How I learned CW (4 years journey)

Hello friends,

Here is my first draft of my way to the CW (way of almost 4 years).
Have to mention that English is not my primary language and I am very appreciate for any kind of suggestion how to refactor or improve my story =)

Due to size, I post here only a link:

Probably someone will find this information useful or I motivate someone to start journey to the Telegraph and this will be best reward for me.



That is a great report on your experiences. :slight_smile:

If I could make one suggestion if you replace “the telegraph” and “telegraph” by “CW” it will be easier for most ham operators who use English to understand.

Otherwise, the English is excellent and a genuine 599!



Thank you.
Replaced most of “Telegraph” word to “CW” for shortness.



Very interesting. Almost all amateurs are at a great disadvantage when it comes to learning morse - as you describe.

Here’s the way I learned morse/cw .Its the way almost every professional /military operators learned. I’ve also included in the blog a review of some of the difficulties hams/amateurs have learning morse, compared with those who were taught by experienced instructors in a class.



Thank you, David.

This is very interesting story.

Especially your conclusions =) :

Compared to my experience or knowledge of how hams appear to learn morse.

  1. Often a solitary experience = no one to help/clarify, encourage etc.,
  2. Family life gets in the way.
  3. Work gets in the way.
  4. Other distractions get in the way!!
  5. Numerous choices of learning, many of which appear to be based on someone’s experience of learning or trying to learn morse on their own.
  6. No particular target to reach.
  7. No understanding of what’s involved or how long it might take to learn morse.
  8. Age! I think the older you are it might just be harder to learn some new skills such as morse.
  9. And if you drop out you’ve still got a life (and job).

This is almost the same I figured out during my way.
In short: motivation, free time, no distractions, wrong time expectations


Hello David, interesting read, nice to have professionals teaching you.

As a way of trying to improve my receiving speed I sometimes listen to CW ragchews (e.g. on 60m) where the G3 and G4 operators are sending about 23-25 wpm often with very long overs. I copy them using pen and paper but I struggle to write that fast. My writing starts to look like a doctor’s prescription and after 2-3 sides of A4, my writing hand aches. I assume these guys are head copying or have stronger writing hands than I do.


Thank you for making the effort to write of your experiences on learning morse code.
This will hopefully motivate me to start learning morse code.

John 73

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Hi Andy

Those guys (G3/G4) are probably not using pen/paper. ‘Headcopying’ is the phrase.

As for the writing, like all military & commercial operators the necessity to write and/or type what you were reading was essential most of the time. At the age of 72 I now think the ability to write fast and neat enough so someone can read it is best acquired when you are much younger. I find no problem printing neatly up to 25wpm and can still scrawl at 30wpm, but now need a QWERTY keyboard to go any faster. Its helps of course that I can touch type, another extremely valuable skill taught to all military operators and commercial operators.

Have you tried writing much smaller print/scrawl? That definitely makes a difference, as does learning to print letters is the most economical way. Difficult to describe that, but as an example we often write the letter E with a downward stroke and 3 horizontal strokes. Its much faster simply writing C with a central horizontal stroke - a bit like the Euro sign.


I’ve taken to writing in lower case, which seems much easier. “e” is one movement of pencil on paper for example. If you make shapes that start and finish on the base line as much as possible, you are usually in the right place to start the next character…


I always write in lower case when copying CW. Then when I get home and enter my log I can’t read my own writing and log the wrong callsign. I think I even misread it when on the summit and immediately send back the wrong call even though I copied it correctly.


I learn cw when I was 16. 3 times a week, 1 hour, three months

I found iz2uuf app very useful for learning and practising. Personaly, I prefer oldest version

My ft818 is set for 16wpm. I can go and I will go slower but never faster. 20 or 30 wpm, what is the point?


For DX it is useful to decrease speed but in real live communication e.g. via voice it is common to speak faster to exchange more information during shorter time. For child we speak slower but as soon child grows we increase our vocabulary and communication speed.
The same is true for CW, I usually use 17-18WPM but increasing my reception speed to achieve e,g, 30WPM.
This does not mean that I will send with such speed like 30 WPM but it is worth to transmit about 20WPM which I think is average speed in the air.

One more example. E.g. you have passed driver license exam recently and is able to drive car with speed about 60kmh (40mph).
With time you will gain experience and is able to drive with speed e.g. 120 kmh (75mph).

Will you continue to drive with speed 60kmh (40mph) on highway or will drive with speed 120 kmh (75mph) because you can?


Try learning CW online.
Good luck & 73

Thank you, Jose

But probably you didn’t read my article (story).

I finished Koch course from lcwo: and now in top 300 users by score for letters or mixed code groups with speed 23WPM. Than I switched to and similar tools.