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CW on the exam  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. So, was it a good idea to remove CW from Amateur Radio examinations?

    • Glad they got rid of CW
      7
    • Wish they would have left CW like it was
      4
    • They should have left CW, but made it easier (fewer WPM)
      1
    • Either way is fine with me
      2


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ELMER

I have to throw a little bit of fuel on the fire and ask who misses CW being on the exam...

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I am -- once more -- trying to learn CW, so my view is not that code has become worthless.  Rather I think that removing code from the licensing requirements was the appropriate action by FCC now that code has no place in maritime safety.  Under "due process of law", regulations must not be more burdensome than necessary to achieve legitimate public ends.  "It would be nice if more amateurs used code" is not an end warranting force of law.

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ELMER
6 hours ago, AJ4QZ said:

I am -- once more -- trying to learn CW, so my view is not that code has become worthless.  Rather I think that removing code from the licensing requirements was the appropriate action by FCC now that code has no place in maritime safety.  Under "due process of law", regulations must not be more burdensome than necessary to achieve legitimate public ends.  "It would be nice if more amateurs used code" is not an end warranting force of law.

Hey Greg, valid point regarding the law!! This said, not sure I understand the maritime safety angle. There are other aspects of our hobby that are entirely unrelated to maritime law. Elucidationalize me plz... 🤔

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Jim, In response to disasters (including the RMS Titanic sinking in 1912), governments agreed to require ocean-going ships to monitor emergency frequencies around the clock; this required at least two operators per ship.  As far as I know, our government's original (1920s) motivation for requiring would-be amateurs to demonstrate ability to use the radiotelegraph code was to enlarge the pool of capable operators who could be called on in time of war (or other emergency).  At that time, code was the backbone of traffic handling, much more reliable and intelligible than voice.  By World War 2 (1939 to 1945), non-voice high-volume radiocommunication had largely shifted to radioteletype, leaving code mainly to maritime-emergency and amateur use.  With the adoption of GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System 1988 to 1999) using computer and satellite technology, code no longer had an application important to governments.

Edited by AJ4QZ
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ELMER

Very clear explanation. Thanks for that. Now, call me crazy Greg, but I think that code will come back some day. Not sure where and when... wait, actually I do 😉 in my next novel... (more to follow at a later date 😉

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Jim  I'm looking forward to it.  🙂  dah-dah-di-di-dit di-di-di-dah-dah dah-dah-di-di-dah-dah  di-dah di-dah-dah-dah di-di-di-di-dah dah-dah-di-dah dah-dah-di-dit.

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ELMER
55 minutes ago, AJ4QZ said:

Jim  I'm looking forward to it.  🙂  dah-dah-di-di-dit di-di-di-dah-dah dah-dah-di-di-dah-dah  di-dah di-dah-dah-dah di-di-di-di-dah dah-dah-di-dah dah-dah-di-dit.

This time I'll let you proof read it before I publish it!!

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I am glad that CW was not part of the test because I would not have had the time to venture into this culture if I had to learn CW first. Being able to get my license with not much effort allowed me to gain the desire to learn CW organically. (still haven’t started learning yet but I plan to)

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ELMER
On 8/17/2019 at 11:45 AM, KC3LUM said:

I am glad that CW was not part of the test because I would not have had the time to venture into this culture if I had to learn CW first. Being able to get my license with not much effort allowed me to gain the desire to learn CW organically. (still haven’t started learning yet but I plan to)

Hmm. Not sure I believe you. The little I know you, heck, you'da come into the hobby even the ceiling were at 20 wpm!!!

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20 hours ago, K3MRI said:

Hmm. Not sure I believe you. The little I know you, heck, you'da come into the hobby even the ceiling were at 20 wpm!!!

Don't you mean "even if the floor were 20 wpm!!!"? That would imply a starting point of 20. When we had the code, the ceiling WAS 20.

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On 8/12/2019 at 11:47 PM, AJ4QZ said:

Jim, In response to disasters (including the RMS Titanic sinking in 1912), governments agreed to require ocean-going ships to monitor emergency frequencies around the clock; this required at least two operators per ship.  As far as I know, our government's original (1920s) motivation for requiring would-be amateurs to demonstrate ability to use the radiotelegraph code was to enlarge the pool of capable operators who could be called on in time of war (or other emergency).  At that time, code was the backbone of traffic handling, much more reliable and intelligible than voice.  By World War 2 (1939 to 1945), non-voice high-volume radiocommunication had largely shifted to radioteletype, leaving code mainly to maritime-emergency and amateur use.  With the adoption of GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System 1988 to 1999) using computer and satellite technology, code no longer had an application important to governments.

https://qsl.net/n1ea/

All the talk about how amateur radio gets through when all else fails kinda admits that failure of all the golly-gee-whiz-bang technology is a very real possibility.

Edited by WA2WMR
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ELMER
10 hours ago, WA2WMR said:

https://qsl.net/n1ea/

All the talk about how amateur radio gets through when all else fails kinda admits that failure of all the golly-gee-whiz-bang technology is a very real possibility.

Loved the site. Thanks for posting it in the Links Directory!

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  • 1 month later...

Thing is, we DON’T get through when all else fails. Every system has limits. We do a disservice to the excellent public service work amateurs do when we over-promise like that.

I love CW (even hold a First Class Radiotelegraph ticket), but have to admit it does have limitations.

CW tests? I miss them, but truly place them with demonstrating horsemanship skills to drive a car. Sure, it’s cool, but you shouldn’t have to do it.

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ELMER
10 hours ago, KF2T said:

Thing is, we DON’T get through when all else fails. Every system has limits. We do a disservice to the excellent public service work amateurs do when we over-promise like that.

I think that's what Lind (WA2WMR) was saying, that CW does not 'always' get through. This said, though it does not always get through, it does get through far more often/easily/regularly than phone. I guess that's the only real saving grace for digital as well. When a message 'has' to get out, it's good to know how to use narrower, more effective, signals. Admittedly, I have let my CW skills slip (simply because I have much less access to HF now) but that will be remedied as soon as my wife retires and we move into the RV. As for on the exam, this is my own personal thinking, we should not put CW back on the exam, per se, but we should have a CW certification. This would incite people to want to achieve it.

Here's an idea, what if Ham Community had a CW certification scheme that gave recognition to CW skills? In fact, now that I think about it, I could simply include it in the Elmer certification system. To be continued ... 😎

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On 10/12/2019 at 5:07 AM, K3MRI said:

Here's an idea, what if Ham Community had a CW certification scheme that gave recognition to CW skills? In fact, now that I think about it, I could simply include it in the Elmer certification system. To be continued ... 😎

I believe W1AW still has CW qualifying runs at various speeds on a regular basis.

By the way, it's been 52 or so years since I took the test, so I don't miss it at all.

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  • 1 month later...
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Here's a thought. How about we take the 25kc (yeah - showing my age) at the bottom of the cw segments which are now reserved for Extras and give it to anyone who has passed a cw exam? I mean, what's the point of non-cw Extras having exclusive use of CW frequencies?

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ELMER
5 hours ago, WA2WMR said:

Here's a thought. How about we take the 25kc (yeah - showing my age) at the bottom of the cw segments which are now reserved for Extras and give it to anyone who has passed a cw exam? I mean, what's the point of non-cw Extras having exclusive use of CW frequencies?

I like it. I've been thinking about CW a lot lately spurred by all the reading I've been doing about licensing and people's changing attitudes towards CW, notably the FCC. They've basically said that CW is just another mode, just like voice, digital, packet, etc. So if we're all the same, why make CW different - that's what they're saying! CW is unique. It is unique in the paradigm and has a unique place in Amateur Radio history. It is the genesis of our hobby, indeed of all electricity based communications. I guess what I'm saying is that CW has been thrown under the bus 😢

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  • 11 months later...

VVV VVV VVV VVV
Not that it matters, but I always enjoyed taking the CW code tests.  The code was absolutely clean.  No QRM or QRN.  Perfect fist.  No abbreviations.  The only thing you had to worry about was the stations' call signs and those you got to hear twice.

Had the FCC not forced me to learn Morse, I would never have volunteered to learn it.  I had no interest in code.  After all, it was just a bunch of beeps.  I was so uninterested that I couldn't even spell CW.

Once I learned it, and got on the air using it, I found out how exciting it can be, and the satisfaction you feel when you battle against QRM, QRN,QSB, and a QLF op.  Oh, and it's just plain fun to boot.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Probably a good idea to nix it.  If you enjoy it, there's nothing stopping you from learning it, but I think the majority of younger hams just don't care about it and don't need it.  It's a niche skill.

It's like when I was in college.  I programmed computers after college.  During college I had to learn how to add/subtract in hexidecimal, octal, binary, etc.  I learned it long enough to graduate college, but haven't used it in 20 years.  Coding in Binary or hex might have been useful 50 years ago.  But let's face it, today, there's just no need for the average Joe to need it.  Even with a complex random number generator, it's all base 10 math.  I can write code in C+ and Visual Basic all day and never need to add/subtract in hexidecimal, octal, or binary.  All that geek stuff is in the chipset and computed for me when I compile the code.  Unless you're an engineer and in that niche sector designing complex ROM chips, there's just no need to know it.  Same with CW.  If you are in the Navy and are expected to communicate by flashing the light to another ship like they do on TV, then sure.  But average Joe Blow who just wants to talk to people on the radio couldn't care less.  I can't remember ever needing morse code in the Army.

I've tried to learn CW.  I remember it for a while, but since I never use it, it just fades away.  I spend more time re-learning what I already learned once than I do learning new CW.  Plus I guess I'm getting to that age where I just don't learn and retain stuff like I did 30 years ago.

Edited by KT4OBX
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ELMER
On 4/15/2020 at 5:47 PM, K3MRI said:

It is the genesis of our hobby, indeed of all electricity based communications.

Not so fast! The genesis of our hobby is the International Telegraph Code as initially devised by Friedrich Clemens Gerke for use on the German railways. Telegraphy is the first electronic communication. Beginning with Wheatstone's needle telegraph. Followed by Morse's single wire telegraph using Alfred Vail's code which he devised for the Morse Printing Telegraph Company. This became known as the Morse Code which Morse himself had no part in devising but took credit for anyway.

 

--

Tom Horne

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ELMER
On 6/11/2021 at 7:12 PM, W3TDH said:

Not so fast! The genesis of our hobby is the International Telegraph Code as initially devised by Friedrich Clemens Gerke for use on the German railways. Telegraphy is the first electronic communication. Beginning with Wheatstone's needle telegraph. Followed by Morse's single wire telegraph using Alfred Vail's code which he devised for the Morse Printing Telegraph Company. This became known as the Morse Code which Morse himself had no part in devising but took credit for anyway.

I stand humbly corrected. Indeed, Gerke, too often overlooked 😇

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