How to learn morse code (CW) for free!

QRPers know that the best mode to get the biggest bang out of the lowest amount of power is with morse code, (a.k.a. CW).

If you haven’t learned CW yet or are looking to improve your speed, you’re in for a treat. A new website by Fabian Kurz (DJ1YFK) called LCWO (Learn CW Online) has been launched. Features of this site include:

  • The ability to learn via web browser (no software to download)
  • The proven Koch method CW course
  • The site remembers who you are and your stats
  • Hey, it’s free!

Some thoughts and advice on CW

I had been intimidated by CW for a long time and only started learning it a year ago. I had forgotten almost all of the CW I had learned to pass the 5 WPM Novice Exam in 1997.

With the use of some old CW training tapes and a little time set aside each morning in my living room, I was able to re-learn the alphaphet and numbers in a couple of weeks. In fact, the moment I had learned all of the characters and numbers, I picked up the phone and called my friend, Mike Hansgen (AA8EB), and told him to meet me on the air in 5 minutes. It was tough–and I was way outside of my comfort zone–but I made it through the QSO and felt great.  Mike was probably working me at 3 words per minute–a speed that was, ironically, taking him outside of his comfort zone!

I found out that, once you know the characters, you can begin having QSOs immediately. Speed comes naturally with on-air practice. To help me along, Mike and my good friend Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), began having a daily CW sched with me. The results? In only a couple of months I was comfortable listening to CW at 15 WPM! And trust me, I’m not a quick learner.

The thing that held me back all of those years was the fear of getting on the air and not understanding the operator’s code on the other end. Do you feel that way too?  Keep reading…

I was lucky to have friends (or Elmers) that were willing to help me gain ground with code. Indeed, not only were they willing to work with me, but they were actually excited to be given the opportunity. Think this is rare? Think again!

FISTS – “When You’ve Worked a FIST, You’ve Worked a Friend”

The International Morse Preservation Society (FISTS) sponsers the amazing “code buddy” program.  FISTS will put you in touch with a ham radio operator, a “code buddy”, that will meet you on the air and work with you to learn/improve morse code.  You don’t even need to be a member of FISTS and it’s a totally free service driven by hams with a passion for teaching others CW. This will give you a venue not only to learn CW in a comfortable, on air, environment, but you’re also sure to make a friend in the process.

So what are you waiting for?

Take these three steps to learn morse code:

  1. Go to the LCWO website, create an account, and start learning CW online.
  2. The moment you know all of the characters, either call a friend and get on the air, or sign up for FISTS’ Code Buddy program.
  3. Practice and have fun–speed and comprehension wil come naturally

10 thoughts on “How to learn morse code (CW) for free!”

  1. You may be surprised how much you do remember! Simply tune to the CW portions of the amateur radio bands. In there, you’ll hear every speed of code and it’ll re-tune your brain. I’ve met retired Navy wireless operators who picked up CW again rather quickly. GL es 73 OM

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  3. I downloaded the android app ‘Morse CT’ and started learning a few letters at a time. It has a built in single letter test, kinda like flash cards. You can select which letters/numbers you’d like to be tested on. Once you got that down, you can practice on full words. I have the transmitting side down with just a few days of practicing for a few hours a day. I am still having a hard time breaking down code that i hear into letters. That’s my lesson for the next week.

  4. Noel, I don’t see Morse CT on my android. Do you mean Morse Code Trainer? And I don’t understand your statement “I am still …” What do you mean “breaking down the code into letters”? Jim/w4qo see for my thoughts.

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