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What is Morse Code?

The telegraphic code used for amateur radio telegraphic communication is the International Morse Code consisting of dot (.) and dashes (-). In International Morse code, a dot is made by pressing the telegraph key (switch) down and allowing it to spring back again rapidly; and for making a dash (-), the key is held down for a bit longer period, that is, not spring back rapidly.

Samual Finely Breese Morse (1791-1872) an American Artist and Inventor, is credited with the invention of the Magnetic Telegraph and the means of communication over the telegraph, in 1836. On 24 May 1844, the code (now called Morse Code) was successfully tested as a long distance communication medium on an experimental telegraph line, between Washington DC and Baltimore. Morse himself sent the first message : "What has God wrought!"
Although Morse's original telegraph system was semi-automatic, telegraph operators soon discovered that it was possible to aurally distinguish the symbols being transmitted. The original Morse recording equipment was eventually discarded in favour of manual transcription. The use of Morse code as a communications medium has declined since the mid 1920's due to the introduction of automated telegraph systems, such as teleprinter and facsimile. Morse code is still in use, due to its superior performance under extremely poor atmoshpheric conditions. The main users of Morse Code today are the Maritime, Military and Amateur Radio Services.
Morse Code is the original Digital Mode dating back to the last Century! Today, while the debate rages over Morse Code licensing requirements, more and more stations using this mode have replaced their hand key and their electronic keyer with a Computer keyboard and display. The technology is good but even today, no machine can beat the trained human ear for copying hand sent Morse Code under varying conditions. The keyboard is a more efficient Sending device though, for most people. Perhaps the one advantage of Morse over Packet and the others, is that a human operator can decode the Morse Code transmissions by ear!
To get your amateur radio license from the Ministry of Communications, you need learn Morse code. To learn Morse code you need an electronic device called the 'Code Practice Oscillator' (CPO). It is an audio frequency generator which produces an audible tone. Radio amateurs while learning Morse code never try to memorize them as 'dot' and 'dashes' by mere visualization of the 'dot' (.) and 'dashes' (-); but they try to memorize them by hearing the tone and thus for easy remembering of the combination of codes they say dot and dash as di and dah respectively. The different combination of di and dah make the alphabets, figures, characters and punctuation marks.We refer to dot and dash as di and dah as that how you hear the sound and pronounce them as. The time taken to produce the sound equivalent to one di or dit (dot) is taken as unit time and called a dot unit.

A dah (dash) is approximately of three dot units length and the space between two sound elements of a letter is one dot unit (silence period is one dot unit).
The space between two letters or characters is equal to three dot units.
The space between two words is equal to five dot units. It all depends on your imagination and experience gathered listening to Morse code transmissions over your radio or from a pre-recorded cassette player.

Learning to send Morse code using a Morse Key is far more easier once somebody demonstrates it to you. But it is a bit difficult to learn decoding of incoming Morse signals; yet to be a skilled Morse sender, it is said that you should first learn decoding (decipher) of Morse code from a pre-recorded cassette or the software provided here which can be downloaded free of cost.

While appearing for the Amateur Station Operator's Certificate Examination, you can go for a 5 word per minute speed (for Grade-II license) or for a 12 word per minute speed (for Grade-I & Advanced Grade license). to measure your speed ? (5 Suppose a written message containing 125 letters when sent in 5 minutes makes a speed of 5 words per minute (for 5 letters makes a standard word).

125/5=25 words in 5 minute; i.e. 5 words per minute.


A . _ M _ _ Y _ ._ _
B _ . . . N _ . Z _ _ . .
C _ . _ . O _ _ _ 1 . _ _ _ _
D _ . . P . _ _ . 2 . . _ _ _
E . Q _ _ . _ 3 . . . _ _
F . . _ . R . _ . 4 . . . . _
G _ _ . S . . . 5 . . . . .
H . . . . T _ 6 _ . . . .
I . . U . . _ 7 _ _ . . .
J . _ _ _ V . . . _ 8 _ _ _ . .
K _ . _ W . _ _ 9 _ _ _ _ .
L . _ . . X _ . . _ 0 _ _ _ _ _


Period (.) . _ . _ . _ (AAA)
Comma (,) _ _ . . _ _ (MIM)
Question Mark (?) . . _ _ . . (IMI)
Semicolon (;) _ . _ . _ . (NNN)
Hyphen (-) _ . . . . _ (BA)
Error sign . . . . . . . .
Sentence separation indicator _ . . . _ (BT)
End of transmission of a message . _ . _ . (AR)
Invitation to transmit    _ . _ (K)
Wait    . _ . . . (AS)
End of work . . . _ . _ (VA)

Once you get your license and the callsign, it is time for you to start transmission.neral Call

The general call is known as the 'CQ' call inviting reply from any on-the-air station. It is not a directional call. Directional call is given to a definite station or definite country.
A typical format a ham radio operator's message during Morse Code communication when contacting another ham radio operator for the first time may look like :


In the above message station 4S7VK is being replied back by station VU2XYZ with an exchange of signal report and his name and location. In Morse Code transmissions, abbreviations are used instead of the complete word or sentence (Q Codes)
The question arises why Morse code is still used for radio communication? The reason is that Short-Wave radio signal in radiotelephone (voice transmission) is often subjected to very rapid and deep fading; two frequencies separated by only a few Hertz, fade at different times. To overcome this, modulated code tones are transmitted. The situation is now that under severe conditions of fading, the carrier frequency may fade out completely but one or the other sideband may remain strong, as a result a continuously readable signal is received. With power as low as 5 watts you can expect to contact an amateur radio station located on the opposite side of the globe