eHam Logo

 Home Home
 Articles & Stories
 Contesting Wiki
 My Profile

 This Week's Contests
 Classified Ads
 Contest Links
 Product Reviews

Contest Lists

Other Lists

 Mailing List FAQs

Site Information
 About This Site Team

[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

No code makes No sense: think about it

Willie L. Baber (wj9b) on July 26, 2005
View comments about this article!

Maybe nothing will save amateur radio as many of us "aging" amateurs have learned it, but doesn't that include the ARRL, and whatever future amateur radio will have? The basic argument is old and probably means even less now but, for the sake of "good ole times," here it is again, fellow amateurs.

Many of us CW ops, like all of us, are aging but some of us have done well economically also. Why would some of us support any organization (ARRL) if it doesn't support us (CW ops) politically, a position that does not oppose other forms of interest in amateur radio. Pro CW (or pro "any mode" for that matter) isn't the same as anti-any other mode; afterall, what is required in any fraternity is the "lowest common position" that holds persons together, in this case, as amateurs. No one in the fraternity should be against any other mode or technique on political grounds--othewise, you wouldn't belong (after that we all have to learn tolerance of each others' interests). I guess we (hams) lost the struggle, i.e., to stick together.

For example, how are we going to help ARRL protect the spectrum, as CW ops, when CW itself isn't a required skill but CW parts of the spectrum exists (well, for now)? Even those without an interest in CW ought to be able to see the writing on the wall; first "they" came for CW ops--just a few guys using vacuum tubes and hand keys, then guys on packet (think of a suitable stereotype), EME, and etc., divided, the spectrum is taken away from all of us.

Now, who are "they?" (you and me?)--people who enjoy pushing "us versus them" ideologies and those of us who can't see through ideologies to preceive a spectrum weakened by "division and conquest."

Yes, "No Code" at all comes up short of an inclusive fraternity (3 wpm would have been better), and we all, FMers, SSB ops, RTTY guys, EME technocrats, you name it, we all should have objected--especially if you have lost all knowledge of code or never learned it as entry into your part of the spectrum, you-- especially you--should have protected the CW ops! Who is going to protect you?

Since we didn't object as a fraternity, then yes we loose cw eventually, but those who think they have won something may be in for a surprise. Our fellow hams, including those working inside the ARRL, will eventually see that we aging cw ops are part of them; either we are all in this spectrum together, or we will all be removed from stereotyped mode, after another.

I wonder who is next?

73, will, wj9b, dit dit

Member Comments: Add A Comment
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by VE2DC on July 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
If you like code... I do... do it. However, it's worth remembering that in the heyday of CW, it was a "state of the art" means of communications. It is not today... it's quaint, though admittedly effective. I think the hams who are engaging in new forms of communications, digital or otherwise, have more in common with the spirit of CW ops of years gone by... more reflective of the technical side of the hobby where there are always new frontiers to be explored. When CW first hit the airwaves, I'm sure there were those who bemoaned the passing of spark. (B4 my time) I know SSB wasn't accepted by many when it first was introduced to the bands. (Not b4 my time) Some always resist change, especially as they get older... it's human nature. I miss the old days too sometimes (sigh!)...
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by n7zg on July 31, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I'm into contesting both CW and SSB. I prefer CW and my contesting code speed is in the mid 30 WPM range. I see CW contesting as a growth segment of our hobby. Not because of some barrier or mandate, but because it is fun.

IMHO, dropping the CW requirement is a good thing because there are ops who just can't learn the code. My brother-in-law has been a tech licensee for many years and is a pretty motivated guy with great electronics knowledge. He has been on the outside and it is time to let folks like him get on HF.

I think many newcomers will get bored with SSB and will look to other modes like digital and maybe even CW. In short, I think it can only increase activity and that is what the goal is.

Guy, N7ZG
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by wa4dou on August 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I don't care anymore!
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by VK4JSR on August 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
It's not the fact that code has been removed, rather the decrease in the satisfaction of other criteria required to achieve an amateur radio licence that has created issues in VK... at least from my perspective.

The introduction of no-code together with reduced technical qualification criteria has seen a dramatic increase in the number of CB'ers migrating to the amateur bands. Their behaviour and respect of other operators leaves a lot to be desired. This is about to get worse with the introduction of a foundation licence that requires almost no form of qualification... just a couple of days swatting!

Acceptance of no-code may be justified, but the denegration of amateur operating standards (regardless of whether you a contester, DXer, rag chew, VHFer, etc) surely can not be!

Scott VK4JSR / VK4CZ
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by N5GLR on August 2, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Here's my comments to the FCC ... for all the good it will do.
Subject: Comment to NPRM WT 05-235

1. Morse Code (CW) is an essential communication method and should remain a test requirement for access to Amateur HF frequencies. CW is among the most bandwidth efficient and effective communications modes available to the Amateur radio operator. CW communication will succeed when other methods fail. Emergency communications will be severely compromised if an operator does not have the ability to communicate using Morse Code.

2. Manual radiotelegraphic (CW) communications has not been superceded by more modern methods of communication. There are no other methods of communication as reliable,accurate, fast, and efficient.

3. Requiring manual telegraphy proficiency is entirely compatible with the radio amateur's mandated objective of contributing to the advancement of the radio art. To that end, a manual key and a simple, homebrew transmitter/receiver is all that is required for communication with CW as compared to the increasingly sophisticated equipment for all other modes. All other
modes of operation require far more sophisticated equipment than does CW and is far more difficult to construct.

4. FCC evidence exists that proves Morse Code (CW) proficiency is an indicator of a desirable,
motivated, and better qualified operator. Proficiency at Morse Code demonstrates that the operator has worked hard to earn HF privileges and is dedicated to the art and science of Amateur Radio. The overwhelming majority of violations of the FCC code governing Amateur Radio concern operation in the VHF/UHF spectrum, often involving repeaters, and Technician
class operators. I have seen only one alleged violation by a CW operator. (ref. “FCC Amateur
Radio Enforcement Letters”, as posted on the ARRL web site).

5. The Morse code requirement serves as an advancement barrier to no one. Those who put forth the effort will achieve. Those who won’t aren’t serious enough about becoming an Amateur Radio operator.

6. The value of Morse code communications in the Amateur Service is primarily recreational in
nature, as are all other modes, and manual telegraphy proficiency should continue to be a compulsory licensing requirement for any class of Amateur Radio license.

7. The most challenging problem is maintaining the standards of the Amateur Radio service.
While lowering the standards (eliminating CW testing) may increase the number of licensed operators temporarily, quality will surely suffer. Morse Code operation teaches good operating skills (e.g. courtesy, perseverance, patience, etiquette, etc.) far better and faster than any other mode. Furthermore, it proves you don’t need maximum allowable power to communicate, as is evidenced by the hundreds of contacts made daily using simple equipment (homebrew or kit) at power levels at or below 5 watts.

8. Some will lament they have been ostracized, belittled, etc. because they don’t know Morse
Code. I can only theorize that these folks have brought this criticism on themselves through a
loudly expressed disdain for Morse Code and lack of desire to exert the effort to learn.

9. The fact that many Technician and Technician Plus licensed operators are MARS operators and operate HF with their MARS License prove that they have learned the basic military protocols and etiquette for operating in a military environment and passing military health and welfare traffic. MARS is a fine organization that has developed thousands of highly proficient operators. Therefore, I propose that all applicants for a General class license either pass a 10
WPM CW exam or the equivalent of the MARS Operator training course.

10. It is time to stop the down-hill slide of proficiency and quality in Amateur Radio. Let’s raise
the standard rather than lower it for a change. Clearly, the IARU left the decision to retain or
eliminate the Morse Code testing requirement to each member nation. To date, approximately 8% of nations have done so. It is worth noting that Japan retained a CW testing requirement.

11. We clearly need to retain Morse Code testing for advancement to HF operating frequencies. Poor operating practices on VHF/UHF are an embarrassment to the local community but,on HF they are a national and international embarrassment. This is our opportunity for the USA to rise above the world wide trend in lowering standards. Let’s establish our leadership instead of following the crowd.

Garry Rife
Arlington, TX
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by w8vfm on August 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Remember when the ARRL supported "Incentive Licensing". This whole approach was to bring the whole fraternity along to improved technical and operational standards. As a General Class amateur, who had all amateur privileges available to them, we were told that this would improve our technical capabilities and improve the bands with a "higher class licensee" I was, and have been a cw operator from my Novice days back in 1955. I could easily pass the 20 wpm requirement. However, to get back the frequencies lost to the Advanced Class and especially the Extra Class, we were required to take a comprehensive test on all modes of operation and the technical knowledge to go with it. These were modes that most were not interested in, yet to get back our lost privileges, we were forced to learn, and admit it guys, just to pass the exam, many technical concepts we would not ever use. Did Incentive Licensing improve our bands?
Did it bring into the hobby those who solely wanted to advance the hobby technically? Those who want to improve the hobby were there already and those who wanted to seek new frontiers were there already as they have been since the beginning and will be with or without special licensing. The code requirement was still part of this licensing program, and should remain so. Why, because it is still the best way to communicate information reliably, accurately, fast and efficiently. Entry into the hobby with a required morse code proficiency has proved over and over again that it produces a more motivated and proficient operator. You can also enter this hobby with a much lower cost and have many hours of enjoyment in a service that is primarily recreational in nature, as are all the other modes requiring much more investment of time and money.
Why not be a leader in the world, instead of a follower, and promote a "hobby" that anybody can get into, with minimal investment and the excitement of sending simple signals over simple equipment and just have fun! There is certainly a lot of "magic" to be caught doing so! Wow, what a new concept!

No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by KD4KVE on August 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I've got an Idea. If you who love Code will allow those of us who teach to get people licensed. Then it becomes your duty to do what the Digital guys do.Attend meetings of ham clubs and show the new ham with no predigice against code the beauty and simplicity of using your favorite portion of the hobby. I attended a three hour club meeting devoted entirly to using the voice linked repeaters over the internet. The guys who did the demo found a willing audiance and at the end the club was seriously considering the placement of the computer link on the repeater that they sponsor.If you take these new hams under your wing and work with them there will be little or no chance that you will lose your band space to the digital groups. The old adage still holds" USE IT OR LOSE IT"
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by kc8byf on August 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
:Not really sure what to say about this idea of dropping the morse code for HF amateur radio testing. I have heard and read many well thought out opinions on the issue. I (nearly) understand both sides of the controversy. I will have to say that, personally, I am all for keeping the code requirement even if this requires a compromise of lowering it to even three words per minute, as I read one posting here mention. Here are some thoughts I pontificated upon and placed into my personal reasonings for "keeping the code".

The deaf (or hearing impared) can learn the code via light... even with the help of technical knowledge a person can impliment a light to the voltage of the speaker connections to work cw (on any band or any radio)...light is as any energy "spectrum":...Manipulatable.

The fire age of humanity brought on the advent of smoke signals ...a "code" communication forum dating back to the ages of fire (perhaps back even further).

My personal (not technical, educated or otherwise) opinion is that the only groups standing to gain from the "droppage" of the morse code requirement for HF priviledges are 3 (three) (. . . _ _).
(1)// people who are for any number of reasons UNWILLING to learn the code
(2)// Some administrations accepting the lobby moneies from large corporate radio mfgrs.
(3)// The radio manufacturers...

I find it interesting that in all the articles read on the issue, no one mentioned this; Remember in the 80's when a group of hostiles in Iran took over our American embassy over there ? DID YOU KNOW THAT MORSE CODE SAVED THE HOSTAGES IN THAT SITUATION ??? WELL, IT DID... When the "hostiles" filmed the hostages; The hostages were "scriped" on what to say in order to tell the United States government that the matters at hand was not a "torturous" situation. WELL ! An Air Force Official, here in Dayton, Ohio at Wright Patterson A.F.B, was reviewing the tapes and noticed one of the hostages was blinking out the word TORTURE (in morse code)with his EYEBALLS... (back to the smoke signals we arrive with visual "code") We all want to assume that we or anyone in our "circle" would never be in any situation like that; Right? Who knows where any of us will be in our lives. If this type of extreme tragity were ever to befall any one I would sure hope someone in the situation and in a position to render effective communications help ...KNOWS THE CODE.

The difference with knowing the code or not knowing the code is this. Lets say all the modern IC type "plug and play" equipment in some shack takes a lightning strike, static hit or any other destructive energy intrusion (naturally occouring or otherwise i.e. nuculear contamination etc.) and melts the IC components into pools of uselessness... perhaps the small one tube transmitter in that shack which someone built or bought at a flea market that is a cw only rig will help someone help others. Just a made up situation to ponder on and not intended to offend or alarm anyone.

I'm glad there are a few old tube type rigs accesable here and/or the knowledge of how to build a very crude but usable, cw capable radio with any attainable voltage source, some wire, some hand made copper plate capacitors and a little chunk of selenium stashed away in an old shoe box. (remember the cat whiskers ? ...before my time)

Many things in life require a LICENSE to maintain the safety, integrity and structure of any number of "PRIVILEDGES". Driving a car is a priviledge grantet to those who show basic operational skills of a motorized vehicle and the knowledge of the basic laws governering the driving task. Remember driving a vehicle or obtaining a driving license is a PRIVILEDGE ...not a "RIGHT". Same goes for Amateur radio... The basics first philosophy keeps order to the structure of amateur radio as well, yadda yadda yadda

The very basics of any type of communications must be understood and adheared to because the "basics" are the key component to any type of gainful endeavor.

Nothing usefull is built from the top down". (unless we're talking about dropping a "slinky" from a window or balcony to use as an antenna...hi hi "attempt at humor")

I learn as much from my own research as I learn from observing others who know absolutely nothing. (Can I purchase a quote right on that)

73 & GL to those at least trying to learn the code,
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by wt6g on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
If the FCC does away with code, then who is going to be able to identify all of the transmitters in the country that use CW for ID?

Already many radio interference problems have to be solved by local hams because the engineers don't know the code well enough to ferret it out of a mixing product on a mountain top.

If we had got something in return for permitting 'no code' like total preemption on restrictive covenents, that might have been a reasonable trade.


What we're really getting is setup. The ensuing lawlessness that is already springing into the bands will bring forth more calls for more regulation and enforcement. This will raise license fees and begin to restrict what can be said on Amateur Radio, how and when and what it can be used for etc...

Ultimately, CW will be gone so 'enforcement' on the bands can be locally done by brainless druids.

Of course the process has already begun, and there is no stopping it. Citizens lost control of the government a long time ago, in fact I think you need to be over 50 just to remember when we still had some control!

The attack on freedom is moving ahead on all fronts, and Amateur Radio is one of the targets. It had to happen sooner or later.

Before we allowed media corporations to own all of the media outlets there were decency standards that actually could vary, giving you a choice. There was also content that could vary. Then there was a lot of differing editorial opinion that was actually informative. It's gone, and as the water slowly heats up around us, the real question is when or if anyone will notice that CW isn't the issue, but it may be a place to take a stand.

I would have thought BPL might have given us all a clue as to what's really going on in Washington. The end game is the end of Amateur Radio, the fraternity, the common skillset, and the freedom that it represents.

Its just too dangerous to have so many people who know how to use radios, antennas, code, electronics, and computers out there.

That's why we'll soon see the internet connected with terrorism so we will let it be regulated for public safety - and taxed of course - that will limit activist expression.

Freedom to travel has been cut back by supporting economic strategies that have built economies stroner than ours that can afford to pay high prices for gas. That will keep the activits at home.

The biggest culprit though is the fact that our educational system now turns out idiots who rank in the bottom 4% worldwide in science and technology.

They know all about alternative lifestyles and never utter anything that's not politically correct. They're totally feminized right down to the pants that look more like knee length dresses.

Yes, guys, we've lost CW, but we lost a lot more before we lost that, and frankly it was a lot more valuable.

As for alternatives, in 1967 the burned draft cards and bras. Perhaps we should burn our microphones!

As one of the other commenters pointed out, though we can't look to the ARRL to fix the problem, and nothing less than a mass movement will fix it. Might I suggest the following as a counter srategy with teeth:

That all VE Teams stop giving any exam
except Technican exams. If we do this, then
there will be few, if any 'no code' hams. In
fact if we stop NOW, we'll stem the tide of the
nuts operating at 3 wpm on 20M in the Extra Class

This is passive resistance. It's not illegal, but it will have an effect. If enough of you do it, then it will have a major effect.

Then there's the potential for Congressional intervention. Given that they just passed CAFTA, I seriously doubt this is anything but a waste of time.

Theres a few other things that can be done:

--Put a CW ID (like W6OBB, Art Bell uses) on your SSB transmitter.

--run it at 20 wpm and stop using verbal callsigns.

--Refuse to identify using your voice. Use CW ONLY. This is [cw] calling CQ 20....

As Arlow Guthrie said, 'they'll think its a movement'.

--Remove all voice ID's from repeaters.

-- Run ARRL code practice on any repeater you control.

Well, you get the idea. You can talk about it, or do soemthing about it. It won't take very much to have a big impact. Just a few thousand VE's could do it. A few hundred repeater owners would really get noticed. Of course if a few thousand SSB operators started using CW for ID, Amateur Radio might just have a chance!

/Len dit dit
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by W2CSH on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I don't care anymore either. I'm sick of the argument.
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by kq7w on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I dont care anymore, never cared
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by N5GLR on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
What a great idea ... CW ID instead of voice. I have a few audio capable memories on my HF rig that I can put to good use in that regard. I like all of your suggestions but, unfortunatly, don't own a repeater. However, we'll see how well the CW ID thing flies on HF. I'll implement it soon but, maybe at 13 wpm for the General SSB sub-bands.

RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by oldfart13 on August 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
There is no way the FCC is going to retain it for General. I think that the code exam should be maintained for the Extra class license. If the ultra liberals at NCI/NCVEC, and other anti-code bigots can't accept this then I think they shouldn't even bother with ham radio; they can go back to thier internet chat rooms.
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by N4ST on August 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hate to say it, but being employed by the Federal Government for +30 years, there isn't a high correlation between what makes sense and what gets implemented.

CW will be around for a long time.
My wristwatch has hands, not digits.
There are those of us who like driving a stick-shift.
Some still enjoy riding horseback.
Here in the Chesapeake Bay area, many prefer sails to outboards.

And in the future, when babies are mostly conceived in test tubes,
well... you get the picture.
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by N2QRO on August 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I do not believe that I have ever heard so much Panic and extremism over a subject! You would think that someone was passing a Law Against USING CW! The people who have an interest in learning and using CW, will. Those who are currently studying CW will continue, and those who are currently using CW will continue to use it. Many more will view it as "nostalgic" and will want to learn it and many will see it as an accomplishment which sets them aside from others. The extremists are making it sound like as soon as the code is dropped, it will suddenly fall off of the face of the earth! What are you saying? If you had not been FORCED to learn CW, you wouldn't have? Is that where the problem lies? All of you who are screaming the loudest are admitting that they would not have learned the beloved CW if not forced to? Come on!

I suspect that perhaps an even larger number will take an interest in CW when it is no longer a requirement. When it becomes a volunteer activity, it becomes a matter of pride and accomplishment! Not - I learned it because I had to. Those that do learn will experience an even greater feeling of pride and accomplishment.

Everyone is aware (although none come right out and say it) that CW is being used as a filter to filter out the Riff Raff. This is the totally wrong approach! Why require someone who has no interest in CW to have to learn it so that they can talk? Should we send Medical Doctors to school to graduate as an engineer in order to practice medicine with little or no education in medicine? This is what we are doing now. Anyone can go to QRZ.COM and take practice exams which contain the EXACT questions, with EXACT wording, with actual answers and even the actual wording to the incorrect answers. This is down right cheating! If you were in college, and someone found a copy of the final exam - that would be cheating in itself. Everyone knows that you cannot question someone on EVERY aspect of ANY subject, so we just pick some at random to demonstrate whether you know the SUBJECT. If you know the questions, you can study only the subjects covered by the questions and ignore everything else - CHEATING.

If, on the other hand, someone has a copy of the answers, there is no doubt that this is cheating, on any subject, anywhere, anytime. So why is it OK for Amateur Radio? It is cheating in college, cheating in the first grade, cheating on a civil service exam - just plain cheating, pure and simple. And, it is accepted practice with Amateur Radio.

Now, what does this say about our Tech-Plus and General class licensee's? If you are a Tech, I figure it is because you do not want to learn something that you personally may never use again the rest of your life. I need to point out to all that are acting like a law is being passed AGAINST CW rather than dropping a requirement: Requiring someone to learn it does not mean they will retain it, use it, or even practice to a point that is useful - not at all. OK, so if your a Tech, it is probably due to CW, but if you are a Tech-Plus or General, you have NO EXCUSE! It is a simple little test that has been supplied with the questions as well as the answers with exact wording on a multiple choice test! If you have passed your Element 1 (cw) and you are not an EXTRA Class operator - what does this say about the intelligence of those we are letting into amateur radio? Not Much! If they can't pass a simple, multiple choice test with the questions AND answers supplied in advance, then hese are the people we should be watching out for, NOT "No Coders" Once I saw how simple the tests were, and even sent my daughter on a bet after only one day of study, whenever I hear someone say they are a General, or worse, a Tech-Plus (no longer "official"), I start watching for some kind of mental disability. No one can be that "dumb" without a reason, can they?

Want to do something for the hobby, Drop CW and stop using it as a "filter". Make the tests harder - much harder. Quit handing out answers and questions and stop using simple 2nd grade level multiple choice tests with only 35/50 questions. Put the filter where it needs to be, in the skills that the person has to be an amateur radio operator - not to do, or not do, code. It shows us nothing about that persons ability to be a successful radio operator.

I sat down on and studied my tests "backward" starting with Extra. When I had the Extra test down to where I was getting 100% everytime, I moved on to General - thinking it would be simple - it wasn't. Then finally down to Tech. The reason passing the Extra test did not make the General test any easier was because I was not LEARNING anything! Heck, I wasn't even reading the entire questions. Only matching a few words of the question to a few words of the correct answer. I knew nothing of the subject.

I went in on test day and passed all three tests in a row missing 1, 5 and 9. But, I am still a Tech because I could not pass element 1 at that time. Does any of this make sense to anyone? I should not have been able to pass those tests after only 3 days of study (my 19 year old daughter did it after ONE day of study) - but since we did, should we be held at Tech because of CW?

The hobby will survive and if all of the "Expert CW operators will take it upon themselves to encourage and help others learn CW, the ART WILL NOT die. It may become even better!
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by VE3TRU on August 14, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Canada no longer has the Code..
I think one day everyone will understand this was stupid. I got my licence because I thought it would be fun, it wasn't. You can only operate above 30mhz not bellow, but if you have code buddy your OK. Now they have no-code and you have to rewrite the exam, cuz u got no code. The same exam somone with code has, but there is "no code anymore."
I do not have to rewrite anything because I wrote before the changes. I tried hard to get the code, tapes ect.(I couldn't take classes cuz I work nights) I'm tone deaf can't hear dots dashes.Its not fair, u piss them off and wonder why no one is on the air anymore. Amature radio will make a come back because there is no code on the exam. Don't get me wrong I think code is important this is why once again I am trying to get the code ("not required anymore")from a local club.
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by k3bz on August 14, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
A lot of the comments here describe good reasons to learn CW, but really don't address why CW should remain a MANDATORY test element. There's hundreds of good reasons to learn and use CW, we all know what they are, and those reasons will continue to exist for a long time to come, maybe forever. But isn't it clear that FORCING newcomers to learn CW before we let them in the door is a little outdated? Not to mention probably counterproductive.

Isn't nearly everyone turned off when they are forced to learn something for which they see little value? And isn't the value of CW pretty unclear these days... until a new ham gets a little experience under his... or her... belt, and gets interested in DXing or Contesting or Traffic-handling? THEN it's much easier to see CW's value.

What about digital modes? CW is part of that, and digital is a big attraction these days. So it shouldn't take long for a new ham to notice CW and become aware of its continuing value, and how much fun it can be.

I see no reason to react to the idea of discontinuing MANDATORY CW testing as it meant the same as BANNING CW doesn't mean that. CW is alive and well, and it certainly isn't going to die just because we stop shoving it down newcomer's throats in order for them to get a ticket.

My 2 cents.... 73, Jerry K3BZ
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by oldfart13 on August 14, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Code at a mere 5WPM is only an introduction to the mode. No one is being required to master it or even use it. However, the consummate ham will go beyond the 5WPM and use it.

That is the main reason that the code exam should be required for the Extra class license; because he/she is supposed to be the consummate ham and should know it.
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by N2QRO on August 15, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
OldFart13 (I think it is) writes that code at 5 WPM is just an "introduction" to code and not really meant to be used unless studied further and (My Words) "Mastered".

He says that the "consummate" ham will continue to study and become more proficient over time after being introduced initially.

This is cited as good cause to maintain the 5 WPM code requirement for Extra class licensee's because: "Extra class operators are supposed to be the consummate operator and should know it (CW)."

If I were to agree with this line of thinking, I would have to ask myself: "Why just code?" Why should the consummate HAMS of the Extra class only know, or at least have a working knowledge of ONLY CW? Why not also require a working knowledge of Digital/PSK-31/Packet/ Fax/RTTY, SSTV/FSTV, EME/Moonbounce/QRP, SSB, AM, Satellite, and the list continues. Shouldn't we also REQUIRE a working knowledge of all these different "modes" within the hobby of our "consummate" operators? Does knowledge of Phone and Code qualify one as a "consummate" operator?

As shown above, there are so many different "modes" which all fall under the larger definition of the hobby of amateur radio, how can we decide which ones we should require our Extra class operators to PROVE they have a working knowledge of? After all, these are our "Top of the line".

Perhaps we are just trying to single out code, because at one time it WAS popular and was used more than even phone, and I agree it WAS necessary to have a good knowledge to call yourself a "HAM". In that respect, it is gone, facts are facts, let it go.

It is no longer necessary to have this knowledge and unlike many other forms of communication, Code (CW) is now elevated beyond just a "mode" and has become an ART. Just as art is not required for a basic education, but is available as a choosen course, so should CW also be. It can no longer be argued that it is needed, we all see this, Art is not needed. Art is something to be practiced, to be proud of, to display and maybe even brag about. We all can't be artists. Some of us just don't have the talent and some of us are just not interested. You cannot force art on someone.

Many hams will pick other available areas to practice and become good at, some will always choose to study the art of code. If each code artist alive right now would take one person under their wing to teach the art to, the numbers will not dwindle. Take two, and the art will double!
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
Anonymous post on August 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
There are some valid reasons why one cannot learn the code: hearing problems, dyslexia, mental retardation, laziness, or just plan being stupid.

When you combine facts like reliability, ease of use, simple equipment, then you soon realize that CW is by far the most superior mode there is. Despite all the advances we have made it is still true toady.

I wonder why these liberal extremists don't even want the super easy 5wpm code test for the Extra class? When you want a welfare license; you want the whole thing without any work. And that is the real reason they want it eliminated; it is because they don't want to do any work to earn a license. They only want to memorize some answers and keep taking the exams until they pass it. Some even go so far as to bootleg callsigns like N2QRO
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by N2QRO on August 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The Anonymous post above seems to be trying to include me as an "Extremist" who only wants to pass the tests by "taking them over and over".

Perhaps you should brush up on your comprehension skills since I am the one who has stated that this should be eliminated along with the super easy multiple choice tests.

I am totally against supplying the actual questions that will be used on the test since this allows persons to study ONLY the subjects which the questions cover, and thus, does not give us an idea of how well the person knows the entire subject matter. As far as "Practice tests" which not only use the exact questions, with exact wording and gives the ANSWERS, also worded exactly, this gives the test subject the opportunity to turn it into an exercize in memorization skills only.

Instead of handing out answers to the tests so that anyone can pass, we should be using a real test which asks real questions and requires a "long hand" or "essay" response. Yes, this would require some actual "grading" work to be done rather than a "key" and would likely be rejected because of this, but still, we need to stop handing out the questions and answers in the EXACT wording used on the tests to eliminate the possibility of memorization.

I have admitted that I realized, after I aced the Extra Exam and found that the General Exam was just as hard, and the Tech Exam was even just as hard, when I studied "Backwards" (Previous post), that I was NOT learning anything, only memorizing the words of the questions and putting them with the words of the answers.

Here is where our "Filter" needs to be, in the test questions, NOT in whether or not a person can use Morse Code. As pointed out, anyone who applies themselves can learn Morse (CW) because, after all, it is also just an exercize in memorization skills. At least, that is all that is required to pass the test. Those that practice and use CW can develop it to the point of an ART FORM. There is a great difference between passing a test and becoming a true artist in CW.

Also, I want to make it clear that I agree with every positive thing that has been said about CW! I see nothing in any argument for CW that I can disagree with: The simple, cheap rigs, the narrow bandwidth, all of it. This is why I have tried to point out that no one is passing a law against the use of CW! I have asked the question of whether or not "Those who are screaming the loudest would have learned CW if not forced to?" Is this why it is so important to ramain a requirement?

Again, stop using CW as a way to filter out the "Riff-Raff" and use the Examinations instead, like they should be used.

Perhaps we should start concentrating efforts on forming "CW Clubs" or organizations who could possibly continue to make examinations and hand out certificates of proficiency. Perhaps a certificate could be issued at 5 WPM, 10 WPM, 20 WPM, 30 WPM and the 30+ WPM AWARD. Volunteers could still give the exams at testing sessions. The club or organization who issues the certificates could issue a unique "registration number" which could be looked up in a database to prove your level. Maybe even an "Expert" or "Artist" award could be earned by an actual CW session which could be monitored and voted on by several other Judge Experts?

Make it fun! Make it something to be proud of! No one is passing a law AGAINST CW! It's just long past time to stop using it as a filter. Make the Extra exam much harder than it is if you want a filter.

As far as a "bootleg" call, it is not. I noticed when I signed up that the registration asked for "a call that you will be known by" NOT YOUR call (Example: oldfart13). N2QRO or "Into Power" is just a philosophy that I decided to use to be known by. I have also applied (a while back) to obtain this as a vanity call (which I do not mind saying since the request was placed some time ago and not in danger of being hijacked - if available)

My call is currently KC9GEZ and my daughters call is KC9GZZ and you can reach me on Echolink (Midnight to 06:00) at node 198484.
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
Anonymous post on August 21, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Cry louder and you may get your welfare license.
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by Ki4LNY on August 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
No code makes No sense: think about it
by N2QRO on August 13, 2005

Hit the nail on the head. With todays technoligies HAM is going away. Look at the numbers. Untill the year 2000 there was always gain in the numbers of increasing hams. In the last 5 years that number is declining. Amature Radio is not about CW. Its about learning communications and expanding. In the Comercial world Radio Officers have been phased out. Electronics and Communication equipment have come along way. Morse Code is not a necessity and its great that people can do it as fast as they can. I know signal man rate in the Navy is no longer a need. Flashing light use to be very important. Everything changes. Who has a black and white TV set in there house that works. How many people actually sit down a write a letter to someone? We had to learn how to write. Now you better know how to type. I am going to learn Code. I plan on taking my General next month. I think people that learn code set themselves a part from the people that do not. But we need Amature Radio operators. Lets not forget what Amature Radio is all about, Learning Communications, Making better Technicians and promoting a good reputation.
You use to have to have a FCC license for a CB Radio. They did away with that and the world still turns. I agree with both sides, lets communicate and have fun.

RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by oldfart13 on September 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>>N2QRO...I have also applied (a while back) to obtain this as a vanity call (which I do not mind saying since the request was placed some time ago and not in danger of being hijacked - if available)<<<

Oh brother. OK, sure you can get that callsign.
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by W1LEE on October 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Suggestion: Using "think about it" in your subject is demeaning to those with other points of view, as the clear implication is that anyone who harbors a different opinion has simply not "thought about it" enough. It turns me off immediately!

Comment: I got my first ham license in 1963, when 5wpm was required for the entry level Novice license. I passed a 13wpm code test for my General Class license in 1964, and a 20wpm exam to earn my Extra ticket. I like morse code, and use it regularly in contests, dx'ing and general operating. But in today's world, requiring a demonstration of proficiency with morse code as a licensing requirement for HF privileges has no more relevency than requiring a demonstration of proficiency with a manual transmission to obtain a drivers' license.
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by KA3TGV on October 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The author has it right. Eliminating CW testing for General and Extra class examinees makes no sense.

You probably won't read my comments to the F.C.C. on their N.P.R.M. Let's just say I can read the writing on the wall.

Erosion. The requirement for CW testing has been eroding for decades.

Bad rulemaking begets more bad rulemaking. Changes to the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service made sense in early days or radio:
1. It made sense to license Radio Amateurs.
2. It made sense to test at 5, and later 10 w.p.m.

A learning plateau occurs somewhere around 10 or 15 w.p.m. This has been known for a long time.
1. Testing at 10 words per minute made sense.
2. The 13 w.p.m. test (c.1935) was a bad idea.

In my opinion, the 13 w.p.m. test necessitated the 5 w.p.m. test (about 1952). A Novice band is created at 11 meters. Bad rulemaking begets more bad rulemaking.

Late in 1958, a Class D Citizen's Band is created in the old Novice 11 meter band. No CW test is required for Citizen's Band operation. Erosion.

In another attempt to 'improve the breed', the A.R.R.L. proposes and the F.C.C. approves Incentive Licensing (1967). It proves to be the fiasco many foretold and ham radio is seriously marginalized after this time.

1984. Through some legislative and regulatory changes the F.C.C. is able to turn amateur testing over to privateers. Bad rulemaking, both in the Congress and at the F.C.C. ('think of the money we'll save').

Novice Enhancement (1987). Novices are given voice privileges in the 10 meter DX Window, at 220 mHz, and at 1.3 gHz. The 10 meter s.s.b. privileges prove to be popular. Wonder if any of the Novices operated 13 cm.

CW requirement dropped for the Technician Class license (1991). A terrible, yet popular idea that created factions (check out our Founding Fathers) and led to a permanent underclass of ham radio licensees.

Restructuring (2000). No more written examinations for Novice or Advanced class license. Elimination of CW exams at 13 and 20 w.p.m. CW testing requirement for General and Extra class is 5 w.p.m., a minimal requirement. Bad rulemaking begets more bad rulemaking. More factions created.

2002. International requirements for CW testing for below 30 mHz operation are eliminated.

Restructuring II (2005). A.R.R.L. and N.C.V.E.C. propose New Novice, Communicator, or somesuch. I among many are at a loss for words. The F.C.C. wisely shoots down the New Novice, and, only following through with what it said it would do 5 years earlier in regards to the CW test elimination.

I wish it weren't so, but it is.

I predict within ten years the F.C.C. will turn the issuance of the amateur license over to privateers (I.A.R.U. member society- how's that?) as Sweden's telecommunications authority has recently done.

There are just some things in life that require governmental control, just as there is a need for some of our best and brightest people to line the halls of Congress and staff our regulatory agencies.

RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by W9VD on October 14, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Morse code IS the filter! You have to LEARN it. You have to have a basic desire to suceed and the willingness to accomplish something.
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
Anonymous post on October 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with that ability to work code should be the requirement to use the code frequency allocations. Or also for any other similar mode. I am interested in using CW but afraid of taking the test but rather more interested in the practical use of it, and not of learning the things I will never use because I am not equipped to use. I do think that spectrum reserved for code and SSB should remain reserved for it so that it can be used without QRM from FM etc. I would quickly become very good at code within days of communicating but even my brother had to study code and take the test twice before he could go on the air with it. Maybe one frequency on each band should be given to newbies to warm up on using QRP and then when someone achieves 10wpm that's their "CW-band club privilege badge" (maybe frequencies whose crystals are ubiquitous such as 3579545). I also agree that LIDS and other pests should be enforced against and otherwise shunned, who make QRM and rudeness on HF as they do on unlicensed FRS and CB.
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by sp6oje on October 21, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Someone wrote that CW is not state of the art today, that there are couple of other modes much effective.
Probably it is true in such modes like undernoise EME communication, but belive me man ears are still best DSP system in the world. And try to copy very weak signals (few dB under noise) using different modes. CW is simply the best. If you are limited by power and antenna the only way to finish qso may be changing mode and the knowledge of CW is the must. Try to work dx in pileup using for instance 100 W and SSB and later do the same in CW. It is much faster and easier and makes (me) a lot of fun.

73's Robert
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by M3KXZ on January 7, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I agreee with N2QRO - code should not be used as a filter to keep the riff raff out.

It seems a lot of people are afraid that dropping code as a statutory requirement will suddenly lead to an influx of CB types. Well, here in the UK, the "bad" CB types have all but died out and are more interested in surfing for whatever on the internerd, chatting by mobile phone etc.

Now I was a "good" CB type. I got into radio 27 years ago at the age of 12 when my Dad bought my brother and I a couple of Sony 2 channel 27MHz AM "walkie talkies" when he went to Holland on business. I was already into electronics and did a lot of receiver building with my neighbour (one of those electronics professor types). But the CB thing started me off experimenting with antennas, got me involved in rag-chews with the local blind ex-servivemen and their wives, and there was always a really good feeling on the band - it was no different to listening to a rag-chew on HF.

Yep, I started using SSB on 11 metres and working some quite astonishing DX, but never used anything other than QRP (as such I was also a good neighbour!).

There was no way I was going to even take the first step on the amateur ladder knowing that I would be limited to 2 metres and 70 cms. And the thought of learning Morse, when I was already struggling with French and German at school, filled my heart with dread.

School, college, work, wife then children basically meant that radio had to take a back seat for years. And there it would have probably stayed had it not been for the fairly recent changes over here. The introduction of the Foundation License gave me that incentive to get back into the hobby seriously. That incentive is being permitted to use the HF bands, albeit with a power limitation of 10W and no access to 10 metres.

For the Foundation License here in the UK, an "appreciation" of the code needs to be shown. You need to receive and send short pieces of text at 5WPM, and are allowed to use a crib sheet to read and write it.

The course gives those with little knowledge of radio an excellent introduction to what can be achieved, how things should be done, electrical circuits (yep, very basic but it's a start for many), antennas and antenna tuning, propagation, equiipment, licensing requirements etc. The exam is fair. Sure it's too easy for someone who has had an interest in the hobby for a while, but it's fair for newcomers.

Then after the course, we got our licences, and could finally use our equipment.

Now, the foundation license, as it is, is probably sufficient to filter out 90% + of "bad" CB types or riff-raff. Any form of exam will filter them out. Then further filtering occurs once foundation licenses have been issued to the newcomers to the hobby.

Someone limited to 10 Watts output, with a poor antenna set up, and with a lack of patience and poor operating technique is not going to be able to speak to anyone further away than a few miles. They then get disillusioned with the whole thing, pack it in and flog their gear on ebay. It happens all the time.

Those of us who want to learn, who are excited at experimenting with antennas and locations, who are patient enough to listen, who enjoy the "self-teaching" aspect, who are excited about how the propgation is changing on different bands, excited about all this and more and are thrilled to bits when we get the DX calls - we are the ones who stay with the hobby and progress. We become the good operators, irrespective of whether we came into the hobby through CB or not.

As for CW - sure I didn't need to "learn" the code to get my foundation license. I didn't even have to work too hard to get the license (thanks to years of self-teaching I cleared the 45 question multi-choice in 3 minutes flat and scored 100%). But, I love the challenge of working QRP and am fully aware that learning the code is going to help me even more towards achieving my goals. More so than plugging a computer into the rig and working PSK31, as I don't take my computer to the beach or up to the hills! As such, I am working towards learning the code - not because I have to just to get a licence, but because I WANT to. And because it's something that I want to do, then surely that'll make me a better CW op.

I've rambled on, I know. But CW should NOT be seen as the filter to keep out the riff-raff. Any exam will keep most out, then boredom will lose another lot, then it's up to you experienced operators to encourage any remaining riff-raff to become good operators, through setting a good example and "teaching" them. If there are still riff-raff remaining they'll be very few and far between, and probably never noticed. CW is not being "banned", you will not lose CW. There will be more of us here to learn the value of CW and to learn CW so there will be more CW on the amateur bands.

Anyone heard of Eugene Sully from Big Brother?
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by KC0EXO on March 31, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
For 7 years I have been a Technician, and a week ago I passed my 5 WPM test and am now proudly a tech plus. Personally, I thought the test was very easy, it also only took me 3 days to learn code and bring my speed up to 6 WPM. It only took a little bit of determination, hard work, and a couple hours a day. I also think that by having the code requirement, it weeds out the people who just memorize the exam question answers and may or may not actually know the necessay information to safely and effectively run a station. Also by keeping code, it shows that an individual has determination and a serious interest in ham radio. It seems like there are a lot of people out there with licenses that just operate to be cool or brag and I think that really detours from the real nature and prestige of ham radio. Code is also fun and is virtually unrestricted on the ham bands. You need to learn the proper operating procedures for all the other the other transmission types, why should cw be exempt? Just a few ideas to think about, thanks for listening.

--... ...--

No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by oz1gai on July 20, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
There is a diff. btween being for the use of some and then se it at a fair demand.
I do not hate cw - i just cant get the bell ringing.
Ive been waiting 25 years - for that di di dah to get away as the only access token to the HF bands - and finally it did.
I can now run 160 - 10m ! yikes a lot of those i wanted to have a qso with are dead !!!!

Well still i think its fair and square tho base a licensing system upon teknikal skills.
I find it odd that you for decades should present skills in didididah to get access to shortwave.

I often compared it with drivers license.
You had to pass driving test and theory for pesonnal vechile.
If it had to follow the above - then to get a license for an 18-wheeler the the driver just had to present
how to honk the horn in a certain pattern.

I know ill get "hung" for it.
But its the bloddy trouth - and you don like it !

Hans licenced since 1979
No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by NT4XT on November 27, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Article makes sense. Pro CW does not mean nor have to imply anti anything else.
CW Forever...
RE: No code makes No sense: think about it Reply
by KC8VLD on December 17, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Here’s what I think and I am just one man. From reading the post you guys seem to be more about a fraternity then the basic concept of amateur radio. Sure it is a hobby but let’s not forget about advancing technology. There has been no significant advancement by “Coders” to technology for a very long time. Now I do know of advancement that has been very significant such as an entirely new RF Mode (should be released by 2010) this new mode will change things for all who are accepting (Non dinosaurs) and permit extremely high amounts of data to be transmitted on low frequencies, It has been tested and proved. I also know of a system designed to restore communications in minutes after a disaster including radio and telephone services all while permitting true interoperability between any device that communicates this product has been proven for 2 years ( Both of which were developed by a technician class (Me) operator.
Now I have passed all elements except for the code and it never took longer than 10 minutes to complete a test and yes I got a 100% on each test. So code doesn’t make you smarter by any means since my IQ is in the top 1% I am sure that compared to 99% of all amateurs I should be adequate.
That said when the no code goes into effect I will be using it because I do want to be able to learn it efficiently (I can read and write it just can hear it properly). I believe that there are a lot of people out there like me who will use it and by participating they will learn it.
Bottom line as a group, amateurs should on their own be willing to teach it and learn it as well. If a coders use it and others want to participate then there will be no choice but to learn it. So keep using it we will .
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other Recent Articles
The Spurious Emissions Band at Dayton (2017)
The Pin One Problem, Live at the Visalia Contest Dinner (2017)
QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party April 9,10 2016
RSGB ROtating LOcators Contests
Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge