By all accounts, Continuous Wave (CW), a.k.a. Mores code, should be as extinct as the Tyrannosaurus Rex. When one considers the fact that CW is no longer used in the commercial sector, it is not hard to see why so many amateurs claimed that such a “difficult” mode would not survive once the code requirement was dropped in 2007. There are no shortage of debates between the hard core, key slamming, microphone hating, code only operator;and operators who believe that using the code is just north of practicing witch-craft, but the one thing that most HF operators can agree on is that CW is not dead.
Who am I? I am a no-code, Extra class operator. Am I glad that they dropped the code requirement? Well, yes… I feel that amateur radio is a hobby, and being that, some do not get any enjoyment out of working CW. This isn’t a career for most, so why should people be required to learn a mode that is not even used in the commercial sector?
All of that said, I love the code! Many people assumed that CW would cease to exist because proficiency requires such a large time commitment, but that assumption has proven to be invalid. Just scrolling through the lower portion of the HF bands proves that. The fact that no-code operators are still signing up for CWAcademy by the metric ton proves it as well. Why?
CW continues to be the only digital mode that can be encoded and decoded manually. CW QRP rigs are also remarkably easy to build. Sure, Software Defined Radios (SDR), like the Elecraft KX2, support voice, and other digital modes; but can a KX2 be built by an amateur and fit inside a tuna tin? (If I find one, I am buying it!) We haven’t even touched on the biggest reason why I believe that CW still lives. The love of the code.
In my opinion, there is something special about listening to a good fisted QRP station in New York pound out their message. The rhythmic dits and dahs, to the CW operator, rival Shakespeare in their art form. The sweet moment when you learn to relax, and finally understand what William G. Pierpont, means when he says “learn to hear words as words” in “The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy”. That moment when you realize that the person at the other end of the key has shared the same frustrations as you, and has somehow overcome them. You ask, “Why is CW still alive?”It lives because good art never dies, and as long as there is someone to love it, it too will never die.