Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM


First licensed in 1970, Amateur Extra class license since 1982...
(I also hold a General Radio Telephone License)

Morse Code Hand Keys
Elecraft K1, J38 and a
Morse Express Chirstmas Key
International Morse Code Alphabet
and ITU Standard Phonetic Alphabet




Back when I learned Morse code, by memorizing it out of a dcitionary in 1970, we used "dots" and "dashes" to describe the short and long sounds. Later, I found it was more efficient, when speaking Morse code characters, to use "dih" and "dah" sounds to mimic the characters. For example, when saying the characters for the letter "R" (• —  •), we used to say, "dot dash dot." I learned later that it's much easer to say, "dih dah dit" (anytime the character ends in a "dih" you add the hard "T" ending for "dit.").

So, to speak the Morse code characters for the word "Howdy," you'd say;
"dih dih dih dit | dah dah dah | dih dah dah | dah dih dit | dah dih dah dah" (• • • • | ——— | • —— | —  • • | —  • ——).


Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Click Here for my tribute to Morse telegraphy!


Phonetic Letter  Code 
Alpha (AL-fah) A  • — 
Bravo (BRAH-voh) B  —  • • • 
Charlie (CHAR-lee) C  —  • —  • 
Delta (DELL-tah) D  —  • • 
Echo (ECK-oh) E   
Foxtrot (FOKS-trot) F  • • —  • 
Golf (GOLF) G  — —  • 
Hotel (hoh-TELL)  H  • • • • 
India (IN-dee-ah) I  • • 
Juliet (JEW-lee-ETT) J  • — — — 
Kilo (KEY-loh) K  —  • — 
Lima (LEE-mah) L  • —  • • 
Mike (MIKE) M  — — 
November (no-VEM-ber) N  —  • 
Oscar (OSS-cah)  O  — — — 
Papa (pah-PAH) P  • — —  • 
Quebec (keh-BECK) Q  — —  • — 
Romeo (ROW-me-oh) R  • —  • 
Sierra (see-AIR-rah) S  • • • 
Tango (TANG-GO) T   
Uniform (YOU-nee-form) U  • • — 
Victor (VIK-tah) V  • • • — 
Whiskey (WISS-key) W  • — — 
X-ray (ECKS-ray) X  —  • • — 
Yankee (YANG-key) Y  —  • — — 
Zulu (ZOO-loo) Z  — —  • • 
Character  Code 
1  • — — — — 
2  • • — — — 
3  • • • — — 
4  • • • • — 
5  • • • • • 
6  —  • • • • 
7  — —  • • • 
8  — — —  • • 
9  — — — —  • 
0  — — — — — 
Period (Break)  • —  • —  • — 
Comma  — —  • • — — 
Question Mark  • • — —  • • 
Double Dash (BT)  —  • • • — 
Fraction Bar  —  • • —  • 
End of Message (AR)  • —  • —  • 
End of Contact (SK or VA)  • • • —  • — 
Commat  "@" sign (AC)  • — —  • —  (Adopted by ITU in 2004)




Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Click Here for Morse code memories from telegraphers
Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Click Here for "Q" and "Z" signals
Hand Key   Click on this hand key to hear real Morse code! (227k .wav file)




QST Op-Ed June 2009 OP-ED
QST June 2009 p. 97

Phonetics - Am I Being Understood?

by Gary Sawyer, WØGDS
(Reproduced here with permission)

Through my years of involvement in various types of communication in this great hobby of ham radio, I have always been attuned to the pronunciation of words and how we try to clarify what we are saying to another operator. Sometimes an uncontrollable laugh results from the poorest of poor words some people come up with when faced with trying to spell their intended words phonetically.

Most professionals (no so much actual radio professionals, just those whose job involves communication) have been taught either the military or law enforcement phonetics styles. In Amateur Radio the information on phonetics can be found in The ARRL Operating Manual, which includes a listing of letters and their phonetic mate, along with the Q signals and the chart for RST meanings. They also appear on the ARRL Web site, www.arrl.org. Search PHONETICS and click on FSD-220.

Having been trained in both the military and law enforcement styles of phonetic usage, it hasn't been difficult for me to cross train and learn the ham style. There may be times that I hesitate before recalling the correct mate word to use but it has never been lost.

Phonetics is not only for brevity, but also for clarity. Its purpose is to reduce the possibility of error in sending a message to another operator. Each service has a standard set of phonetics. By using the standard phonetics of that particular service, there will be less chance of confusion between operators.

Today when I listen in on public safety or Amateur Radio frequencies, I still hear operators ad-libbing with the most atrocious mate words. In public safety operations, instead of using "John" or even "Jill," not sounding very professional at all. Of course it keeps the airwaves hopping with funny sounding words, but it would not be considered professional by someone who is familiar with the proper procedures.

On the Amateur Radio bands I will often hear operators using "Kilowatt" for "K" when the proper mate word is "Kilo." Kilowatt is a measurement of power and not a word for phonetics. This substitution creates ambiguity for the receiving operator who expects the standard phonetic" Does kilowatt mean "K" or "KW"? There are many other substitute words being used in Amateur Radio and it makes us sound amateurish. Frequently I will hear DX operators using better phonetics than those in the USA. One would expect more professional behavior from hams in the country with one of the largest number of licensed Amateur Radio operators.

So in closing I would offer this to all my fellow operators in Amateur Radio and other professional operations: become very familiar with the proper phonetic words to be used to verify the letters that are being transmitted, instead of substituting local colloquialisms and "funny" words that do not sound professional on the air. You will feel better about yourself and others will be able to understand you more clearly as well.

QST noted that;
Gary Sawyer, WØGDS, an Extra Class licensee and ARRL member,
was a member of the US Naval Security Group for Communications
Intelligence. His amateur interest is Emergency Communications
and he is a member of ARES,
RACES and Army MARS. He is a VE
and enjoys teaching new hams about the hobby. Gary also enjoys
DXing and hopes to go on a DXpedition someday.




In his May, 2004 QST Article (J.D. Harper, K6KSR, pages 63-64) had this to say
about the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Standard Phonetic Alphabet:

"What's the phonetic alphabet, anyway? It's a system of using word-sounds to define each letter, instead of just saying the letter itself."

"When voice communications are hampered by poor band conditions, interference from other stations, weak signals or bad audio, sounding out the word that's been assigned to teach letter can enhance clarity and accuracy for the receiving station."

"Why all the fuss about using standardized words, anyway? Isn't the word Italy or Image as good as India? Phonetics experts say that, even though those three words have the short "I" sound, research shows that the ITU alphabet is better understood by a wider variety of operators, foreign and domestic."




Braggin' Rights: Who holds the Coast Guard's record for receiving Morse code?  -  ME!

(I learned the code at age 14 by memorizing it out of a dictionary!)
Coast Guard 40 wpm certificate.
Armed Forces Day 25 wpm certificate.
ARRL 20 wpm certificate.

For some Morse code "Music," try sending this character sequence: BEST BENT WIRE /5
If you put a little "rhythm" into your sending the sound is, indeed, rather musical!!





  1. Antennas!
  2. ARRL - American Radio Relay League
  3. Club stations
  4. Coast Guard Club and Amateur Radio Net
  5. Coast Guard Radioman
  6. Extra Class License
  7. Hand Keys on display by OZ2CPU
  8. FISTS The International Morse Preservation Society
  9. K9DE Learning and Using Morse Code
  10. Maritime Radio
  11. Memberships and Wallpaper
  12. Memorizing Morse code by Wolf at 1728 Software Systems
  13. Morse code - a Tribute to Morse Telegraphy!
  14. Morse code by visible light! (Aldis lamp and Heliograph)
  1. Morse Code Company - All things Morse!
  2. Morse code memories from telegraphers
  3. Morse code music by Phil Tulga - it's great fun!!
  4. Morse Telegraph Club
  5. MRX Morse Code for Windows Software by an ex Royal Navy Wireless Telegraphist!
  6. N9BOR Loves Morse code!
  7. QRP and Amateur Radio
  8. Solar Flux and Terrestrial Activity
  9. Spark Gap info by John S. Belrose
  10. Spark Gap Recording from 1921 by VK7RO
  11. Text to Morse code MP3 converter
  12. Theodore Roosevelt McElroy - World's Champion Radio Telegrapher
  13. W1AW Code Practice Transmissions
  14. ZUT Coast Guard CW Operators Association

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