Morse Code Tower
Representation and Timing
International Morse code is composed of five elements:
short mark, dot or 'dit' (•); measures one unit long
longer mark, dash or 'dah' (―); measures three units long (three times longer that the dot)
intra-character gap (between the dots and dashes within a character); measures one unit long
short gap (between letters); measures three units long
medium gap (between words); measures seven units long
Morse code can be transmitted in a number of ways: originally as electrical pulses along a telegraph wire, but also as an audio tone, a radio signal with
short and long tones, or as a mechanical or visual signal (e.g. a flashing light) using devices like an Aldis lamp or a heliograph.
Morse messages are generally transmitted by a hand-operated device such as a telegraph key, so there are variations introduced by the skill of the
sender and receiver - more experienced operators can send and receive at faster speeds. In addition, individual operators differ slightly, for example
using slightly longer or shorter dashes or gaps, perhaps only for particular characters. This is called their "fist", and receivers can recognize specific
individuals by it alone.
The speed of Morse code is measured in wpm or cpm, according to the Paris standard which defines the speed of Morse transmission as the timing
needed to send the word "Paris" a given number of times per minute. The word Paris is used because it is representative for a typical text in the English
language, and the choice was influenced by the fact that the decision was taken at the International Telegraph Conference in Paris 1865.
Techniques on How to Learn Morse Code
People learning Morse code using the Farnsworth method, named for Donald R. "Russ" Farnsworth, also known by his call sign, W6TTB, are taught to
send and receive letters and other symbols at their full target speed, that is with normal relative timing of the dots, dashes and spaces within each
symbol for that speed. However, initially exaggerated spaces between symbols and words are used, to give "thinking time" to make the sound "shape"
of the letters and symbols easier to learn. The spacing can then be reduced with practice and familiarity.
Another popular teaching method is the Koch method, named after German psychologist Ludwig Koch, which uses the full target speed from the outset,
but begins with just two characters. Once strings containing those two characters can be copied with 90% accuracy, an additional character is added,
and so on until the full character set is mastered.
One last method that usually works is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.