Learning Ham Radio- from generation to generation

I am 40 years old (sigh…) but my kids would quickly correct you …NO MOM IS 40 1/2 ! As you giggle as I do I am sad to say that although my dad has been a Ham Radio Operator since before I was born I never learned morse code. My father is getting older- he’ll be 79 next month. He brought down a home-made ham radio telegraph key with receiver as well as an old and worn WWII model for the kids to try out. He began to teach them about morse code. I am honored to finally have given my dad the chance to teach me along with the kids. My dad is always very high level in his explanations and I have never truly given him the chance to teach me. I was one of those teenagers who said “Oh Dad- that’s boring…” and went about my business. I am so glad and fortunate to have my dad around still and I am grateful that he was able to teach the kids and I some morse code this weekend. Check out what fun we had and how much we all learned!

Grampa showed the kids the two devices he brought to transmit morse code. The telegraph key is an instrument that transmits a sound that translates into letters. Dots and Dashes are morse code. For example the letter A is . _ (that’s one dot one dash). The dots are short taps to the telegraph key, and the dash is a longer tap. Letters are made up of varieties of dots and dashes.

IMG_20130413_121706 IMG_20130413_121709 IMG_20130413_122129

The next step was to read about and learn about Ham Radio. I had bought the book “Radio Rescue” by Lynne Barasch many years ago as a gift for my Dad. It even includes a handy dandy alphabet key with the morse code (dots and dashes) for the entire alphabet. This proved to be very useful to the kids. Below you’ll see my eldest working hard on making sure the old WWII era Telegraph Key was working properly.

IMG_20130413_122146 IMG_20130413_161342

My dad also brought down a transmitter as well as a telegraph key he made himself. We will be making our own in time but for now we’ll use Grampa’s handy dandy invention. Notice the white “key” that is actually the tab of a 1/2 gallon paper milk container. My dad sure is a novel inventor! The transmitter the small blue device with knobs seen below emits a sound- a beep- so you can test out your mores code sending skills. Grampa’s notes on what he was going to teach for the first code lesson are below as well.

IMG_20130413_161946 IMG_20130413_162321

Next we all sat and listened. Grampa said it was very important for your brain to simply hear the letters as sounds. Learning them over and over again until your brain “got it!” So we listened and listened to each letter that he taught us and the kids wrote down the letters over and over again until they’d mastered hearing it. We learned the letters; A, S, D, T, H, M, E and O.

IMG_20130413_162426 IMG_20130413_164700 IMG_20130413_164707

I am so grateful to my dad for coming down to visit and bringing all his ham radio toys. I grew up not knowing about it, not caring, and not wanting to and I now regret that but I am very grateful and honored that my kids will learn from their own grandfather this wonderful language. They were so excited when Grampa left his telegraph keys and transmitter in their care to practice and learn. We can’t wait for a return visit so we can learn some more! So far the kids can say “SOS”, “HOME” and “HI” in morse code. They hope someday to become a real licensed ham radio operator like their grandfather so they too can speak to the world! Thanks Dad ! I am forever grateful to you for teaching the kids this wonderful time honored skill.