I have been looking for a way to encourage Morse Code use in my ham radio operating. The answer will be a little Arduino project that decodes Morse alongside the radio.
Some newer transceivers have this feature built in. Mine don’t. So, the idea is to be able to place a small display device next to my radio that prints out the dits-and-dahs in plain text. I figure that this will build my confidence in receiving and encourage Morse Code as a regular mode.
Around ten years ago, most countries dropped the Morse Code requirement for most classes of ham licenses. Before then, everyone had to have some basic proficiency in code. Most hams want to use voice communication and do. Some also use newer digital modes, similar to texting or radio-teletype.
But Morse Code was the original mode for radio communications. As a digital mode, it occupies very little frequency. Hams refer to Morse Code as CW or continuous wave transmission. You can get much more bang-for-your-buck with CW than voice. It offers advantages over voice when you are running lower power, have a poor antenna or face a lot of interference. The disadvantages are that it takes longer to exchange information, and you have to overcome the hurdle of learning to encode and decode Morse Code. It is not a natural way of speaking.
New Digital Filters Encourage Morse Code Use
One of my reasons for using CW more is to take advantage of the great digital filters in my radios. The newer filters, based on digital signal processing, can be used to pull through weak signals and eliminate noise. I can filter signal down to 100-200 Hz and get great copy. In fact, many hams will use low power (say 5 watts) to make contacts on CW in situations where they might need 100 watts on voice.
But my CW skills are very rusty. Have not used it much. I figure that if I can use an Arduino to decode the Morse at the same time as I am trying to do so in my head, this will build confidence. Plus, it will be a neat little project.
As they say, “stay tuned”.