Beginning Morse Code for Washington State and the Pacific Northwest

This site is under construction.  Corrections and suggestions are welcome!

About this site:

Above all, this site and the associated list server are for those who want to learn CW.  If you are just starting, or if you are interested in acting as an Elmore, and if you can reach the Pacific Northwest by radio, you are in the right place.

CW isn’t just an alphabet, it is a language unto itself.  The words and syntax of this language are Q codes, prosigns and commonly used abbreviations to make transmissions more efficient.

This site is intended to promote the learning not only CW, but the use of that language.

In that interest, I would very much like to encourage the setting up of local nets.  Not not only for discussion, but nets for practicing the art of CW free of repeaters.  Repeaters are wonderful tools to assist us in setting up and coordinating.  But the goal is to learn to work without them.

If you are truly interested in learning or promoting CW, you are in the right place.  Please do consider joining our list server below.

About getting on frequency:

We should lean heavily toward the higher frequencies for the simple reason that many people now live in apartments or some form of restricted space where antennas must be limited.  Anyone has the space for a magnetic loop, and if you live in anything bigger than a closet, you can put up an efficient 10 meter dipole.  2 meter antennas can be held in your hand.

If you can think of  Renton as DX, your head is in the right place.

It is unfortunate that the industry decided that SB UHF and VHF were not to be the wave of the future of radio.  Due to this error, most of the SSB radios stop at 10 meters.  They were wrong, and this is getting rectified in  some of the newer models.  There are some cost effective solutions to this problem.

About RF power:

I’m in to low power radio.  There is little to be learned that is interesting by running 1000 watts.  If he goal is to learn,  you’ll learn a lot more and probably have a lot more fun making do with 1 to 10 watts.   And you’ll have a lot less trouble with your neighbors.

About Me:

I am a beginner myself.  I’m comfortable at 12 to 15 WPM. I need to write as I listen. .

I use a KX-3 that I keep in a “bugout” back pack.  I head to various places around lynnwood and throw a wire up in a tree and work. I do have a 2 meter module in my KX-3 and can do 2M CW across the band on it.  I also take a radio to the mountains when I go camping.

If you have trouble getting out, I’m letting you know you aren’t alone.

My home is in a hole in Lynnwood and reception is poor.  I’m using two magnetic loop antennas from inside an apartment.   They both work.  One is 40 and 30 Meters, located on my dining room table,the other is 20 meters on a stand on the floor.

I also have a dipole running across my ceiling which is usually 10 or 15 meters.  I can monitor all bands with that small dipole better than with the loops.  The loops have to be tuned very precisely to even listen.  That is the shortcoming of magnetic loop antennas.  Their advantage is efficiently transmitting HF from my apartment.

The use of the dinning room table requires of course that you be blessed, as I am, with a wife that puts up with a certain level of crazy.

I also have an old Icom IC-290A in the back room.  That radio continuously monitors 144.070.  The SKCC 2M calling frequency.  I announce QTV SKCC W7EZT  from time to time on that rig.  Meaning I’m monitoring the frequency.   Sometimes, I’ll CQ on it.   That radio is up much of the time as it has nothing else to do.  IF  you CQ  on 144.070, you may catch me listening.  Try calling any time. Of course, if you contact me via list or email first, your chances of success will dramatically improve.

Generally,  I’m a straight key guy and monitor the SKCC calling frequency on any band.  One exception is when I’m doing WSPR to check out the bands.  My interest in 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters is due to the fact that they each have “slow key” technician sections.  I’m into the real meaning of “inclusive”.

I look forward to any contact local or DX using CW.

Other useful digital modes, each for their own reasons: PSK31, WinLink, WSPR, and JS8Call.

Signing Up:

Key to this whole thing is an email list.  For more information on the list:

To sign up to Fists, enter your email address here and hit “Subscribe”:

A confirmation will be sent to you just to make sure it’s
a real address. I will then approve it. I just need to know you’re not a spammer.

I’ll say that I’m not into “safe space” lists where topics are rigid and restricted.  This list is intended as a tool for all members.  The only rules will be common sense and courtesy.

Other links of interest:

Please do consider joining the Straight Key Century Club: /

The Edmonds Woodway Radio Club:

The Pacific NW QRP group:

I intend to accumulate a page of references for Morse code when I get the time.


Questions? Tom Redfern,

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Why Morse: Click here