CW and use of Morse Code on the ham bands has been "almost synonymous"
since at least 1935, when my father first got his license. He got on CW
because he couldn't afford a phone rig, even though he never was very
proficient at Morse Code.
The major thrust of the New York Times article was that Morse Code
proficiency was dropped as a requirement for an amateur radio license.
Some of the hams who were interviewed used "CW" and "Morse Code"
interchangeably, but the major thrust of the article remained.
As for spark dying almost instantaneously, my father became interested
in ham radio in the late 20's by listening to the spark gap
transmissions of his school's amateur radio club - which, while
generating RF, also generated loud audio which permeated the quadrangle
upon which his dorm sat. He'd mimic the code with his trumpet, and
drifted over to the ham shack to find out more about what was going on.
He got "hooked" in that manner. CW was available when the triode tube
was developed, in the late 1910's or early 1920's, so "instantaneously"
is a bit of a stretch.
I sent and received Morse Code on VHF AM, on 145.35 MHz during the 60's
- in fact my first 2 metre converter was tuned up by listening to the
club station sending code practice on that frequency. (Yes, Matilda,
hams used much/most of 2 metres for AM in those daze.) I sent and
received Morse Code on VHF FM, on 53.05 MHz and on various 144-148 MHz
frequencies, and possibly on 220-225 MHz FM, though I don't recall using
that band for Morse Code.
The CW generated for Morse Code testing, is initially an electrical
(electromagnetic, if any energy escapes) continuous wave, of 500-1000
Hz, generated by some sort of machine. It is converted to a sound wave
via headphones or speaker. But, if up converted to a higher frequency,
say 3563 KHz, would be identical to that generated by the rig in my ham
But, of course, very few hear an Electromagnetic Continuous Wave because
99.9999944% of us hear via sound waves through air, which are almost
completely different from electromagnetic continuous waves. One "might"
say that if one has a congenital defect and cannot hear through the ear
drum, but instead uses a special implant to directly connect from the
air to the nerve endings inside the scull, then one "hears" the electric
or electromagnetic waves.
All of this splitteth hairs. The article started out with the
absolutely true fact - "the government will no longer require Morse Code
proficiency as a condition for an amateur license."
BTW, I had a friend who taught me the land line (continental) Morse
Code, which I occasionally use for conversing with olde tyme
telegraphers. The last time I checked, it was legal, except that once
every 10 minutes or less, one needed to identify using international Morse.
73 de n8xx Hg
--------------- Original Message follows ---------------
1b. Re: Ham Radio makes the news in the New York Times
Posted by: "k8mhz@...
Wed Dec 27, 2006 2:13 pm (PST)
We were NEVER required to demonstrate proficiency of CW. At least not in
We were only required to demonstrate our proficiency of Morse Code.
Morse Code is not a mode, it is a code. CW is the mode Morse is usually
sent with but I have sent it with FM as well. Novices and Techs can only
transmit CW using International Morse Code. (97.307(f)(9) ).
All the discussion about having one mode being superior to another, or
even perceived to be, is a moot point. We were tested on Code, not on mode.
Actually, how many of us have ever even heard a CW transmission during a
licensing test? I never have, the Code test was on a tape.
The story about Fessenden taught me a little about CW. Besides being
interested in voice, he was also interested in CW. The problem was that
CW was not possible until the invention of the vacuum tube. Perfect sine
waves of a single radio frequency were not possible using the spark
generators, even at 50Kc which was sufficient to send a recognizable
human voice. How many of us know that phone came before CW? The mode
used to send Morse Code at the turn of that century was DW or damped
wave. The spark generator pretty much polluted the entire radio spectrum
and was modulated by damping, or reducing it at coded intervals. The
airwaves must have been full of QRM!
CW made possible many more simultaneous transmissions on the bands due
to its greatly reduced bandwidth. Spark (DW) was so bad of a technology
for communication that CW almost instantaneously killed it. Very shortly
after CW was introduced it became illegal to transmit DW on the air. The
vacuum tube made it possible to create high frequency radio waves of
purity and became a death knell for Ole' King Spark.
Morse Code survived the death of it's first king and will probably
outlive CW, the king's assassin, as well. Morse will become the Latin of
those supremely interested in radio communication and it's ability to
harness CW to talk the farthest with the least amount of equipment will
not be affected in the least bit by the new FCC ruling.