It’s a good question.
After all, isn’t Morse code obsolete?
Morse code is very much in use today! Even well after a 150 years of being around, it is not even poised to become obsolete in the near future!
Navigation Beacons, Radio amateurs, Low earth Satellites are just some of the non military users of morse code today!
In this post, we look at reasons why morse code is still prevalent in amateur radio.
Simplicity of equipment : Low power Morse code (CW) transceivers are very simple to construct and do not cost much to build!
Range: CW signals travel farther compared to voice signals of the same power level, due to their bandwidth.
Reliablility: A relatively weak CW signal can still be heard over noise and interference due to the Binary nature of the signal.
Due to the rare mix of being reliable and cost effective, compared to other modes of communication, Morse code is still popular in our bands!
There is a resurgence in the interest to learn Morse code due to historical reasons as well!
CW Academy, which offers group classes in Morse code using Skype reports that their classes routinely fill up with a waiting list.
Morse code is the very foundation of amateur radio! For the first 20 years of amateur radio there was no “voice” communications; it was all CW.
In fact, for about 100 years after the invention of Morse code (by Samuel F.B. Morse) the job of a telegrapher was one of the most well paying jobs in North America! Between Western Union and the railroads, a young man who knew Morse code could get a job anywhere.
Morse code also played a major role in World War 1 and 2. We are now all too familiar with tales of battles fought over the airwaves during those terrifying years.
On-air activations of some of the historical locations happen almost exclusively on Morse code!
Can a computer decode Morse code? Why cant I use one to getaway with learning Morse code?
Morse code was formulated in a era where computers were non existent! It was meant to be interpreted by a human operator with a notepad or a typewriter in front of him!
While mordern computers are capable of far more advanced modes of communication, they seem to have some trouble decoding morse code almost always perfectly! This may very well be due to a number of reaons, the most simplest being, the computer simply cannot look beyond a certain set of parameters in a signal, which may very well be picked up and analysed by the human brain.
There is also the question of power vs output. Having a computer decode a signal meant for a human to decode is akin to having a scientific calculator to do some basic arithmetic. Sure, the calculator can give you instant results,but why bother when you can work it out in your head !
So, while you no longer have to learn Morse code to get a license, there are still some advantages to learning it and using it on the air.
[written with inputs from a post on FB group Amateur QRP radio: Read the original post here]
SIARS is a non-profit organisation, promoting amateur radio and is based in Chennai.