From the Desk of the President October 2012
To CW or not to CW also known as Morse code.
As the definition indicates, Samuel Morse created Morse Code in the mid-1800s as a method for long-distance communication. He came up with the idea while a professor in New York City. It was based on the realization that sending pulses to an electromagnet could be used to transmit signals along a wire. Realising the potential for this device, Morse designed a code that would allow all of the letters and characters to be written using only these on/off pulses.
The simplicity of this mode of communication in terms of equipment and being able to decipher thorough static, made this the most preferred method of communication. Perhaps, Samuel Morse could be attributed to having saved many lives at sea by this unique mode of ship to shore communications and vice versa.
The turning point in the stringent use of morse code for marine communications came into being after the sinking of the Titanic, besides many other regulations pertaining to safety of life at sea. The first distress signal was CQD which was subsequently changed to the now familiar SOS.
As a short wave listener roaming the world of broadcasts these strange dots and dashes made me to learn the code, and then it was pure enlightenment when I could make sense of these signals. This bug which got me has not left ever since!
The first transmitter was a QRP assembled on a tiny board, given to me by a senior Ham Rodney (4S7RM), and using a receiver also loaned by him, I fired up the TX from the not so large sitting room, which had wires trailing out like a bowl of noodles. All this was not very well received by all and sundry in my QTH! Heard my OM asking if this budding Marconi was trying to set the house on fire!
I did not expect anything to come out of my first CQ call using a rickety old postal key. The receiver also had an attitude and personality of its own. The oscillator would drift due to the slightest vibration, so when our pet Rover bound past the receiver, the signals also ran away with it! With one hand on the receiver tuning knob and the other pounding CQ I heard someone really calling me, his call sign was 4S7KG, om Kule. We did not know each other then, as I was not a member of the RSSL. At that time he really thought that I was a Pirate! Not a bad title to be bestowed upon, on the first call. ( though I was to meet real ones in my later sea faring life).
Though CW was finally terminated in maritime and commercial communications, due to the development of more advanced and sophisticated modes, CW is still being used by diehard fans in ham circles worldwide.
I urge all new hams to learn this fascinating mode for the sheer pleasure of knowing another “Language” and the fun of pounding brass!
Looking forward in hearing for you. .-.-.