Morse Code Is Dead. Long Live Morse Code.

IEEE Spectrum

February 2007 – When we learned this past December that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission had finally decided to drop Morse code as a requirement for all ­amateur radio technician class licenses sometime in early 2007, we felt despondent at first. Another soon-to-be-forgotten treasure was about to be cast away on the island of discarded human accomplishments.

So we contacted longtime IEEE member Paul Rinaldo, chief technology officer of the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio (, to see what he had to say about the matter.

He told us: “Elimination of Morse code testing for access to MF/HF bands is not a death warrant for Morse code in the Amateur Radio Service. No question, it will reduce the number of newcomers who learn Morse at the outset. Some will pick it up along the way to join in contacts with other operators, happily using Morse code for contesting, rag chewing, or very-weak-signal communications such as moonbounce. Morse code is also a skill, and many operators just like to demonstrate their proficiency, build up speed, and be regarded as good operators.

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SA Pupil Set to Phone Home from New Satellite

January 30 2007 – A young South African voice will be heard from space after Sumbandila Sat, SA’s second satellite, is launched in April or May.

SA Amsat (Southern Africa Amateur Radio Satellite Association) and the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust have joined forces to find the ideal 15-second spoken message, and are inviting pupils younger than 16 to write it.

The winner will record the message, which will be programmed into the satellite speech processor memory and transmitted around the world. Once Sumbandila Sat is launched and switched on, the message will be the first signal heard from the satellite.

The pupil whose message is selected will receive a HP laptop computer sponsored by the trust.

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How to Call CQ

…or even answer one!

by Steve Katz, WB2WIK/6

It seems impossible, but it’s very true that most new hams don’t know how to call CQ. And a lot don’t know how to answer one, either!

We’re all to blame for that. There just isn’t as much “CQing” as there used to be, except during contests. One reason might be that we’re mostly using transceivers with VFO control – as silly as that sounds. Here’s the explanation: Back in the good old days (for me), we used mostly crystal controlled transmitters with separate, tunable receivers. The odds of having a crystal on exactly the same frequency as someone else who was on the band, and within range, at the same time was pretty slim. So, it was common to call CQ, then tune around, looking for answers.

Well, today, we needn’t tune around looking for answers, any answers will be right there on the same frequency we’re on. Experienced operators know it’s easy to break into an ongoing QSO, if you know how and when it’s appropriate to do so. I make a lot of my contacts like that: Just overhear an interesting conversation, wait for a pause, insert my callsign, and join the group. But many newbies, as well as some old-timers, are too shy to do this, or maybe just not very good at it. And it is frowned on by most to break into a conversation when you’ve absolutely nothing to add to it.

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President Expresses Appreciation to Amateur Radio Operators


NEWINGTON, CT, Jan. 16, 2007 – President George W. Bush has written the ARRL to recognize the just-ended Hello Amateur Radio public relations campaign and to extend “greetings to all those celebrating 100 years of voices over the airwaves.” The president said the centennial of Reginald Fessenden’s landmark Christmas Eve 1906 voice broadcast “opened the door for technological advances” that improved the lives of people around the world.

“I appreciate all who work in radio, and I am grateful to the Amateur Radio operators who provide emergency communications that help make our country safer and more secure,” President Bush wrote. “Your good work strengthens our society and represents the American spirit.”

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Amateur Radio Fan Distributes in Myanmar

by Phil Dirk
The Tribune (San Luis Obispo)

Jan. 26, 2007 – David Martin of Paso Robles holds an amateur radio license issued by the Karen National Union. That’s the rebel government in a disputed region in Myanmar, the Asian country we used to call Burma. Many of us still call it Burma, including Mr. Martin.

Martin, 60, also holds the highest level amateur radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission. He operates a one-man business, manufacturing custom radio equipment and antenna components. He also makes animation mechanisms for animated figures such as those we sometimes see in stores and restaurants.

Radio technology is his avocation, and that avocation takes him to such places as Haiti, Albania and Myanmar. What he does there is to install and improve radio stations for Christian organizations.

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Satellite Competition to Transmit the Voice of Africa

by Lesley Stones

Jan. 25, 2007 – “AN UNUSUAL competition has been launched to find the voice of Africa, with the winner recording a message to be broadcast from SA’s new satellite. ”

The Sumbandila Sat should be launched by May, and once it is switched on the message will be the first signal to be heard from the satellite.

Sumbandila Sat will carry an amateur radio voice identification beacon built by the Southern Africa Amateur Radio Satellite Association. Now the association is looking for the ideal 15-second spoken message and has invited pupils of 16 years or younger to submit their ideas.

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It’s Official – No Code Required for Ham Radio!


NEWINGTON, CT, Jan. 24, 2007, – Morse code will no longer be a requirement for earning an Amateur Radio (often called “ham” radio) license. In a ruling published in the January 24 Federal Register, the FCC announced the elimination of testing for Morse code proficiency for all Amateur Radio licenses. The change will take effect February 23. The FCC will also allow new Amateurs to use more frequencies — including those which can talk all over the world.

While many Amateur Radio operators continue to learn and use Morse code, now it is only for their own enjoyment of the skill. Amateur operators have been using newer digital, image, satellite, voice and other modern wireless technologies for years. The elimination of code testing (Report & Order in WT Docket 05-235) signals the end of an era. Within hours following announcement that the code requirement was being dropped, ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, reported that requests for study materials for new or upgrading licensees more than doubled.

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Amateur Radio Across the World (from Missouri)

Edited by: Jay Scherder
Reported by: Ben Kennedy

CALLAWAY COUNTY, MO, Jan. 24, 2007 – From Morse code to the radio, to television and most recently the computer, it just keeps getting easier to communicate with others from around the world. But one group is so dedicated to the radio, they formed an amateur club.

Tom Vaccaro is one of the members of the Callaway Amateur Radio League.

“To me HAM radio is worldwide communication, I’ve contacted every state in the union and 168 countries. There are other members of the club here in the Fulton area that are in the top rank.” Tom Vaccaro, Callaway Amateur Radio League.

Dick White has contacted people in 333 countries out of 337. White has even made contact with a man from North Korea after HAM radios were banned and only one person was allowed to set up an amateur radio station.

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Missouri Amateur Radio Club Special Event

Mid-Mo Amateur Radio Club Saturday activities

Jefferson City News Tribune

Jan. 23, 2007 – To observe the 90th anniversary of the First Transcontinental Relay, the Mid-Mo Amateur Radio Club has scheduled three events for Saturday [January 27, 2007], to which the public is invited:

  • 10 a.m., A short wreath-laying ceremony will be held at Willis Corwin’s grave in the Jefferson City National Cemetery located in the block just west of Clark Avenue between East McCarty and Miller streets.
    Military rites will be rendered by the honor guard team from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1003.
  • 11 a.m., A granite plaque will be dedicated at the site of the Corwin home by Mayor John Landwehr, assisted by surviving members of the Corwin family and other dignitaries.
    This property is now part of the Exchange Bank parking lot, immediately behind First Presbyterian Church.
  • 2-5 p.m., The public may view the club’s Special Event operations, where their transmitters and receivers will be set up inside the First Presbyterian Church for a 24-hour operation.
    Radio contacts will be made with as many other amateur radio stations as possible throughout the world. Morse Code will be used extensively in addition to voice operations.

Tenn. Emergency Crews Train w/ Ham Operators

WTVF News Channel 5

FRANKLIN, TN, Jan. 20, 2007 – What would happen if disaster hit Middle Tennessee and wiped out emergency radio communication?

It turns out many communities would rely on amateur radio operators.

When county radios and cell phones won’t work, battery-powered radios manned by ham or amateur radio operators would still be up and running.

A network of such operators would help deliver crucial information and get help where it’s needed. For example, after Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast in 2005, some of the first calls for help came from ham radios.

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Amateur Radio in Fresno County and the Central Valley of California