Morse code is a specific way of interrupting a carrier or a current flow. Hams utilize International Morse code.

There are other ways to interrupt the carrier to send information. During WW II the Japanese had their own code, for instance.

Then there are the railroads, which used to have a whole different code.

None of the others are Morse, yet they still use the same simple modulation method.

CW is the vernacular that people use today when they mean Morse code.

But the FCC defines a true continuous wave as an unmodulated carrier, type N0. No information except the existence of the transmitter and perhaps the location.

Like the NDB stations used for ADF in aircraft.

In that sense we all are wrong to call Morse code CW.

Yet we do, and always will.

The FCC formerly required a "Morse code" examination in order to qualify for ham radio licenses.

Here is an article that announces their elimination of the Morse code requirement:

Amateur Radio Licensing : Morse Code Eliminated


By Report and Order 05-235 the FCC has modified the amateur radio service rules, eliminating Morse code exam requirements.

The current amateur service operator license structure contains three classes of amateur radio operator licenses: Technician Class, General Class, and Amateur Extra Class.

Previously, the Commission, in accordance with international radio regulations, required applicants for General Class and Amateur Extra Class operator licenses to pass a five words-per-minute Morse code examination.

The FCC has decided that is no longer a requirement because the FCC believes that the public interest is not served by requiring facility in Morse Code when the trend in amateur communications is to use voice and digital technologies for exchanging messages.

This change eliminates an unnecessary regulatory burden that may discourage current amateur radio operators from advancing their skills and participating more fully in the benefits of amateur radio.

The new FCC rules went into effect on February 23, 2007. All Technician licensees -- whether or not they have passed a Morse code examination -- will have "Tech Plus" operating privileges. This means you will have all of your current VHF/UHF and above frequencies and also will have access to the Novice/Technician Plus frequencies on HF to operate voice on 10 meters and CW on several HF bands.

If you have a Certificate for Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) for Element 3 (General written test) and have been waiting for the FCC to drop the Morse code requirement. It will not happen automatically. You also will need to wait until the new rules are in effect. CSCEs remain valid for 365 days. There's been no change in that rule. If you have a non-expired CSCE for Element 3 credit, you would need to take the CSCE to a VE test session and have the examination team prepare and submit the paperwork for your license upgrade. If you hold a novice license, there is no grandfather provision. In order to upgrade to Technician, you will need to pass the Element 2 written examination. The FCC did not change operating privileges for Novice, General, Advanced and Amateur Extra class licensees.

Problem statement: When I typed "Morse" into the tags the system did not offer anything so I went ahead and let it get created then gave it a definition. If the system had offered either or as an alternative I would have just used that instead. So now we have an orphan tag.

In the ensuing series of comments it was suggested that this subject be discussed here as a reference explaining the solution.


This has now been done.

Concrete proposal: create a synonym for .

Rationale: is already a synonym of , and no one who has spoken up so far is advocating actually separating the two tags. So all we want is for to point at the place we already have for Morse code.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this. Good solution, @Kevin. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Sep 22 '17 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ This is what I suggested in the first place (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ $\endgroup$ – Timtech Sep 22 '17 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ Accept. This one is complete. I see you made the change for the question that caused this discussion. Question: Did that happen automatically when you made it a synonym, or did you do it as a separate operation? $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Sep 24 '17 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ @SDsolar It's actually two steps that usually go together. Creating a synonym per se just affects newly-entered tags, but then a tag merge replaces all existing instances of the synonym with the master tag. (If a non-moderator creates a synonym by the suggesting-and-voting process, then there is no automatic merge.) More info. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 24 '17 at 22:05

Like I mentioned earlier, I feel that should be remapped as a synonym to . The definition given to our tag currently covers all 65 questions relating to morse code. Current definition states that the tag is "for any question relating to Morse code". Additionally, we already have the tag defined as a synonym. In conclusion, we should do the same for .

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    $\begingroup$ If we agree that we should not split the topic of CW/OOK from the topic of Morse, then I agree that creating the synonym [morse] → [cw] is correct. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 22 '17 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @SDsolar Why would it offer morse-code if cw covers all morse code questions? That's why is the tag was remapped to cw in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Timtech Sep 22 '17 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ How about combining them, e.g. [cw-morse]? $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Sep 22 '17 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ It didn't offer anything, @Timtech, which surprised me so I went ahead and let it create it without a thought, then gave it a definition. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Sep 22 '17 at 17:47

CW and Morse code are certainly two different topics in principle. However, out of the questions we have so far, almost none of them about issues pertaining to CW-but-not-Morse.

If we tag Morse questions with or , then there won't be much in the CW tag. Maybe that's okay, but maybe it's a sign that we shouldn't separate out that little piece.

Also, if we are making the point that Morse is not the only code you can transmit over CW, then, well, OOK (on-off-keying) is the same thing as CW. Maybe we should tag everything instead of ? But I think that would be surprising, as would be a synonym in the opposite direction.

I have no opinion on the central question at the moment — I'm just posting these observations to think about.

  • $\begingroup$ [ook]. Now there's an intuitive solution....NOT. ;-) Too funny. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Sep 22 '17 at 18:16

I don't see any questions about the man Morse himself, so see little reason for a tag at all, as long as we have and .

However, note that when I initially typed "Morse" it did not suggest anything.

If that can be fixed then great - I would have used it.

If we want to be proper, Morse code is how it is always referred to in the rules.

But common usage is CW. Every ham would recognize either as being the same.

If they can be made synonyms for the purpose of search, that is great.

  • $\begingroup$ "If they can be made synonyms for the purpose of search, that is great." — It is not possible to have a tag that can be written two different ways. There is always one master tag and its synonyms, and an entered synonym is replaced with the master tag. So we cannot have "cw" and "morse-code" be equivalent for searching but displayed differently. Given that, are you advocating for them being separate tags or synonymous ones? $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 22 '17 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ What we can do is create a synonym entry for [morse]. There already is one for [morse-code], and if you type "morse-code" you will get the [cw] tag suggested. Given that we have [morse-code] the [morse] synonym should also exist, but I thought you were proposing having two different tags. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 22 '17 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ Ah. OK, I agree. That would be just fine. Excellent solution. If you put that in your answer I'll accept it. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Sep 22 '17 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ I've posted ham.meta.stackexchange.com/a/331/76 to separate out the concrete proposal. I'd suggest waiting 24 hours to let all time zones and schedules have the chance to comment. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 22 '17 at 17:58

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