Considering the post requesting a CW category, I thought I would throw out some things for those interested in learning CW. I have been slowly learning CW for a couple years. I have almost 40 CW contacts logged so my actual experience level is low as I am still learning.
How to get started learning?
There are a lot of resources on the Internet. So many that it’s overwhelming at times. I am not going to bother listing a ton of them, I am going to list a select few that I am am or have used and are highly recommended.
The first one and probably the best is the CW Ops Academy. Detailed info is here: https://cwops.org/ under the Academy section. They have four levels of classes starting with a beginner which expects zero CW experience. Your class will meet twice a week over Zoom and you will have to do homework during the week. I HIGHLY recommend this!!!
K7QO Code course - This is a collection of over 500 mp3 files that start from zero and finished with The War of the Worlds in Morse Code. Yea a book! I have all the files on my phone and listen in the car. I am listening to file 77 out of over 500! I have a ways to go with this course.
lcwo.net - This is a great resource. Lot’s of random cw exercises and lessons. I mainly use the exercises and not the lessons here.
Once you learn the letters and numbers, most people recommend listening to actual slower QSO’s. Contest QSO’s are easier as the exchange is predefined and repetitive so it’s easier. A lot of my 40-ish contacts are QSO party type contacts.
Paddle or straight key? If you do the CW Ops class, they will tell you to just start with a paddle which will require an electronic keyer either built into your radio or external to the radio. I recently bought a K1EL Winmini Keyer. It connects to my computer and radio and allows contest exchanges to be done via computer. If you have seen the CW guys at Field Day doing QSO’s by hitting their keyboard F keys, this is how that’s done.
Old timers on forums will tell you to start with a straight key, because they had to do it that way. I believe the answer the corresponds to “We did it that way therefore you have to do it that way” is a B.S. answer.
That said, I am learning with a paddle/keyer combo and got a straight key and am working on getting that hooked up. Once I get proficient (sort of) with CW and can make contacts with a lot of trouble, I’ll start playing with the straight key.
There is a short synopsis of my thoughts. Let me know if you have any questions. When you guys get to learning, we should start up some sort of newbie CW practice thing.