Learning Morse Code

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See also the Koch method.


First of all, an important note about Morse code sending. Sending Morse code is much easier than receiving it and therefore NuMorse Pro concentrates exclusively on helping you to receive Morse code. When you can receive code at a given speed you will be able to send at that speed with very little practice. For sending you will need a code key and a code oscillator and these are obtainable from all ham radio stores. A home built code oscillator would make a nice construction project if you wanted to try your hand at building your own circuits. A typical oscillator circuit is shown in the Hookup NuMorse help topic. Alternatively, if you already own a transceiver then it will probably be possible to set it up to give a keyed tone without transmitting a signal. Look in the transceiver handbook under “sidetone”.


For sending practice it is best to enlist the help of someone with some Morse code experience to show you how to hold your Morse key and to analyze your sent code.


There may be some extra text files in your NuMorse Pro directory that suggest alternative approaches to learning Morse code such as the Koch method. The author does not advocate any single method. Different training methods work for different people and so NuMorse Pro has been written to be as flexible as possible and to enable many different approaches to learning the code.


Here is one “learning theory”. Another method, originally used by Ludwig Koch in the 1930's is becoming popular.


Learning the code can be divided into three stages.


Learning the characters.

Attaining fluency

Gaining experience



Learning the characters.

In this phase you learn the combination of dots/dashes for each character. You need to associate the sound of the code with the character rather than the visual pattern. For this reason we dont talk of “dots and dashes” we refer to “dit” and “dah” which gives a much better idea of the sound of each character. So, for K we would use “dah-dit-dah” when describing the code sound to someone. This is much better than “Dash-dot-dash”.


One effective method of learning the code is the use of “Sound alike” mnemonics. In the NuMorse Pro “Fist steps” section each character has an associated mnemonic (A short reminder word or phrase) that sounds rather like the code for the character. There is also an associated image for the more common code characters. Here is an example:


The code for letter A is “dit-dah”. This sounds a bit like “A jar” and the NuMorse Pro First Steps feature displays the phrase “A jar” and also a picture of a jar while the code for letter A is sounded. When you go through the “First Steps” learning program you will encounter similar “ridiculous” associations for all of the letters of the alphabet and as you see/hear/read them you will very quickly learn the Morse code.


Attaining Fluency

OK, you know the code for each character..now what? Given time you can listen to a few dits and dahs and work out what character the group represents. But real Morse code is not like that, try listening to some. The dits and dahs come in a fast torrent and while you are writing down one character another dozen have flown past. This is normal at this stage! Attaining fluency is the process of working towards being able to decode a stream of code without having to think about the individual dits and dahs. There are two main requirements:


A reliable source of Morse code. NuMorse Pro provides this.

Your determination and persistence during hours of practice.


It is helpful for motivation to study the code as a member of a group, preferably with an instructor who is experienced with the code.


Gaining experience

The final learning phase is when you go beyond NuMorse Pro and start to use Morse code as a real communication tool. This final phase lasts as long as you continue to use Morse code.



Thats enough theory, now for some practical advice. Here is a possible learning program:


If you havent already done so then Check out NuMorse to make sure that your installation is working OK.


Select Main Menu\View\Code Information (or press Ctrl+I) and take a look at the code characters used in FCC tests. Use mouse left-click to hear the sound of each code character. You can leave this Morse code information sheet open when using other NuMorse Pro features. (In fact you can leave most NuMorse Pro windows open while playing code)


When you have taken a quick look at the code and have a rough idea of how the characters sound then select Main Menu\Play\First steps. This gives access to a small set of lessons designed to give you a jump-start in learning the code characters. Work your way through these lessons.


When you have finished the “First Steps” lessons NuMorse Pro offers a large array of features to help you increase your code proficiency. Most of these techniques are based around the NuMorse Pro on-screen keyboard display. This screen can be accessed via Menu\Play\Play Morse code (or press F9).


You will want to work toward increasing your copy speed to a level rather faster than the speed of the test you intend to take. The Increasing your code speed help topic gives some hints and tips on how to increase your speed.