A friend in my local club recently made me aware of a group, CW OPS, that is an international alliance of Ham Radio Morse Code (CW) users. As fewer Hams are taking up the CW skill, I wondered what might make a new Ham actually want to use CW, now that it is not a license requirement. CW OPS offers some reasons to consider CW on their “CW Academy” Web Page:
1. Want to communicate with fellow hams around the world using even a modest rig and antenna?
2. Want to stay in touch when on vacation to some remote area where you don’t have access to a repeater or cell phone service?
3. Want to meet a whole new community of amateurs that share a common bond?
4. Want to expand your operating capabilities with little or no cost?
If you answer “Yes” to any of the questions, then becoming skilled in CW is the answer.
I can confirm that a CW operator can do many things with modest equipment and antennas that they could not do using Phone. This is because of the very nature of the CW signal; it is extremely narrow in bandwidth. The narrow bandwidth presents a much smaller amount of noise to the receiver when a CW station is tuned, compared to Phone. There are now other digital modes that are catching on, with similar properties. The one thing that still makes CW useful, compared to these modes, is that CW does not require any computer hardware or software. You can just plug a key or paddle into a transceiver and you are set for working CW.
Give CW a try, and you may discover a whole new world in Ham Radio and meet many exceptional and friendly CW operators. If you are interested in learning, or improving your CW skills, take a look at CW OPS. They (actually we – I am CW OPS member number 1034) are sponsoring the CW Academy, which provides support and mentors for new or improving CW operators.
Note – there is a small membership fee for those that choose to join CW OPS, but no charge for people who want to use the CW Academy as a student.