Learning: What works for you.

I don’t like to get caught up in arguments or debates, especially as it pertains to a hobby like amateur radio. Unfortunately individuals are unique and where opinions differ, disagreements arise.  I don’t profess to knowing EVERYTHING about amateur radio, I don’t intend to. This hobby can pull individuals in so many different directions, you are bound to find a are that is of interest.

In the past I have spent many hours logged on to amateur radio forums and it never ceases to amaze the degree of hardheadedness that occurs if your opinions varies from that of another. In 2007, the FCC eliminated the five words-per-minute Morse code examination and went to a 3-tier licensing system; Technician, General, Amateur Extra.

I’ll admit that learning Morse code was a stumbling block that had to be overcome when I was originally license in 1990. I bought cassette tapes from Radio Shack and attempted to learn code, unfortunately I did not dedicate time every day to learning. It wasn’t until this new rule went into effect that I upgraded to General and then to Amateur Extra, known by some in our hobby as a “no code Extra” as opposed to a “know code Extra.”

I did take it upon myself to use and learn Morse code after I upgraded to Amateur Extra. Even now I don’t use it in the conventional manner many dedicated CW operators do, but I do use the mode and thoroughly enjoy it. When it comes to learning Morse code opinions vary on how to learn. There are many online programs and methods on learning to use CW. I am of the opinion, use what works for you.

Many individuals try to push “their way” as the best way when it comes to learning, but if their way of learning isn’t working, logic would say to find another way that allows you to learn and progress. Yet read many amateur radio forums and there are thread upon thread and post after post that will contradict what the previous just said.

I approached amateur radio with the thought of, “the Amateur Extra is a lifetime license to learn.” I can’t say everyone will agree with that opinion, as the ham operator has moved from being a tinkerer or experimenter to an appliance operator. I will label myself somewhere in between, but probably learning a bit more to the appliance operator side than that of the experimenter. So while I didn’t need to learn to use CW, I did.

When I decided to undertake this task, I did not want to worry about having to pass more FCC exams, so I learned to use CW after I being an Amateur Extra. When I did start to learn I used a number of different programs, you can read about those on my CW page. I also decided to purchase MRP40, which I used (and still use now) as a tool when operating CW. Now the purist will say I am now a CW operator, but I am using the mode and enjoy the mode.This isn’t for everyone, especially those who took the time to learn and the mode, participating in the FCC exams to “earn” as some would term it, their General and Amateur Extra licenses. But for a new ham or someone who wants to use the mode, I think this is a great tool to assist you in learning and using the mode.

I have written about this before, in a topic titled, Why do you care? last March, which addressed this same issue. While we are all amateur operators, I see no need to label operators because of what they know or don’t or how they operate. Accept them and their approach to the hobby and if you don’t agree, then move along.Amateur radio is a great hobby! I have been thankful for being introduced to the hobby early in my childhood and while I was not pushed into the hobby or forced to learn Morse code. I am pleased with my operating habits and what I have learned over the years. Among the contest club I belong to, the NCCC, there is amazing wealth of knowledge, as well as some world class contesters and stations available.