While there is no longer a requirement to learn CW to obtain your Amateur license many Amateurs still take on the challenge of learning Morse Code and NZART can still provide a test for those interested.
This is an example of how the Morse test is conducted for those interested.
- The candidate is required to make a hard copy of a 3–minute plain–language Morse text sent at an overall speed of 5 words–per–minute.
- The text will contain letters and 7 numbers, but no punctuation, callsigns or amateur radio abbreviations.
- Morse text from a computer–generated source is preferred.
- If testing facilities permit, the candidate may choose the audio frequency and the Farnsworth speed.
- The candidate will be allowed at least one practice run to enable adjustment of signal volume and frequency to a comfortable level. If this practise meets the requirements it can be used as a test paper.
- The test may be copied using pen, pencil, typewriter, or word–processing software (the last two options are for candidates with disabilities that preclude writing normally). Code–reading devices or code–reading software are not permitted.
- The candidate may copy using a loudspeaker, headphones, or flashing light (this option is for candidates with hearing difficulties). Candidates should be expected to tolerate a low level of ambient noise during the test.
- The candidate will have 30 seconds for correcting the copy at the conclusion of the test.
- A maximum of 4 errors is permitted.
- If the candidate’s writing cannot be read by the testers, or altered characters are unclear, any text will be deemed correct if it can be correctly read back by the candidate.
- Five test runs can be permitted at the discretion of the testers.
- Where there is a repeat test, it must be from text that has not been sent to the candidate on any previous occasion.
- The hard copy written or typed test should be retained by the examiner for audit purposes.
- A standard straight key with a suitable audio oscillator will be provided by the testers. Candidates are required to provide any other device with which they choose to send.
- A candidate may use any sending device except Morse keyboard hardware or software. “Pump–action” straight keys, bugs and electronic keyers are all acceptable.
- The candidate is required to send a plain language text to the testing officer’s satisfaction.
- A pass will be awarded on the basis of the testers’ evaluation of the Morse sent by the candidate. The Morse need not be “perfect” so long as the testers can read it. A realistic judgement is to ask: “If this Morse was heard on an Amateur band, would it be understood by an experienced operator?”
- The sending test duration is at the discretion of the testers, but must not exceed 3 minutes. The test can be terminated early if the testers are confident that a candidate can send acceptable Morse.
- Five attempts at the sending test may be made at the discretion of the testers if the candidate presents simple faults (such as letters or words run together) that can be easily corrected on subsequent attempts.
Appendix: Technical details and Definitions
’Overall morse speed’ is determined using the Internationally–accepted ARRL definition ’12 words per minute means 5 dots per second’, where dots are separated by dot–spaces having the same length. So 5 words–per–minute is 2.083 dots per second. This rate enables the ’standard word’ PARIS, with accompanying word–space, to be sent exactly 5 times in one minute.
’Farnsworth speed’ is the speed at which characters are sent. This will be higher than the overall speed. Character and word spaces are adjusted so that the overall speed remains at 5 words–per–minute. Exactly 5 repetitions of the standard word PARIS, with accompanying spaces, must be sent in one minute.
Character and word spaces are proportioned so that their ratio remains at 3:7 as for ’correctly–ratioed’ Morse.