Chasers SLOW Down (Part 2)

Continuing the discussion from Chasers SLOW Down (Part 1) - #100 by M0CQE.

Previous discussions:

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When I took my 12 wpm morse test at Trusthorpe (Mablethorpe), I asked the examiner what speed they used commercially. He said they used 14 wpm as it was better to get it sent correctly and copied correctly first time. He said rhythm was an important part of sending.

14 wpm now seems a little slow; perhaps it is still more appropriate to passing an important message or indeed just having a chat. The requirements for making a successful SOTA QSO are somewhat different… one might say less onerous, but accuracy is still important. From an activator’s perspective, I find around 18 wpm to be optimal under the conditions that I often experience on a summit


I wondered when that was?

In 1966 the required WPM was 20 WPM for an RN operator ((but 25wpm if you went on conventional submarines), and either 20 or 22 WPM for commercial ship or shore operators. The RN dropped the requirement to 18 WPM by about 1973 as new technology started to get fitted.

My experience was speed in both the military and the commercial world could vary enormously and most of the larger HF commercial or busier Naval ones were quite often working at 25WPM or more if both operators were on the ball.

Google 500khz on U tube and there’s a few recordings of ship/shore working between commercial operators.

That’s why in certain government agencies who monitored HF communications, the minimum requirement for professional radio officers to be employed in the role was set at 25WPM plain language. I’m not sure if this still applies, as there is much less Morse being used by government agencies, and as far as I know very little naval HF comms. There is still Morse around though that is non-amateur radio which can be heard every day if you know where to look, or you just search for it.

73 Phil G4OBK

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  1. I’m fairly certain they were still using straight keys then. I don’t recall seeing any other type, but I might have not been taking that much notice on account of nerves despite everyone being extremely friendly.
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Hi guys
I am ex Royal Corp of Signals and as a radio operator after your class 1 course the speed was 12 wpm. My course was the last to do this as typing replaced this for a radio op back in 1987.
The RTG radio telegraphists speed was 18 wpm and if I remember correctly the spec ops speed was 36 wpm.
I have just passed my 15 wpm RSGB exam last week and hopefully will be using the key more often.
I know that the RN and RFA has a lot faster speeds.



Thanks for the QSO this evening Paul when you were on ON/ON-006, all the best for your EU tour.

I don’t believe that Army spec ops were expected to achieve 36 WPM. The two I knew that were in the job managed 32 WPM with 100 % accuracy and that was their limit. I cannot recall what the time duration was of the speed test.

73 Phil G4OBK


if you hotshot QRQ guys want to see cw survive, slow the f*** down!! FT8 kickin’ butt…and why?

CW contests I refuse to work stations 20wpm ++ … we all know ur using a memory keyer…

Jist me 2cents


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As a sometimes contester who uses a memory keyer I resemble that remark LOL :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

73 Phil G4OBK


I don’t mind their sending using a memory keyer (to avoid aching fingers) but I wonder how many QRQ contesters use a Morse decoder. Maybe I’m just a cynic.

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Hy Andy. I wonder if a memory keyer and Morse Decoder would be suitable for an OLD LID such as me LOL. I hope to hear you again soon My Friend. 73 de Paul M0CQE.

Hi Paul,

A memory keyer with your callsign in sounds a good idea. I have keyer memories in my SOTA rig (KX2) which I don’t use but given my age my hands get cold very quick sitting around at summits in winter weather, so I should make use of them at least for the “CQ CQ SOTA DE G8CPZ/P” and “QRZ?” messages.

On Morse decoders, I’m against them. I see decoding Morse as one way to keep my old brain alert, and I enjoy it. Otherwise, I might as well do FT8 [tee hee].


I have to agree with my namesake in all points.

Paul, it’s brave of you to out yourself. Fine on your issues when called on to send. I can understand such problems. Call it Stage Fright / Nerves or something more scientific. I can remember being petrified when I first had to lecture at the Poly some 35 years ago. That was only in front of 30 people, not possibly everyone listening in Europe!

Anyway back to your issue. Using CW falls into 2 categories sending and receiving. Receiving is the hard part and the sending is meant to be easy. Sending is a simple mechanical process unlike receiving which is the cerebral part. If you can receive then you have cracked it so make your life simpler by using a computer to do your sending. You listen and write down what you hear and then when it comes to sending, you type and it sends perfect CW. Problem solved, you get the mental reward of being able to copy what is sent and your QSO partner understands what you send. Win-win situation.

Morse decoder? Just don’t. They spoil the flow and dynamics of QSOs and stick out like a sore thumb. Used well they just make the QSOs sound stilted and odd. Sadly most are not well used because their users can’t understand enough Morse to follow what is happening on the frequency. So they send a CQ, several people respond which the decoder fails to decode so they continue to send CQ often obliterating a weaker QSO now happening that the decoder is unable to resolve.

Andy. If you meant that reply to me, (not to Phil), I wasn’t being serious about using a memory keyer nor a Morse Reader. I’m far to old to use things like that, LOL. I would give up trying to use CW rather than attempt to use those things. I think I should give up trying to make jokes also. 73 de Paul M0CQE.


You’re never too old to try these things but you can be too dead. :wink:


My great uncle Stan was in the royal Corp of signals during ww2. He was always moved around during the war due to the fear that the germans would start to learn the accents of the morse operators, so they kept moving them around. He was on Juno beach with the Canadians for D-Day but was with mostly Scottish who had been at Dunkirk and he got to Paris on his birthday. On the day of surrender he was shipped to Burma as they’d requested an signallor with Urdu knowledge. They were quite shocked when he said he knew Yorkshire and that was about it!
He got the Legion D’honour shortly before he died.

Apparently took him 6 months to pass the signals course.


I use my KX2’s memory to call CQ in loop, and also preprogram the reference. It saves time in errors and repeats. I wish that some chasers would also use a memory-keyer as their sending can be bad.

And yes I know there are folks with arthritis and what not who have difficulties to send. Respect for trying but please for the sake of an activation use a memory-keyer here to avoid wasting time for everybody with repeats, and for your regular QSO’s it’s perfectly fine to use your key. I do this with chasing DX. I can’t properly send 25WPM, so have my call and TU 599 73 preprogrammed so I don’t waste anyone’s time with my hobbled attempt to fast sending.


No loop, no memory keyer, just CW with a paddle on my station… and my CW mistakes you hear are a bonus feature…it’s called “your fist.” Sort of like your accent.

I send the same speed on every QSO…however…

Often times I send my call sign with big gaps in between each letter when it is obvious the station I am working is slower than I am. For them I send each character at the same speed…18 WPM…just big…slow…spacing. That seems to work for everyone.

After working the same stations over and over again you LEARN a persons fist…how they sound. Then you don’t even have to hear the whole call to know who they are.

So I figure I mess up enough that everyone knows who I am with my first few mistakes.

Oh…and I miss CW “chirp.” Those stations I recognized after hearing just one chirpy letter.



With respect Pete - with most of us using a single or twin paddle electronic iambic keyer to hand send their Morse I think you would be hard pressed to “learn our fists”. Now if I went back to the hand key (most unlikely!) you would soon know it was me after a few QSOs!

For SOTA activating I generally use the memory keyer to call CQ and to confirm the QSO, but the QSO itself and any other information is always sent by hand. At home chasing I never use a memory keyer for calling or working stations, but I admit to using memories in contests for exchanges, whether running or searching, using contest software. There ain’t no shame in that in my opinion, although some commentators on this thread seem to think so!

73 Phil G4OBK

PS I also make plenty of mistake too!


How many operators actually send iambically? I use a twin paddle but never do iambic.