Continuous Wave (CW) Operation

The page details the Continuous Wave (CW) mode of operation, and lists resources available to the community about this mode.

Learn Morse Code in 20 Days

The best way to learn morse code is to listen to sounds and tones of each character as a word. Counting the dots and dashes will slow down your progress, and limit you to about 10 words per minute. The N5HZR LearnMorse program lets you learn two of forty characters per day, using the 20 wpm Koch method. Here you can sign up for a daily email service to remind you to continue your training. If you’d just like to touch up your skills, you can just sign up for the 20 days of practice messages.

Straight Key Night

At the start of each year, on January 1st, from 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC, Amateur Radio operators celebrate Straight Key Night. This is not a technical contest, but is an event to bring out all hams and encourage them to use the CW portions of the bands. More information is available on the link to the ARRL web site. Break out a key, and pound out some Morse Code.

Start Of Transatlantic Cable Service

The Mystic Stamp Company has a page that details August 16th as the anniversary of the first transatlantic message being sent. These messages were all sent by wired telegraphy, and predated the wireless technology we use today.

North American QRP CW Club – NAQCC

The North American QRP CW Club – NAQCC is the club for low power CW operators. There’s no membership fee, and a lot of discussion about this mode. They offer monthly challenges that let you test your CW skills against the world.

G4FON Morse Code Trainer Program

Ray Goff N4FON ex G4FON wrote a great CW Trainer program that can be used to learn Morse Code from first dit, or dah, or to help you brush up on your current skills. You can download this free program to your computer, and then send text as Morse Code to your speakers for your listening pleasure.

Morse Code Sound Chart

Steven Phillips has created a very nice page that documents the Morse Code sounds of the letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and special Morse Code Q-Codes.

Drum Beat Morse Code

Andrea Vaducci has a great way for you to learn Morse Code by listening to him play the drums. His YouTube video is a great way for people to get the hang of the musical rythm of Morse Code.


The hit RUSH song YYZ is named for the International Air Transport Association airport code of their local Toronto airport. Here’s a link to a YouTube video so you can enjoy this song. Oh, yea… the intro to this song, has drummer Neil Peart and bassist Geddy Lee pounding out the letters YYZ in Morse code.

Phonetic Alphabet

Steven Phillips has also created a very nice page that documents the phonetic alphabets that are used by radio communications workers worldwide. This allows us to accurately transmit detailed characters when the conditions are unfavorable. While most of us are used to the NATO wording, he’s assembled nine other character sets to show the different codes used worldwide.

Denis Anson’s Occupational Morse Code

Denis Anson is an occupational therapist, and he’s created a 103 slide PowerPoint slide deck that talks about Morse Code, in detail. He’s got all of the usualy detail, but his twist is that he believes that kids with disabilites should be taught Morse Code at the same time that unaffected kids learn to use a pencil. He details how “sip and puff” switches can allow a user to communicate with Morse Code at 20 wpm, with limited motor skill, and a minimal cognitive load. His workshop details a method for teaching Morse code to individuals with disabilities. The method described is based on the Farnsworth method, developed for teaching Ham radio operators and others how to send and receive Morse effectively.

Morse Code Abbreviations

To speed up the transmission of text, a great number of common words have been abbreviated and some of these are very common on the ham bands today.

The Art and Science of Radio Telegraphy

OK, if you really want to know the details about how to learn Morse Code, you need to read The Art and Sound of Radio Telegraphy by William G. Pierpont N0HFF. This 211 page document goes into every endless detail about learning Morse Code. Pierpont’s information seems to match what happens here in the LearnMorse program. There’s a ton of historical information available in that document, but by the time you read that document, you could probably already be copying 20 WPM code. Learn the code, then read that manual, if you’ve got time.

CW Procedure Signals by John Shannon, K3WWP

Perhaps the most important abbreviations in CW operation are the procedure signals. Learn to use them correctly. If the signal is overlined (Internet Explorer only), it means the two letters (AR AS BT SK for Netscape users) are to be run together as one character. For example AR means send it as di dah di dah dit.

Signal Meaning or Usage Example
CQ A general call that indicates you are inviting anyone who is hearing you to answer you. CQ CQ CQ DE K3WWP K3WWP K
R I received your transmission perfectly. Do not send R if you didn’t copy everything. Don’t be redundant and say R, I COPIED YOU SOLID. KB3BFQ DE K3WWP R FB ON UR ………
BT Break in text. Used as a separator between thoughts or a pause. Also something good to send when your mind goes blank or you are talking to someone in your shack, etc. WX IS CLDY BT AGE HR IS ….
AR End of message. Use when you are through sending info, and turning it over to the station you are working. Also used when answering a CQ. blah, blah, blah, hw? AR KB3BFQ DE K3WWP K. – or – To answer KB3BFQ’s CQ, KB3BFQ DE K3WWP AR
SK Some sources list this as VA. Used like AR, but only for your very last transmission TNX NICE CHAT 73 CUL GE SK KB3BFQ DE K3WWP K
BK An invitation for the other station to break in immediately with an answer or comment. The other station may answer immediately after the BK is sent – do not say BK KB3BFQ DE K3WWP K just BK, then KB3BFQ will answer your question or comment. (K3WWP SAYS) WHAT IS UR RIG? BK – – – – (KB3BFQ ANSWERS) RIG HR IS …….
K Go ahead. Used to tell the station you are working you expect him to transmit now. Use after a CQ to invite someone to answer you. Do not use K after you answer someone’s CQ since you don’t know he is going to answer you, use AR. HW? AR KB3BFQ DE K3WWP K
KN Go ahead, specific station only. No breakers are currently welcome. Used same as K when you only want to talk to one other station. Never use after a CQ unless you are not wanting anyone to answer you. HW? AR KB3BFQ DE K3WWP KN
CL I am now shutting down my station completely. Use when you are completely done transmitting, and about to pull the big switch. This is a signal that you are not listening to any more calls. TNX NICE CHAT 73 CUL GE SK KB3BFQ DE K3WWP CL

Morse Code Punctuation by John Shannon, K3WWP

With the introduction of the new Morse code group for @, my friend Mark WU7F thought I should include it with my list of procedure signals for Morse code. I thought about it and concluded that @ is not really a procedure signal, but actually a punctuation character like quotes, commas, etc.

Even so, Mark had a great point about putting the new code group on my web site, thus this page of Morse code punctuation code groups was born. Of course these are the Continental Morse code groups since that is the style of Morse we use on the ham bands. American Morse afficianados will know somewhat different code groups for the symbols. There is also a bit of controversy or ambiguity among the code groups which I cover in the notes below the table.

Symbol Code group Name
.-..-. Quotation mark
$ …-..- Dollar sign
.—-. Apostrophe
( -.–. Open parenthesis (1)
) -.–.- Close parenthesis
[ -.–. Open square bracket (1)
] -.–.- Close square bracket
+ .-.-. Plus sign (2)
, –..– Comma
-….- Hyphen or single dash
. .-.-.- Period
/ -..-. Slant
: —… Colon
; -.-.-. Semicolon (3)
= -…- Equal sign or double dash (4)
? ..–.. Question mark
@ .–.-. At symbol
_ ..–.- Underline
.-.-.. Paragraph
! —. Exclamation point (5)


(1) – The close parenthesis code group is often used for both open and close parentheses and square brackets.
(2) – You’ll recognize this to be the same as AR – the end of transmission procedure signal.
(3) – This is also listed in some sources as -.-.- but I believe -.-.-. is official.
(4) – The same as BT – the break in text procedure signal.
(5) – Commonly used, but not official in the Continental Morse code. It’s taken from the official American Morse code group. The symbol -.-.– (KW) is also used by hams. Since neither is used very often, the choice is ultimately yours.

CW Abbreviations by John Shannon, K3WWP

There are many many abbreviations used for words on CW, ranging from commonly used abbreviations like B4 for Before or TU for Thank You to very obscure abbreviations known only to the one using them. Thus such a list must be a very subjective list. The following are what I believe to be the most common and easiest to understand abbreviations.

Abbrev. Word Abbrev. Word
ABT About OB Old boy
ADR Address OM Old man
AGN Again OP Operator
ANT Antenna OT Old timer; old top
B4 Before PSE Please
C Yes PWR Power
CFM Confirm RIG Station equipment
CUL See you later RPT Repeat; report
ES And RX; RCVR Receiver
FB Fine business SED Said
GA Go ahead SEZ Says
GA Good afternoon SIG Signal
GB Good bye SKED Schedule
GB God bless SRI Sorry
GE Good evening TMW Tomorrow
GG Going TNX Thanks
GM Good morning TT That
GN Good night TU Thank you
GND Ground TVI Television interference
GUD Good TX Transmitter
HI Laughter UR; URS Your; Yours
HI High VY Very
HR Here; hear WKD; WKG Worked; working
HV Have WL Will
HW How; how copy WUD Would
LID A poor operator WX Weather
MSG Message XMTR Transmitter
N No YF; XYL Wife
NIL Nothing YL Young lady
NR Number 73 Best regards
NW Now 88 Love and kisses

Mark Kleine N5HZR’s Presentation

Here’s the PowerPoint from Mark Kleine N5HZR’s Morse Code presentation on 11/12/2106 that was presented to the South Canadian Amateur Radio Society (SCARS). This presentation talks about Morse Code for those that WANT to learn Morse code, as opposed to those of us the HAD to learn Morse Code.