Learning to Send Morse Code

Wait to send

I know for me the temptation was to try to start learning to send as soon as possible, but most of the advice was to wait, or as one person put it “don’t even think about touching a key until you’ve had an elmer show you how to use it”. I didn’t wait for an elmer to show me how to use it, although I did attend a Long Island meeting on the use of straight keys.

The reason for waiting to send is that sending when you haven’t learnt to copy fully can lead to embedding bad habits and slow down/mess up copying, or at least that is the rationale. I waited until I managed 25wpm/9wpm Farnsworth speed at 90% accuracy before starting to send. Maybe I should have worked at a higher speed, but I really struggled at 25wpm/15wpm and 25wpm/12wpm, I seemed to hit a plateau with adding new characters and I was keen to get sending!

Straight key or paddle?

I’ve had opinions in both directions on this, on the one hand the suggestion to start with what you plan to use, on the other hand learn with a straight key.

Originally I started learning to send using a paddle as I figured sooner or later that’s what I’d want to use, however Howard of the Long Island CW club recommends starting with a straight key as that builds in the muscle memory of the dits and dahs. To be honest I’m not 100% sure which is best, or if it really matters. At the moment I generally use a straight key as it’s a skill I want to have and I’m not yet copying at a particularly high speed, however I hope one day to be able to copy at a speed where using a paddle is more necessary. I do sometimes use a paddle when I’m feeling a bit tired or lazy to send CQ, it just requires less effort!