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SOTA CW for beginners


Hi all:
I also started with LCWO, and made quite a bit of progress.
But when I was through with LCWO at 12 WPM, I changed my practice. I am now using ab iPhone app called “MorseTest”, a sheet of paper, and a pencil.

While LCWO is well done, it has a few problems for me:

  • You need to be online. Not ideal on a train etc.
  • You cannot really do it on a smartphone and only poorly on a tablet.
  • I found it helps me much if it’s just me, a sheet of paper and a pencil. Sitting in front of a PC distracts me, and also closing your eyes for a moment to focus is impossible.

But the main reason I switched is that the net time spend listening and learning code is at least double as compared to LCWO. No loading times, no time spend reading how well you performed, etc.

Of course, you can also use LCWO that way - just copying to paper and typing in your results only every 10th run or so.

But I actually don’t need LCWO to tell me whether I copied 92.3 or 95.6 % correctly. I can easily assess my progress during the copying (I almost never write down a wrong character, so the simple amount of blanks/missed characters tells me my performance).

Just my two cents.


PS: By the way: What I find most difficult are short characters, in particular "e"s before difficult characters, because they change the rhythm a lot and reduce the mS I have for decoding. So I spend extra time with "e"s, and observed that at some point adding a new character actually improves my performance, because more “long” characters give me more breaks to re-sync.


GO FOR IT! If you dont get the calls the first time just ask. I think most CW OPs will be understanding. You dont need to be fast, just be there.

Take your time, send slow so that the other ops will know you want them to respond slow.

Hope to catch you on CW!

Kent K9EZ



I use an iphone app called Ham Morse which I really like, but I am always looking for variety. I tried to find the app you mentioned, Morse Test, in the iphone app store, but do not see it. Perhaps it is not available in the United States?

Dave, AE9Q


Hi Dave,

here is the iTunes link to MorseTest:

What I also do if I have no time for setting up my rig etc. is listening to popular frequencies via the mobile version of WebSDR:


Again, this gives good net exposure to morse in small breaks etc.

The only downside of using real QSOs for training purposes are, IMO,

  1. the huge number of boring contest-style QSOs (I guess I can handle “599 TU” at speeds 2 - 3 times above my actual WPM level),
  2. the many sloppy signals (in particular lack of character and word spacing); though one could argue that it is actually good to learn to deal with poor code.




Thanks for the link to MorseTest. I just downloaded it and it will be a good addition to my practice. I am going to try the SDR link you showed, too, as on-air receiving is quite a bit different from the perfect code of practice apps.

Right now I am not able to get on the air from my current location, but will be doing activations in Arizona. I did one today with two cw ops, and they each got 20-30 QSO’s in the log, but using SSB, I was only able to get 7.

Time to refresh my cw skills, meager as they may be! :slight_smile:


Dave, AE9Q