking back, I couldn’t possibly have known all the procedural stuff, I just knew how to send and receive at 5-10 words per minute and I knew what “CQ” was supposed to sound like.
It’s beyond certain that I made mistakes. Plenty of them. I can almost imagine some of the old-timers I worked rolling on the floor in laughter at my slow sending, request for repeats, and botched operating procedures.
What I don’t recall was anyone ever taking me to task for any of it.
Everyone I worked was friendly and encouraging. Surely someone dressed me down during that period, but if they did, I’ve blocked it out. At least not on the air. One fellow sent me a QSL card with a warm welcome to the hobby and he included a copy of the seminal article, “Your Novice Accent - and what to do about it”. It didn’t feel like a rebuke but a helping hand and I’ve kept that article (and QSL card) to this very day.
I share this to encourage you to get on the air and give CW a try as soon as you’re able. You will make mistakes (big deal!) but no one will bite your head off. The number of us who enjoy the code is dwindling and we’re just happy when someone new comes along and gives it a try!
What brought all this to mind was a recent episode of the DitDit podcast.
Episode #22 - Jitters, Anxiety, and Your First QSO is a fantastic collection of comments from hams around the world and how they dealt with the panic attack that all of us experienced when we discovered (to our horror) that someone is returning our call sign after we called CQ.
I enjoyed every single one of the responses and highly recommend that anyone with a desire to use Morse code drop everything and go listen.
Trust me when I say that every radio telegrapher on the planet has shared the panic of those first few contacts, and this shared experience is so powerful that it fuses us into an incredibly rare and new element.
We are a fraternity of Morse code survivors!