Why I like CW

I was wandering up and down the 20 meter CW portion of the band, yesterday. At one point I heard a very faint signal down in the sticks calling CQ, I listened and listened and still not sure if I got his call correct, no one was answering the call so I answered back…

( Py2AA de N7KO N7KO N7KO K )

The op answered back ( N7KO de PY2AAM TNX FER CALL UR RST 339 33N name is ROD QTH is Santa Cruz Do Rio Pardo, BRAZIL HW CPY N7KO de PY2AAM )

I got his full call this time. We were able to make the exchange, RST, rig es Ant, QTH. It was difficult but we pulled it off. Here is the email he sent me, after I sent him one thanking him for taking the difficult journey with me.

(Olá amigo Ken!
Fiquei muito feliz em receber seu e-mail.
E também feliz pelo nosso encontro em CW, sou um eterno aprendiz desta arte maravilhosa que é a telegrafia.
Realmente estava com um pouco de dificuldade de escutar sua estação, devido a QSB e QRN…valeu muito o nosso esforço porque agora tenho um novo amigo. )

The reason why I shared this email is I can only read English and I had to copy and load it into a translator to understand what he said. But when we communicated using Morse Code there was no language barrier. You all know this as I did but this drove it home.

Now if I had waited until I was sure I got the Op’s call 100% before answering, I may have missed connecting to a new friend in another country. If I was not using CW neither of us could have communicated to one another.

Ken G
73′ everyone

Ken Gairson, N7KO, is a special contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Washington, USA.

12 Responses to “Why I like CW”

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Ken, I am with you and really CW truly is another language. I have done similar on many occasions, and it’s very rewarding. I also see online that you have a code coarse as well.
    73 stay safe and have a great Christmas and New Years,

  • James Tripp / WA6DIJ:

    I had a similar situation many years ago on phone that I use to explain the benefits of CW to younger hams. I was talking to a ham in Japan and doing a little rag chewing. When I asked him what his occupation was he said something that sounded like blain slurgon and after asking him to repeat it several times I finally asked him to spell it our phonetically. As you can imagine he was a BRAIN SURGEON and I was very embarrassed!

    So I use this as an example that on CW there is no accent so I would have saved my embarrassment had I been using CW!

  • Art WB2WFJ:

    Operation on phone is often about how much power you’re running and how good an antenna you have. This really becomes apparent during pileups and/or contests.

    Operation on CW is more often than not about skill and finesse. An experienced CW operator can work pileups and contests much more easily and often get through even when the “big guys” are competing for a contact. Having operated most of my life with 100 watts and indoor antennas due to being in apartments and condominiums, I could never have worked the world on SSB like I have on CW.

  • Delson - PY4AUN:

    The sane happens with me and W3UY – 15m same report RST 339 . I was his first py on 15 m. Merry Christmas and 73 to all.

  • Ken Gairson N7KO:


    Good feeling to make the connection to someone that speaks the same language, the language of CW. Not all speak the universal language of CW, I am happy to be among a group that does.


  • Gerard A O 'Sullivan:

    C.W. is a very interesting subject I was at sea for 4 years it was C.W all the time for messages. The quality of the C.W. may vary but the message was sent and received even half of words sent you would be able to fill in the missing letters.
    Communications in CW have the same format no matter what language used.
    Ken if you did not answer the call you would not received your QSO.
    Well done Ken ask and you shall receive.

    Happy Christmas and New Year to all.
    Answer that call you do not know what you may hear.

    Gerard EI3EA

  • Tom:

    I had the pleasure to meet a great CW operator face to face when I delivered CW filters to him in Tbilisi. Toly, 4l1ma speaks Russian and Georgian yet he has confirmed Georgia for many amateurs worldwide.

    I can operate remote from Oklahoma with a KW+ on 80, 40, and 20 meters. See 4l1an and I am 4l/k5bm using ShackLink and MixW. I have SSB on the bands, but need CW because understanding many Europeans, West and East Asians is difficult for me due to being tone deaf.

    Yes, CW is an international language which I truly enjoy.

    Tom K5BM…4L/K5BM

  • Fito EA7AQV:

    CW was the first mode used in radiocommunications (and in cable also), and permitted that people joined themself in spite of distances, languajes and cultures, other newer and faster modes took it to retirement after more than 1 century in the professional communications (we, ham radio operators keep it alive), but it will never die…
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Tamas Varnai HA1WV:

    My colleague uses a DATRON TW-7000 radio here in CW mode? I would like to get in touch with him! Thank you!
    Tamas 73!
    [email protected]

  • Cliff, KU4GW:

    N7KO said: “Not all speak the universal language of CW, I am happy to be among a group that does”.

    That’s what made me stick with operating CW, now in my 24th year. There were several times when I hit speed thresholds I thought I was never going to break through because it was taking me so long and I felt like just giving up working CW altogether, but that statement you made is what kept me from doing so. I like looking at it that I’m now fluent in 2 languages, English and Morse and that’s what has made me stick with it all these years. I’m still no speed demon mind you, most comfortable ragchewing around 17 wpm, but can do much better in a short DX or 2 hour CW Sprint exchange, but I feel much more relaxed at 17 than I do at 20 wpm. That and now having to deal with chemo brain because of a incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma. I take a chemo drug in capsule form called Revlimid 15mg a.k.a. Lenalidomide 21 out of every 28 days as a so-called “maintenance drug” to keep multiple myeloma in remission since I had a autologous stem cell transplant in July 2007 that put my cancer into remission from being in stage 3. Revlimid has a marked effect on my thinking and especially my short-term memory that’s holding me back, but at least I’m still getting to enjoy CW. It could be much worse! That reminds me of a ham I worked on CW many years ago in the state of New Jersey whose callsign I can’t remember to save my neck, but I do remember well him saying that he had suffered a stroke 6 months prior to our QSO and that he hadn’t been able to talk since having the stroke, but what he said next has really stuck in my mind because the next thing he said was, “but thanks to my Lord I can speak with my hands!” Isn’t that an awesome statement? I sure thought it was at the time when he sent it and probably always will.
    “Happy Holidays & Very 73 de Cliff, KU4GW”

  • Dermot Miley:

    Hi, KEN.
    Ijust read your CW contact with PY2AAM ON 23 DEC 20.
    I am wondering what translator did you use?. It wasvery good .
    Any info on the translator,
    de dermot,
    [email protected]

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