Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Ever since the FCC dropped the higher-speed code requirements, some of the nicer touches of operating procedures for CW have become a bit more difficult to pick up.

Of course, they were never that simple to come by. Bad habits tend to sprawl. Back when John Huntoon edited QST, he printed an article by W6DTY* that summarizes good operating without being stuffy or too preachy. It went over well enough that ARRL reprinted it as a handout and sent it to new hams; and now, YOUR NOVICE ACCENT And What To Do About It is available as a PDF, thanks to N4MW.

If you're still working on learning the code, Mr. Huntoon addressed that himself, in 1941: This Business Of Code is still excellent advice.

(Interestingly, I find 4 hams of that name current at, one of them in East Hartford, CT. The former QST editor was a teenager in the late 1930s.)

A side note, there's a website devoted to radio work on the Great Lakes and major rivers -- fascinating! Yes, even paddlewheel steamers had their "Sparks" once radio came along.
* Keith Williams, then. The callsign is presently held by, as FCC puts it, "a close relative of the former holder." This mode of remembrance is one of the Commission's more graceful accommodations.


  1. I rushed through my study in order to be in the last cohort that had to pass the 5wpm code to upgrade. I passed elements 1 and 4 the same night and even now several years later a novice accent would be an improvement!

  2. That's the perfect article for me, thanks! There is enough variation in the use of prosigns that every source I've read seems to have a different opinion. I wish there were an AIM ("Airman's Information Manual") for hams. The ARRL Handbook ain't it... it's long on engineering and short on practice.

  3. Wayne, the ARRL also publishes an Operating guide.

  4. @drjim, I've got it. Maybe I need to go back and re-read it. I flipped through it once, found precious little about CW, and haven't gone back to it.