I get so eager to learn that maybe I should slow down and research before learning the wrong way. I’ve tried for years to learn CW, or at least that is what I was telling myself. I would listen to tapes or on my phone and always failed for varies reasons. I go serious about it again in January 2017 and took the CW Ops class. I got better at it but not proficient. I am more motivated than ever to get better because I made progress.


From the book “The Art & Skill of Radio-Telegraphy” by William G. Pierpont NØHFF

“If only I could have had just the following key paragraph from the QST article of July 1923, it would have at least gotten me off on the right foot: “The first step in learning the code is to memorize the dot and dash combinations representing the letters. They must not be visualized as dots and dashes, however, but rather should be “auralized” as sounds.
There is no such word… as auralized, but if there were it would express the correct method of grasping the code. The sound dit-dah (meaning a dot followed by a dash) in the head telephones must impress your mind directly as being the letter “A” for instance, without causing black dots and dashes to float before your eyes for an instant. This is a point that always troubles beginners, but if you learn from the first to recognize the sounds as letters immediately without reverting to dots and dashes, you will make much better progress…”
More succinctly: “Don’t try to teach the Ears through the Eyes.” (Wireless Press 1922)

As I was writing about my experience in the CW Ops class many operators would email me or comment on my blog about practice saying dit dah for the A or whatever letter you saw. I kind of tried it but it seemed strange and was a little hard. Mostly strange! So why did I tried to reinvent the wheel instead of just listening to operators who have done this before. I was not the first one to experience these same issues and I won’t be the last, but I wanted to do it my way so no I am still not great at CW. I am better for sure but not great. I have not made a solid contact yet and have trouble when it gets too fast. My instructor sent the following: 1TT watts. This means he was using 100 watts to send CW. The T is short for 0 in CW and is called a cut number. So 1TT is 100. This is meant to save time as a T is a simple – but a 0 (zero) is —–. Here is a major problem that I have yet to solve. I heard the 1 as a 6 and then I was thinking was that a 6 or a 1 and thus missed the T T. So I end up getting 1 and nothing after that because I was thinking was it a 6 or a 1. I am trying to see what was sent instead of hearing what was sent. Does that make sense? When the 1 was sent I was thinking was that a -…. (6) or a .—- (1), I was tying to see it in my head instead of hearing it with my ears. I believe we need to know the sound and not the combination of the letter/number so we don’t have to think about it and can just say it or write it down. (But it is best not to write it down.)

“This is lesson one, it is most important always to think of it this way:- Every Code Letter, Number And Symbol Is A Unique Pattern Of Sound.”

“Psychology teaches us that when we start to learn something new, if we think of it as being easy, it will be easy. The best teachers never hint or suggest that there is anything hard about it, and their students learn it quickly, usually within a week or two. They also make learning it fun. We learn much faster that way; so think of learning it as fun – enjoyable. If you want to learn it – you can”

We 0ften hold ourselves hostage by saying it is too hard to learn or I can’t do that or I have no musical talent so I can’t learn the code or I don’t have enough time to practice, this leads directly to failure because you don’t practice or start and if you do yo are starting with the wrong attitude. We are starting out failing instead of a winning attitude. While I was writing the blog about CW OPS I would get so discouraged I just wanted to stop and forget about learning the code. But inevitably someone would send me an email or leave a comment on the blog or QRZ and say good job, you can do it, your bog is helping me and then I would get back at it. We all need encouragement and that is what was and is so great about the CW OPS Academy. You have 3 or 4 other operators trying to learn and who are experiencing the same things you. Below is a photo of the guys who were in the class with me and I can say that we all experienced the same learning struggles, we all wanted to give up at one time or another and we all carried each other through the class by being honest with our struggles. George, WH6FEJ, Dave K6WDE, Randel AH6Q, Stephen KL3MM and our instructor Alan AD6E. That is me in the insert, KH6OWL.


A free download of the book “The Art & Skill of Radio-Telegraphy” by William G. Pierpont NØHFF can be found at: http://zerobeat.net/tasrt/index.html

All text is quotations marks came from the book “The Art & Skill of Radio-Telegraphy” by William G. Pierpont NØHFF.

Stay turned for more next time.

Darren Stacy Holbrook