A quick Reminder of the Practical’s covered on this Page :-
11) Morse Code Receiving.
12) Morse code Sending.
In my experience, These are the practical’s that attract the most concern. With Candidates wondering if Morse code, or as we Amateurs call it CW ( Continuous Wave ) is still used. Then recalling seeing people tapping at a Morse key quicker than they can blink.
To answer the first one. Yes Morse is used regularly. In fact if you tune around the Amateur Radio bands any time day or night you will hear the distinctive Dit’s and Dah’s. You can use http://www.websdr.org/ to Listen to them. CW can be found at the beginning of the bands. It is also used by various automated devices like satellites, beacons and repeaters to give information. Morse code is popular because it can be used to make contacts when most other modes cant.
To answer the Second one, This practical is designed to introduce you to Morse code. As such there is no speed requirement. You Probably wont walk away from it as a proficient CW operator and you wont get a competency certificate. Hopefully you will have a better understanding of how it works and once licenced may want to go on to develop your skills and get the RSGB competency Certificate. There are amateurs who can help you with this. The Essex CW Club, off which I am a member ( http://www.essexcw.org.uk/ ) offer training for people wishing to develop their skills.
What does the Practical consist of ?
You will have to send a simple message in Morse Code and you will have to receive one. This is done at your speed. You should be given a printed copy of the Morse Code.
When Receiving, You are also aloud to write down as you go. Either the Dit’s and Dah’s and translate after, or the letters if you are confident.
When Transmitting, You can write out the message in Dit’s and Dahs to follow while sending if you wish.
Some things to be cautious of !
At this point you can see the Morse practical is easier than you had perhaps feared. There is however a couple of issues here.
When receiving and sending for the first time, people tend to just write out the dit’s and dah’s in one long string. No spaces, No gaps. Morse code relies on spaces and gaps to separate words and letters. So these people then have to try and decode the message into letters and words.
An example to help : DIT DAH, DIT = A E DIT DAH DIT = R
So you can see, What should have been DIT DAH Space DIT can become DIT DAH DIT changing the two letters A E, in the first one to the single R.
Your Instructor should take you through this before you come to sit the practical. A simple way to do it is use a count of 1 between letters and a count of 3 between words.
What will you have to send / receive ?
This will be a simple message in the form of :-
M0ZPK DE M6PKU Good Morning
The first Call sign is the Person you are talking to. DE is Morse code shorthand meaning from. The next call sign is your call sign. ( or the person sending it )
How will the practical take place ?
You will most likely not do this practical on air. Instead you may use a device called a practice oscillator. This will enable you to send and receive Morse code with no fear of someone else replying and putting you off.
Below is the Morse code you will need to demonstrate.