In cheaper by the dozen, it was mentioned in one of the childhood stories that her father managed to teach morse to kids over a short span of an holiday.
Then I thought to myself, considering my age and my access to technology, I could probably be able to do it in a week, could I?
Starting with the trick
The method used in the story was to use phrases to help memorize the dots and dashes of the alphabets, using the emphasis of certain syllabus as hints.
The first few of the alphabets were given in the book, I went online and googled the rest. I settled on this list that I found on wikipedia.
I read through them a few times. It wasn’t really to memmorize it, more of trying to get the phrases in my head.
Testing it out
Armed with the knowledge, I went online to search for a morse training app. You could probably download any of them, I think it doesn’t really make much difference if the funtionalities are the same.
I downloaded the morse trainer, and tried out the transmission mode. I tried to transmit some words, I couldn’t really get the hang of it, I was too slow, the pause makes the app thinks that I am between words, I couldn’t continue.
Getting hang of tapping morse
This isn’t the way to go. I went on to the freepad mode and tried to enter some words. There was a guide in the app. Apparently, between letters the pause should be the length of a dot, and between words, the length of a dash.
I practice really hard. And after a while, I got the hang of it. The trick was to type the letters and say it out at the same time. Somehow, you will insert that pause automatically. But lets say you are pausing too long and the spaces keeps appearing, You can try saying out the letter faster. Similiarly, if your tapping are all jumbled up, you can slow down the recitation to get the right speed.
How do I push this to the extreme? When practicing in the word mode, I switched off the sound and looked away while tapping out the code. I find that this helps me grasp the momentum better as I learn not to rely on the use of audio and visual feedback.
Memorising the alphabets
It finally the main part. I still remember my first word – “elements”. When I was training the tapping, I wrote out this word in morse (with the appropriate spaces) and tried tapping it out. After trying out for really long, I found that I memorise morse best in the visual form.
What do I mean visual form? It means that I memorize the alphabets in blocks. Take “L” for example. Initially, I used the phrase method, so I have got “he LOST his lid”, which translate to “._..”.
After a while I realized that when I actually tried to recall “L”, the block of dots and dashes came to me really quickly. So when I got “L”, the image “._..” just came very quickly to me. For me that seemed like a shortcut.
This works for the more common letters such as “E”, “T”, “L”, “Y”, etc. Interesting these patterns are opposite pairs, which means that exchanging dots for dashes, you get “T” from “E” and “Y” from “L”. Maybe that’s why it was easier for me to imagine it as blocks.
For the rest, I still use the phrases. For example, “G” for “GOO GLE ad”, “V” for “vic to ry Vee”. These are the less common letters, so the phrase still prove to be a great help, especially if the phrase jumps up to you very quickly. (tip: choose a weird and memorable phrase)
But after tapping morse for a long time, I suspect that it will be very easy to imagine the letters of blocks of dots and dashes. Take “R” for example. I learnt it as “ro TA tion”, but now when I encounter it in my tapping, the block of “._.” jumps up to me immediately.
After 2 days of practicing, I am proud to say that I have some basic mastery of morse code. Without refering to any sheet of information, I can type out the words with relative accuracy (except for the occasional pausing too long problems) without any form of feedback (audio or visual).
I took 10 tries to tap out 10 words
Now that I am suffuciently capable of transmitting morse, I will be moving on to receiving morse and decoding it in real time. The practice mode in the app does not really provide a very good practice (I feel), as it does not use real words. I will find another way to hone my morse receiving skills before reporting any results.
Over the short span of 3 days, I have learnt to transmit morse. That might be long for some people, but I feel that being able to reach such level of efficiency is rather commendable.
But to be fair, I had a lot of time to practice, and didn’t have much other things to distract me from my learning.
So, if you are wondering if you can spend a weekend learning morse, no worries, start today and you will be tapping morse in no time.