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Morse Code Ninja


International Morse Code:

Below are the characters most commonly used in amateur radio. There are additional letters, punctuations, and prosigns that are defined to support other languages and use cases. A dash is pronounced as dah. A dot is pronounced as "di," or "dit" when it is the last part of a character. For example, the letter F ( • • - • ) is pronounced "di-di-dah-dit."

A• - N- •
B- • • • O- - -
C- • - • P• - - •
D- • • Q- - • -
E R• - •
F• • - • S• • •
G- - • T-
H• • • • U• • -
I• • V• • • -
J• - - - W• - -
K- • - X- • • -
L• - • • Y- • - -
M- - Z- - • •
1• - - - - 6- • • • •
2• • - - - 7- - • • •
3• • • - - 8- - - • •
4• • • • - 9- - - - •
5• • • • •   
.• - • - • -  
,- - • • - -  
?• • - - • •  
/- • • - •  
<BT>   - • • • -
<BK>  - • • • - • -
<HH>   • • • • • • • •
<KN>  - • - - •
<SK>   • • • - • -

Prosigns have special meanings. <BT> signifies a new paragraph or break between thoughts. It can be used to fill a puase while the sender thinks of what to send next. <BK> is used to invite a receiving station to transmit. <HH> means that a mistake has been made in sending. It is followed by a short pause and the corrected word. <KN> is used to invite a specific station to transmit. <SK> signifies the end of a contact and the last transmission of the sender.

A more comprehensive list of characters can be found here.

Cut Numbers:

Cut numbers are letters that are used in place of a number. You will most often hear them in a signal report. Instead of 599, 5NN is sent instead. The numbers 0 and 9 are frequently substituted with T and N respectively. Some of the cut numbers are uncommon, and using all of them is known as using full cut numbers.

Cut numbers can only be used when it is evident that a number should be received. You may frequently encounter cut numbers in serial numbers during a contest exchange. See the table below for the letters that may stand in for a number.


CW Abbreviations:

Below is a comprehensive list of CW abbreviations that are used by amateur radio operators. I have bolded the most commonly used abbreviations.

AA - All after OB - Old boy
AB - All before OC - Old chap
ABT - About OM - Old man
ADEE - Addressee OP - Operator
ADR - Address OPR - Operator
AGN - Again OT - Old timer; Old top
AM - Amplitude Modulation PBL - Preamble
ANT - Antenna PKG - Package
BCI - Broadcast Interference PSE - Please
BCL - Broadcast Listener PT - Point
BCNU - Be seeing you PWR - Power
BK - Break, Break in PX - Press
BN - All between; Been R - Received as transmitted; Are; Decimal
BT - Separation (break) between addr and text RC - Ragchew
BTR - Better RCD - Received
BUG - Semi-Automatic key RCVR - Receiver
B4 - Before RE - Concerning; Regarding
C - Yes, Correct REF - Refer to; Referring to; Reference
CFM - Confirm; I confirm RFI - Radio frequency interference
CK - Check RIG - Station equipment
CKT - Circuit RPT - Repeat, report
CL - I am closing my station; Call RTTY - Radioteletype
CLBK - Callbook RST - Readability, strength, tone
CLD - Called RX - Receive, Receiver
CLG - Calling SASE - Self-addressed, stamped envelope
CNT - Can't SED - Said
CONDX - Conditions SEZ - Says
CQ - Calling any station SGD - Signed
CU - See you SIG - Signal; Signature
CUL - See you Later SINE - Operator's personal initials or nickname
CUM - Come SKED - Schedule
CW - Continuous wave SRI - Sorry
DA - Day SS - Sweepstakes
DE - From, This is SSB - Single Side Band
DIFF - Difference STN - Station
DLD - Delivered SUM - Some
DLVD - Delivered SVC - Service; Prefix to service message
DN - Down T - Zero
DR - Dear TFC - Traffic
EL - Element TMW - Tomorrow
ES - And TKS - Thanks
DX - Distance TNX - Thanks
FB - Fine business; excellent TR - Transmit
FER - For T/R - Transmit/Receive
FM - Frequency Modulation; From TRIX - Tricks
GA - Good afternoon; Go ahead TT - That
GB - Good bye; God bless TTS - That is
GD - Good TU - Thank you
GE - Good evening TVI - Television interference
GESS - Guess TX - Transmitter; Transmit
GG - Going TXT - Text
GM - Good morning U - You
GN - Good night UR - Your; Your're
GND - Ground URS - Yours
GUD - Good VFB - Very fun business
GV - Give VFO - Variable Frequency Oscillator
GVG - Giving VY - Very
HH - Error in sending W - Watts
HI - The telegraph laugh WA - Word after
HPE - Hope WB - Word before
HQ - Headquarters WD - Word
HR - Here; hear WDS - Words
HV - Have WID - With
HW - How; How copy? WKD - Worked
IMI - Repeat; Say again WKG - Working
INFO - Info WL - Well; will
LID - A poor operator WPM - Words Per Minute
LNG - Long WRD - Word
LTR - Later; letter WUD - Would
LV - Leave WX - Weather
LVG - Leaving XCVR - Transceiver
MA - Milliamperes XMTR - Transmitter
MILL - Typewriter XTAL - Crystal
MILS - Milliamperes XYL - Wife
MSG - Message; Prefix to radiogram WL - Well
N - No, Negative, Incorrect, No more YL - Young lady
NC - Nothing copied YR - Year
NIL - Nothing copied 30 - I have no more to send
NCS - Net Control Station 73 - Best regards
ND - Nothing; Doing NIL (Nothing); I have nothing 88 - Love and kisses
NM - No more
NR - Number
NW - Now; I resume transmission

Koch Method:

The Koch Method is a learning technique named after German psychologist Ludwig Koch. With this method, the full target speed is used, starting with just two letters. Once strings containing those two characters can be copied with 90% accuracy, an additional character is added. This step is repeated until the full character set is mastered. Typically students start at 20wpm.

Farnsworth Method:

The Farnsworth method is a learning technique named after Donald R. “Russ” Farnsworth (F6TTB). With this method, people are taught to copy characters at their full target speed, that is with normal relative timing of the dots and dashes within each symbol. However, spacing is lengthed between characters and words, which gives the student time to think about the sound pattern they just heard. Typically students start with a character speed of 20 wpm and an effective speed of 10wpm. Also, like the Koch method, students start with two characters and continue to add characters as soon as they reach 90% accuracy.

Levels of proficiency:

1. Conscious decoding of Dits and Dahs: At this level of proficiency, you actively listen for the dits and dahs. Once there is a word or inter-word space, the sequence of dits and dahs is looked up in your conscious mind to identify the character being sent. If you find yourself repeating the sound pattern in your mind, you may also be at this level.

Because the conscious mind is so much slower than the unconscious mind, most people will be unable to go faster than 10 to 13 words a minute. This roadblock is why the general advice is to use either the Farnsworth or Koch method to learn the sound pattern of characters and skip this level.

And if you learn Morse code at 5wpm will inevitably get stuck here. Some people get stuck for years despite heroic efforts to overcome it. (If you have gotten stuck, don't despair there is a way forward.)

2. Instant Character Recognition: At this level of proficiency, the unconscious mind is doing the hard work of instantly recognizing each letter as it is sent. The characters are recognized instantly and effortlessly.

The slow, conscious mind is still involved in the copying process. But in this case, each word is followed letter by letter. At this level, most people will not be able to go faster than 20 to 30wpm. (The exact limit depends on a variety of factors.) If you copy by hand or keyboard, you will not progress beyond this level of proficiency. If you are head copying, this level of proficiency is sometimes described as the process of affixing letters on a blank blackboard in the mind’s eye as each letter is received. Then you read what is on the board. This description is more of an analogy.

3. Instant Word Recognition: The unconscious mind does most of the hard work. You hear the sound pattern of entire words as a whole, and you effortless recognize the word. This level of proficiency often allows users to achieve speeds of 60 wpm or greater with enough practice.

People who have Instant Character Recognition often have some ability to recognize words instantly. It is common to learn the sound pattern of CQ, 599, and your callsign without trying. Transitioning from the previous level of proficiency to this one is more of a spectrum. You can think of gaining proficiency at this level, as building up a vocabulary of sound patterns.

4. Focus on the meaning: The unconscious mind is doing all of the hard work! The conscious mind is free to focus on the meaning of what is being sent entirely. This level of proficiency is the nirvana that most aspire to achieve.