Morse code, once a vital method of sending messages across telegraph lines, was the primary method of communication with other amateur radio operators. As technology evolved amateur radios became capable of voice transmissions and code slowly, over the past 100 years, lost its important role.
Learning Morse was a required skill to obtain an amateur radio operator’s license. As the hobby grew and use of Morse code was dropped by the uniformed services. it lost its usefulness during emergencies. Fewer and fewer skilled code users make up a small portion of the 700,000 hams in the United States.
Our most talented operators are for the most part senior citizens and when age or death takes their expertise away from the hobby, it will be the younger members to carry on this unique form of communication. The Kershaw County Amateur Radio Club (KCARC) KCARC has several very skilled Morse code users. One of these members is Art Delperdang, K4KBI. He used Morse code as a Marine during the Korean War and again in Vietnam.
As a club, the KCARC feels that it should have the capability of skilled code users as part of its evolution from a club of radio enthusiasts to a cutting edge public service club.
Hams, like Delperdang, are known as "Elmers" to new those new to the hobby. Not all hams aspire to be an Elmer, but for those who do, they are the custodians of the hobby’s history. At a Scouting event Art taught one letter, a letter that is used in many ways in amateur radio, the letter "q." Dash dash dot dash. Now will you remember that tomorrow or a year from now?
Put the tune "Here comes the bride" behind it and you find that adding rhythm in the form of that tune aids in learning Morse code. Now you only have 25 letters to learn.
The KCARC applied for and received a grant from the Amateur Radio Relay League to purchase equipment to build eight operating stations for training Morse code. The first training class is scheduled to begin Saturday at 10 a.m. in the band room on the Camden Military Academy grounds.
The classes will be open to the public and first come, first served. After the first eight seats are filled, the remaining names will fill subsequent classes. Depending on the progress of the students, classes will be held for six to eight weeks. If you are interested please come Saturday and place your name on the list.
(Story and photo submitted by KCARC)