Getting Started With CW

Fred Beatty, K8AJX


“Just Learn Morse Code”

Okay, now you have a general idea of how to go about learning the code and increasing your proficiency, let’s consider the software that will help us to become brass pounders. There are a number of commercial programs available to help you learn the code, but there also is freeware that will do a good job. Among the best of them is “Just Learn Morse Code” by Sigurd Stenersen, LB3KB ( This is the one that we will use in this tutorial.

Morse Code

First, download and install the program and review the pull down menus at the top of the page. Pay particular attention to the “Help” menu, noting the Koch and Farnsworth approaches to learning the code. We are going to use a bit different methodology, but these are options that you may wish to consider after you get the basics down.

Before we actually begin, let’s set up “Just Learn Morse Code” so we are all on the “same wavelength.” You can make adjustments to personal taste after you become proficient in using the program. For now, check the options as follows:

  View Output Displays the practice characters in the “Output” window.
    Codes Moves the code listing to the right side   of the page for easier use.
    Toolbar Displays the character length, speed, pitch, and view options for easy reference.
    Status Shows status information at the bottom-left of the page.
  Source Character Set Allows you to key the characters from the code listing on the right of the screen. This is helpful in reviewing individual characters.
    Selected Characters This is the option that allows us to input characters that the program will send in irregular order. Here is where we pursue our “methodical approach.”
  Tools Options For speed, set 10 and 18, respectively.
      Set the pitch to 800 and the characters to 5.
      Leave the minimum and maximum word length and prosign spacing at the defaults of 2, 7, and 3 respectively.
      The “Mode” remains at “Learn.” You can set it to “Practice” once you have learned the characters.
      The right-hand options column remains at the default settings except for “Duration.” We recommend that you set that at 2 minutes, vice the default of 5.
      The “Character Set” Tab menu is where you select the characters that you want to practice (from the print-out in “The Basic” section). They are defaulted to the “Standard Set.” In the “Prosigns” set, select BT, SK, AR, and AS, as well.
      Then click on apply. You will see these characters appear in your code listing at the right of your screen.

Now let’s look at the tool bar just below the pull-down menus. While the tools are for the most part self-explanatory and self-identify, there are a few settings that it will be worthwhile to review. The “Play,” “Pause,” “Stop,” and “Record” buttons are just like on any other program with similar features. The “Stop Immediately” button does just that. After it is the “Toggle Output” button. Click that so you can check your copy. We won’t be using the “Cut,” “Copy,” and “Paste” buttons, so no need to review them. In the next four settings, you should see what you have already set in the ‘Options” menu (see above).

So, now that you are familiar with the software, it’s time to “get down to business.”

Next Page: Getting Down to Business