Sunday, December 10, 2006

Morse Code

This is the very same Morse Key in the photo taken by Dad of me when I was 17! It came originally from M. Dzubias in a big green box for about 50p! I still use it!

Today, Morse Code is simply 'past it's user date' , slow, inefficient and what the hell is it anyway? Children can 'text' on their mobile phones, but have never heard of Morse Code!
Well, here is my story from the days when Morse Code was the tried and tested way of communicating in even the most difficult environments, when radio operators on ships used Morse Code as part of their everyday life and Radio Amateurs had to learn it (like it or not) to gain a Class A licence.

In 1971 I passed my Radio Amateur Exam in May, my next target was to learn Morse Code at 12 Words Per Minute in order to pass my Morse Test to achieve my Class A licence.
George (G3ZQS) was an ex navy operator, he taught me everything I know about learning Morse. He would come around to my house in his slippers and teach me the G3ZQS way of learning morse. George was a real character, did so much to inspire me to go for it and also to bring so much pleasure to others learning the code. George made his own tapes, using the 'George method' I was able to learn Morse Code up to 20 WPM before taking my test. (A real acheivment for me at the age of 16!) George's methos involved grouping letters together with similar sounds and rhythms (Q - God save the Queen - dah dah dit dah)

It worked for me!

Soon I was on my way to the Liver Buildings in Liverpool with my Dad to take my Morse Test. I even had to get time off work for this. The day itself I can remember like yesterday, we got lost in Liverpool trying to find our way and asked a man near the Docks, gave us directions and explained how the Dockers were all on strike!
In the Liver Building we walked up several flights of stairs to the place where the test was to held. I was shown into a room with several different Morse Keys to choose from, I chose the shiny brass one, and asked to practice for a bit. Then I had to listen to a passage of text in Morse Code and write it down, following that I had to send a passage in Morse Code. I was allowed three errors! Scary stuff!

Well...I passed!

I could at last send for my Class A licence!

A word about George, G3ZQS:

  • Can listen to morse like we listen to words!
  • Can send Morse Code on a broken hacksaw blade at 60WPM!
  • Can send and receive Morse Code at 60 WPM after drinking several brown ales!
  • Can drive a big car with his slippers on!
A man of many talents!

So now, in the digital world where children, grown ups and digital natives send text messages daily, I have one advantage....

Text messaging is really Morse Code....and I can send it faster than they can text it!!

No comments: